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Westward Ho

Frank Kermode, 7 February 1985

The Letters of D.H. Lawrence. Vol. III: October 1916 - June 1921 
edited by James Boulton and Andrew Robertson.
Cambridge, 762 pp., £25, November 1984, 0 521 23112 4
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Brett: From Bloomsbury to New Mexico 
by Sean Hignett.
Hodder, 299 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 9780340229736
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... This, the third of seven volumes in the Cambridge collection, contains 942 letters written by Lawrence in something under five years. Harry T. Moore’s Collected Letters of 1962 did the whole job in less than twice as many pages, though it’s true he didn’t print quite everything; and many more letters have turned up over the last twenty years. They are still turning up: this volume contains letters, formerly unknown, to Robert Mountsier, who later became Lawrence’s agent in the US, and a batch to Douglas Goldring ...

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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... For Sher, the Scottish printers and booksellers of the second half of the century, such as 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 ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... by the Tory Whips office, in particular by two young MPs, David ‘Two Brains’ Willetts and Andrew Mitchell, whose father, David Mitchell, is also a Tory MP, and once chose Neil Hamilton to be his Parliamentary Private Secretary. The Guardian had told a bit of the story. Parliament had uncovered none of it. And that might have been an end to ...

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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... names like Dummy Oliver, Blinker Hall, Biffy Dunderdale, Lousy Payne, Buster Milmo, Pay Sykes, Tar Robertson, Barmy Russel and Quex Sinclair (not to be confused with his successor but one, Sinbad Sinclair)? It’s no good reassuring the reader that in the transition from Victorian days, when men called even their closest friends by their surnames, to the ...

Back to the futuh

Robert Irwin, 1 August 1996

The Middle East: 2000 Years of History from the Birth of Christianity to the Present Day 
by Bernard Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 433 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 297 81345 5
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... work done by scholars in recent decades: Richard Bulliet on the economic importance of the camel, Andrew Watson on the role of the Arabs as introducers of new crops, Oleg Grabar on the Dome of the Rock, and so on. It is, however, a tribute to both the scope and depth of Lewis’s research in the past half-century that so much of the material he draws on is ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer, 16 June 2016

Bright Scythe: Selected Poems 
by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patty Crane.
Sarabande, 207 pp., £13, November 2015, 978 1 941411 21 6
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... liked him. Seamus Heaney of course liked him, but so did others as dissimilar as Joseph Brodsky, Andrew Motion and (one of his first translators) Robert Bly. Poets were drawn to translate him too: fellow Northerners like Robin Fulton (for a long time now a resident of Norway, though 48 years ago for small reward he was teaching me geography in Edinburgh) and ...

Upper and Lower Cases

Tom Nairn, 24 August 1995

A Union for Empire: Political Thought and the Union of 1707 
edited by John Robertson.
Cambridge, 368 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 43113 1
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The Autonomy of Modern Scotland 
by Lindsay Paterson.
Edinburgh, 218 pp., £30, September 1994, 0 7486 0525 8
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... them for it in A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle: And O! to think that there are members o’ St Andrew’s Societies sleepin’ soon, Wha tae the papers wrote afore they bedded On regimental buttons or buckled shoon, Or use o’ England where the UK’s meent. The Conservatives want to go on believing that political union is essential at once to the ...

Who now cares about Malinowski?

Robert Ackerman, 23 May 1996

After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... of normality after the suspension caused by the war. After Tylor, there is William Robertson Smith and the sociological-collectivist view of ancient religion; then Smith’s friend and sometime follower J.G. Frazer, the exemplar of the individualist-intellectualist view; and Baldwin Spencer and Andrew Lang ...

Pocock’s Positions

Blair Worden, 4 November 1993

Political Discourse in Early Modern Britain 
edited by Nicholas Phillipson and Quentin Skinner.
Cambridge, 444 pp., £35, March 1993, 9780521392426
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... just as a subsequent generation would reveal a sneaking admiration for Napoleon. Goldie remarks of Andrew Marvell, who had welcomed Cromwell as a Machiavellian ruler, that under Charles II he ‘did not wish to unking his prince: he wanted him to be one.’ The radical Whigs of 1688-9 (whose ideas on the right of political resistance are traced in an essay by ...

What sort of Scotland?

Neal Ascherson, 21 August 2014

... community’ of Scotland only exist completely in song? Can it live by culture alone? Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, a bitter opponent of the 1707 Union, quoted a famous saying: ‘If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.’ The novelist James ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... the whole thing there), his plain-but-emotional rhythms and syntax remind one of Larkin and even Andrew Motion. A more surprising influence is Eliot: ‘My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark’ has the sort of rhythmical hysteria and claustrophobic shadowiness that Hamilton has made his own; and a line from ‘La Figlia Che ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... Occasional presidential use of phrases popular with preachers like Falwell and Robertson could be used to give them quiet recognition. A top campaign operative told Newsweek that during the critical 2000 primary in South Carolina, sending Bush to ultra-fundamentalist Bob Jones University had been a calculated appeal to Christian right ...

Impossible Wishes

Michael Wood: Thomas Mann, 6 February 2003

The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann 
edited by Ritchie Robertson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £45.50, November 2001, 9780521653107
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Thomas Mann: A Biography 
by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 7139 9500 9
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... rollicking either. In his preface to the new Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann, Ritchie Robertson says the novels ‘were often understood with dutiful awe as intellectual fiction of a high order, top-heavy with German philosophy and history’, and continues: ‘Over-attention to this aspect of Mann’s fiction often distracted readers, especially ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’, 24 January 2013

The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... prolific and, until this centenary, largely forgotten American writer of sea tales called Morgan Robertson published Futility, or the Wreck of the ‘Titan’. Fourteen years later he cashed in by changing the tonnage of the fictional ship to nearer that of the real one, and cutting ‘futility’ from his title. ‘She was the largest craft afloat and the ...

Ghosting

Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... come in with the Assange party. ‘Rumoured ghostwriter. Rumour confirmed?’ she wrote. Geoffrey Robertson, for Assange, argued that the person in Sweden who issued the warrant, Marianne Ny, was not, as she described herself, the ‘chief prosecutor’, but a minor prosecutor not qualified to do what she did. This seemed weak to me. I also wondered whether ...

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