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Greatest Happiness

Brian Barry, 19 January 1984

The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. Vol. I: Cambridge Essays 1888-1899 
edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew Brink, Nicholas Griffin, Richard Rempel and John Slater.
Allen and Unwin, 554 pp., £48, November 1983, 0 04 920067 4
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... There shall be a day when a shorthand citation like “McMaster 8:279” will be sufficient affidavit for the scholar of the authenticity and location of any quotation of Russell’s written word.’ With this ringing prophecy, William Ready, the General Editor of the McMaster University Library Press and the man who brought the Russell archives to McMaster in 1968, introduced a prospectus of The Collected Essays of Bertrand Russell in Russell, the journal of the Bertrand Russell Archives ...

Russell and Ramsey

Ray Monk, 29 August 1991

Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship 
by Nicholas Griffin.
Oxford, 409 pp., £45, January 1991, 0 19 824453 3
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Philosophical Papers 
by F.P. Ramsey, edited by D.H. Mellor.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 521 37480 4
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The Philosophy of F.P. Ramsey 
by Nils-Eric Sahlin.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, November 1990, 0 521 38543 1
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... of its editorial team. Two years ago we had Bertrand Russell: The Psychobiography of a Moralist by Andrew Brink, a lecturer in English at McMaster who helped to edit Volumes I and XII of the Collected Papers. This presented a Freudian analysis of the personal papers published in those volumes. Nicholas Griffin’s Russell’s Idealist ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... era, the agent-as-conductor-of-cosmic-chaos. In Series Two, our young actor, a Hispanic on the brink of superstardom, wants to play Pablo Escobar in a new project, Medellin. The actor’s friend and manager goes to a restaurant with the star’s agent, Ari Gold. The manager is called E. E: He has read Medellin and he wants to do that. Ari: Where d’you ...

‘We shot a new pigeon’

Andrew Sugden, 23 August 2001

Extinct Birds 
by Errol Fuller.
Oxford, 398 pp., £29.50, May 2001, 0 19 850837 9
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... too, become frailties when population size is reduced, and threaten to tip a species over the brink. The kakapo, a four-kilo ground-dwelling New Zealand parrot whose deep, booming mating call (which can be heard at http://www.bigjude.com/Page8.html) was compared by the late Douglas Adams to the opening bars of a Pink Floyd album, is unique among parrots ...

Travelling Southwards

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, 19 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey 
by E.L. James.
Arrow, 514 pp., £7.99, April 2012, 978 0 09 957993 9
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... jacuzzis. But what these gazillion-selling authors liked most was a human being perpetually on the brink of a soaring orgasm. Women just had to be approached, sometimes just looked at, and a ‘shuddering’ event would occur in their ‘sex’. Sometimes it wasn’t called ‘my sex’, and the word ‘clitoris’ made its debut in our lives. Men sometimes ...

The Greatest Person then Living

Andrew Bacevich: Presidents v. Generals, 27 July 2017

The General v. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War 
by H.W. Brands.
Anchor, 438 pp., £21, November 2016, 978 0 385 54057 5
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... Brands offers no evidence to suggest that events in Korea in late 1950 brought the US to the brink of nuclear war. Whatever he means when he writes that ‘the knife-edge that Truman had been walking suddenly terminated above an abyss,’ the fact is that the American nuclear arsenal remained in the US under lock and key. Still, Truman was in a fix. He ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... itself. The admission of rival sentiments comes to appear merely a nuance of the mind’s habit. Andrew Motion’s way of making sense is to imagine something, then something else apparently quite different, and let the poem accommodate both imaginings with or without specifying the relation between them. A girl and her father, quarrelling; the girl and a ...

Resentment

John Sutherland, 21 March 1991

Francesca 
by Roger Scruton.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 236 pp., £13.95, February 1991, 9781856190480
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Slave of the Passions 
by Deirdre Wilson.
Picador, 251 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 330 31788 1
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The Invisible Worm 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1991, 1 85619 041 2
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The Secret Pilgrim 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 335 pp., £14.95, January 1991, 0 340 54381 7
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... she pursues a love affair begun in the summer balls of her final year, her last taste of Eden. Andrew, an engineer and semipro rock musician, was initially attracted to Grace because she ‘looked like a person’ (what did he expect – a tomato?). The novel follows a year or so of their courtship, his musical career and her research. Affairs of ...

