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It was worse in 1931

Colin Kidd: Clement Attlee, 17 November 2016

Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee 
by John Bew.
Riverrun, 668 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 1 78087 989 5
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... into the late 1930s, by which time Attlee was Labour leader. The Oxford intellectual G.D.H. Cole irritated him as a ‘permanent undergraduate’, who had ‘a new idea every year, irrespective of whether the ordinary man was interested in it or not’. Similarly, Cole’s Oxford colleague A.L. Rowse – then on the ...

Reduced to Ashes and Rubbage

Jessie Childs: Civil War Traumas, 3 January 2019

Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars 
edited by David Appleby and Andrew Hopper.
Manchester, 247 pp., £80, July 2018, 978 1 5261 2480 7
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... a collection of essays that examine the physical and mental injuries inflicted by the civil wars, David Appleby addresses the problem of wandering soldiers. These were disbanded veterans, deserters and escaped prisoners of war, who frequently clashed with civilian communities as they tried to make their way home. Some didn’t have a home: the majority of ...

How good is it?

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Inside the KJB, 3 February 2011

The Holy Bible: King James Version, 1611 Text 
edited by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 1552 pp., £50, October 2010, 978 0 19 955760 8
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Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 
by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 354 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 19 955759 2
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The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 
by David Norton.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 521 61688 1
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The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences 
edited by Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones.
Cambridge, 364 pp., £25, December 2010, 978 0 521 76827 6
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Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language 
by David Crystal.
Oxford, 327 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 958585 4
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... shout their presence (the radically different visual effect of the original is illustrated in David Norton’s The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today, as well as in Campbell’s own Bible, another history of the KJB). It’s a pity, but the change emphasises just how remote the modern ‘King James’ Bible is from its original. It ...

So Hard to Handle

John Lahr: In Praise of Joni Mitchell, 22 February 2018

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell 
by David Yaffe.
Farrar, Straus, 420 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 374 24813 0
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... Hendrix noted in his diary after their first, brief meeting. ‘She just knocked me on my ass,’ David Crosby said after hearing her sing ‘Both Sides, Now’. ‘It was the highest quality of songwriting. I liked her better than Dylan.’ Crosby briefly became Mitchell’s inamorato and produced her first album. Leonard Cohen, another influential early ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... passion. For the English department at Upper St Clair High School, however, the writing of David Halberstam, Norman Mailer, Larry King and Marshall Frady, to name just a handful of the Morris Boys, was considered precocious troublemaking, and duly expelled from class as stylistically, politically and just about every other way-ally unfit for ...

The Great Accumulator

John Sturrock: W.G. Grace, 20 August 1998

W.G. Grace: A Life 
by Simon Rae.
Faber, 548 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 571 17855 3
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W.G.’s Birthday Party 
by David Kynaston.
Night Watchman, 154 pp., £13, May 1998, 0 9532360 0 5
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... then canonical English Social History, or in the work of such socialist historians as G.D.H. Cole and Raymond Postgate, even though they were writing ‘what they declared to be the history of the common people of England’. How could they leave out ‘the best known Englishman of his time’? They could leave him out because the place of sport in the ...

The Powyses

D.A.N. Jones, 7 August 1980

After My Fashion 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 286 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 330 26049 9
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Weymouth Sands 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 567 pp., £2.95, June 1980, 0 330 26050 2
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Recollections of the Powys Brothers 
edited by Belinda Humfrey.
Peter Owen, 288 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 7206 0547 4
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John Cowper Powys and David Jones: A Comparative Study 
by Jeremy Hooker.
Enitharmon, 54 pp., £3.75, April 1979, 0 901111 85 6
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The Hollowed-Out Elder Stalk 
by Roland Mathias.
Enitharmon, 158 pp., £4.85, May 1979, 0 901111 87 2
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John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest 
by Morine Krissdottir.
Macdonald, 218 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 354 04492 3
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... can almost hear the title being jazzed up: Dowson’s Propertian lament for Cynara is turning to Cole Porter’s ‘Always true to you, darlin’, in my fashion’. The peaceful Sussex marriage has gone with the wind: ‘From Adam and Eve to Scarlet and Rhett’. J. C. Powys, well-known as a magician, was doubtless able to foretell these pop-song lyrics ...

