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Evil Man

Simon Schaffer: Joseph Priestley, 21 May 1998

The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1733 to 1773 
by Robert Schofield.
Pennsylvania State, 328 pp., £35.95, January 1998, 0 271 01662 0
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... for Mediterranean exile, or with Janet Browne’s recent first volume of a large-scale life of Charles Darwin. Holmes asks what we might now think of Coleridge had he died shipwrecked off Sicily. The audit is positive: what came next, according to Holmes, only damaged his startling early achievements. Even more tantalising questions might be asked of a ...

Fond Father

Dinah Birch: A Victorian Naturalist, 19 September 2002

Glimpses of the Wonderful: The Life of Philip Henry Gosse 1810-88 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 387 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 571 19328 5
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... was read as ‘a bitter cry from a world without tenderness and without gaiety’, or, as Frederic Harrison put it, ‘a story of rank cruelty and almost insanity’. Virginia Woolf agreed, speaking of the ‘almost insane religious mania of the father’. This, without question, was a book about the grim oppression of a life-denying father and the admirable ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder, 24 May 2012

... in The Practice of the Wild, a documentary film featuring her human companion and the writer Jim Harrison, recently shot at San Simeon, on Hearst property; a leisurely senior citizen conversation on wilderness, Native American myths, the Beat Generation, mortality and memory. ‘Nature is not a place to visit,’ the man says, ‘it is home.’ He is Gary ...

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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... in one of Netflix’s numberless true crime productions (viz, a reconstructed FBI interview with Charles Manson, peddling his ‘blame it on the Beatles’ spiel); a ‘previously unseen’ Beatles-at-home photo from 1963; a ‘previously unseen’ Beatles photo at Shea Stadium from 1965; a hip young mixadelic band citing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ as ...

Happy Man

Paul Driver: Stravinsky, 8 February 2007

Stravinsky: The Second Exile – France and America 1934-71 
by Stephen Walsh.
Cape, 709 pp., £30, July 2006, 0 224 06078 3
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Down a Path of Wonder: Memoirs of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Other Cultural Figures 
by Robert Craft.
Naxos, 560 pp., £19.99, October 2006, 1 84379 217 6
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... such as those he implanted in the Duo Concertant for violin and piano (he linked them to a book by Charles-Albert Cingria about Petrarch) – and his attraction to right-wing regimes that could make him feel physically secure. He flirted, almost literally, with Mussolini (he gave him an inscribed copy of Chroniques and a gold medal depicting Napoleon and Marie ...

Woman in Love

Brigid Brophy, 7 February 1985

The Life of Jane Austen 
by John Halperin.
Harvester, 400 pp., December 1984, 0 7108 0518 7
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... suggests that the lady’s knowledge of unpleasantness was’ something or other. Frederic Harrison found ‘the lady in question’ something else. ‘Perhaps the lady was one person with intimates and another person at other times.’ By the time he has got Jane Austen buried, with a memorial tablet that fails to mention the fact that ‘the lady ...

The Price of Pickles

John Lanchester: Planet Wal-Mart, 22 June 2006

The Wal-Mart Effect: How an Out-of-Town Superstore Became a Superpower 
by Charles Fishman.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £12.99, May 2006, 0 7139 9825 3
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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price 
directed by Robert Greenwald.
November 2005
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... David Glass, who years later succeeded Walton as chairman of the company, travelled down to Harrison, Arkansas, to see the opening of one of the new shops: It was the worst retail store I had ever seen. Sam had brought a couple of trucks of watermelons in and stacked them on the sidewalk. He had a donkey ride out in the parking lot. It was about 115 ...


Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... Craig Raine recalls that when the former chairman of Faber, Charles Monteith, encountered the suggestion that one of Philip Larkin’s poems was indebted to Théophile Gautier, he was ‘incredulous’. To Monteith, the idea that Larkin might have been influenced by a foreign poet was ‘ludicrous’. ‘He had fallen,’ Raine comments, ‘for the propaganda – Larkin’s bluff, insular, faux-xenophobic self-caricature ...

