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English Art and English Rubbish

Peter Campbell, 20 March 1986

C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist 
by Alan Crawford.
Yale, 500 pp., £35, November 1985, 0 300 03467 9
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The Laughter and the Urn: The Life of Rex Whistler 
by Laurence Whistler.
Weidenfeld, 321 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78603 2
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The Originality of Thomas Jones 
by Lawrence Gowing.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £4.95, February 1986, 0 500 55017 4
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Art beyond the Gallery in Early 20th-century England 
by Richard Cork.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, April 1985, 0 300 03236 6
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Alfred Gilbert 
by Richard Dorment.
Yale, 350 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 300 03388 5
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... ponderous than its subject deserves’ unnecessary. Ashbee’s ideas were a legacy of Ruskin and Morris: the Ruskin who could write of a little girl he saw in ill-fitting hand-me-downs when he was lecturing in Oxford that ‘nothing spoken about art’ could be ‘of the least use’ to anyone in his audience. ‘For their primary business, and mine, was ...

Ariel the Unlucky

David Gilmour, 5 April 1990

Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon 
by Ariel Sharon and David Chanoff.
Macdonald, 571 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 356 17960 5
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The Slopes of Lebanon 
by Amos Oz, translated by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura.
Chatto, 246 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3444 5
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From Beirut to Jerusalem 
by Thomas Friedman.
Collins, 541 pp., £15, March 1990, 0 00 215096 4
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Pity the nation: Lebanon at War 
by Robert Fisk.
Deutsch, 622 pp., £17.95, February 1990, 0 233 98516 6
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... of events and ignore the work of Israel’s best modern historians, such as Avi Shlaim and Benny Morris. Qibya was a disgusting incident which reminded the pro-Zionist New York Post of Lidice, but in Sharon’s autobiography it becomes almost an unlucky misunderstanding. One night in 1953 he took his commando unit into Jordan, killed a dozen members of the ...

How to be Green

Mary Douglas, 13 September 1990

A Green Manifesto for the 1990s 
by Penny Kemp and Derek Wall.
Penguin, 212 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 14 013272 4
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Social Philosophy and Ecological Scarcity 
by Keekok Lee.
Routledge, 425 pp., £40, September 1989, 0 415 03220 2
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Mother Country 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 261 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15453 0
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Blueprint for a Green Economy 
by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward Barbier.
Earthscan, 192 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 1 85383 066 6
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The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon 
by Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 366 pp., £16.95, November 1989, 0 86091 261 2
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Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Barrie and Jenkins, 250 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 7126 3489 4
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... we will be less tempted to travel at all. The attractive vision explicitly recalls William Morris’s Utopia.With a good laugh at the well-known weaknesses of economic indicators, the authors call for new indicators of economic success and failure. Green policy will abolish unemployment, by allowing work-sharing. The Greens will restore pride in ...

Green Thoughts

Colin Ward, 19 January 1989

Seasons of the Seal 
by Fred Bruemmer and Brian Davies.
Bloomsbury, 160 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0214 5
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Whale Nation 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 191 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 224 02555 4
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Falling for a dolphin 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 47 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 224 02659 3
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Prisoners of the Seas 
by K.A. Gourlay.
Zed, 256 pp., £25.95, November 1988, 0 86232 686 9
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Progress for a Small Planet 
by Barbara Ward.
Earthscan, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1988, 1 85383 028 3
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Future Earth: Exploring the Frontiers of Space 
edited by Nigel Calder and John Newell.
Christopher Helm, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780747004202
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Sizewell B: An Anatomy of the Enquiry 
by Timothy O’Riordan, Ray Kemp and Michael Purdue.
Macmillan, 474 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 333 38944 1
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Early Green Politics 
by Peter Gould.
Harvester, 225 pp., £29.95, June 1988, 0 7108 1192 6
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Dreamers of the Absolute 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Radius, 312 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 09 173240 9
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The Coming of the Greens 
by Jonathon Porritt and David Winner.
Fontana, 287 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 00 637244 9
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Ecology and Socialism 
by Martin Ryle.
Radius, 122 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 09 182247 5
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... could be the party of green hopes and aims. ‘The future of socialism may lie more with William Morris than with Herbert Morrison,’ Robin Cook said in 1987. Morris died over ninety years ago, but remains wise and relevant for his insistence on combining social justice with a respect for nature. Can the Left recover his ...

Making doorbells ring

David Trotter: Pushing Buttons, 22 November 2018

Power Button: A History of Pleasure, Panic and the Politics of Pushing 
by Rachel Plotnick.
MIT, 424 pp., £30, October 2018, 978 0 262 03823 2
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... the gendering of fantasies of remote control. In an 1892 article on female circumcision, Dr Robert Morris declared that ‘the clitoris is a little electric button which, pressed by adhesions, rings up the whole nervous system.’ Dr Morris’s intervention provoked some panicky speculation as to the way that amount of ...

