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All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’, 15 December 2016

... we come to Philip’s internal strife, we have to contend with the randy bonhomie of old King George. It is said that American viewers are distressed to find the word ‘cunt’ used in the first episode, spoken by George VI (Jared Harris) to his valet, but perhaps this is merely the latest in a long line of gifts from ...

Liberated by His Bite

Andrew Delbanco, 19 September 1996

Our Vampires, Ourselves 
by Nina Auerbach.
Chicago, 238 pp., £17.50, November 1995, 0 226 03201 9
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... as a brilliant, transgressive genius went quiet. It appeared in bits and snatches in such works as George Viereck’s The House of the Vampire (1907), and maintained a fitful presence in the pulps and silent movies. As a result, Our Vampires, Ourselves moves briskly through the decades that separate Stoker’s novel from Browning’s film, coming back to life ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Other Atticus Finch, 29 July 2015

... rather extravagantly – is a set of views about black people that might put him on a par with George Wallace, a circumstance requiring you to suddenly un-imagine the noble lawyer, now no longer the decency machine who has long lived in your head as segregation’s mythic antidote. To some commentators, he is the same man, a Southern agrarian fighting ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: From Bethlehem, 5 June 2008

... on the gate, ‘No Guns’ – the young women studying English wanted to talk about Foucault and George Eliot. Near the place where Yasir Arafat is buried, graffiti on the wall says, ‘ctrl+alt+delete’, the command you key in when your computer freezes. And that is the feeling one gets in Ramallah, the feeling of a system that is paralysed and awaiting ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Kitsch and Kilts in Celtic Park, 20 August 2014

... the opening of the Glasgow Empire Exhibition in 1938, waving newspapers and hats in the air as George VI and his wife entered Ibrox Park in a horse-drawn carriage. ‘The queen and I are happy to be in Scotland once more,’ he said with a stammer, before praising Glasgow for organising such a show of unity ‘whilst the country was still under the cloud ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... works of Dickens, James, Austen or Joyce (I searched on Gutenberg). It doesn’t appear in George Eliot’s books either (not even in Scenes of Clerical Life, or in the one she translated, Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity) and, for all the expiring heroes in their novels, neither Hardy nor the Brontës had any use for the phrase. It was certainly ...

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Andrew O’Hagan: If something happens to me…, 5 May 2005

... Necropolis.’ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘The sign could say: “Up here, something did happen to Andrew O’Hagan. Like each of us, he wondered if it would happen. And it did.”’ Something happened to my second ever schoolteacher, Mrs Wallace. We saw her totally somethinged in her coffin under a huge crucifix of Jesus Christ, to whom, by the look of the ...


Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne, 4 November 1993

... stodgy. And after some backing and filling, he more or less owns up to having been ravished by George Melly at school and to have been both ravisher and ravishee until his early days in uniform. The remainder of the narrative of this period is punctuated by things like beagling with Father Gilbey or passing weekends in great houses with private Tridentine ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... Andrew Motion’s book is intended to portray a family’s rich self-destructiveness. He begins with Larkin’s famous quatrain: Man hands on misery to man.   It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can,   And don’t have any kids yourself. The Lamberts – painter George (1873-1930), composer-conductor Constant (1905-51), and manager of The Who, Kit (1935-81) – got out as early as they could, and of the two who had kids neither showed paternal enthusiasm or skill ...

Drones, baby, drones

Andrew Cockburn, 8 March 2012

... policy in a generation’. Yet the president’s words have a familiar ring. In September 1999 George W. Bush, then a presidential candidate, introduced his defence programme at the Citadel military school in Charleston. ‘Our forces in the next century must be agile, lethal, readily deployable,’ he said. ‘Our military must be able to identify targets ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 5 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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... of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, there are 700 agents at CAA, but the story told in James Andrew Miller’s riveting book is really about the personalities who invented the game. It is, more particularly, the story of what Michael Ovitz gave to the world and what that world took away from him. It’s Citizen Kane to a disco beat with the moral ...


Evan Kindley: Modernist Magazines, 23 January 2014

The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 976 pp., £35, May 2013, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume II: North America 1894-1960 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 1088 pp., £140, July 2012, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume III: Europe 1880-1940 
edited by Peter Brooker, Sascha Bru, Andrew Thacker and Christian Weikop.
Oxford, 1471690 pp., £145, March 2013, 978 0 19 965958 6
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... volume of their Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker point out that the nine-year run of the Dial alone amounts to ‘around 10,500 pages of text and 1200 pages of adverts, assuming an average of 300 words per page; this equals some 3.1 million words to read … about equivalent to reading 21 books ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... of 9/11, implying that it had shown great leadership in finding what happened that day very bad. George W. Bush has boiled doublethink down to a sticky residue: ‘you’re either for us or you’re for the terrorists’ is its central flavour. But choosing New York for the convention was overweening even by Republican standards: like Woody Allen, only less ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele, 6 April 1995

‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... his clientèle by developing, designing and managing a warehouse in Dunlop Street with his brother George. Although this particular venture never made any money, Thomson kept his hand in at the speculator’s game. He had a financial interest in several of his best known designs, usually sharing the risk with partners in the building trades. The contributors ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... art being Guy Liddell. The development of this intelligence community is the theme of Christopher Andrew’s book, which contains the first reliable narrative history of the secret services from Victorian days to the present. Needless to say, he has received no encouragement from Whitehall, and former members of MI5 have been warned not to talk to him. As he ...

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