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David Runciman: How the coalition was formed, 16 December 2010

22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... Britain’s Labour Party, which had spurned at least three opportunities to replace Gordon Brown with someone more palatable, smelled of exhaustion. Laws describes the various meetings that took place in the days following the election between the Lib Dem negotiating team and its Labour counterparts, to see if they could thrash out a deal. On the ...

The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... revolt, was commander of the Corps des Pages for twenty-five years, and presided late in life over Alexander II’s Council of Ministers; his grandfather, Count Nicholas, described by Lord Salisbury as ‘an amusing, joking man without regard for the truth’, negotiated the treaty which concluded the Russo-Turkish War and, as ...

Devolution Doom

Christopher Harvie: Scotland’s crisis, and some solutions, 5 September 2002

... ah tell ye, doomed!’ – in order? The Enterprise/Transport/Lifelong-Learning minister Wendy Alexander fled in May, perhaps because McConnell crushed her under all those portfolios, but also, surely, because of the mismatch between her huge responsibilities and her limited powers. Holyrood has, it’s true, turned in good research and policy reports in ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released). Julia Prewitt Brown sees him as a philosophical heavyweight; and celebrates his ‘dodginess’ in order to instal him in a post-dualist tradition of aesthetic theory – a missing link between Kierkegaard and Adorno. For Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, he’s the ...

Doing Chatting

Eleanor Birne: Asperger’s, 9 October 2003

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time 
by Mark Haddon.
Cape, 272 pp., £10.99, May 2003, 0 224 06378 2
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... on the doorstep (a cycling accident, David claimed). The same chequered lino is there, the same brown curtains; the jigsaw my grandmother was in the middle of when she died is still out on the table, dusty and half-assembled. On the wall in the corridor hangs the granddaughter clock she left me and that I’ve never seen. David has trouble looking you in ...

Fie On’t!

James Buchan, 23 March 1995

The Oxford Book of Money 
edited by Kevin Jackson.
Oxford, 479 pp., £17.99, February 1995, 0 19 214200 3
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... On 24 January, a Tuesday, Mr Cedric Brown, chief executive of British Gas, testified before the House of Commons Committee on Employment on the subject of his pay, which is £475,000 a year. In the course of a brisk and competitive exchange with MPs, he showed emotion at only one point, when he said this: I started at the bottom ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns, 11 December 1997

Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... King Wenceslas’ (by J.M. Neale), followed by ‘Once in royal David’s city’ (Mrs Alexander); ‘All things bright and beautiful’ (also Mrs Alexander) is less familiar than it used to be, but was once possibly the best known of all. The most famous American poem of the Victorian age is ‘Away in a ...

Do not disturb

Bernard Williams, 20 October 1994

The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Princeton, 558 pp., £22.50, June 1994, 0 691 03342 0
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... of philosophy that developed in the Hellenistic period, the period in which, after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Greek culture adapted itself to existing in the large and loosely organised states that took the place of the independent city-states in which most Greek life had gone on in the Classical period. These schools continued to develop ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... imaging, gas chromatography and various sorts of microscopy. In 1874, when the collection of Alexander Barker, the son of a fashionable boot-maker, came up for sale at Christie’s, the National Gallery acquired two Botticellis: both long pictures of Venus, one with three putti (An Allegory), the other with four baby satyrs and Mars (Venus and Mars). An ...

At the Ikon Gallery

Brian Dillon: Jean Painlevé , 1 June 2017

... discovered on coasts from Norway to the Mediterranean. It grows up to six centimetres long, has a brown or white shell and a speckled body that may range in colour from grey to orange. In sheltered bays, these molluscs settle into fine, soft mud or muddy sand, where they mate in undulant chains, half a dozen at once. When disturbed from their orgies, the ...

Short Cuts

Joanna Biggs: Transcendental Wardrobes, 18 December 2014

... colours of a bruise as it appears and disappears: black to purple to blue to clotted burgundy to brown to mustard yellow. I had several collections of near-identical garments: two yellow skirts, four black skirts, three stripy tops, three pairs of scuffed black ballet flats, and a grey cardigan I wanted to lose. Did I think I was building a style or was I ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: Brexit and the SNP, 3 November 2016

... in Edinburgh. Even then Labour could have reasserted control. In 2008, its then leader, Wendy Alexander, tried to push the SNP into calling an independence referendum – ‘Bring it on,’ she said – but she was slapped down by Gordon Brown, under the advice of Alexander’s ...

Murder in Mayfair

Peter Pomerantsev, 31 March 2016

A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko and Russia’s War with the West 
by Luke Harding.
Faber, 424 pp., £12.99, March 2016, 978 1 78335 093 3
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... As he lay dying​ Alexander Litvinenko solved his own murder and foresaw the future. A professional detective on his last case, with himself as the victim, he worked out that he had been poisoned in the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, by another former KGB detective, Andrei Lugovoi. He had thought they were partners, investigating the connections between Putin’s Kremlin, organised crime and money laundering in Europe but, he now realised, Lugovoi was still taking orders from the people they were investigating ...

An Endless Progression of Whirlwinds

Robert Irwin: Asian empire, 21 June 2001

Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia 
by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac.
Little, Brown, 646 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 85589 8
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Tibet: The Great Game and Tsarist Russia 
by Tatiana Shaumian.
Oxford, 223 pp., £16, October 2000, 0 19 565056 5
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... of India seemed to come from France. In Egypt in 1798, Bonaparte studied the campaigns of Alexander the Great. He had corresponded with Tippoo Sahib, the Sultan of Mysore, and talked of leading the French expeditionary force on to conquer the British possessions in India. In 1800, the Russian Empire’s frontier was still a long way from that of ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... Andrew Millar, William Strahan, Thomas Cadell (father and son) and George Robinson in London, and Alexander Kincaid, John Balfour, John Bell and William Creech in Edinburgh, were not ‘mechanicks’ as Strahan once complained, but collaborators in a London-Edinburgh publishing enterprise that put Scotland on the literary map. For John Pinkerton, an Edinburgh ...

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