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Steaming Torsos

J. Hoberman, 6 February 1997

Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Chicago, 352 pp., £23.95, November 1996, 0 226 53234 8
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... family and yet remains the last, best hope for the settlers on the frontier, Natty is – as D.H. Lawrence put it in his Studies in Classic American Literature – an ‘isolate, almost selfless, stoic, enduring man, who lives by death, by killing, but who is pure white’. (Taciturn and buckskin-clad, he is also the original American hipster; turgid though ...

With the wind in our shrouds

Mary Beard, 26 July 1990

The Making of ‘The Golden Bough’: The Origin and Growth of an Argument 
by Robert Fraser.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £35, July 1990, 0 333 49631 0
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... or sometimes distaste) by writers who do still matter to us – by Eliot, Joyce, Malinowski, Lawrence, Leach, Yeats. We see the book through their eyes, irrevocably distanced from any sense of direct excitement at Frazer’s text. Reminiscing in 1925 on her own generation’s first encounter with Frazerian anthropology, Jane ...

Mongkut and I

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 30 January 1992

The Romance of the Harem 
by Anna Leonowens, edited by Susan Morgan.
Virginia, 285 pp., £10.50, August 1991, 0 8139 1328 4
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... to produce the best-selling Anna and the King of Siam in 1944. The first film, starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne, soon followed. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical comedy opened on Broadway in 1951, with Yul Brynner as the King and Gertrude Lawrence as Anna. Deborah Kerr took Anna’s part when the musical in ...

Jigsaw Mummies

Tom Shippey: Pagan Britain, 6 November 2014

Pagan Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 480 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 19771 6
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The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria 
by Max Adams.
Head of Zeus, 450 pp., £25, August 2013, 978 1 78185 418 1
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... the idea, including Sir Arthur Evans, who excavated Knossos, and the Cambridge classicist Jane Harrison, who proposed a prehistoric and peaceful woman-centred civilisation in Greece. The discovery of Palaeolithic ‘Venus figurines’, statuettes with exaggerated breasts and hips, seemed to support the notion. D.H. ...

Balls and Strikes

Charles Reeve: Clement Greenberg, 5 April 2007

Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg 
by Alice Goldfarb Marquis.
Lund Humphries, 321 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 85331 940 5
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... could distinguish between good, mediocre and bad art, and dismissed people – like Rosenberg and Lawrence Alloway – who claimed to know the difference but, in his opinion, didn’t. As for everyone else, it seems they couldn’t help it: their circumstances prevented them from enjoying authentic culture; and what Greenberg called ‘kitsch’ in the 1930s ...

Oh God, what have we done?

Jackson Lears: The Strange Career of Robert Oppenheimer, 20 December 2012

Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 224 06262 6
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... American school of physics, worthy of the best in Europe. One of his partners in this was Ernest Lawrence, whose efforts to split the atom with his cyclotron were attracting a lot of publicity. But by the early 1930s, quantum physicists already knew that the atom could be split with less energy through ‘quantum tunnelling’ – the Russian physicist ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... Sir Francis Chichester, visits by Samuel Pepys, location work for the latest Jane Austen or for Harrison Ford (more bombs) in Patriot Games – are trumpeted, while the dark history of the Greenwich marshes, a decayed industrial wilderness, is brutally elided. The tongue of poisoned land, a couple of miles to the east of the Royal Naval College (film ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick, 31 October 2002

Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... with the rest. Several, towing their druggs, will make easy pickings for other whaling ships. D.H. Lawrence thought this ‘the most stupendous chapter’ in the book, and quoted at length from the aquarium scenes, stressing the ‘submarine bridal chambers’ within the nursery. Always eager to spell things out (‘amazing monsters . . . in rut’), ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer, 25 January 1990

The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... been traditionally consigned by inspired “phallocentric” writers such as Yeats, Whitman and Lawrence), to the realms of “inchoate darkness”,’ the unconscious, mothering, hysteria and babble? She takes as illustration a ‘conscientious Americanised version of ‘ecriture féminine that ‘uses strategies of syntactic ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... live, no more than that: a stopover. How did William Burroughs finish up in a clapboard cabin in Lawrence, Kansas, with his brood of sleek, well-fed felines? The old man mumbled something unconvincing about property prices. Why did the quintessentially English Michael Moorcock nominate the second Confederate governor of Texas’s mansion in Bastrop, thirty ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... author in successive novels defiantly parade his period recidivism: grey-flecked beard, shades and Lawrence of Arabia head-towel for the Saudi arms’ dealer look, sun-bleached chest-curls for the stroller in Mediterranean gardens; Wild Bunch outrider, Slim Pickens or Chill Wills with badlands barbering. Moorcock has more hats than Winston Churchill. He ...

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