There and Then is the sixth volume of Frederic Raphael’s diaries-cum-notebooks, the first of which was published in 2001. It covers the years 1979 to 1981. I haven’t read its predecessors, but if this is anything to go by, I can’t wait to make amends. Shrewd, funny, gossipy and elegantly written, it combines rueful self-analysis with perceptive and, one suspects, all too accurate character assessments of well-known contemporaries, together with musings on Lord Byron, drama in ancient Greece and the state of the nation under Thatcher.
Raphael has spent most of his life in this country, and was educated at Charterhouse and St John’s, Cambridge, but having been born in Chicago he chose to be an American citizen; and this, plus his sense of his Jewishness, gives his writing about British culture an intriguing combination of