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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... already performs works by key experimental composers such as Henry Cowell, Johanna Beyer and Lou Harrison. In addition to the usual orchestral percussion instruments, Cage tells Thomson, ‘we can improvise instruments from junkyards or construct things, given specifications.’ Stravinsky and Bartók’s orchestral music had already given percussion players ...

Elegant Extracts

Leah Price: Anthologies, 3 February 2000

The Oxford Book of English Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 690 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 214182 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume One 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2974 pp., £22.50, December 1999, 0 393 97487 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2963 pp., £22.50, February 2000, 9780393974911
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume One 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2963 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01173 2
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume Two 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2982 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01174 0
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Night & Horses & The Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature 
edited by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 7139 9153 4
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News that Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 189 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 0 571 20060 5
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Time’s Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Anvil, 157 pp., £7.95, November 1999, 0 85646 313 2
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Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Penguin, 640 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780140588996
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... constructions of gender allow masculinity equal time: Tom Brown as well as Queen Victoria, Charles Kingsley as well as Harriet Martineau. And for all their apparent political correctness, the editors are rarely squeamish about incorporating texts whose politics are likely to trouble students. While the Norton’s new section on ‘Slavery and ...

Rough Trade

Steven Shapin: Robert Hooke, 6 March 2003

The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 
by Stephen Inwood.
Macmillan, 497 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 333 78286 0
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... years before Parliament paid out about five times that amount to the ‘lone genius’ John Harrison in 1773 for the magnificent marine chronometer that provided a working solution to the longitude problem. The patent Hooke wanted was a type of ‘Letters Patent’ – literally ‘open letters’, sealed but not sealed up, conferring the special ...

High on His Own Supply

Christopher Tayler: Amis Recycled, 11 September 2003

Yellow Dog 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2003, 0 224 05061 3
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... he still has enough of a sense of humour to laugh when he hears a passing proletarian shout: ‘Harrison! Move your fucking arse!’ On the anniversary of the day his divorce came through, Xan is in the habit of going to a bar for a couple of drinks, a few cigarettes and ‘half an hour of writhing reminiscence’. So he mooches down to a Camden ...

Just one of those ends

Michael Wood: Apocalypse Regained, 13 December 2001

Apocalypse Now Redux 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
August 2001
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Marlon Brando 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 297 84284 6
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... in lunch than in the mission he is ordering, and his aide de camp, a very youthful-looking Harrison Ford, doesn’t quite know whether to look sinister or sympathetic. He clears his throat a lot. A Vietnamese technician (Jerry Ziesmer) reverses the oriental stereotype by looking like an ordinary human being, and far less inscrutable than either of the ...

Afloat with Static

Jenny Turner: Hey, Blondie!, 19 December 2019

Face It 
by Debbie Harry.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 00 822942 9
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... the band: Clem Burke, a big man and an enormous drummer; Jimmy Destri on Farfisa keyboard; Nigel Harrison on bass, Frank Infante and Stein on guitar. Only Burke, Chapman thought, had much proficiency as a musician; but the actual songs, he quickly saw, were ‘great’. ‘Sunday Girl’ was the work of Stein alone, but most of the others had music written ...

No Innovations in My Time

Ferdinand Mount: George III, 16 December 2021

George III: The Life and Reign of Britain’s Most Misunderstood Monarch 
by Andrew Roberts.
Allen Lane, 763 pp., £35, October, 978 0 241 41333 3
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... Museum. He founded the Royal Academy and supported it through its shaky early years. He supported Harrison and his famous chronometer and paid for Herschel to build the largest telescope in the world behind his house at Slough, as well as for Captain Cook’s expedition to Tahiti (where they observed the Transit of Venus, while the king was observing the same ...

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