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Insurrectionary Hopes

Matthew Kelly: Myths of 1916, 1 December 2005

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion 
by Charles Townshend.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £20, September 2005, 0 7139 9690 0
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... course of the week. The majority’s loyalties remained with the Home Rule party and its leader, John Redmond. Ever since Parnell had been hailed ‘the uncrowned king of Ireland’ in the 1880s, the majority of nationalists had supported the parliamentary campaign for Home Rule, hoping that Westminster could be persuaded or cajoled into devolving ...

At the Helm of the World

Pankaj Mishra: Alexander Herzen, 1 June 2017

The Discovery of Chance: The Life and Thought of Alexander Herzen 
by Aileen Kelly.
Harvard, 582 pp., £31.95, May 2016, 978 0 674 73711 2
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... has not had consistent backing inside or outside academia, on the left or on the right, and Aileen Kelly’s new biography is unlikely to provoke a revival, or the sort of steady engagement that has continuously enlarged the reputations of Marx and Nietzsche. Unlike Marx, his acrimonious rival, Herzen did not provide a systematic diagnosis of the suffering ...

Wrong Again

Bruce Cumings: Korean War Games, 4 December 2003

... compared to the exaggerations of the Bush Administration and its emissary to Pyongyang, James Kelly. Coming into office when the CIA’s ‘one or two devices’ estimate was nearly a decade old, Bush contrived to hype the threat, while at the same time downplaying the idea that its size made a difference: the North might have two or six or eight atomic ...

You are the we of me

Joyce Carol Oates: The Autobiography of Carson McCullers, 2 September 1999

Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers 
edited by Carlos Dews.
Wisconsin, 256 pp., £19.95, September 1999, 0 299 16440 3
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... In the massive, magisterial The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike, Flannery O’Connor is included with one of her much anthologised stories, ‘Greenleaf’, while McCullers and Capote are not only absent, but their absences have gone unremarked by reviewers. Fifty years ago, such a state of affairs would have been ...

Malice! Malice!

Stephen Sedley: Thomas More’s Trial, 5 April 2012

Thomas More’s Trial by Jury 
edited by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis Karlin and Gerard Wegemer.
Boydell, 240 pp., £55, September 2011, 978 1 84383 629 2
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... lodge, and, when they failed to recant, to be racked in the Tower.’ He searched his friend John Petit’s house for heretical literature and left him in prison, untried. He applauded the burning of a harmless leather seller called John Tewkesbury, noting: ‘There never was a wretch, I wene, better worthy.’ And he ...


John Lanchester: Alastair Campbell’s Diaries, 16 August 2007

The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries 
edited by Alastair Campbell and Richard Stott.
Hutchinson, 794 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 09 179629 7
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... myself rooting privately for Germany, though as I was sitting next to one of JM’s bodyguards [John Major was still prime minister], even though he was a Scot, I pretended to be backing England. It was one of the most incredible matches I’ve ever seen and to be fair to England, they could and should have won and there was a part of me willing them ...

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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... Anderson, as she then was, began singing in coffee houses for chump change. When her daughter, Kelly Dale, was born, she put her into care. ‘That really tore her apart,’ said Vicky Taylor, another folk singer with whom Mitchell shared an apartment. ‘She knew that she couldn’t be a single mum and do anything with her music. It was a really hard ...

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Andrew O’Hagan: If something happens to me…, 5 May 2005

... before telling me I was the latest visitor in a tradition of literary visitors stretching back to John Milton. He said it very kindly, but I wanted to laugh. However, something high in his red cheeks warned me neither to laugh nor to make any reference to Paradise Lost. I simply smiled and composed my wits and followed him over the black and claret tiles to ...

Clutching at Railings

Jonathan Coe: Late Flann O’Brien, 24 October 2013

Plays and Teleplays 
by Flann O’Brien, edited by Daniel Keith Jernigan.
Dalkey, 434 pp., £9.50, September 2013, 978 1 56478 890 0
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The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien 
edited by Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper.
Dalkey, 158 pp., £9.50, August 2013, 978 1 56478 889 4
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... The third factor, it becomes increasingly clear, was the commercial failure of his play Faustus Kelly, now made available to us again in this edition of O’Brien’s Plays and Teleplays. Daniel Keith Jernigan, the book’s editor, oddly claims in the body of his introduction that the play ran at the Abbey Theatre for ‘nearly two months’ in 1943, though ...

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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... to say rival) in this quest is Scott Eyman, an American expert in movie history. His book on John Wayne from 2014 is extraordinary for its revelation of awkwardness in a cinema celebrity. Eyman has also written excellent books on Ernst Lubitsch, Cecil B. DeMille and John Ford, and about the moment when sound changed ...

Silks and Bright Scarlet

Christopher Kelly: Wealth and the Romans, 3 December 2015

Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD 
by Peter Brown.
Princeton, 759 pp., £16.95, March 2014, 978 0 691 16177 8
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The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity 
by Peter Brown.
Harvard, 262 pp., £18.95, April 2015, 978 0 674 96758 8
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... of Paris) in April 627: ‘“The world perishes and those things that are in the world” (1 John 2:17). That, however, which has been transferred to the churches, to the shrines of saints or to the poor never perishes, and is reckoned an everlasting reminder of justice.’ Two centuries​ before the pious Theodila, the heretic Pelagius had advocated a ...

A Shocking Story

Christopher Kelly: Julian the Apostate, 21 February 2019

The Last Pagan Emperor: Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity 
by H.C. Teitler.
Oxford, 271 pp., £22.99, April 2017, 978 0 19 062650 1
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... the Persians, or perhaps by a renegade Roman soldier. Others believed God had taken no chances. John Malalas, the author of a sixth-century chronicle of the world that began with the Creation, reported a dream in which a bishop transported to heaven witnessed an enthroned Christ instruct the martyr-saint Mercurius: ‘Go forth and kill the emperor ...

How good was he?

Iain Fenlon: Antonio Salieri, 6 July 2000

Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera 
by John Rice.
Chicago, 648 pp., £66.50, April 1999, 0 226 71125 0
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... Berlioz’s full conversion took place after hearing a performance of Iphigénie en Tauride. As John Rice argues here, a number of arias in les Danaïdes are written in a simple and affective melodic style reminiscent of parts of Orfeo and La Rencontre imprévue, and several of their contemporaries thought of the two composers in the same breath. Salieri ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Matrix, 22 May 2003

... is regularly cited, not least by David Thomson, as the film that ‘killed the movies’. Glenn Kelly’s answer, in his introduction to A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers and Artists on 25 Years of ‘Star Wars’ (Allison and Busby, £9.99), is: ‘Get over it, Dad.’ This selective quotation slightly misrepresents ...


Andrew Brighton: On Peter Fuller, 7 November 1991

... Peter and I began to meet at Bertorelli’s for wine, talk, food and more wine. At my suggestion, John Tagg the critic and historian of photography joined our meetings. The three of us agreed – a pretty cynical move – to ask Cork, the new editor of Studio International whom Peter knew as a Cambridge connection, to make up this Gang of Four. The idea was ...

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