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

... on for several minutes about the pink champagne, the eclectic company (the unsinkable Woodrow Wyatt still Keeping Left in those days), Dalton’s booming political anecdotes, and so forth. There was a moment of embarrassed silence down the line before the researcher said: ‘That’s not what it says in the diary’. As I subsequently worked out, my ...

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

ThePoems of Browning. Vol. I: 1826-1840 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin.
Longman, 797 pp., £60, April 1991, 0 582 48100 7
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ThePoems of Browning. Vol. II: 1841-1846 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin .
Longman, 581 pp., £50, April 1991, 9780582063990
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... ego in the novel as an excerpt from his supposed poem dated 1860, ‘The Garden of Proserpine’. David West in the Times Saturday Review for 24 August 1991, show-casing the piece in a panel headed ‘Reading a Poem’, invited us to see here ‘many of the characteristics of the best Victorian verse: the vivid and disturbing pictures, the rich organ music ...


Blair Worden, 10 January 1983

Neostoicism and the Early Modern State 
by Gerhard Oestreich, edited by Brigitta Oestreich and H.G. Koenigsberger, translated by David McLintock.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £25, August 1982, 0 521 24202 9
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... the famous passage of Seneca’s Thyestes, that touchstone of Stoic poetry in England from Wyatt to Marvell, where ‘the slippery height of the court’ is renounced in favour of the ‘pleasant ease’ and ‘quiet leisure’ of obscurity. The passage is quite in keeping with the general tone of the Politics. We can certainly identify a more ...


Nicholas Spice, 6 July 1995

Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and its Effects on Music 
by Michael Chanan.
Verso, 204 pp., £39.95, May 1995, 1 85984 012 4
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Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak Easy Listening and other Moodsong 
by Joseph Lanza.
Quartet, 280 pp., £10, January 1995, 0 7043 0226 8
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... to back up its claims. An early boost came from Britain. In 1937, two industrial psychologists, Wyatt and Langdon, published a paper, ‘Fatigue and Boredom in Repetitive Work’, which showed that young women worked more efficiently and with less resentment when they worked to music. Meanwhile, cows in Mckeesport. Pennsylvania were reported to yield more ...

A Tentative Idea for a Lamp

Tim Radford: Thomas Edison, 18 March 1999

Edison: A Life of Invention 
by Paul Israel.
Wiley, 552 pp., £19.50, November 1998, 0 471 52942 7
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... Edison wasn’t the only American legend born in 1847; so was the outlaw Jesse James. The lawman Wyatt Earp was born in 1848: Earp and James and Edison might have inhabited different planets, but one of the ironies of this story is that the legends of Earp and James are essentially Hollywood creations, and one of the players in the creation of Hollywood was ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... strange being alone with these two books; even the names of the poets – Charles Tomlinson, or David Gascoyne, or Robert Conquest, or John Holloway, or Christopher Middleton, or Geoffrey Hill – stood for a world that was fully England. Looking at the list of poets was like having one’s Irish nose pushed up against the polished glass of a posh window in ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... and any number of ministers and favourites. In Mary Rose, his book about Brandon’s third wife, David Loades says: ‘He was present everywhere, but it is hard to pinpoint what he actually did.’ Throughout his career Charles accumulated grand-sounding titles, which confused outsiders into overestimating his importance as a policymaker. When he became ...

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