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Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... and a ‘List of Major Works’. Frederick Karl offers up columns of elaborate notes. Marshall Walker supplies a ‘chronological table’ that correlates authors and titles with events (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone the same year that Henry James published Roderick Hudson; Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems coincided with Coca-Cola’s ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... of aesthetic theory – a missing link between Kierkegaard and Adorno. For Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, he’s the original Queer wit, who would today have been the toast of Sussex University and Old Compton Street. Oscar Wilde, posing as a Post-Modernist. Like the most obliging of renters, Wilde will be anything you want him to ...


Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... sulky and obstinate, he had the intelligence to turn away from the cliff-edge. Conversely, David Walker and Phillip Whitehead do nothing to rescue the reputation of Lord Wilson, and it’s hard to believe anyone will ever treat the last six months of Jim Callaghan’s Government with anything resembling sympathy. Time and detachment may eventually diminish ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries, 28 July 2011

... and he would regale me with the details of the latest murder he had been called on to snap: ‘By, Alan, I’ve seen some stuff.’ The stuff he’d seen included the corpse of the stripper Mary Millington, who had committed suicide. ‘I can’t understand why she committed suicide. She had a lovely body.’ To someone as prone to embarrassment as I ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble, 3 December 2015

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. II: Everything She Wants 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 821 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 7139 9288 5
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... appear to be setting the terms of the dispute. She remained reliant on her energy secretary, Peter Walker, whom she didn’t trust and feared would do ‘a fudge, like Pym and the Foreign Office in the Falklands had tried to do’. But unlike Pym, Walker kept his job, because she didn’t dare sack him. In some respects her ...

Feigning a Relish

Nicholas Penny: One Tate or Two, 15 October 1998

The Tate: A History 
by Frances Spalding.
Tate Gallery, 308 pp., £25, April 1998, 1 85437 231 9
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... V & A. Following the example of his father, Sir Joseph Joel Duveen, who commissioned W.H. Romaine-Walker to create the Turner Wing (the first Turner Wing, opened in 1910), Joseph Duveen had already paid for the new modern foreign galleries and the Sargent Gallery, which were inaugurated in 1927 (also partly the work of Romaine-...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... clue was found,’ he went on. ‘My style is from the Covenanting writers.’ He meant Wodrow, Walker and Shields, and you are excused from the sin of never having heard of them. It is good to be reminded by Jenni Calder’s interesting study that Stevenson was, among others, ‘the Shorter Catechist of Vailima’ in the South Seas. ‘Scott’s hopeless ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele, 6 April 1995

‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... greatly weakened. The sources of Thomson’s style are well documented by Charles McKean, David Walker and David Watkin. It is clear that he looked closely at the works of the vigorous school of northern Classicism, and he admitted to having certain favourites. In an 1866 pamphlet attacking Scott’s Gothic designs for the University of Glasgow, Thomson ...

Other Ways to Leave the Room

Michael Wood: Antonio Machado, 25 November 1999

The Eyes: A Version of Antonio Machado 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 60 pp., £7.99, October 1999, 0 571 20055 9
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... leaning. ‘For an accurate translation of Machado’s words’, Paterson refers us to Alan Trueblood’s selection, which gives, he says, ‘a more reliable reflection of the surface life of Machado’s verse’. I assume Paterson is not asking us not to read Machado, only to refrain from petty comparisons, and to treat his own versions as poems ...

Wait a second what’s that?

August Kleinzahler: Elvis’s Discoverer, 8 February 2018

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll 
by Peter Guralnick.
Weidenfeld, 784 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 297 60949 0
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... soul and R&B. Sam Phillips did not invent rock ’n’ roll, a term coined by the Cleveland DJ Alan Freed in the early 1950s. Black musicians did in the 1940s, as the big black swing bands were dying off and smaller ensembles took over, offering stripped-down, up-tempo music with a repetitive beat, honking saxophones showcasing the vocalists, boogie-woogie ...


Andrew Brighton: On Peter Fuller, 7 November 1991

... went on to found Art Monthly in 1976 with Jack and Nell Wendler. Under Townsend, James Faure-Walker had been a contributor to Studio International. Cork made his copy less welcome and Faure-Walker and others set up Artscribe. Eventually Peter and I began to meet at Bertorelli’s for wine, talk, food and more wine. At ...


Alan Bennett: What I Did in 2015, 7 January 2016

... Run into Philip and Kersti French in M&S with Philip bent tight over his trolley and using it as a walker. I ask him how he is. ‘Dreadful’. ‘Anything specific?’ ‘Knees. Legs. Lungs. Kidneys … Shall I go on?’ The recital so fluent it’s partly a joke, but looking at him it’s hard not to believe every word. I come out not, I’m sure, having ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... title, its brass-rubbings and its frequent dippings into the nitty-gritty of Christian rites, Alan Bray’s last book, The Friend, might not seem terribly exciting at first glance. And yet it is written in part as a defence of John Boswell’s Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, which came out a decade ago, and in part as sequel to ...

Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite, 23 October 2014

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... His opinions would be ridiculed as those of a ‘dinosaur’ if they came from a Peter Taaffe or Alan Woods, but he is inoculated against such criticism by his youth and avoidance of jargon. In many respects, he is the best thing to happen to the non-compromised, non-New Labour left in the mainstream media in decades: he makes ideas that are customarily ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer, 2 December 1982

Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... Institute in London as one modern source of respect for the occult, and one of its members, D.P. Walker, shows by contrast that Catholic clergy could use spirit apparitions and demonic possession as weapons against Lutherans, atheists, Jews and subversives. Important papers by Paola Zambelli, Elisabeth Labrousse and Paolo Galluzzi indicate the ways in which ...

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