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Adam Mars-Jones: Kazuo Ishiguro, 5 March 2015

The Buried Giant 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 345 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 571 31503 1
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... anyone want to be described as an old adult?), but it is commercially and creatively lively, and it would be no insult to The Buried Giant to admit it into that category. It’s certainly not too bleak, bleakness no longer being a disqualification from excellence and success in the field, if it ever was (I’m thinking of Sally Gardner’s 2013 ...

Constellationality

Adam Mars-Jones: Olga Tokarczuk, 5 October 2017

Flights 
by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft.
Fitzcarraldo, 400 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 910695 43 2
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... areas, at campsites where they were always in the company of others just like them, having lively conversations with their neighbours surrounded by socks drying on tent cords.’ The Oder looked big to the narrator as a child, but it had its place in the hierarchy of rivers, ‘a kind of country viscountess at the court of the Amazon queen’. The ...

Chop, Chop, Chop

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Grief Is the Thing with Feathers’, 21 January 2016

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers 
by Max Porter.
Faber, 114 pp., £10, September 2015, 978 0 571 32376 0
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... the evening cloud, how much more all the particulars of daily economy; for he had touched with his lively curiosity every trivial fact and circumstance in the household, the hard coal and the soft coal which I put into my stove; the wood, of which he brought his little quota for grandmother’s fire; the hammer, the pincers and file he was so eager to use; the ...

Squalor

Frank Kermode, 3 February 1983

Gissing: A Life in Books 
by John Halperin.
Oxford, 426 pp., £18.50, September 1982, 0 19 812677 8
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George Gissing: Critical Essays 
edited by Jean-Pierre Michaux.
Vision/Barnes and Noble, 214 pp., £11.95, March 1981, 0 85478 404 7
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... of degradation’, he had occasional fits of relative jollity, as in the successful and lively novel of 1889, The Town Traveller. Less Dickensian than Wellsian, this novel is brightened by that rare person in Gissing, a high-spirited, noisy girl, whose relations with ‘minor clerks’ is part of the subject. ‘Belonging to a class ...

Leaping on Tables

Norman Vance: Thomas Carlyle, 2 November 2000

Sartor Resartus 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Rodger Tarr and Mark Engel.
California, 774 pp., £38, April 2000, 0 520 20928 1
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... of life, outrageous ranter and charismatic humbug is already present in the early Sartor Resartus, lively and opaque by turns, a book which inspired the young and bewildered their elders. A devastating social critic over-impressed by heroes and dictators, Carlyle was humane and savage, radical and racist, an agnostic quoted by churchmen and praised as ‘a ...

Whatever Made Him

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Bauman Dichotomy, 10 September 2020

Bauman: A Biography 
by Izabela Wagner.
Polity, 510 pp., £25, June, 978 1 5095 2686 4
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... His father – an unsuccessful businessman, later an accountant – was a Zionist, but it was his lively mother who set the tone, and she had been ‘brought up in an atmosphere of seemliness and decorum more akin to the pattern of Polish gentility than the shtetl tradition’. Zygmunt, bright second child and only son, was the darling of the family. Educated ...

Retrochic

Keith Thomas, 20 April 1995

Theatres of Memory. Vol. I: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture 
by Raphael Samuel.
Verso, 479 pp., £18.95, February 1995, 0 86091 209 4
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... bookish, for I remember browsing on the shelves of his college room and picking up a copy of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, a set book for our History prelims, only to find in it the daunting inscription: ‘To Raphael on his eighth birthday.’ Since those days, Samuel has earned a distinctive place in the annals of British historiography as a ...

