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The British Dimension

Rosalind Mitchison

16 October 1980
The Life of David Hume 
by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Oxford, 736 pp., £20, March 1980, 0 19 824381 2
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‘The People Above’: Politics and Adminsitration in Mid-18th-Century Scotland 
by Alexander Murdoch.
John Donald, 199 pp., £12, March 1980, 0 85976 053 7
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The Laird of Abbotsford 
by A.N. Wilson.
Oxford, 197 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 0 19 211756 4
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The Strange Death of Scottish History 
by Marinell Ash.
Ramsay Head Press, 166 pp., £6.50, March 1980, 0 902859 57 9
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... educating and controlling the lower orders. Scottish landed society, freed from domination by great lords and religious blackmail by demagogic preachers, could look to all sorts of advantages. As AlexanderMurdoch points out, it was ‘parity’ with England, not assimilation to the English governmental machine, that the top-brass Scots wanted. At intervals, they would speak of the need to ‘compleat ...

Never further than Dinner or Tea

Alexander​ Nehamas: Iris Murdoch

4 March 1999
Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch 
by John Bayley.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £16.95, September 1998, 0 7156 2848 8
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... The first thing Alzheimer’s disease took away from Iris Murdoch was her luminous powers. At a conference in Israel in 1994, she was unable to answer her audience’s questions. In 1995, she completed, with great difficulty, her 27th novel, Jackson’s Dilemma, in ...

Northern Lights

Rosalind Mitchison

19 April 1984
Literature and Gentility in Scotland 
by David Daiches.
Edinburgh, 114 pp., £6.50, June 1982, 9780852244388
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New Perspectives on the Politics and Culture of Early Modern Scotland 
edited by John Dwyer, Roger Mason and Alexander Murdoch.
John Donald, 340 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 85976 066 9
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Adam Smith 
by R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner.
Croom Helm, 231 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 9780709907299
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Sister Peg 
edited by David Raynor.
Cambridge, 127 pp., £15.50, June 1981, 0 521 24299 1
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Boswell: The Applause of the Jury 1782-1785 
edited by Irma Lustig and Frederick Pottle.
Heinemann, 419 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 434 43945 2
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Muir of Huntershill 
by Christina Bewley.
Oxford, 212 pp., £8.50, May 1981, 0 19 211768 8
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... The leading figures in all these books are well-known, and are located in a period of conspicuous intellectual activity in the Scotland of the mid and late 18th century. This was the time when the modern social sciences were created as areas of legitimate study, much of their content for the use of teenage university students. There was also a modest literary revival. The great men of the Scottish ...

Diary

Norman Buchan: In Defence of the Word

1 October 1987
... a fifth national newspaper by a group which already owns four’: Sir Zelman Cowen, Chairman of the Press Council. Both these comments were made about the recent takeover of Today newspaper by Rupert Murdoch. Unbelievably, the first came from a speech in the House of Commons in defence of the takeover. Stripped of the technical and financial arguments that would have accompanied a reference up to the ...

Class Traitor

Edward Pearce

11 June 1992
Maverick: The Life of a Union Rebel 
by Eric Hammond.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 297 81200 9
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... as ‘old-style Cold Warriors caught in a time-warp’. But heroic trade-unionism is at one with the ancients, the white carthorse on the steps of Number Ten is dust with Bellerophon, the horse of Alexander. A cruel memory of that age lingers, the TUC trip to Poland at the height of Party-military repression in that country. It was a jaunt which the EEPTU opposed – violently of course, it never did ...

Nutmegged

Frank Kermode: The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis.

10 May 2001
The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 506 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 224 05059 1
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... Victorian’. Moreover he commits sentences here characterised as ‘verbal pile-ups’ or ‘train-wrecks’, over which Amis’s pencil, his lifting gear, hovers and is regretfully withdrawn. Iris Murdoch makes a futile attempt to avoid cliché by using inverted commas: ‘the wrong end of the stick’, ‘worthwhile activities’. But you can’t slip away as easily as that: ‘a cliché or an ...

Diary

Alan Brien: Finding Lenin

7 August 1986
... bash at a novel. Having sacked myself after 12 years on the Sunday Times, exiting without a single tainted penny, out of distaste for newspapers that was not entirely to do with the newly-tyrannical Murdoch, I wanted to produce, for myself alone, a work that was one hundred per cent fiction. I could not think of any novel of which I could say that I had enjoyed every word. Not even The Three Musketeers ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens

28 June 1990
Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... Alexander reminded me that Black once said that he was prepared to let his editors have a completely free hand except on one subject. He forbade attacks on American Presidents in general and President Reagan ...

Let Us Pay

John Lanchester: Can newspapers survive?

16 December 2010
... papers a day. That is not a small number. The whole business is not about to disappear overnight. There have been some unexpected successes. The Evening Standard was bought by the former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev, and turned into a freesheet. This at the time seemed to me the craziest idea anyone in the business has ever had, turning a paying product into something that you just give away, and hoping ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style

20 January 2011
... really low – beyond low, actually.’ One of the lads, he has no problem with testicles. As soon as he met Alastair Campbell, he knew that he had ‘clanking great balls’. He admires Rupert Murdoch for the same reason: ‘He was an outsider, and he had balls.’ He also admires women who might be said to have balls, like Kate Garvey, his diary secretary: ‘She ran the diary with a grip of iron ...

When the Costume Comes Off

Adam Mars-Jones: Philip Hensher

14 April 2011
King of the Badgers 
by Philip Hensher.
Fourth Estate, 436 pp., £18.99, March 2011, 978 0 00 730133 1
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... Terrence Rattigan was surprised to find during war service that he was brave in an ordinary way. Out of this realisation came his interest in such non-cowardly homosexuals as T.E. Lawrence (Ross) and Alexander the Great (Adventure Story). But perhaps the question to be asked is: why should a heterosexual writer adopt a gay point of view? What’s the benefit, not to the person, but to the novel? There ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event

20 April 1995
... everybody. Madonna, who was next to me on the dinner placement, cancelled at the last moment, as is her right. Perhaps she didn’t feel she had been well seated. Never mind; I was able to introduce Alexander Hitchens to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, both of whom were very nice to him, as was Jessica Lange and as were Uma Thurman and Oprah Winfrey. His only autograph refusal came from Jane ...

Diary

Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter

12 March 1992
... she would have loved its comic absurdity. Ever since she died on 16 February things have been happening which she would have enjoyed. The Tories have been getting into tangles. Her eight-year-old son Alexander has invented an amiably malevolent game called Killer Baby. And Angela Carter has turned into a celebrity. Her reputation has soared like her trapeze-artist heroine Fevvers, the ‘Cockney Venus ...

Fear of Rabid Dogs

Margaret Anne Doody

18 August 1994
Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time 
by Marina Warner.
Vintage, 104 pp., £4.99, April 1994, 0 09 943361 3
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... media’ – in recitations, dramas, pictures, mosaics, graphics on pottery. And they did not serve only as ‘tragic warnings’. For the use of a character as a model, it would be hard to beat Alexander’s deliberate and well-documented modelling of himself on Achilles. For Alexander, the epic was sufficient to ‘trigger desire and excite identification’ in the manner Warner attributes only to ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson

18 November 1982
Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... not know on what grounds, or with what motives. The result, however, was to wreck one of the most promising possibilities for a negotiated peace. President Belaunde Terry of Peru, with some help from Alexander Haig, had advanced his proposal that both sides should withdraw (the British landings had not yet taken place), that a third party should temporarily administer the islands, and that a settlement ...

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