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Stephen Fender, 3 April 1980

The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... in the Austrian Tyrol, continued undisturbed.’ Pound carried on fighting for T.S. Eliot. Jacob Epstein told his patron John Quinn: ‘My business as I see it is to get on with my work ... Everybody here is war-mad. But my life has always been war.’ Well, in a manner of speaking, perhaps. James took the figurative mode to greater heights: ‘My ...


W.G. Runciman: You had better look out, 10 December 1998

... cut-the-welfare-bills ‘Labour’ Government whose leader is said to be a serious admirer of Margaret Thatcher? (‘Third Way’? It’s just the sensible, well-tried electoral trick of stealing your opponent’s clothes.) Stephen has recently seen John Redwood, who has so far recovered from post-electoral stress disorder as to be predicting that Blair ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... the years just after the Second World War he went regularly to Barney’s weekly salon at 20 rue Jacob. Inside the house, a cross between ‘a chapel and a bordello’, with a domed stained-glass ceiling and a ‘slightly Turkish quality’, there would be ‘a big buffet on the side with the most marvellous things – I mean the most delicious kinds of ...

‘Just get us out’

Ferdinand Mount, 21 March 2019

... or spiritual within this realm’? Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and Margaret Thatcher’s official biographer, turned his fire on the archbishop of Canterbury: ‘I do feel that the archbishop, when looking at Brexit, should remember the Act in Restraint of Appeals. After all, if it had not been passed, his Church would not exist ...

Living Things

Ian Hacking, 21 February 1991

Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science 
by Scott Atran.
Cambridge, 360 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 521 37293 3
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... of signatures, whereby plants were the signs of minerals which were the signs of stars (François Jacob, Michel Foucault). The semantics of natural kind terms is such that, when we speak of living things, we are referring, whether we know it or not, to the fundamental kinds at which science aims (Saul Kripke and, sometimes, Hilary Putnam). We have an ...

Didn’t they notice?

David Runciman: Offshore, 14 April 2011

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World 
by Nicholas Shaxson.
Bodley Head, 329 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84792 110 9
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Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class 
by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £11.50, March 2011, 978 1 4165 8870 2
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... broadly progressive tax system? Didn’t they notice what was going on? This is the question that Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson tackle in Winner-Take-All Politics. They don’t spend much time talking about offshore, but the story they tell has striking parallels with the one laid out by Shaxson. One of the ways you can identify an offshore ...

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies, 2 April 2020

... notorious answer we’ve been given in the last forty years was a triumphant negation, uttered by Margaret Thatcher in an interview with Woman’s Own magazine in 1987: ‘There is no such thing!’ The left has ensured that Thatcher’s words have not been forgotten; the right has occasionally sought to remind people of her next sentence: ‘There are ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum, 25 October 2018

Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... land of UK independence. In 1975 the future standard-bearer of Bruges speech Euroscepticism, Margaret Thatcher, had been the photogenic new leader of a largely Europhile Conservative Party, and the proud owner of a hideous woolly jumper displaying the flags of the EEC nations. Back in the mid-1970s the tycoon James Goldsmith, the future founder of the ...

Bristling Ermine

Jeremy Harding: R.W. Johnson, 4 May 2017

Look Back in Laughter: Oxford’s Postwar Golden Age 
by R.W. Johnson.
Threshold, 272 pp., £14.50, May 2015, 978 1 903152 35 5
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How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming Crisis 
by R.W. Johnson.
Hurst, 288 pp., £12.99, July 2016, 978 1 84904 723 4
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... travail, but as a rock-solid Oxford don, who took issue with the university’s proposal to award Margaret Thatcher an honorary degree in 1984. At that point, he became an active dissident, organising behind the scenes to block Thatcher’s award, keeping a low profile while chivvying the most respectable opponents into the foreground; drafting and redrafting ...

Walking like Swinburne

P.N. Furbank, 12 July 1990

Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... Philip Hoare relates one, as told by the Hon. David Herbert, about his treatment of the actress Margaret Rutherford. He cultivated her assiduously – even, more or less, proposing marriage to her – and she fell for his charms, and then when one day she came to his house for the weekend, he quite shattered her by simply refusing to allow her in. The ...

Some girls want out

Hilary Mantel: Spectacular saintliness, 4 March 2004

The Voices of Gemma Galgani: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Saint 
by Rudolph Bell and Cristina Mazzoni.
Chicago, 320 pp., £21, March 2003, 0 226 04196 4
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 
by Kathryn Harrison.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 84728 7
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The Disease of Virgins: Green Sickness, Chlorosis and the Problems of Puberty 
by Helen King.
Routledge, 196 pp., £50, September 2003, 0 415 22662 7
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A Wonderful Little Girl: The True Story of Sarah Jacob, the Welsh Fasting Girl 
by Siân Busby.
Short Books, 157 pp., £5.99, June 2004, 1 904095 70 4
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... women’s lives. Eustochia of Messina stretched her arms on a DIY rack she had constructed. St Margaret of Cortona bought herself a razor and was narrowly dissuaded from slicing through her nostrils and upper lip. St Angela of Foligno drank water contaminated by the putrefying flesh of a leper. And what St Francesca Romana did, I find I am not able to ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... confirms the impression that collective cabinet responsibility is as mythological as it was under Margaret Thatcher, but with the difference that Blair allows signal latitude to his two over-mighty chancellors. Am reminded of Peter saying to my wife in the run-up to the election that when he came back from giving seminars to shadow ministers about the ...

Hitler and History

Hans Keller, 5 February 1981

by Norman Stone.
Hodder, 195 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 340 24980 3
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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ in Britain and America: A Publishing History 1930-39 
by James Barnes and Patience Barnes.
Cambridge, 158 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 521 22691 0
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The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany 
by Peter Paret.
Harvard, 262 pp., £10.50, December 1980, 0 674 06773 8
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German Romantic Painting 
by William Vaughan.
Yale, 260 pp., £19.95, October 1980, 0 300 02387 1
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... whereas I was plus 19. What would her face have looked like if I had dictated something about Dame Margaret Thatcher? Her face now clinches my point: we underreact to untruths about the past and over-react against untruths about the present. The Barneses could never have written their meticulous ‘Publishing History’ if they hadn’t been downright ...

Travelling in the Wrong Direction

Lorna Finlayson: Popular Feminism, 4 July 2019

Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny 
by Sarah Banet-Weiser.
Duke, 220 pp., £18.99, November 2018, 978 1 4780 0291 8
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Darkness Now Visible: Patriarchy’s Resurgence and Feminist Resistance 
by Carol Gilligan and David Richards.
Cambridge, 162 pp., £21.99, August 2018, 978 1 108 47065 0
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Feminism for the 99 Per Cent: A Manifesto 
by Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya and Nancy Fraser.
Verso, 85 pp., £7.99, March 2019, 978 1 78873 442 4
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... leaders will look out for their sisters has now faced two rather spectacular counter-examples in Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. It is far from obvious why we should expect women in power to practise a different or more feminist politics. Feminists have long been sceptical, with good reason, of essentialist claims about women, which have traditionally ...

Worse than Pagans

Tom Shippey: The Church v. the Fairies, 1 December 2016

Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church 
by Richard Firth Green.
Pennsylvania, 285 pp., £36, August 2016, 978 0 8122 4843 2
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... straight all the stories, beliefs and motifs, and reconstruct a long lost original mythology (as Jacob Grimm attempted to do for the Germanic world in his Deutsche Mythologie of 1835). The desire for one was certainly there. Beating Grimm very slightly to the punch, Thomas Keightley brought out his Fairy Mythology in 1828; ...

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