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Washed White

Michael Rogin, 10 June 1993

The Rites of Assent: Transformations in the Symbolic Construction of America 
by Sacvan Bercovitch.
Routledge, 424 pp., £40, November 1992, 9780415900140
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Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America 
by Garry Wills.
Simon and Schuster, 315 pp., £17.99, April 1993, 0 671 76956 1
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... the details, writes Wills. Lincoln, naming no units, no men, no landscape, no battle, no slavery, rose above the horrible particulars and ‘called up a new nation out of the blood and trauma’. ‘The act of bringing forth a new nation conceived in liberty is always an intellectual act for Lincoln,’ Wills writes – the italics ...

Book Reviewing

Stefan Collini: On the ‘TLS’, 5 November 2020

... to death as the TLS has ever come, but it has continued to have its ups and downs. Circulation rose through the 1920s to 30,000, then dropped sharply, down to 23,000 by 1934, and Richmond despaired of arresting the decline: ‘Even among my own relations I know three households that have given it up.’ He did not believe, however, that ‘“new ...

On Caleb Femi

Amber Medland, 24 February 2022

... are you looting for? asked the evening news.’ The protests that followed the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police are reduced to a set of sensational images: ‘a bus set on fire,/hooded boys with overgrown nails’; ‘a police helmet with a broken visor,/horses clumsy-trotting through piles of debris’.A correspondent in the riot zone asked anold man ...

Black and White Life

Mark Greif: Ralph Ellison, 1 November 2007

Ralph Ellison: A Biography 
by Arnold Rampersad.
Knopf, 657 pp., $35, April 2007, 978 0 375 40827 4
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... to a fame that seemed to increase year by year almost regardless of his written efforts. Ellison rose up the celebrity ladder, but had no more secure social basis than he had possessed in his years of poverty. He had nothing, really, that could make him comfortable with the superior things he could do and knew he could do, except to try to do them at a ...

Edgar and Emma

John Sutherland, 20 February 1986

World’s Fair 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 275 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2685 8
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The Adventures of Robina 
edited by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 571 13796 2
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... July 1976. Edgar L. Doctorow was born in New York City on 6 January 1931 to David R. and Rose Doctorow, whom he has described as ‘old-fashioned social democrats’. His grandparents on both sides were Jewish immigrants from Russia. Doctorow grew up on Eastburn Avenue, in the Bronx. His mother was a pianist and his father had a store in the old ...


Rose George: In Dewsbury, 17 November 2005

... was good enough cloth for blankets, druggets and shirts. During the First World War, Mark Oldroyd’s Spinkwell Mills produced ten million square yards of cloth and employed 2000 people. Millions of soldiers wore Dewsbury-made shirts and spent frightened nights under Spinkwell Mills blankets. The Official Guide to Dewsbury 1957 (a librarian shows ...

Elizabeth Bishop’s Aviary

Mark Ford: Elizabeth Bishop’s Aviary, 29 November 2007

... sifting of possibilities like that undertaken by her sandpiper combing the beach for rare quartz, rose and amethyst grains amid the millions that are black, white, tan and grey, can a poem be released into the dizzy freedom of the ‘rainbow-bird’ of one of her final poems, ‘Sonnet’, ‘flying wherever/it feels like, gay!’ ‘Writing poetry,’ she ...

St Jude’s Playwright

Michael Church, 5 September 1985

The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams 
by Donald Spoto.
Bodley Head, 409 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 370 30847 6
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Tennessee Williams on File 
by Catherine Arnott.
Methuen, 80 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 413 58550 6
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... the art he deployed in at least twelve plays with such magnificent success. The arch-rationalist Mark Twain held Sir Walter Scott to blame for the disabling romanticism of the American South: Tennessee Williams, brought up on the Waverley novels, was a joyful victim of the disease. ‘I write out of love for the South … I think the war between romanticism ...

One Long Scream

Jacqueline Rose: Trauma and Justice in South Africa, 23 May 2019

... some would say it has worsened – since the first democratic elections of 1994? In the words of Mark Solms, psychoanalyst, neuroscientist and owner of a farm in nearby Franschhoek, who also attended the conference, the question for the white beneficiaries of apartheid is ‘how we had sort of got away with it’ (not the outcome he personally had ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... spirit appeared in his room in East Harlem and declaimed ‘The Sunflower’ and ‘The Sick Rose’ in an unearthly voice. A lot of people thought he’d gone mad. As late as 1952 he was hoping a new analyst would ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality and help him integrate into society. But in 1954 he moved to San Francisco where he found a new type of ...

Rose’s Rex

David Cannadine, 15 September 1983

King George V 
by Kenneth Rose.
Weidenfeld, 514 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78245 2
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... word on the subject, in the nature of things it could scarcely be the last. By contrast, Kenneth Rose’s superb biography will surely stand as the best and most interesting study of George V that we are ever likely to get. There is much greater understanding by the author of his subject, and the public and private lives are brought together with great skill ...

The wearer as much as the frock

Peter Campbell, 9 April 1992

Building Capitalism 
by Linda Clarke.
Routledge, 316 pp., £65, December 1991, 0 415 01552 9
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The City Shaped 
by Spiro Kostof.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £24, September 1991, 0 500 34118 4
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A New London 
by Richard Rogers and Mark Fisher.
Penguin, 255 pp., £8.99, March 1992, 0 14 015794 8
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... substantial additions in steel, granite and mirror glass. The tallest office building in Europe rose at Canary Wharf, a huge new complex of offices at Broadgate. Everywhere, London prepared itself for a prosperity which never came. The results have left citizens bemused. We believe London belongs to us – you do not have to own the real estate to feel you ...

Seven Veils and Umpteen Versions

Maria Tippett, 30 January 1992

Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle 
by Elaine Showalter.
Bloomsbury, 242 pp., £15.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0827 5
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Sister’s Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women’s Writing 
by Elaine Showalter.
Oxford, 193 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 812383 3
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... by the diva Mara Zampieri, and staged, in keeping with Beardsley’s erotic drawings, by Jürgen Rose, it was a feast for eye and ear. And yet as I crossed the road to the Cafè Sacher afterwards I wondered how successful the performance had really been. Was it Barlog’s intention to provide Herod with a richly-textured personality and leave his daughter ...

Weeding in the Nude

Ange Mlinko: Edna St Vincent Millay, 26 May 2022

Rapture and Melancholy: The Diaries of Edna St Vincent Millay 
edited by Daniel Mark Epstein.
Yale, 390 pp., £28, March, 978 0 300 24568 4
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... Austerlitz, New York. A servant found her in the morning, lying there with a broken neck.Millay rose to fame while still in her twenties. She beat Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens for the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. Although she became a proselytiser in her last decade, devoted to progressive causes to which she fitted her verses (‘not poems, posters,’ she ...

Byron at Sixty-Five

Edwin Morgan, 8 January 1987

... corals. He said. But unresisting, took a rhyme, Watched the floating bulk of language approach, Rose up, and at the crucial tilt of time Shot out that sharp harpoon and saw it broach The stanza’s shoulders to a ship-bell’s chime. And Melville needn’t try to drive a coach And horses through my case in his next book. He uses metre in his prose, the ...

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