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Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers and editors do the work he wants to help with – they keep going some intelligent conversation about ...

It’s me, it’s me, it’s me

David Thomson: The Keynotes of Cary Grant, 5 November 2020

Cary Grant: The Making of a Hollywood Legend 
by Mark Glancy.
Oxford, 550 pp., £22.99, October, 978 0 19 005313 0
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Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise 
by Scott Eyman.
Simon and Schuster, 556 pp., £27.10, November, 978 1 5011 9211 1
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... Donaldson’s An Affair to Remember (1989); or Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant (2011) by Dyan Cannon, his fourth wife and the mother of his only child. And there is Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father (2011), the very fond book by that child, Jennifer Grant, who was born in 1966, almost exactly as Dad retired from pictures. As she admitted, there was ...

Turning on Turtles

Stephen Sedley: Fundamental values, 15 November 2001

Fundamental Values 
edited by Kim Economides et al.
Hart, 359 pp., £40, December 2000, 1 84113 118 0
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... on local funfairs where, for a few francs, revellers had been permitted to shoot a dwarf from a cannon. The official reason was the maintenance of public order, but the regional courts which initially overturned the bans pointed out that the shows were entirely orderly. The real issue was human dignity; but the people whose dignity was being compromised ...

Heavenly Cities

Daniel Aaron, 10 October 1991

The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 266 pp., £17.50, June 1991, 0 571 16192 8
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... the arts. The expository flow is slowed down by authorial excurses: a disquisition on clocks and cannon, a report on what he sees and hears during one of his flâneurial rambles from Greenwich Village to the United Nations, reflections on a John Ashbery poem. Plainly he has read a lot of books. This one abounds with ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian, 7 July 1988

The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... and forth as Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker do in The Spanish Armada. The first page shows Sir John Hawkins writing a dispatch to Walsingham dated from on board the Victory in the North Sea on 10 August 1588. Somewhere to leeward, in spite of the fierce running battle of Gravelines two days before, there were still great bodies of disciplined Spanish ...

The Crystal Palace Experience

E.S. Turner: The Great Exhibition of 1851, 25 November 1999

The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display 
by Jeffrey Auerbach.
Yale, 280 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 300 08007 7
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... the nation was brainwashed into seeing the Crystal Palace as a ‘Temple of Peace’. John Tallis, in his guidebook, observed that ‘peace was on every lip’, and not, as one would expect, the Victorian equivalent of ‘Wow!’ Jeffrey Auerbach is much occupied with charting such changes in aspiration and emphasis. His book is less concerned ...

Unwritten Novels

Doris Lessing, 11 January 1990

... that it is the former who have written the novels which present the past to the common reader.’) John Mercury is an exciting tale about those men who, risking transportation and prison, smuggled on carts and mail coaches, then up and down the railways, batches of pamphlets, broadsheets, newsheets, all clandestinely printed or copied out by hand – the ...

‘Look at me. I on TV’

Daniel Soar: Percival Everett, 10 July 2003

Erasure 
by Percival Everett.
Faber, 294 pp., £14.99, March 2003, 0 571 21588 2
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... Kempley, staff writer, of the 1991 movie Boyz N the Hood, written and directed by ‘homeboy’ John Singleton; in Kempley’s words, ‘a rude, insistent rap, an unflinching, often funny, always compassionate look at coming of age in Central Los Angeles’. The second is from a review ‘in the Atlantic Monthly or Harpers’ of Juanita Mae Jenkins’s ...

The Matter of India

John Bayley, 19 March 1987

... both are made by the individual, who puts himself into them, puts in his ‘life illusion’, as John Cowper Powys called it, his unconscious fears and desires. History will not work without fiction, or at least the fictive principle, which Scott renounced as far as he could. This of course amounts to choosing a principle of another kind, but a negative ...

Flip-Flops and Kalashnikovs

Tom Stevenson: In Libya, 2 March 2017

... storeys up, a captain in a smart grey wool coat sat behind a big desk in a corner office watching John Travolta in Be Cool. At least he had turned up for work; much of the Libyan police force now exists only on paper. A colonel in the internal intelligence service told me that he, and every other high-ranking officer he knows, shows up once a week to pick up ...

Wrath of the Centurions

Max Hastings: My Lai, 25 January 2018

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent into Darkness 
by Howard Jones.
Oxford, 504 pp., £22.99, June 2017, 978 0 19 539360 6
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... many former Allied fighter pilots who admitted to deliberately strafing – killing with cannon, rockets and bombs – civilians in Germany during the relatively carefree days just before the war ended. My point is not to suggest that the American soldiers who committed the My Lai massacre behaved no worse than British or French soldiers in similar ...
The Aristocracy in England, 1660-1914 
by J.V. Beckett.
Blackwell, 512 pp., £22.50, September 1986, 0 631 13391 7
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... undignified and unnatural circus tricks. At the end of this formidable survey of the aristocracy John Beckett notes that they have survived into the late 20th century ‘as protectors of the nation’s heritage’ and that some ‘even argue that as collectors of beautiful objects over time their families were thinking not merely of self-interest but of the ...

Danger-Men

Tom Shippey, 2 February 1989

A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 
by Christopher Hill.
Oxford, 394 pp., £19.50, October 1988, 0 19 812818 5
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The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History 
by Anne Hudson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £48, July 1988, 0 19 822762 0
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... He gives short histories of dozens of Bunyan’s contemporaries, noting, for instance, that John Kelyng, the judge who bullied Bunyan in 1661, had done 18 years in prison himself and had ‘grounds for feeling vengeful’; that Paul Cobb, the seemingly feeble Clerk of the Peace who tried to let Bunyan off, went on to become mayor twenty years later when ...

War and Peace

A.J.P. Taylor, 2 October 1980

Humanity in Warfare: the Modern History of the International Law of Armed Conflicts 
by Geoffrey Best.
Weidenfeld, 400 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 297 77737 8
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Pacifism in Britain 1914-1945: the Defining of a Faith 
by Martin Caedel.
Oxford, 342 pp., £12.50, August 1980, 0 19 821882 6
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... power. The British did not observe the rules when they blew Indian mutineers from the mouths of cannon. The Americans did not observe the rules when at war with the Red Indians, and of course the Red Indians also did not observe them. In fact, the laws of war were until recently confined to Europe, though Best ends by chronicling the present-day attempts to ...

Footpaths

Tom Shippey, 26 July 1990

England and Englishness: Ideas of Nationhood in English Poetry, 1688-1900 
by John Lucas.
Hogarth, 227 pp., £18, February 1990, 0 7012 0892 9
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The Englishman’s England: Taste, Travel and the Rise of Tourism 
by Ian Ousby.
Cambridge, 244 pp., £45, February 1990, 0 521 37374 3
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Fleeting Things: English Poets and Poems, 1616-1660 
by Gerald Hammond.
Harvard, 394 pp., £24.95, March 1990, 0 674 30625 2
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... retaining it and FIFA be damned – what is this about ‘Englishness’? It is this question that John Lucas sets himself to answer, in considering the poetry of two centuries. He has one immediate cultural handicap: he cannot refrain from sniping at his own side (the English), as if to provide credentials of fairness. But what he says often seems more ...

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