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When big was beautiful

Nicholas Wade, 20 August 1992

Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research 
edited by Peter Galison and Bruce Helvy.
Stanford, 392 pp., $45, April 1992, 0 8047 1879 2
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The Code of Codes 
edited by Daniel Kevles and Leroy Hood.
Harvard, 397 pp., £23.95, June 1992, 0 674 13645 4
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... cure within a decade, met its political goal of pre-empting a similar initiative pushed by Senator Edward Kennedy, but as a technical achievement left much to be desired. It was simply premature in the Seventies to hold any realistic hope of addressing the fundamental nature of cancers, since the necessary biological methods were only just then being ...

The Whole Orang

Paul Smith, 12 March 1992

Darwin 
by Adrian Desmond and James Moore.
Joseph, 808 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 7181 3430 3
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... the scope of man’s intellect’, and politely fending off horrifying tributes like Edward Aveling’s attempt to dedicate to him a collection of evolution articles from the National Reformer, destined to appear in the ‘International Library of Science and Free-thought’ under the lively editorship of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh. The ...

The Flight of a Clergyman’s Wife

Gareth Stedman Jones, 27 May 1993

Annie Besant: A Biography 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 383 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 19 211796 3
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... in addition campaigned for the revived Malthusian League. At the same time, under the influence of Edward Aveling, she became excited by a romantically-tinged version of Darwinism and was among the first women to embark on a science degree at University College London. She lived round the corner from Bradlaugh, and his daughters became fellow students. But ...

Resurrecting the Tudors

John Pemble: James Anthony Froude, 23 May 2013

James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet 
by Ciaran Brady.
Oxford, 500 pp., £45, May 2013, 978 0 19 966803 8
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... Froude coped with these by mixing Carlyle with Hegel. Action and reaction pursued each other in an upward spiral of progress. The Reformation of Henry VIII and Edward VI had been followed by Mary’s Counter-Reformation; and this was then counteracted by the new Reformation of Elizabeth. Each turn in the cycle was ...

‘Kek kek! kokkow! quek quek!’

Barbara Newman: Chaucer’s Voices, 21 November 2019

Chaucer: A European Life 
by Marion Turner.
Princeton, 599 pp., £30, April 2019, 978 0 691 16009 2
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... served under three kings, honing his diplomatic skills in the last decades of Edward III, surviving the tumultuous reign of Richard II (1377-99), and gaining the favour of Henry IV before what must have been a rather sudden death in 1400. To contextualise his career, Turner provides an extensive political, social, economic and cultural ...

To Be Worth Forty Shillings

Jonah Miller: Early Modern Inequality, 2 February 2017

Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status and the Social Order in Early Modern England 
by Alexandra Shepard.
Oxford, 357 pp., £65, February 2015, 978 0 19 960079 3
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... case study of Terling, a village in Essex, Keith Wrightson and David Levine described a massive upward redistribution of wealth between 1525 and 1700, and descriptions of early modern society since theirs have been full of people like Edward Ballard, a ‘pore needy felloe’ with ‘noe certen place of aboad’ living ...

Fast Water off the Bow-Wave

Jeremy Harding: George Oppen, 21 June 2018

21 Poems 
by George Oppen, edited by David B. Hobbs.
New Directions, 48 pp., £7.99, September 2017, 978 0 8112 2691 2
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... what has the air frozen?’ – in ways that photography couldn’t. (Oppen later cited Edward Hopper as an influence.) Humans were glimpsed in the city’s interstices, briefly individuated before being folded back into a makeshift sociology: Houses built –. From a train one sees    him in the morning, his morning; Him in the ...

