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Squidging about

Caroline Murphy: Camilla and the sex-motherers, 22 January 2004

Camilla: An Intimate Portrait 
by Rebecca Tyrrel.
Short Books, 244 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 904095 53 4
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... Andrew took up with the 19-year-old Princess Anne: Tyrrel borrows from another royal biographer, Christopher Wilson, the speculation that ‘it was to Andrew’ that Anne ‘surrendered her virginity’. It wasn’t that Camilla was worried he might marry Anne (Andrew was Catholic and therefore out of the question) but that he had bagged the most ...

It’s alive!

Christopher Tayler: The cult of Godzilla, 3 February 2005

Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters 
by William Tsutsui.
Palgrave, 240 pp., £8.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6474 2
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... remembered. Bought on the cheap, re-edited, and dubbed by the likes of George Takei and Daws Butler (better known as Mr Sulu, from Star Trek, and Yogi Bear), Toho’s cheerily ludicrous pictures were endlessly recycled in American drive-ins and, later, on Saturday afternoon TV. Films that were originally made for eight-year-olds gave generations of ...

I am not a world improver

Christopher Turner: Building Seagram, 6 February 2014

Building Seagram 
by Phyllis Lambert.
Yale, 306 pp., £45, January 2013, 978 0 300 16767 2
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Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography 
by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst.
Chicago, 493 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 226 15145 8
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... he was to survive; as it was, for lack of commissions, they write, he was forced to let go of his butler and maid. Nevertheless, Mies remained in Germany long after Gropius and Breuer, who had both moved to London by 1935, and, for many architectural historians, his work under Nazism infects his later buildings. Don’t his corporate monoliths, symbols of a ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... Bayard – who’s being taught a lesson about gender performativity by the young Judith Butler during a drugged-up threesome with Cixous – finds out what’s going on in time to disrupt the handover, though not in time to prevent the story from taking a decisive step into irrealism via the death of someone who wasn’t in fact torn apart by wild ...

Whose Candyfloss?

Christopher Hilliard: Richard Hoggart, 17 April 2014

Richard Hoggart: Virtue and Reward 
by Fred Inglis.
Polity, 259 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 7456 5171 2
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... talking about it were part of a particular historical moment: the moment of army education, of the Butler Act, of Penguin, of Leavisism. Inglis’s gloominess about the state of the media and public life in contemporary Britain suggests that he doubts whether it is possible any longer to speak from the position of cultured authority that Hoggart occupied from ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe, 3 April 2014

The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... it’s preceded by an unexpected, Ian Fleming-like sequence with a turn from a violent butler. Banville has some fun giving Clare an Irish background. ‘Look at that, now,’ her mother, a perfume magnate whose Protestant husband died nastily for Michael Collins, says of a cup of tea: ‘Strong enough to trot a mouse on.’ He amuses ...

Fictbites

Peter Campbell, 18 May 1989

Any Old Iron 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 339 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 09 173842 3
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The Ragged End 
by John Spurling.
Weidenfeld, 313 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 297 79505 8
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Higher Ground 
by Caryl Phillips.
Viking, 224 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 670 82620 0
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The Flint Bed 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 185 pp., £10.95, April 1989, 0 436 09788 5
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Stark 
by Ben Elton.
Joseph, 453 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 0 7181 3302 1
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... to problems of figure and ground: how to combine the domestic scale with the broad view. Even Christopher Burns’s The Flint Bed, which looks to be going to find its subject in English provincial life, expands (via a plot tied to a photograph from 1975 of desperate refugees fighting to get onto a helicopter lifting off from the American Embassy in ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... a writer. A guest list for a Features party planned in 1951 included Henry Reed, Lawrence Durrell. Christopher Fry, C. Day Lewis, Lennox Berkeley, Michael Tippett, William Walton, Laurie Lee and Stevie Smith. Until the early Fifties the BBC appeared to get a good return from its policy of patronising highbrow talent. From the inauguration of the Italia Prize ...

