Frederic Raphael

Keeping Up with the Koestlers

Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime

By

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Memory is the mother of the Muses and, sometimes, of amusement. In David Pryce-Jones’s generous trawl of literary friends and acquaintances, up come many treasures, including a mutual friend (Somerset Maugham), the odd rusting reputation (Lawrence Durrell), prating prig (Noel Annan), historian for hire (A J P Taylor), self-destroying genius (Alasdair Clayre, whom I have never read) and journalistic man for all prints (John Gross). Since David is a now very old friend, I cannot descend to impartiality. In 1960, already in his early twenties literary editor of Time and Tide, he invited me to do my first review: of Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews. His own verdict here is unequivocal: the Holocaust was ‘the end of common humanity’. Take that, fastidious relativisers.

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