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Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... skill, accenting and phrasing even the most trivial script in order to get the rhythm right. And Alec Guinness would work on a text for weeks, walking round the garden listening to the tape and saying the words out loud. 3 May. Lord Browne disgraced largely thanks to the Mail on Sunday and the bribery of a Canadian youth. The newspapers painstakingly explain ...

Ave, Jeeves!

Emily Wilson: Rom(an) Com, 21 February 2008

Plautine Elements in Plautus 
by Eduard Fraenkel, translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke.
Oxford, 459 pp., £79, November 2006, 0 19 924910 5
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Plautus: ‘Asinaria – The One about the Asses’ 
translated by John Henderson.
Wisconsin, 252 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 299 21994 1
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Terence: The Comedies 
translated by Peter Brown.
Oxford, 338 pp., £9.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 282399 1
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Terence: Comedies 
translated by Frederick Clayton.
Exeter, 290 pp., £45, January 2006, 0 85989 757 5
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... women as both objects and victims of male sexual desire. Instead of the servus callidus, the smart-alec slave, we get a new stereotype: the bona meretrix, the hooker with a heart of gold. The female characters in Terence – including prostitutes and even mothers and mothers-in-law – are almost all nice, admirable, thoughtful, victimised ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... finds himself recounting, in the first person, Hardy’s memory of watching the hanging of Martha Brown at Dorchester when he was an adolescent. Cross-examination reveals that he does indeed have all of Hardy’s consciousness in his head, and that he was born exactly a hundred years after Hardy, to the very minute. Sharon thinks all this will be good for ...

Much like the 1950s

David Edgar: The Sixties, 7 June 2007

White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 
by Dominic Sandbrook.
Little, Brown, 878 pp., £22.50, August 2006, 0 316 72452 1
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Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles 
by Dominic Sandbrook.
Abacus, 892 pp., £19.99, May 2006, 0 349 11530 3
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... for Wilson’s delay in devaluing the pound. His sense of social detail is acute, as he reports Alec Douglas-Home’s doomed attempts to be trendy (he announced in a 1964 election speech that his party ‘is delivering the goods and it goes places and it will never, I promise you, get stuck in the mud’) and reveals that Edward Heath was probably the first ...


Rebecca Solnit: Get Off the Bus, 20 February 2014

... Yahoo (though not Apple) belong to the conservative anti-environmental political action committee Alec (the American Legislative Exchange Council). The story Silicon Valley less often tells about itself has to do with dollar signs and weapons systems. The industry came out of military contracting, and its alliance with the Pentagon has never ended. The ...

The End of Labour?

Colin Kidd, 8 March 2012

... seat out of Labour’s grip. The defeat, according to a contemporary Nationalist observer, Oliver Brown, sent a shiver along the Labour benches ‘looking for a spine to run up’. The Scottish Labour vote was managed at this point by Willie Ross, who was secretary of state for Scotland between 1964 and 1970, and again from 1974 until the retirement of his ...

The Deaths Map

Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border, 20 October 2011

... he made a presentation in Washington DC at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an influence forum, where state politicians and corporate businessmen mull things over to their mutual advantage. The ALEC taskforce event at which Pearce sketched out his ...

After the Referendum

LRB Contributors, 9 October 2014

... all ablaze these last few weeks and months. Bella Caledonia, Wee Ginger Dug, Rev. Stuart Campbell, Alec Finlay, Wheelie Bins for Yes – a cataract of stuff. God knows, in my hours online I wandered down some peculiar byways (the Spectator comments pages). The Better Together ‘Patronising Lady’ advert kept us entertained for ages. (Watch the ‘Valium ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... a few years later at the Mermaid Theatre at a performance of Peter Luke’s play Hadrian VII with Alec McCowen. Then it was his characteristic walk that I noticed: he tripped down the aisle after the designer, Gladys Calthrop, his hands, fingers pressed together, half slipped into his trouser pockets – ‘shucked’ would I think be the word – and gave ...


Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year, 8 January 2004

... fur and the fabric and the raised and knotted embroideries on the fabric, all of which melt into a brown mess on close examination, and only achieve form when one steps back. Oddly favourite is a portrait of the (unappealing) Pope Paul III in a faded rose-coloured cape enthroned on a worn velvet chair, the supreme pontiff just a lay figure there to demonstrate ...


R.W. Johnson, 8 February 1990

Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism 
by Raymond Williams, edited by Robin Gable.
Verso, 334 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 86091 229 9
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The Alien Mind of Raymond Williams 
by Jan Gorak.
Missouri, 132 pp., $9.95, December 1988, 0 8262 0688 3
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Raymond Williams: Writing, Culture, Politics 
by Alan O’Connor.
Blackwell, 180 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 631 16589 4
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Raymond Williams on Television: Selected Writings 
edited by Alan O’Connor.
Routledge, 223 pp., £7.95, April 1989, 9780415026277
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News from Nowhere: No 6. Raymond Williams: Third Generation 
edited by Tony Pinkney.
Oxford English Limited, 108 pp., £3.50, February 1989
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Raymond Williams: Critical Perspectives 
edited by Terry Eagleton.
Polity, 235 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 9780745603841
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... wooziness, to be all about values and community and wholeness: in a word, Christian socialism and brown bread. Now listen to Williams on ‘Problems of the Coming Period’, originally a talk given just before the 1983 Election. Thatcher, he argues, has not really achieved an intellectual hegemony. If you take the percentage of people who are going to vote ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed, 5 February 2015

Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... becomes a series of rescue missions, staged opportunities for heroism worthy of Hollywood: mobs of brown-skinned extras look up to see helicopters – we are saved! The Americans have arrived! Such are the dreams that hover unarticulated in our political unconscious, allowing our leaders to redefine war as humanitarian intervention. The triumph of fantasy ...


Peter Pomerantsev: In Brighton Beach, 13 September 2012

... Immaculately dressed in a jacket and scarf and his famous white trousers, always carrying a small brown suitcase, Bender charms, bullshits and blags his way across the USSR, refusing to play by the rules. Arriving in a provincial town he persuades the locals he is a chess grandmaster who will make their town the chess capital of the world, then the capital of ...


James Wood: These Etonians, 4 July 2019

... successor to the old Etonian Harold Macmillan, chose between two other Etonians, Lord Hailsham and Alec Douglas-Home. How had this happened? Much worse was to come. Cameron tossed the rotten bouquet of a referendum to the nation. Seemingly, it was done lightly – politics as one of his careless posh parties. On the eve of Brexit, here was Boris ...

The Queen and I

William Empson and John Haffenden, 26 November 1987

... and a triumphal tune to accompany Minerva’s entrance in a golden car; and the architect Alec Daykin designed a covered stage and backcloth. The volunteer orchestra numbered 66, with a large brass section provided by the Sheffield Transport Band; and a huge chorus included university undergraduates, students from the City of Sheffield Training ...

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