Outside the text

Marilyn Butler, 19 December 1985

The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 352 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 19 811730 2
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The Politics of Language: 1791-1819 
by Olivia Smith.
Oxford, 269 pp., £19.50, December 1984, 0 19 812817 7
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... detached researchers and editors. Other leading figures also do both, including, in this country, Christopher Ricks and John Carey. But most critics in good repute don’t seem to want to edit, and wouldn’t be any good if they tried. The provocative element in McGann’s position for them will be his serious belief in the centrality of the role of the ...

Liza Jarrett’s Hard Life

Paul Driver, 4 December 1986

The Death of the Body 
by C.K. Stead.
Collins, 192 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 00 223067 4
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Kramer’s Goats 
by Rudolf Nassauer.
Peter Owen, 188 pp., £10.50, August 1986, 0 7206 0659 4
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Mefisto 
by John Banville.
Secker, 234 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780436032660
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The Century’s Daughter 
by Pat Barker.
Virago, 284 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780860686064
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Love Unknown 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 202 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 241 11922 7
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... like the mind/body problem. In fact, the climax provides a sort of answer to that conundrum. Harry Butler, adulterous philosophy professor, is about to fall victim to a frame-up by militant lesbians at his university, and is saved professionally by the vigorous intervention of his hitherto merely mystical wife. But the price of his assured future proves to be ...

The water-doctors vanish

E.S. Turner: The social history of British spas, 4 June 1998

British Spas from 1815 to the Present Day: A Social History 
by Phyllis Hembry and Leonard Cowie.
Athlone, 292 pp., £50, June 1997, 0 485 11502 6
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... the medical pretensions of spas or with the derisive accounts by visitors like Tobias Smollett and Christopher Anstey. They are sober accounts of planning, financing and building, of the labours of improvement commissioners; they offer analyses of population and of the proportion of masters to servants, along with statistics of ...

Boulevard Brogues

Rosemary Hill: Having your grouse and eating it, 13 May 1999

Girlitude: A Memoir of the Fifties and Sixties 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1999, 0 224 05952 1
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... crockery like her parents’ and having a baby, Tennant, bored and intimidated by the German butler she has somehow hired, begins to drift out of her marriage. She takes to spending time in Rome in the ‘dangerously bohemian’ Isola Tiberina, which is not so dangerous that it can’t be visited by the cream of Italian society and, ominously, Princess ...

Walking in high places

Michael Neve, 21 October 1982

The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of 18th-Century Science 
edited by G.S. Rousseau and R.S. Porter.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £25, November 1980, 9780521225991
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Romanticism and the Forms of Ruin 
by Thomas McFarland.
Princeton, 432 pp., £24.60, February 1981, 0 691 06437 7
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Poetry realised in Nature: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Early 19th-Century Science 
by Trevor Levere.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £22.50, October 1981, 0 521 23920 6
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Coleridge 
by Richard Holmes.
Oxford, 102 pp., £1.25, March 1982, 0 19 287591 4
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Young Charles Lamb 1775-1802 
by Winifred Courtney.
Macmillan, 411 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 333 31534 0
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... other places – suggest affirmative answers. Two notable studies have appeared recently: Marilyn Butler’s Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries, reviewed in the LRB (Vol. 3, No 21) by Christopher Ricks; and Thomas McFarland’s marvellously over-the-top Romanticism and the Forms of Ruin, which also appeared in 1981. (One ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... Nation’, in which she shows Spenser’s literary heirs George Wither, William Browne and the MP Christopher Brooke co-ordinating political with poetic pressure on the Crown at moments of political turmoil in the 1620s. Or there is 1667, when Marvell’s Last Instructions to a Painter, and plays by Sir Robert Howard and the Earl of Orrery, seized on the hope ...

Diary

Christopher Prendergast: Piss where you like, 17 March 2005

... declared: ‘Your Honour, like Oliver Goldsmith, Dean Swift, Edmund Burke, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge, Sean O’Casey, James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Samuel Beckett, I occasionally have difficulties with the English language.’ Peals of laughter around the courtroom, even the judge working overtime to ...

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