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Living and Dying in Ireland

Sean O’Faolain, 6 August 1981

... so that one of them can frighten us by suddenly resurfacing a thousand years after it seemed to be stone dead. Up to that disconcerting moment the most we are inclined to allow the remote past is that it may linger on as a sanctified revival or a quaint reconstruction. It does not trouble us if we find that some of our dearest religious rites are as old as ...

The Big Store

Norman Hampson, 21 January 1982

The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store 1869-1920 
by Michael Miller.
Allen and Unwin, 266 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 04 330316 1
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Ladies of the Leisure Class: The Bourgeoises of Northern France in the 19th Century 
by Bonnie Smith.
Princeton, 303 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 691 05330 8
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Marianne into Battle: Republican Imagery and Symbolism in France 1789-1880 
by Maurice Agulhon, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge, 235 pp., £18.50, June 1981, 0 521 28224 1
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... Bon Marché, which, at the time, had a staff of 12. Seventeen years later, he laid the foundation stone of a vast new department store that was to employ 1,788 men and women (mostly men) by 1877, and 4,500 by 1906. Within Boucicaut’s lifetime – he died in 1877 – what had begun as a shop had become a major commercial enterprise. When his wife died ten ...


Norman Page, 16 March 1989

Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... Hardy trademark) is back to the 17th century in two more hops: ‘In my time the floors were of stone, sanded, & the front of squared ashlar, just as in Dr Burney’s day, &, no doubt, Sir Isaac Newton’s.’ Most memorably recreated is the 70-year-old scene of Martha Brown’s execution, witnessed by Hardy as a boy of 16 and still a scrupulously ...

Long live the codex

John Sutherland: The future of books, 5 July 2001

Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future 
by Jason Epstein.
Norton, 188 pp., £16.95, March 2001, 0 393 04984 1
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... imagination stretches from primeval man, arranging ‘meaningful phonemes to the beat of stone upon stone or to the sound of hollowed logs used as drums’, to the impact on book business, eons hence, of ‘the global village green … undisciplined, polymorphous and polyglot, as has been our fate and our milieu ...

Finding out who you were

Paul Delany, 6 August 1992

Murther and Walking Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 357 pp., £14.95, October 1991, 1 85619 078 1
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... baggage along. The motto of Quebec, Je me souviens, affirms solidarity with the Breton and Norman colony of New France, as it existed before its defeat on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. In Toronto and Vancouver, conversely, we find Post-Modern cities built on a displacement of memory: cities where some 40 per cent of the inhabitants were born in a ...

Culture Wars

W.J.T. Mitchell, 23 April 1992

... or representing of war, but the waging of war by means of publicity and representation. Oliver Stone’s JFK is the perfect cinematic coda to such a year. I want to compare two melodramatic scenarios that captured the imagination of American spectators in 1991, and to analyse the impact of these representations on public discourse. The Kennedy ...
... village perched on a ridge above the Evenlode valley looking across to Stonesfield (where the stone slates are quarried) and the back of Blenheim Park. Here Rowse began collecting notes for a poem so I pointed out a great rosemary bush in flower to him and told him it was marjoram. I look forward to the published error. At North Leigh we saw Mr Hevesi ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton, 22 October 1992

The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... There is a story that when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming ‘Hi, Norman!’ in the Index, next to Mailer’s name. A similar tactic might happily have been ventured by the publishers of Philip Larkin’s Letters: the book’s back pages are going to be well-thumbed ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 3 April 2014

... with cows. Cotman’s Crowland hangs in watery mist. Like Turner in his detail of a massive Norman column from Holy Island suspended in a tiny sketch, Cotman could conjure up the poignant synecdoche of mighty fragments imbued as much with power as with loss. ‘Crowland Abbey’ by John Sell Cotman (1804). The exhibition largely ignores the fact ...

A Rumbling of Things Unknown

Jacqueline Rose: Marilyn Monroe, 26 April 2012

... to think’. He is alluding to McCarthyism and the Cold War. When another radical journalist, I.F. Stone, listened to Eisenhower’s inaugural address, what he heard behind its rhetoric of freedom was the drumbeat of war (although Eisenhower was reluctant to send troops to the region, the build-up to Vietnam would start on his watch). ...

Once a Syrian, always a Syrian

Maria Margaronis: Joseph O’Neill, 8 March 2001

Blood-Dark Track: A Family History 
by Joseph O'Neill.
Granta, 338 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 1 86207 288 4
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... of West Cork, with its rivers winding through tunnels of leaves and its Big Houses hidden by high stone walls. Here is the bend in the Bandon where he poached salmon to pay for his sons’ confirmation suits; here is the copse where guns and ammunition were stashed by Republican fighters; here is the monument to the Kilmichael ambush, where Tom Barry’s IRA ...

Flour Fixated

Bee Wilson, 24 September 2020

Amber Waves: The Extraordinary Biography of Wheat 
by Catherine Zabinski.
Chicago, 246 pp., £18, August, 978 0 226 55371 9
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... Not​ many people have heard of Norman Borlaug, but his invention – the high-yield, short-straw wheat that fuelled the Green Revolution – is consumed every day by the majority of humans on the planet. Without Borlaug’s wheat, there would be no modern food as we know it. Everything from sandwiches to pizza to soy sauce to animal feed is manufactured from wheats adapted from Borlaug’s ...

Alexander the Brilliant

Edward Said, 18 February 1988

Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies and the Reagan Era 
by Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 479 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86091 176 4
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... remorselessly, he has been on the wrong side of the entire US Government, of the New Republic, of Norman Podhoretz, of nearly every journalist of note, left, right and centre, of the New York Times, of the McNeil-Lehrer Report (see in particular his devastating replication of that TV programme’s famous ‘balance’, with the ponderously sober ...

Through the Grinder

Graham Coster, 8 February 1996

The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 523 pp., £17.50, November 1995, 0 241 13504 4
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... itinerary further truncated by illness; for Voices of the Old Sea, perhaps his best travel-book, Norman Lewis hung out in a small Portuguese fishing village. Theroux’s mileage always clocks up a high four figures. And while desultory, capricious travel tends to reveal its elusive agenda only belatedly – Greene’s acknowledgment, in the grip of fever, of ...

Anything but Staffordshire

Rosemary Hill, 18 September 1997

Rare Spirit: A Life of William De Morgan 1839-1917 
by Mark Hamilton.
Constable, 236 pp., £22.50, September 1997, 0 09 474670 2
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... strong unassertive style adapted well. It was cool enough for Philip Webb, but it could be robust. Norman Shaw used the tiles in the ‘Old English’ interior of the Tabard Inn at Bedford Park, the artistic suburb, built from the late 1870s, where the inhabitants ‘read Rossetti by Japanesey lamps’. De Morgan still looked modern when the next generation of ...

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