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Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... to public officials could be justified if there was ‘overwhelming public interest’. Her QC, Jonathan Laidlaw, took her through each story, asking whether, had she known the source was a public official, she would have sanctioned payment. It was a masterstroke: the exercise stressed which stories were in the public interest and which weren’t, but the ...

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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... of the most prominent figures missing from Finkelstein and McCleery’s Reader, David Scott Kastan, has riffed on ‘New Criticism’, ‘New Historicism’ and ‘New Bibliography’ to dub his expertise the ‘New Boredom’.) The New Critics took ‘the poem itself’ where they found it, in cheap paperback reprints available even at ...

Irving, Terry, Gary and Graham

Ian Hamilton, 22 April 1993

Behind Closed Doors 
by Irving Scholar and Mihir Bose.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 0 233 98824 6
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Sick as a Parrot: The Inside Story of the Spurs Fiasco 
by Chris Horrie.
Virgin, 293 pp., £4.99, August 1992, 0 86369 620 1
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Gary Lineker: Strikingly Different 
by Colin Malam.
Stanley Paul, 147 pp., £12.99, January 1993, 0 09 175424 0
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... with his leg in plaster – a symbolic crippling that would have been made much of by F. Scott Fitzgerald. All in all, Scholar has good reason to feel undervalued by the terrace diehards. Fan of fans, he brought to Spurs great players like Waddle, Gascoigne and Lineker. None of them is still there of course but even so. Perhaps a club chairman cannot ...

Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... a political party without quickly being disgusted by its humbug or convulsed by its absurdity. Jonathan Miller was surely wrong when he said to Thompson: ‘The idea that Peter had an anarchic, subversive view of society is complete nonsense. He was the most upstanding, traditional upholder of everything English and everything Establishment.’ My own ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths, 28 January 2010

... form and function, the K2, built out of cast iron to a neoclassical design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and painted a glossy Post Office red all over, came into service in 1927. It was as much emblem as shelter: ventilation came from holes pierced through the top fascia in the shape of a crown. The smaller and more durable K6, also designed by ...

War as a Rhizome

Fredric Jameson: Genre Trouble, 4 August 2022

... general as it has developed since the French Revolution, and been sated by offerings from Walter Scott to Ken Burns, Tolstoy to Margaret Mitchell, Hilary Mantel to Ben Pastor. Pastor seems to have invented a new way of combining the whole and the part in what TV producers might call the limited series.Yet it might chasten us to remember that as a result of ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... history repressed is more interesting than history expressed, as in the poetry of Southey, Scott, even Shelley. Besides, this historical foraging into the bad conscience of Wordsworth the ex-radical challenges the portrait of Wordsworth as counter-revolutionary which began to take shape around 1950, to be gradually developed by some of the leading ...

What’s wrong with that man?

Christian Lorentzen: Donald Antrim, 20 November 2014

The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories 
by Donald Antrim.
Granta, 158 pp., £12.99, November 2014, 978 1 84708 649 5
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... of US fiction writers around his age that includes the late David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides. There are a few things that set Antrim apart: he’s Southern; his strongest affinity to a writer in the previous generation is to Donald Barthelme, not Don DeLillo; he’s the least likely to be topical, to dramatise a few ...

His Whiskers Trimmed

Matthew Karp: Robert E. Lee in Defeat, 7 April 2022

Robert E. Lee: A Life 
by Allen Guelzo.
Knopf, 585 pp., $27.99, September 2021, 978 1 101 94622 0
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... right, have approached their subject in a different spirit. In 2015 the Bush White House veteran Jonathan Horn published The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, a consideration of Lee’s failure to defend his country in its hour of need. Allen Guelzo’s new study goes further. An unusual figure in the American academy – an eminent Civil War scholar who is ...


Benjamin Markovits: What It Takes to Win at Sport, 7 November 2013

... gentlemen’s clubs. A cricket club doesn’t sell season tickets, Durham’s commercial director, Scott Sherrard, told me: it sells membership. A member isn’t just a fan, he’s one of us. So it seems unlikely, on the face of it, that England could owe its cricketing success to the strategies of Billy Beane. A cricket club feels very much like an insider ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... film which is up on the screen turns out to be Budd Boetticher’s Westbound, one of the Randolph Scott cycle, although the voice that we hear on the soundtrack is mysteriously speaking some lines of poetry by Guillaume Apollinaire. In a way, this aberrant moment summed up Godard’s appeal for me – the perverse mixture of Modernism with B-movies, as if an ...

Point of Wonder

A.D. Nuttall, 5 December 1991

Marvellous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 202 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 812382 5
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... echo of this imperfectly acknowledged transformation in the more avowedly Marxist work of Jonathan Dollimore. In his absorbing book Radical Tragedy Dollimore made free use of the term ‘essentialism’, meaning the ascription of a permanent, necessary form to reality. He wrote, in a way which still seems bizarre to me, as if Karl Popper had never ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February 2021, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February 2021, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... to squeeze whatever fun might be had.The stage was set for what Tony Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, claimed would be ‘a change from a feudal system of barons to a more Napoleonic system’. The staff at Number Ten used, notoriously, to be no larger than the staff of a mayor in a middle-sized German town. Over the last decades, it has swelled ...

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell, 16 April 2020

Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820 
by Thomas Keymer.
Oxford, 352 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 19 874449 8
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... no radical publications of recent years could match the virulence and courage of Fielding’s Jonathan Wild (1743): ‘had he lived now he would have been denounced … as the grand Mouth-piece and Factionary of the revolutionists.’ The 17th and early 18th centuries were remembered as periods in which the pillory was an object of real terror for ...

Reasons for Liking Tolkien

Jenny Turner: The Hobbit Habit, 15 November 2001

... societies, when he was at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, the setting most recently of Jonathan Coe’s novel The Rotters’ Club.5 The last, and most famous, was the Inklings, with C.S. Lewis (‘Jack’) and Charles Williams, at Oxford in the 1930s. On this subject, Humphrey Carpenter’s 1978 study, The Inklings, last revised in 1997, is the ...

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