Watch your tongue

Marina Warner, 20 August 1992

Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love 
by Howard Bloch.
Chicago, 308 pp., £14.95, February 1992, 0 226 05973 1
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Women of the Renaissance 
by Margaret King.
Chicago, 328 pp., £13.50, December 1991, 0 226 43618 7
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The Lady as Saint: A Collection of French Hagiographical Romances of the 13th Century 
by Brigitte Cazelles.
Pennsylvania, 320 pp., £35, November 1991, 9780812230994
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Heavenly Supper: The Story of Maria Janis 
by Fulvio Tomizza, translated by Anne Jacobson Shutte.
Chicago, 184 pp., £19.95, December 1991, 0 226 80789 4
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Oppositional Voices: Women as Writers and Translators of Literature in the English Renaissance 
by Tina Krontiris.
Routledge, 192 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 415 06329 9
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... in a woman’s voice: the siren incarnate against whom you have to plug your ears or else, like Adam, you will feel the plunge as you fall. It is odd how wholeheartedly women have given themselves to playing this part – to believing it, too. Or perhaps it’s not all that odd: the femme fatale offers more opportunities than several of the other ...

Waving

Anthony Thwaite, 27 October 1988

Stevie Smith: A Critical Biography 
by Frances Spalding.
Faber, 331 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 571 15207 4
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... and literary editors (that is, employers), with most of whom she quickly established a remarkably lively and gossipy relationship. Diana Athill, John Guest, Terence Kilmartin, and many others, were recipients of chat, grumbles, doubts, jokes, questions, japes – often with cross-references to each other: if one editor disapproved of a new poem, she told ...

C.K. Stead writes about Christina Stead

C.K. Stead, 4 September 1986

Ocean of Story: The Uncollected Stories of Christina Stead 
edited by R.G. Geering.
Viking, 552 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 670 80996 9
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The Salzburg Tales 
by Christina Stead.
498 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 86068 691 4
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... whom she identifies. The secure sense of national identity came from her father: ‘David was an Adam,’ she wrote of him. ‘Australia was his prolific and innocent garden.’She was forty years away but always on the move, living (to put the places in roughly chronological order), in London, Paris, Spain, Hollywood, New ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... If Morgan and Davis are too politically correct for Johnson’s taste, he could have recurred to Adam Smith, who noted more than two centuries ago that in a political democracy it was all the more difficult to abolish slavery, since ‘the persons who make the laws in that country are persons who have slaves themselves.’The very ‘freedom of the ...
The Alternative: Politics for a Change 
edited by Ben Pimlott, Anthony Wright and Tony Flower.
W.H. Allen, 260 pp., £14.95, July 1990, 9781852271688
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... been created in the last decade (in part inadvertently) is a neo-mercantile state of the sort that Adam Smith and Tocqueville despised: culturally and economically sterile, but almost impossible to dislodge. The Conservative Government has attached to itself large numbers of people by a profuse distribution of state property and state favours: by the ...

Under the Loincloth

Frank Kermode, 3 April 1997

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Chicago, 417 pp., £23.95, January 1997, 0 226 77187 3
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... Charles Hope – are, in this new edition, keenly reprehended. It should be said that Steinberg, a lively and resourceful writer, could not with any justice be charged with irreverence or lubricity. That he greatly enjoyed researching, writing and defending his thesis is clear enough, and fair enough; his satisfaction is of a legitimate, scholarly kind. He has ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: Libya during the Cartoon Controversy, 9 March 2006

... to the imitations of Dallas typical of the cities of the Gulf States. In a waterfront café with a lively Libyan intellectual, freshly returned from Canada and excited about his plans to launch a weekly newspaper, I notice that most of the young women, including those arm-in-arm with a boyfriend, are hijabed. A few of the hijabs are worn tight to look like a ...

Jangling Monarchy

Tom Paulin: Milton and the Regicides, 8 August 2002

A Companion to Milton 
by Thomas N. Corns.
Blackwell, 528 pp., £80, June 2001, 0 631 21408 9
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The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography 
by Barbara K. Lewalski.
Blackwell, 816 pp., £25, December 2000, 0 631 17665 9
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... Knoppers’s essay in the Companion on Milton’s late political prose offers a detailed and lively account of this period when, in Milton’s symbolic code, England fell from being a happy republic into a jangling fallen monarchy. In late February 1660, Milton had published a pamphlet called The Readie and Easie Way to establish a Free Commonwealth in ...

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