The Untreatable

Gavin Francis: The Spanish Flu, 25 January 2018

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World 
by Laura Spinney.
Jonathan Cape, 352 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 1 910702 37 6
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... find work to support the family. Emilio died in 2011 aged 101. When I told a friend, the writer Andrew Greig, that I was writing this piece, he told me that his father, born in 1899, came down with Spanish flu while on leave from the war in France. ‘His convalescence delayed his return to the front, where his battalion was all but wiped out,’ ...

Puffed up, Slapped down

Rosemary Hill: Charles and Camilla, 7 September 2017

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life 
by Sally Bedell Smith.
Michael Joseph, 624 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 7181 8780 4
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The Duchess: The Untold Story 
by Penny Junor.
William Collins, 320 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 0 00 821100 4
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... but was nevertheless a team effort. They were both furious. Diana’s response was to talk to Andrew Morton, whose book, Diana, Her True Story, came out the following year and marked the beginning of the public War of the Waleses. Junor has known her present subject since 1987, when her first biography of Charles resulted in a writ from ...

Make Something Happen!

Julian Bell: Paint Serious, Paint Big, 2 December 2010

Salvator Rosa: Bandits, Wilderness and Magic 
by Helen Langdon, Xavier Salomon and Caterina Volpi.
Paul Holberton, 240 pp., £40, September 2010, 978 1 907372 01 8
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Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of 17th-Century Italian Painters 
by Richard Spear and Philip Sohm et al.
Yale, 384 pp., £45, 0 300 15456 9
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Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Allen Lane, 514 pp., £30, July 2010, 978 0 7139 9674 6
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The Moment of Caravaggio 
by Michael Fried.
Princeton, 304 pp., £34.95, 0 691 14701 9
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... it, the image is chiefly one of fellow-feeling. The plunge is what the showman takes. There’s a brink and the audience – the great unknown – lies beyond it: get up there, throw in all you’ve got, court disaster if you must, but whatever you do, make something happen! Rosa, more than any painter before him, came to live for the exhibition. ‘I have ...

Shuffling off

John Sutherland, 18 April 1985

Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction 
by Garrett Stewart.
Harvard, 403 pp., £19.80, December 1984, 0 674 19428 4
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Forms of Feeling in Victorian Fiction 
by Barbara Hardy.
Owen, 215 pp., £12.50, January 1985, 9780720606119
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Language and Class in Victorian England 
by K.C. Phillipps.
Basil Blackwell in association with Deutsch, 190 pp., £19.50, November 1984, 0 631 13689 4
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... respectful attention to death and resurrection in the novelist’s work. Coincidentally, in 1982, Andrew Sanders’s Charles Dickens: Resurrectionist was published. Dickens was the subject of Garrett Stewart’s previous book, and is the main author discussed in Death Sentences. But his line is different from Sanders’s, who locates the Dickensian ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... Alan’ performance for a more general audience. 26 January. Run into Tristram Powell. Andrew Devonshire (sic) has done a diary for the Spectator mentioning the memoir of Julian Jebb (edited by Tristram) as one of the books he was putting in the guest bedrooms at Chatsworth. ‘I wish he’d leave a copy in all the bedrooms,’ drawls ...

What did her neighbours say when Gabriel had gone?

Hilary Mantel: The Virgin and I, 9 April 2009

Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary 
by Miri Rubin.
Allen Lane, 533 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 7139 9818 4
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... on, reimagined. Sometimes these imaginings have great sweetness. The eighth-century preacher Andrew of Crete pictured the Angel Gabriel hesitating on the brink of annunciation, wondering how to enter the Virgin’s room: ‘Shall I knock on the door? And how? For this is not customary for angels.’ Neither woman nor ...

Weasel, Magpie, Crow

Mark Ford: Edward Thomas, 1 January 2009

Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems 
edited by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 335 pp., £12, June 2008, 978 1 85224 746 1
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... its most potent sense of Thomas’s elusive selfhood at the very moment that self nears the brink of dissolution. This dissolution is far from the ‘extinction of personality’ recommended by Eliot in ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, which came out two years after ‘Old Man’ appeared in An Annual of New Poetry. Eliot argued that the ...

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