Author Archives: Frank Brinkley

A Talent For Shrouds

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In the late 1970s, I had a colleague in the World Service of the BBC by the name of Feyyaz Fergar. We all loved him, especially in the basement bar of Bush House on Aldwych, but alas many of us did not discover until too late that, as well as being an uplifting companion, he […]

That Sinking Feeling

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Robert Service, twice biographer of Lenin, reveals himself in this volume to be a writer of small things: of the anekdot, or joke, which larded Russian conversation in the Communist era, and does so still; of the revealing characteristics of leaders, such as Boris Yeltsin’s habit of playing spoons on the pates of bald underlings; […]

Let Us Hope Not

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The fact that a millennium lasts a thousand years is, you might think, self – evident. So there is something distinctly odd about the subtitle of Rosalind Coward’s new book, which asks whether feminism is relevant to the new millennium: not the next decade, or the next fifty years, but the next ten centuries. This […]

Third Reich Filth

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

If you are a fugitive in fear of your life, always walk along the road against the traffic, rather than in the same direction. It ‘s harder for someone to drive alongside and shoot you. The author of this disturbing book has lived in (very justifiable) fear of his life ever since leaving the neo […]

With a Bit More Democracy We Might Hang Mr Howard

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Cleisthenes may have invented democracy in Athens in 508 BC but not all Athenians were in favour of it. Here Plato in his Republic (c 375 BC) describes what happens when democracy gets out of hand: ‘Teachers are afraid of their pupils and curry favour with them, while pupils despise their teachers. Older members of […]

Worth Investigation

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Edith Wharton tells a story about Henry James, who once managed to get lost on the Kings Road, Chelsea. In desperation he accosted a local and proceeded to treat him to the usual orotundity and prolixity of the Jamesian period, replete with many an ‘in short’ – the inevitable prelude with James to a fresh […]

They Must All Go Back to Potty Training

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

‘The God of the Germans’, wrote Jung in a notorious essay of 1936 which was said to lend support to Nazi anti-Semitism, ‘is not the Christian God but Wotan.’ Leo Abse agrees. The leitmotiv of his profoundly disturbing and compulsively readable book is that a destructive aggressiveness, a Wagnerian megalomania, lurks at the root of […]

He Has No Solution

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

It’s easy to read – just twenty-five bite-sized chapters painlessly combining autobiography and potted economic history from the First World War to the present. At points when I began to yawn and wonder when he was going to tell me something I didn’t know, he came up with a juicy tale of financial swindling or […]

Debt was the Spur

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Rooting around in the basement of a Camden library a couple of decades ago I came across a set of shelves buckling under the weight of the handsome Caxton edition of Balzac’s Comédie humaine, published in 1899 to mark the centenary of the author’s birth. Inserted in the copy of Eugénie Grandet was a note […]

The Full Horror of Ordinary People

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993) is a wonderful, horrible film. It follows the adventures of Johnny, a Mancunian Raskolnikov, introduced to us in the first scene committing a vicious rape. Repellent yet fascinating, Johnny – played with almost unhinged brilliance by David Thewlis – is presented as an emblematic antihero for our times: rootless and loveless […]

What Conspiracy?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Some time ago Christopher Hitchens disinterred an aperçu of Conor Cruise O’Brien that ‘intellectuals who were too fastidious to sacrifice civility and objectivity for the revolution could quite often be induced to make these very sacrifices for the counter-revolution’. A similar trait can be observed among the panjandrums of American publishing. Although they make a […]

The Rage of Dying

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Sherwin B Nuland is an American writer/doctor who argues here – in fact protests too much, methinks – that finding out as much as we can about death beforehand will rob it of its terrors. I doubt it. Acknowledging death, yes, instead of denying it; mustering up any spiritual beliefs or experiences we can, yes; […]

At the End of the Day, Bourgeois is Best

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

When I asked the green-eyed Parisian air hostess with whom I shared a flat why Michel Foucault had fallen from grace in France but was flavour of the decade in both British and American universities, she said: ‘Our literary theories are like our clothing: they are for a single season.’ Foucault really went out of […]

Deafened by Birtspeak

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In February 1972, a bright young producer at London Weekend Television was described in a newspaper profile as someone who would be ‘very much at home behind an electric guitar in front of 5,000 watts of solid noise. He is big, hairy, hip. He wears button-through T -shirts and purple cord pants and a jacket […]

Butch Perrier Drinkers

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Edmund White has written exquisite, evasive fiction (Forgetting Elena, Caracole) meticulously detailing the relations inside imagined societies; he has also co-written The Joy of Gay Sex. In him a talent for indirection and implication co-exists with an impulse to wards explicit subject matter. This travel book – a journey by a homosexual author round the […]

Humanists versus Theorists

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In English culture, Shakespeare has become an impossibly bland and reassuring figure – a kind of continuation of the Queen Mother by other means. This makes it easy to forget how strange Shakespeare is. ‘Gild the faces of the grooms withal,’ says Lady Macbeth to her husband, ‘for it must seem their guilt’ – you […]

An Interview with Geoffrey Hill

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Geoffrey Hill is, in the opinion of many, the best poet now writing in England, though he is not the best known. He was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, in 1932, the only child of a police constable. After reading English at Keble College, Oxford, he was for many years a lecturer at Leeds University, becoming […]

Military Diplomacy

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Two years ago, while researching this book on the D-Day campaign, Max Hastings was trying to think himself into the minds of the poor bloody infantry who were about to invade Hitler’s Festung Europa. He was then whisked away to cover the Falklands War, to sit in the British Army’s unchanged Landing Craft (Assault) while […]

A Guiltless Soul

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

As the place where Orpheus’ head was washed ashore, it was to be expected that European lyric poetry was first heard on Lesbos. Alcaeus, Sappho and Terpander are the names we associate with the inspiration and the place. Because of the yarns about her that surface d two hundred years after she died, Sappho is […]

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