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Thinking Persons

John Ellis, 14 May 1992

Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation 
edited by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Warner.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £40, July 1991, 9780333531372
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The Poverty of Structuralism: Literature and Structuralist Theory 
by Leonard Jackson.
Longman, 317 pp., £24, July 1991, 0 582 06697 2
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Inconvenient Fictions: Literature and the Limits of Theory 
by Bernard Harrison.
Yale, 293 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 300 05057 7
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Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science 
by Mark Turner.
Princeton, 298 pp., £18.99, January 1992, 0 691 06897 6
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Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics 
by Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson.
Stanford, 530 pp., $49.50, December 1990, 0 8047 1821 0
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... understand it, and that its founder said what he plainly did say? The political theorist Stephen Holmes gives an interesting possible answer for the analogous case of anti-liberal political thought. At first, extreme claims are made, but under challenge there is a retreat to watered-down versions so ordinary that they can not be objected to. This shift from ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... like other areas with old religious or monastic connections (the Whitefriars, the Minories, St Martin le Grand, St Katherine by the Tower), was one of London’s quasi-autonomous ‘liberties’, and so not governed by the lord mayor. The second was that there had already been a theatre in the area, immediately adjacent to the building on which Burbage’s ...

Time Lords

Anthony Grafton: In the Catacombs, 31 July 2014

Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs 
by Paul Koudounaris.
Thames and Hudson, 189 pp., £18.95, September 2013, 978 0 500 25195 9
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... in the Cloaca Maxima and other sewers. But the Via Salaria discovery was made in a new era. Martin Luther and other Protestants had mounted a challenge to the traditions of the church. Efforts to rebut their ideas had failed, and the support of rulers who converted had enabled some of the Reformers to build new churches of their own. At the Council of ...

Into the Alley

Daniel Soar: Dashiell Hammett, 3 January 2002

Nightmare Town: Stories 
by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Kirby McCauley and Martin Greenberg et al.
Picador, 396 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 0 330 48109 6
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Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett 1921-60 
edited by Richard Layman and Julie Rivett.
Counterpoint, 650 pp., £28.99, June 2001, 1 58243 081 0
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... of the Blue Carbuncle’, which opens with a diamond found in the craw of a Christmas goose. Holmes begins at the end and works towards the beginning, following in reverse the steps the goose and its prize must have taken, all the way back to the original theft. It’s very plodding. But the peculiarity of the hard-boiled detective thriller is that it ...

Freedom of the Press

Anthony Lewis, 26 November 1987

... Martin Chuzzlewit, in the Dickens novel, crosses the Atlantic in a packet boat. When it reaches New York, newsboys come aboard shouting out the latest in their papers: the New York Sewer, the Stabber, the Plunderer and so on. ‘Here’s the Sewer’s exposure of the Washington gang,’ one cries, ‘and the Sewer’s exclusive account of a flagrant act of dishonesty committed by the Secretary of State when he was eight years old, now communicated, at a great expense, by his own nurse ...

A Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch

Christopher Hitchens, 6 June 1996

... turn up a letter that William Jefferson Clinton wrote, on 3 December 1969, to a certain Colonel Holmes of the University of Arkansas Reserve Officers Training Corps. Clinton wanted to clarify his attitude to the military draft:Let me try to explain. As you know, I worked for two years in a very minor position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I did ...

Walking in high places

Michael Neve, 21 October 1982

The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of 18th-Century Science 
edited by G.S. Rousseau and R.S. Porter.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £25, November 1980, 9780521225991
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Romanticism and the Forms of Ruin 
by Thomas McFarland.
Princeton, 432 pp., £24.60, February 1981, 0 691 06437 7
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Poetry realised in Nature: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Early 19th-Century Science 
by Trevor Levere.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £22.50, October 1981, 0 521 23920 6
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Coleridge 
by Richard Holmes.
Oxford, 102 pp., £1.25, March 1982, 0 19 287591 4
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Young Charles Lamb 1775-1802 
by Winifred Courtney.
Macmillan, 411 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 333 31534 0
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... insist on his greatness? Because Coleridge isn’t in this book, in the way that he isin Richard Holmes’s recent, sensitive profile in the Oxford ‘Past Masters’ series. Does a study like Levere’s miss some point, or is one merely making an obvious remark about the difference between ‘biography’ and ‘intellectual history’? Authors and critics ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... can be baroque epics that slip you in at the back door, such as Nick Tosches’s pathology of Dean Martin, or they can be necrophiliac insults inflicted on the undead corpses of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield or James Dean. They can be gangland revisionism, pedantic squabbles over otherwise forgotten crimes, mouthy justifications scooped onto wood pulp. They ...

Bantu in the Bathroom

Jacqueline Rose, 19 November 2015

... spent in a wheelchair. This wasn’t her first brush with brokenness. According to her cousin Kim Martin, who spoke at Pistorius’s sentencing (the only time during the whole trial that the Steenkamp family got a hearing), when Reeva was a young girl the family’s pet poodle became paralysed and was going to have to be put down. Reeva saved the ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... It’s an old tactic and it is still in play around the Grenfell disaster. As soon as Martin Moore-Bick, the chair of the public inquiry, announced that he would be seeking answers rather than taking dictation from those with passionate feelings, he was dismissed as a ‘posh white man’. It was reported that the community felt he had ‘the ...

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