The Devil upon Two Sticks

Charles Nicholl: Samuel Foote, 23 May 2013

Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian London 
by Ian Kelly.
Picador, 462 pp., £18.99, October 2012, 978 0 330 51783 6
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... clubs and coffee-houses of London’s blossoming West End, and the perfect clownish counterfoil to David Garrick’s smouldering tragic hero. In his heyday in the 1760s, a summer season at the Haymarket theatre earned his company up to £5000, which may be multiplied a hundredfold for its value today. He had a townhouse on Suffolk Street, round the corner from ...

Entanglements

V.G. Kiernan, 4 August 1983

The Working Class in Modern British History: Essays in Honour of Henry Pelling 
edited by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 315 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 521 23444 1
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The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working-Class Radicalism and Culture, 1830-60 
edited by James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £16, November 1982, 0 333 32971 6
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Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of 19th-Century Working Class Autobiography 
by David Vincent.
Methuen, 221 pp., £4.95, December 1982, 0 416 34670 7
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... in the light of local inquiries for a survey commissioned by Beveridge and carried out by G.D.H. Cole in 1941-42. It seems that the man in the street’s hopes were less ambitious than the Beveridge Plan which followed: there is no evidence that ‘grass-roots opinion was harbouring any wider vision of more far-reaching social revolution’. If any such ...
... as studying him (he does exemplify the non-Marxist ‘English socialist’ tradition, like Tawney, Cole and Foot himself). Many of us have been influenced both by the changing character of the Conservative Party (which has itself chosen to polarise the nation) and by the collapse of the electoral basis for a politics of consensus – a collapse which has been ...

Diary

Maya Jasanoff: In Sierra Leone, 11 September 2008

... a welcome end to their journey. ‘There was great joy to see the land,’ the Baptist preacher David George recalled. ‘The high mountain, at some distance . . . appeared like a cloud to us.’ They had retched and ached through seven weeks of storms and pernicious fevers at sea. Now they raised three cheers and fired a salute. Their British officers ...

Identity Parade

Linda Colley, 25 February 1993

People and Places: Country House Donors and the National Trust 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 232 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 7195 5145 5
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The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 
by Michael Dobson.
Oxford, 266 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 19 811233 5
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Myths of the English 
edited by Roy Porter.
Polity, 280 pp., £39.50, October 1992, 0 7456 0844 2
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Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States 
by Stephen Daniels.
Polity, 257 pp., £39.50, November 1992, 0 7456 0450 1
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... to the Bard in Westminster Abbey as a way of advertising their superior patriotism. The actor David Garrick also used the Bard to inflate and dignify his own career, puffing him as the nation’s number-one playwright – just like Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh would go on to do – as a means of representing himself as its number-one actor. He had ...

The company he keeps

C.H. Sisson, 6 August 1981

Experiences of an Optimist 
by John Redcliffe-Maud.
Hamish Hamilton, 199 pp., £10.95, July 1981, 0 241 10569 2
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... fellows living in college. Who more suitable than young Maud? The name had only to be mentioned to David Lindsay Keir and the job was done. Politics was to be his subject, it seems suddenly to have been decided. ‘But why politics?’ Why indeed? Anyhow, G.D.H. Cole put him on to the subject of local government; the Home ...

So, puss, I shall know you another time

Peter Campbell, 8 December 1988

The World through Blunted Sight 
by Patrick Trevor-Roper.
Allen Lane, 207 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7139 9006 6
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Visual Fact over Verbal Fiction 
by Carl Goldstein.
Cambridge, 244 pp., £40, September 1988, 0 521 34331 3
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Hockney on Photography: Conversations with Paul Joyce 
Cape, 192 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 224 02484 1Show More
Portrait of David Hockney 
by Peter Webb.
Chatto, £17.95, November 1988, 0 7011 3401 1
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... in modern eyes may lie in perceptual as well as in cultural embarrassment. A laconic note from David Hockney prefaces Paul Joyce’s conversations with him. It ends: ‘My photographer friends said it wasn’t really photography but painting. I’m not so sure, but I think that’s where I’d like to leave it.’ Whether it is ‘it’ the work or ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

Weather 
by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... accusation of academic complacency. ‘Lightning, Phoenix, Arizona’ has the abrupt menace of a David Lynch dream sequence, the cardiac arrest when a previously straightforward narrative crosses the line and touches a vertiginous post-mortem truth. We need to be reminded of the ugly, petrol-breathed, epidermic floss sulking past our own windows. These ...

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