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The Need for Buddies

Roy Porter, 22 June 2000

British Clubs and Societies 1580-1800: The Origins of an Associational World 
by Peter Clark.
Oxford, 516 pp., £60, January 2000, 0 19 820376 4
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... included Burke, Reynolds, Goldsmith, Sir Joseph Banks, Burney, Garrick, Sheridan, Gibbon and Adam Smith. In their role as self-appointed custodians of culture, literary clubs combined some of the functions of the Paris salon and the university the capital lacked. There was no true continental equivalent to the British obsession with the institution ...

Urban Humanist

Sydney Checkland, 15 September 1983

Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in Urban History by H.J. Dyos 
edited by David Cannadine and David Reeder.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £20, September 1982, 0 521 24624 5
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Themes in Urban History: Patricians, Power and Politics in 19th-Century Towns 
edited by David Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 224 pp., £16.50, October 1982, 9780718511937
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... labour, either his own or somebody else’s. There is, indeed, much truth in this notion, for, as Adam Smith had implied, the market, together with its twin, private property, was the great invoker of city-building energies and the great though blind mediator of their outcome. But then in the last years of Victoria’s reign the great faults of the cities ...

Enemies of All Mankind

Stephen Sedley: Pirates, 24 June 2010

The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law 
by Nigel Rodley, with Matt Pollard.
Oxford, 697 pp., £85, August 2009, 978 0 19 921507 2
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The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations 
by Daniel Heller-Roazen.
Zone, 295 pp., £21.95, November 2009, 978 1 890951 94 8
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The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates 
by Peter Leeson.
Princeton, 271 pp., £16.95, May 2009, 978 0 691 13747 6
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... economic maximiser, is the conceit of The Invisible Hook, in which a somewhat parodic version of Adam Smith surveys the world of buccaneering. You might wonder what else a pirate could be. But with pirates the unexpected is everywhere. Although he doesn’t get a mention beyond the title, one recalls that Captain Hook himself, in the prose version, lures the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... the forests and nature reserves. I wonder whether it ever occurs to the 14-year-olds who staff the Adam Smith Institute that such seemingly unrelated policies have something to do with the rise in crime and civil disorder generally? Paid to think the unthinkable, do they not see that unless the state is perceived as benevolent, a provider of ...

Little Englander Histories

Linda Colley: Little Englandism, 22 July 2010

A Mad, Bad & Dangerous People? England 1783-1846 
by Boyd Hilton.
Oxford, 757 pp., £21, June 2008, 978 0 19 921891 2
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Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1780-1939 
by James Belich.
Oxford, 573 pp., £25, June 2009, 978 0 19 929727 6
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... of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and myriad small islands off their coasts. The late John Roberts, himself a pioneering exponent of world history, acknowledged some of these complexities in his editorial preface to the New Oxford History of England, the even more multi-volume successor, still in progress, to the original and influential multi-volume ...

Mockney Rebels

Thomas Jones: Lindsay Anderson, 20 July 2000

Mainly about Linsay Anderson 
by Gavin Lambert.
Faber, 302 pp., £18.99, May 2000, 0 571 17775 1
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... governor; teetering on a windowsill in a failed attempt to talk a working-class woman (Rachel Roberts) out of committing suicide, Travis reads her a poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon, Cheltenham College’s favourite alumnus, after whom Lindsay Gordon Anderson was named by his mother. One of the many anti-naturalistic devices ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... required the poet to thwart his will to technical perfection. He credited the Scottish poet Helen Adam, whom he met in San Francisco in 1953, with ‘breaking the husk of my modernist pride and shame, my conviction that what mattered was the literary or artistic achievement’. Like Creeley, Levertov and the other poets of what would come to be known as the ...

When should a judge not be a judge?

Stephen Sedley: Recuse yourself!, 6 January 2011

... the West Virginia decision for apparent bias, but that it was the four judicial conservatives, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito, who voted to uphold the judgment. They may also now know that, thanks to a subsequent Supreme Court ruling, Massey need no longer channel its subventions through its chairman: it can donate to judicial re-election campaigns ...

When Bitcoin Grows Up

John Lanchester: What is Money?, 21 April 2016

... or twenty quid note. On one side we have a famous dead person: Elizabeth Fry or Charles Darwin or Adam Smith, depending on whether it’s a five or ten or twenty. On the other we have a picture of the queen, and just above that the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of’, and then the value of the note, and the signature of the cashier of ...

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat

David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... to humanise it. His great find is a previously unseen cache of letters from the young Margaret Roberts to her older sister, Muriel, written variously from Grantham, Oxford and Dartford. There, she talks about boyfriends, fashion, shopping and the various inconveniences of life in wartime and then austerity Britain. They are, I suppose, human. But boy are ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... were too bright perhaps.7 March. Read and enjoy Edgelands by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts about the lure of in-between places and the edges of cities and other communities. I feel I was on to this years ago in my play The Old Country, when Hilary, a spy in the Foreign Office, describes the venues where he met his Soviet contact; it’s also ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín, 6 September 2007

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... to get anywhere in Hollywood, I decided to try the ‘method’ approach. I borrowed a jacket from Adam Ant and modelled my character on the latest prodigy on the violin scene, a rockabilly called Nigel Kennedy. I developed a quiff and a nasal Bromley twang, wore my costume at home and at work, and never came out of character, even when going to confession at ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell, 26 September 2019

Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... birthday in 2012 drew contributions from all the paladins of the Tory right: Roger Scruton, Andrew Roberts, Simon Heffer, Iain Duncan Smith. His stream of long, considered speeches continued to ripple through Tory minds, all the more perhaps because they were now running underground. During his wilderness years Powell became the Baptist of the Brexit ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... Dry Salvages’ and ‘Little Gidding’. These four poems contain almost no personal names (‘Adam’, ‘Krishna’ and ‘Arjuna’ are the exceptions), but include several place names and each has a place name at its head. It is hard, however, for informed modern readers to approach these works without people’s names coming to mind: Emily Hale, the ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’, 3 July 2014

Capital in the 21st Century 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 696 pp., £29.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 43000 6
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... heaped-up labour entails excavations of historical labour inputs going back approximately to when Adam learned he must earn his bread from the sweat of his brow. Piketty judges the neoclassicals in Massachusetts to have got the better of the two Cambridges debate but later casually jettisons ‘the illusion of marginal productivity’: ‘It becomes something ...

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