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In Two Minds: a Biography of Jonathan Miller Hardcover – 23 Nov 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Oberon Books Ltd.; First Edition edition (23 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849434514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849434515
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 17.8 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'compelling.. a dense , exhaustively, well-researched portrait .. a persuasive, ultimately rather sad portrait of a North London Jewish boy.' --Sunday Times

'a remarkable portrait of a complex and Coleridgean figure.' 5 stars --Telegraph

'An admirably thorough job of a biography: sympathetic, deeply researched, informed by long conversations with Miller and dozens of friends, colleagues and, occasionally, enemies.' --The Spectator

'Sir Jonathan Miller is a remarkable man. As one of the great egocentrics of his generation, he would not question this judgement... Ms Bassett's first-class authorised biography does not mask Sir Jonathan's weaknesses, but she says that, in conversation, his flaws seem more tragicomic than intolerable the bile and bitterness never quite obliterate the man's warmth.' --The Economist

'Kate Bassett's absorbing, in-depth and erudite biography of Miller … produce(s) an appealingly multifaceted figure of a man' --The Observer

'Kate Bassett's brilliant, exhaustively researched biography gathers it all together and reminds us what a truly astonishing man he is.' --Jewish Chronicle

About the Author

Kate Bassett is the theatre critic for the Independent on Sunday and a freelance arts journalist. She has previously worked for The Times and the Daily Telegraph, also the Guardian, Time Out, the TLS and the New Statesman, writing features and reviews on film, books, dance, comedy and other subjects. She has served on many awards panels, chairing the Perrier Comedy Awards twice. She also teaches and gives platform talks.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Though far short of hagiography, presenting its subjects failings with an embarrassing clarity, this biography does nothing to diminish my admiration for someone who is, for me, a hugely important cultural influence.

He was part of what was a cultural heyday on tv in the sixties, with 'Screen International', 'Late Night Line-up' etc, opening up all sorts of artistic horizons. I remember as a teenager seeing him on 'Monitor', his 'Alice' and 'Whistle and I'll Come to You' on first transmission and being amazed that these extraordinarily powerful pieces stemmed from the same source as the witty brilliance of chat show appearances, and the hysterical silliness and satire of 'Beyond the Fringe'. ('Alice' and 'Whistle ...' are just as powerful today as when first shown, it seems to me.) Then seeing a matinee of 'The Three Sisters' on tour in Leeds that was so brilliant I returned for the evening performance because I knew if I didn't I would never be able to capture the experience again. Then of course, 'The Body in Question', televised opera performances and behind the scenes documentaries, superb BBC Shakespeare productions of 'The Shrew' and 'Lear', and innumerable wonderfully witty and entertaining tv appearances.

Basset seems to me to balance perfectly the role of sympathetic narrator with a determination to explore the less impressive aspects of his personality: quick to take offence when criticised; intemperate in response when angry or offended; at times impossibly egocentric and self-absorbed. That side of his personality is easy to dislike and lampoon. (And, yes, as one reviewer here points out, some of his outbursts do not fit with the easy, liberal posture we generally recognise.
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This absorbing biography of the brilliant Jonathan Miller has the intimacy of an honest autobiography. Kate Bassett achieves this by structuring the narrative as if it is a continuous personal interview; This gives the book an attractive energy.
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I first saw JM in Beyond the Fringe. We loved all the cast of that show. It has been interesting to see what they have made of their lives since 1961. To read a biography is a good way to find out. Kate Bassett has written a very fair summary of his life: the good and the bad. If you still love Jonathan after reading this book, and I do, then it has been a good book. I recommend it to you.
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Should you wish to read a life of Jonathan Miller - but why would you? - this hefty tome hovers just this side of idolatry. I doubt that the good Doctor would waste his time reading anything so frivolous, bless his expensive socks (yes, I once sat at the feet of the great man and, yes, I like him enormously)
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To write a biog of someone who has done so much in so many worlds of arts and sciences is a huge challenge. Kate Bassett pulls it off by creating a readable and insightful picture of this extraordinary figure who has as many fans as detractors. You learn not only of his work but something of how a mind works that jumps seamlessly from medical science to directing Mozart Operas.
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A long book about a brilliant man of many and varied achievements. It must have been a huge amount of work for the author. She conveys the two sides of his nature very well. I have very happy memories of working with Jonathan at the Old Vic. A mountain of material is very well organized by the author, though the narrative is more or less chronological. Highly recommended.
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I chose it because I grew old with Jonathan Miller, because he is a great opera director and because Bassett is a good critic whose work I enjoy.
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