Did more mean worse?

Michael Brock, 23 October 1986

Government and the Universities in Britain: Programme and Performance 1960-1980 
by John Carswell.
Cambridge, 181 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 9780521258265
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... defective. Sir Edward Herbert died before the Report had been signed. Mr R.B. Southall and Sir David Anderson ‘belonged’, in Mr Carswell’s words, ‘to the silent minority’. All four members of the ‘inner group’, as Mr Carswell defines it, were academics. The most serious result of the under-representation of secondary education on the ...

Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David, 9 December 1999

Elizabeth DavidA Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth DavidThe Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... When Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food appeared in 1950, many of the ingredients it called for were unobtainable. But even after meat came off the ration, few people can have had much practical need for a traditional Turkish recipe for stuffing a whole sheep. That was not the point. Saturated with description, of figs and aubergines, of fishing boats at anchor in Marseille and paella pans left out to dry in Spanish courtyards, Mediterranean Food brought a beakerful of the warm South to chilly, postwar England ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... confront us from the back wall while in the middle of the floor, humped in silence, is Robert Morris’s big low cage of a steel sculpture of 1967 and to either side whitish paintings by Robert Ryman and Agnes Martin. No self-respecting museum would present a combination which was so insouciant art-historically, but it does look very good. The second room ...

‘His eyes were literally on fire’

David Trotter: Fu Manchu, 5 March 2015

The Yellow Peril: Dr Fu Manchu & the Rise of Chinaphobia 
by Christopher Frayling.
Thames and Hudson, 360 pp., £24.95, October 2014, 978 0 500 25207 9
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... who prune flesh and foliage more or less indiscriminately. Mirbeau, the William Morris of death by a thousand cuts, meant his descriptions of the array of minutely calibrated torture devices to provide a critique of Western military technology and its bureaucratisation of death. That Fu Manchu, who seems to have read Mirbeau ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth, 23 March 2006

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... his rediscovery, Roth took another thirty years to publish his second novel, A Star Shines over Mt Morris Park (1994), and during that time there was much speculation about the causes of his prolonged failure to write. A lot of it focused on Call It Sleep, which tells the story of a sensitive immigrant child growing up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side a few ...

At the Royal Academy

Daniel Soar: Hockney, 9 February 2012

... The vast David Hockney show at the Royal Academy (until 9 April) is deliberately overwhelming. What it most looks like is an overblown, hyped-up, hyperreal parody of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, that super-English annual gathering of the amateur art establishment, to which the buying public with large pocketbooks flock from the Home Counties and beyond ...

Liberties

Brigid Brophy, 2 October 1980

Deliberate Regression 
by Robert Harbison.
Deutsch, 264 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 233 97273 0
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... comes into sight again when the ‘outstretched arms mechanically generated from each other’ in David’s ‘Oath of the Horatii’ are said to be (or at least have placed next to them, in apposition) ‘duplication which leads through democratic crowds to totalitarian unison’. I thought this was coming it a bit. There are only three outstretched arms in ...

All the difference

Avi Shlaim, 25 June 1992

The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations 
by Itamar Rabinovich.
Oxford, 259 pp., £19.50, December 1991, 0 19 506066 0
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... what Israelis call their War of Independence. The authors of these books – Simha Flapan, Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé and myself – are sometimes collectively referred to as the ‘new historians’ or the ‘Israeli revisionists’. Revisionist historiography challenged the traditional Zionist version of the birth of Israel on a number of ...

Who do you think you are?

Jacqueline Rose: Trans Narratives, 5 May 2016

... to say, ‘transcending’, as in ‘above’, or ‘in a different realm from’, both. Thus Jan Morris in Conundrum in 1974: ‘There is neither man nor woman … I shall transcend both.’ Even that is not all. If transsexuality is subsumed in the broader category of transgender, as it is for example in the Transgender Studies readers, then there would ...

No Shortage of Cousins

David Trotter: Bowenology, 12 August 2021

Selected Stories 
by Elizabeth Bowen, edited by Tessa Hadley.
Vintage, 320 pp., £14.99, April, 978 1 78487 715 6
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The Hotel 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Anchor, 256 pp., $16, August 2020, 978 0 593 08065 8
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Friends and Relations 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Anchor, 224 pp., $16, August 2020, 978 0 593 08067 2
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... proved hard to ignore. In The Heat of the Day, Roderick Rodney, arriving after dark at Mount Morris, the Anglo-Irish estate he has inherited, decides at once to inspect the land leading down from the house to a river. ‘Forms, having made themselves known through no particular sense, forms whose existence he was not to doubt again, loomed and dwelled ...

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