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True Grit

David Craig, 8 February 1996

Wainwright: The Biography 
by Hunter Davies.
Joseph, 356 pp., £16.99, October 1995, 0 7181 3909 7
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... she shooed them out of the house: ‘Everybody out,’ she cried, ‘he’s back!’ His son Peter shared Wainwright’s walks when he was a boy. Touching black and white snapshots show him neatly dressed, standing alone in a green trod between limestone walls, dutifully consulting a map. In his fifties he had to retire early, joints swollen with ...

The Bayswater Grocer

Thomas Meaney: The Singapore Formula, 18 March 2021

Singapore: A Modern History 
by Michael Barr.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £17.99, December 2020, 978 1 350 18566 1
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... China and the US. In the early 1990s, Beijing sent officials to be trained in Singapore, but Peter Sloterdijk’s line that statues of Mao will one day be replaced with ones of LKY now seems a dated exuberance. The meritocratic ideology of Singapore has begun to show signs of wear, and its elite seems incapable of regenerating itself as that of the PRC ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer, 2 December 1982

Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... Renaissance interest in the occult. One of the outstanding papers at this conference was that of Peter Burke, who may stand here as a representative of a much wider group of historians now increasingly concerned with the recovery of popular culture. That group is disparate, its motives no less so. The concept of sections of society ‘hidden from ...

What does she think she looks like?

Rosemary Hill: The Dress in Your Head, 5 April 2018

... post-feminist or anti-feminist film, or just in some baffling way French. In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw went for ‘provocative’, before deciding it was a ‘startlingly strange rape-revenge black comedy’. I didn’t think it was as strange as all that and I did think it was funny, but what really struck me was that every woman I knew who had ...

Wordsworth in Love

Jonathan Wordsworth, 15 October 1981

... Wordsworth for most would be impossible. To Shelley he seemed ‘a solemn and unsexual man’ (‘Peter Bell the Third’), and even the revelation early in this century that he had a French girlfriend, and French illegitimate daughter, has not altered the stuffy public image of Victorian Poet Laureate and sage of Rydal Mount. If anything can change this ...

Poet at the Automat

Eliot Weinberger: Charles Reznikoff, 22 January 2015

... editor of the Jewish Frontier; editor of the papers of the lawyer and civil rights activist Louis Marshall; co-author of a history of the Jews of Charleston and an unfinished history of the Jews of Cleveland. His one extended stay outside New York City – he never left the US – was the three years he spent in the 1930s in Hollywood as an assistant to his ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... and crystals, beard care and curated playlists. As with the Beatles album sleeves designed by Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, this was where art and pop first locked eyes, before deciding to move in together.Ahalf-century​ on from the band’s messy divorce, you don’t have to go searching for Beatles bumpf: it’s everywhere. They’re as much a ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair, 21 February 2013

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... facilitate his voyeuristic impulses. This was not true: the mirror belonged to Keeler’s friend Peter Rachman, the slum landlord. But at the trial it became the symbol of ‘the very depths of lechery and depravity’ to which Ward was willing to sink. Griffith-Jones instructed the jury that it was their patriotic duty to convict such a man. The judge, Sir ...

Vehicles of Dissatisfaction

Jonathan Dollimore: Men and Motors, 24 July 2003

Autopia: Cars and Culture 
edited by Peter Wollen and Joe Kerr.
Reaktion, 400 pp., £25, November 2002, 1 86189 132 6
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... was the shopping mall. In a section reprinted here from All that is solid melts into air (1982), Marshall Berman describes the building of the expressway through the Bronx in the 1950s, and the consequent destruction of the borough. Directed by the infamous city planner Robert Moses, the Cross-Bronx Expressway cut through a dozen densely populated ...

A Bit of Ginger

Theo Tait: Gordon Burn, 5 June 2008

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel 
by Gordon Burn.
Faber, 214 pp., £15.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 19729 3
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... book, Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son (1984), was a painstaking re-creation of the life of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. He topped that with an account of Fred and Rosemary West’s killing careers, Happy like Murderers (1998). The first resembles a documentary; the second is more like a novel in the sense of being more artfully shaped and ...

Expendabilia

Hal Foster: Reyner Banham, 9 May 2002

Reyner Banham: Historian of the Immediate Future 
by Nigel Whiteley.
MIT, 494 pp., £27.50, January 2002, 0 262 23216 2
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... which he discussed with great verve in 12 books and over 700 articles. Less of a media guru than Marshall McLuhan, he did possess some of McLuhan’s Futurist zeal and crossover appeal; not an inventor like Buckminster Fuller, he projected some of the technological know-how and visionary asperity of the older American. More Pop than either man, Banham ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary, 15 December 2016

The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... with him. The story goes that Schoenberg dismissed him, telling him he lacked an ear for harmony. Peter Yates’s book Twentieth-Century Music: Its Evolution from the End of the Harmonic Era into the Present Era of Sound (1968), reported Schoenberg as saying that Cage was ‘not a composer – but an inventor of genius’, a back-handed compliment that stuck ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reader 
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... with their raw material, and the social-science-fiction of visionaries like Walter Ong and Marshall McLuhan. Those strands have coalesced into a discipline only in the past few decades, through the publication of multi-volume national histories of the book (1982-86 in France, ongoing in Britain and elsewhere); through the efforts of a professional ...

The other side have got one

Ian Gilmour: Lady Thatcher’s Latest, 6 June 2002

Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the 20th Century 
by E.H.H. Green.
Oxford, 309 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 19 820593 7
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Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 486 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 00 710752 8
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... reform in the first decade of the 20th century, when Britain had lost what the economist Alfred Marshall called its ‘industrial leadership’, and when the Conservative Party came nearer Green’s vision of it being continually riven by disputes over ideas than at any other time. While Balfour’s overriding objective was to prevent his party from ...

Stir and Bustle

David Trotter: Corridors, 19 December 2019

Corridors: Passages of Modernity 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 78914 053 8
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... exits from another. His failure to spot Cairo will very nearly prove fatal. Since Cairo is Peter Lorre at his most flamboyant, you would have to be quite far gone in self-congratulation not to notice him. Spade has failed to understand that a corridor is less a space than a channel of communication through which people, things and messages pass in both ...

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