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Keeping Left

Edmund Dell, 2 October 1980

The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... and sense of fun, less than the most listened-to member of Cabinet. The man she admires most is Michael Foot, while transmitting her satisfaction at his gradual education in the responsibilities of government, and consequent adoption of policies very different from those advocated in savage criticism of Barbara Castle in the late Sixties. But he, above ...

Subversions

R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... by George Brown to get MI5 to spy on their left-wing opponents within the Party in 1961, and Wilson’s use of MI5 against the seamen’s strike in 1966. Meanwhile the successive defections of Maclean, Burgess and Philby not only created an atmosphere of hysterical anti-Communist mole-hunting within the service but led to American threats to withdraw ...

Tam, Dick and Harold

Ian Aitken, 26 October 1989

Dick Crossman: A Portrait 
by Tam Dalyell.
Weidenfeld, 253 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79670 4
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... it is a great deal deader in this segment of the population than in any other. That the Attlee and Wilson governments had such a heavy complement of Oxbridge intellectuals owed as much to the fact that deference still existed at the grass roots of the Labour Party in the Thirties and Forties as it did to the willingness of graduates to put themselves ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Innocents’, 9 January 2014

The Innocents 
directed by Jack Clayton.
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... too much for the ‘psychological’ reading of James’s tale, most famously advanced by Edmund Wilson: there are no ghosts, it’s all in the governess’s mind. She has been sent down to the country mansion to look after two small orphans, she is frightened and sex-starved, she starts imagining things, in particular that a former governess and a former ...

A Falklands Polemic

Tam Dalyell, 20 May 1982

... when Parliament was sitting, I believe there might have been a different gut reaction. Once Michael Foot had struck an attitude, ‘loyalty to Michael’ became an element in a situation where the notion of actual gunfire in the South Atlantic was surrealist fantasy. People had some vague scenario, at worst, of a ...

At BAMPFA

Julia Bryan-Wilson: Rosie Lee Tompkins, 17 December 2020

... but suggestive narratives: one, from around 1996, constellates Magic Johnson, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X and others in a fraught tribute to Black masculinity.Tompkins’s work is attuned to all the nuances of race, gender and class that fabric can signify. When set next to each other to accentuate textural ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve, 1 December 1983

Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... and sees hilarity in its tiny events. He knows his subjects (‘James Callaghan, the Harold Wilson of politics’). He knows that Mr Healey is clever, and will therefore lose the argument. And he reminds us that Mr Heseltine is ‘a blonde’. Johnson quotes his namesake, the good Doctor, on taking care to see ‘that the Whig dogs should not have the ...

Gobsmacked

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 16 July 1998

Lyric Wonder: Rhetoric and Wit in Renaissance English Poetry 
by James Biester.
Cornell, 226 pp., £31.50, May 1997, 0 8014 3313 4
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Reason Diminished: Shakespeare and the Marvellous 
by Peter Platt.
Nebraska, 271 pp., £42.75, January 1998, 0 8032 3714 6
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Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder 
by T.G. Bishop.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £32.50, January 1996, 0 521 55086 6
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The Genius of Shakespeare 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 386 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 330 35317 9
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... sport, but in the late Nineties it suddenly looks like the critical craze of the moment. Richard Wilson, for example, published an article in the TLS a few months ago reviving the claim that the young William Shakespeare can be identified with the actor William Shakeshafte who is named in the will of one of Edmund Campion’s Lancashire Catholic disciples in ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... fools and villains are the lifeblood of the paper. Every reader has a cherished bubble photo, from Wilson and Biafra through Kissinger in South Africa (HK to Vorster: ‘I’m only here for De Beers’) via James Goldsmith, Robert Maxwell, Rupert Murdoch, to Mugabe, Bush and Blair. For fans of a pensionable age, Verwoerd’s assassination (‘A Nation ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... On 22 February 1965, the fifth month of Harold Wilson’s first ministry, Richard Crossman recorded the following in his Diaries of a Cabinet Minister: Then Harold Wilson raised the issue of Anthony Howard. He has just been appointed by the Sunday Times to be the first Whitehall correspondent in history, looking into the secrets of the Civil Service rather than leaking the secrets of the politicians ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... than that Morrison would have done no better. So the wearisome catalogue continues with Gaitskell, Wilson, Callaghan: all men of considerable, and different, talents but hardly characterised by resounding political success; that Gaitskell was never prime minister seems hardly to weigh more or less than Wilson’s achievement ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... his gentle Yorkshire lilt fascinated her almost as much as his millions. She assumed, as Harold Wilson had several years previously, that Hanson was typical of the self-made man, the hard-working puritan who started at the bottom and worked twenty hours a day until he achieved fame and fortune. Like Wilson, Hanson came ...

Azure Puddles

John Bayley, 21 May 1987

Compton Mackenzie: A Life 
by Andro Linklater.
Chatto, 384 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 7011 2583 7
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... influence at the time was far greater, and it was international. Both Scott Fitzgerald and Edmund Wilson were fascinated by him: the lush vivacity of his prose not only animates the former’s early novels (intended to be ‘intellectual’ like H.G. Wells, ‘and improper like Compton Mackenzie’), but is just as evident in the prose texture of Tender is ...

Two Sad Russians

Walter Kendrick, 5 September 1985

The Confessions of Victor X 
edited by Donald Rayfield.
Caliban, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 9780904573947
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Novel with Cocaine 
by M. Ageyev, translated by Michael Henry Heim.
Picador, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1985, 0 330 28574 2
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... On 1 June 1948, Edmund Wilson sent to Vladimir Nabokov a copy of Volume VI of Havelock Ellis’s Studies in the Psychology of Sex, French edition. What had caught Wilson’s attention – and would surely beguile his friend – was the ‘Confession Sexuelle d’un Russe du Sud’, a pseudonymous hundred-page memoir that for more than two decades had lurked unnoticed among the appendices to Ellis’s forgotten book ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’, 5 March 2020

... else. But there are other Jews.The most ardent Nazi in the film, brilliantly played by Rebel Wilson, presents her justification for racial hatred. She says her uncle was hypnotised by a Jew, and ‘became a massive drunk and a gambler, and he cheated on his wife, and he had an inappropriate relationship with my sister. And then he drowned, in an ...

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