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Leave off saying I want you to be savages

Sandra Gilbert: D.H. Lawrence, 19 March 1998

D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-30 
by David Ellis.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £25, January 1998, 0 521 25421 3
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... his still oddly scandalous paintings at which, David Ellis reports, 13,000 visitors to London’s Warren Gallery gawked in the early summer of 1929, he was a figure of extraordinary fascination, even during his lifetime. Paradoxically, then, to contemplate works by the author of that famous critical maxim ‘Never trust the artist. Trust the tale’ is more ...

At the British Library

Peter Campbell: Mapping London, 25 January 2007

... brink before falling back. John Thomas Smith’s 1680 plan of Whitehall Palace shows a confused warren of a building; only the ‘modern’ Banqueting House stands broad, thick-walled and symmetrical. This could have been the ‘before’ for a spectacular ‘after’, adumbrated by a view Knyff made in about 1688 that shows some new building, but nothing ...


Jonathan Meades: Archigram’s Ghost, 21 May 2020

Archigram: The Book 
edited by Dennis Crompton.
Circa, 300 pp., £95, November 2018, 978 1 911422 04 4
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... Archigram was an out-of-hours architectural band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial practices and local authorities. They formed in the early 1960s and over the next decade or so produced thousands of designs for ‘cities of the future’ that were highly original, sometimes on the money, sometimes woeful, often funny, reliably coarse ...


Adam Mars-Jones: Kazuo Ishiguro, 5 March 2015

The Buried Giant 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 345 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 571 31503 1
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... them? The settlement they are leaving is described as being partly underground, more of a warren than a village. Perhaps it’s this feature that recalls the hobbit-holes of Tolkien’s Shire. Tolkien uses the Shire to provide an introduction to settled life in Middle-earth before huge events threaten it, but that’s not the way Ishiguro proceeds in ...

Culture Wars

W.J.T. Mitchell, 23 April 1992

... Aside from that, JFK seems to be a commercial success, drawing large audiences, especially of young people who have no memory of the assassination, who emerge from this film, not simply convinced that Kennedy was killed by the CIA, but engaged in arguments, asking questions, sometimes even talking to their parents about this event. The film has carved ...


Paul Foot: Windsor Girls School on 22 June, 4 July 1985

... poems with tremendous force. The winner of the audition to read ‘Men of England’ was a young black woman. Lesley Saunders, a Greenham Common campaigner and local Labour Party member, read some of her poems, including a rumbustious reply to John Betjeman which she called ‘In Praise of Slough’ – ‘those bombs aren’t such a huge joke any ...


Jeremy Harding: In Bethlehem, 2 February 1989

... began, she claims, lifting a thin, short prosthetic hand and forearm from the rack. It is for a young boy who was injured before Christmas. She alleges that the Israelis ordered him to take down a Palestinian flag from a high-voltage wire near Nablus. They made him stand on a jeep and had him try to remove the flag with a metal pole. The force of the ...

I want, I shall have

Graham Robb, 17 February 2000

La Grand Thérèse or The Greatest Swindle of the Century 
by Hilary Spurling.
Profile, 128 pp., £7.99, September 1999, 9781861971326
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... Parayre, was arrested, along with the disgraced family. His son-in-law, ‘a dashing but penniless young artist’, was widely considered guilty by association, and ‘from 1905 onwards, Matisse’s work was regularly dismissed by the critics as an attempt to pull a fast one on the public’ Biographers are often buttonholed by interesting minor characters ...

Plot 6, Row C, Grave 15

Malcolm Gaskill: Death of an Airman, 8 November 2018

... Lewis, whose Sagittarius Rising (1936) is the classic Flying Corps memoir, ‘the devil-may-care young bloods of England, the fast livers, the furious drivers.’ Airmen needed a low heart rate, had to be able to hold their breath for 45 seconds and to stabilise their eye movements quickly after being spun round in a typing chair. If they passed these tests ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... sensationalism, however, the Whitechapel murders of 1888 were an episode apart. Sir Charles Warren, the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, was not exaggerating when he told the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, that the murders were ‘unique in the history of our country’. They were not the first serial sex crimes, but the first media(ted) serial sex ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... playing favourites, but that didn’t stop us from disputing their choices. How could Robert Penn Warren prefer Kit Morton’s plain dying-grandmother story to Lance Leavitt’s stream-of-consciousness monologue from the viewpoint of a condemned man smoking his last cigarette while pouring daringly profane contempt over the judgment of a world that punishes ...


Jackson Lears: Ralph Nader’s novel, 8 April 2010

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 
by Ralph Nader.
Seven Stories, 733 pp., $27.50, September 2009, 978 1 58322 903 3
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... to be a blueprint for democratic transformation. The story begins when the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, appalled by the failure of the federal government to respond to Hurricane Katrina, travels to New Orleans to pitch in with the relief effort. A ‘composed elderly grandmother’ somehow recognises him and says: ‘Only the super-rich can save ...

Common Ground

Edmund Leach, 19 September 1985

A Social History of Western Europe 1450-1720: Tensions and Solidarities among Rural People 
by Sheldon Watts.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 09 156081 0
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Kinship in the Past: An Anthropology of European Family Life 1500-1900 
by Andrejs Plakans.
Blackwell, 276 pp., £24.50, September 1984, 0 631 13066 7
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Interests and Emotion: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship 
edited by Hans Medick and David Warren Sabean.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 521 24969 4
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... really be polarised against marriage for ‘convenience’? Do systems which purport to allow young people to choose their own marital partners really act in this way or are they a fiction? How do systems of ‘free’ mate-selection really work? Is there a radical difference in attitude and practice with regard to such matters in families and social ...

Sunny side up

Penelope Fitzgerald, 9 September 1993

The Stone Diaries 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 361 pp., £12.99, September 1993, 1 85702 154 1
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... to Bloomington, Indiana, where in the Twenties stone-carvers are still needed. She marries a rich young gold-hatted lover who throws himself out of a window; in 1936 she becomes the wife of Barker Flett, 22 years older than herself, an expert on hybrid grains. When her three children are grown she launches for the first time on a career – ‘working outside ...

The Flow

Paul Myerscough: ‘The Trap’, 5 April 2007

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom 
directed by Adam Curtis.
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... flickers across her face. That image gives way, quickly and successively, to a series of others: a young black woman smoking, smiling at the camera through a reinforced glass window; three teenage girls in a car, laughing, filmed through the windscreen; a whip-pan to the American flag, pierced by sunlight, drifting in the breeze; a DIY programme on a ...

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