More from Books

For old times’ sake

A hundred chorus girls sashaying through a Busby Berkeley musical. Bugs Bunny munching nonchalantly on a carrot. Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in Hollywood’s greatest swordfight (‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ or ‘Captain Blood’ — take your pick). Bette Davis pulling the trigger in ‘Deception’. James Cagney smashing a grapefruit into a moll’s face. Alex

Life & Letters

Allan Massies dips into Brideshead Revisited Having just read something about the new film of Brideshead Revisited, I picked up the novel, opened it at random, and then, some two hours later, a good part of my working evening was gone. I suppose it is now Waugh’s most popular novel — his Pride and Prejudice

The romance of science

The Age of Wonder, by Richard Holmes Just what some- one who studied science should be called was mooted at the 1833 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. ‘Formerly the “learned” embraced in their wide grasp all the branches of the tree of knowledge, mathematicians as well as philologers, physical as

Great expectations dashed

Origins: A Memoir, by Amin Maalouf, translated by Catherine Temerson The Lebanese Amin Maalouf is best known as a writer of historical novels in French, such as Le Rocher de Tanios, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1993. Yet before moving to Paris during the Lebanese civil war of the mid-1970s, Maalouf was a newspaper

The spectre of Spielberg

Searching for Schindler, by Thomas Keneally Which would you rather read, The Great Gatsby or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s day-by-day account of the whisky he drank and the cigarettes he smoked while writing it? La Comédie humaine or a list of the cups of coffee Balzac downed, between midnight and sunrise, while putting all of those

First knight and his lady

A Strange, Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families, by Michael Holroyd It is rare today to come across a non-fiction book that does not include in its title or subtitle the assertion that the tale it tells is ‘remarkable’, ‘extraordinary’, or ‘fas- cinating’, publishers presumably having decided

Faith in the Founding Fathers

The American Future, by Simon Schama This is the most exhilarating book that has been written about America for at least eight years, although it depends on the premise that the influence of George W. Bush is over and that Barack Obama will be the next president. Simon Schama is fortunate that this outcome looks