John Homer’s Odyssey

Claude Rawson, 9 January 1992

Customs in Common 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 547 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 85036 411 6
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... Edward Thompson’s Customs in Common is described as a ‘companion volume’ to his The Making of the English Working Class, and rises to the occasion. It has the wide range of reference, the densely-textured documentation, a special quality of charged impressionism (sometimes tendentious, more often honourably concerned with generous perspectives and panoramic insight), the embattled moral fervour, which established the earlier book as a classic of historical scholarship and indeed of English letters ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... Nottingham, for good measure. Mel Brooks, in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), mocks his upward mobility by having people refer to Marian, after Robin has been knighted and has married her, as Mrs of Loxley. This double shift of classes, from high to low to high, is a cross-cultural pattern that Knight might have (but hasn’t) illuminated by ...

Thinking

Peter Campbell, 4 August 1988

Who got Einstein’s office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study 
by Ed Regis.
Simon and Schuster, 316 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 671 69923 7
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Chaos 
by James Gleick.
Heinemann, 354 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 9780434295548
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The School of Genius 
by Anthony Storr.
Deutsch, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 233 98010 5
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... of the shell exactly matched. Wolfram has now left the Institute and has made the ultimate upward move: he has an institute of his own, the Centre for Complex Systems Research, at the University of Illinois. In his descriptions of the work of Wolfram and Mandelbrot, Regis achieves clarity without suggesting that one can know for certain that the work ...
George Macaulay Trevelyan: A Memoir 
by Mary Moorman.
Hamish Hamilton, 253 pp., £9.95, April 1980, 0 241 10358 4
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Public and Private 
by Humphrey Trevelyan.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 241 10357 6
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... but that elder branch of the family luckily died out in 1879, bringing a further injection of upward social mobility and broad acres to a dynasty which had begun with a penniless clerk in India in 1830. By 1900 G.M. Trevelyan saw his family almost as haughty Border Lords: ‘It is a rule that no Trevelyan ever sucks up either to the press, or the ...

Apartheid’s Apocalypse

R.W. Johnson, 3 July 1986

South Africa without Apartheid 
by Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley.
California, 315 pp., £15.25, July 1986, 0 520 05769 4
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Move your shadow: South Africa Black and White 
by Joseph Lelyveld.
Joseph, 390 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2661 0
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Capitalism and Apartheid: South Africa 1910-1984 
by Merle Lipton.
Gower/Temple Smith, 448 pp., £18.50, September 1985, 0 85117 248 2
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The Militarisation of South African Politics 
by Kenneth Grundy.
Tauris, 133 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 1 85043 019 5
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... Hence the careers of Desmond Tutu and Alan Boesak, the latest and best exponents of this crab-like upward leverage into power-broker status. The Western liberal dream was that black South Africans could somehow be gently led to liberation by living saints – Christian Gandhis – who would blessedly leave Western investments and strategic interests undamaged ...

Physicke from Another Body

Michael Neill: Cannibal Tinctures, 1 December 2011

Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture 
by Louise Noble.
Palgrave Macmillan, 241 pp., £52, March 2011, 978 0 230 11027 4
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Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians 
by Richard Sugg.
Routledge, 374 pp., £24.99, June 2011, 978 0 415 67417 1
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... dead mother, upon whose flesh they had fed twenty days past, and having eaten all from the feete upward to the bare bones, rosting it continually by a slow fire, were now come to the eating of her said entralls in like sort roasted, yet not divided from the body, being as yet raw. Moryson’s rhetoric ensures that the grisly detail of the scene overwhelms ...

Elizabethan Spirits

William Empson, 17 April 1980

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age 
by Frances Yates.
Routledge, 224 pp., £7.75, November 1979, 9780710003201
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... man not only receives the light of divine life, but gives it also; he not only makes his way upward to God but he even fashions gods.’ ‘Do you mean statues, Trismegistus?’ asks the doctor timidly, and is rebuked: these statues really do make prophecies and heal or inflict diseases. Then there is a long denunciation of Christians, who despise the ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... a delicate woman: small and gamine in appearance, even in her starched VAD uniform. (Her brother Edward, who won a Military Cross on the first day of the Somme and died in June 1918, a few days after my uncle Newton, towers over her by at least a foot in family photographs.) And in many ways she was delicate in spirit too. Insanity ran in the family – she ...

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