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Whip, Spur and Lash

John Ray: The Epic of Gilgamesh

2 September 1999
The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation 
by Andrew George.
Allen Lane, 225 pp., £20, March 1999, 0 7139 9196 8
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... the national curriculum long after it had become extinct in speech. This may have happened around 2000 BC, but its later role was similar to that of Latin in the Middle Ages. A school text quoted by AndrewGeorge in his new translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh makes a sardonic point about Sumerian and its importance: The door monitor said, ‘Why did you go out             without my say ...

Short Cuts

Marina Warner: The Flood

6 March 2014
... I face More of the epic would be discovered under the sand as time went on. In 1990 Stephanie Dalley added more lines to her edition from newly recovered pieces, but most of what’s left has probably been smashed in the course of the Iraq wars. It seems proper that a place of fire and dust, its skin scarred by warfare, should be the origin of the story of the Flood today: devastation in negative ...

Snubs

E.S. Turner

19 August 1993
The Descent of Manners: Etiquette, Rules and the Victorians 
by Andrew​ St George.
Chatto, 330 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 7011 3623 5
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... of duelling fell to a trickle, but there were many who saw its decline as a fatal blow to the maintenance of good behaviour. The ‘Christless code’ of pistols at dawn does not rate a mention in Andrew St George’s The Descent of Manners, a study of ‘the subtle binding codes that ruled all aspects of 19th-century life’. His concern is only with the middle classes, who had their own sense of ...

His Little Game

Andrew​ Boyle

27 July 1989
The Blake Escape: How we freed George​ Blake – and why 
by Michael Randle and Pat Pottle.
Harrap, 298 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 245 54781 9
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... a British citizen, having served in the French Foreign Legion and the British Army. On his death in 1936 – a bad period not only in England but throughout Europe – he left a widow and the young George in somewhat reduced circumstances. The change of name from Behar to Blake was understandable enough. However, there were further complications which did not help the boy, then rising twelve: one of ...

Stepchildren

Elspeth Barker

9 April 1992
Stepsons 
by Robert Liddell.
Peter Owen, 228 pp., £14.95, February 1992, 0 7206 0853 8
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Farewell Sidonia 
by Erich Hackl.
Cape, 135 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 224 02901 0
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... a new life. ‘Yes,’ she replied. And so by a quirk of punctuation a tragedy was unleashed. The marriage took place despite the potent opposition of Oswald’s sisters-in-law, who were caring for Andrew and Stephen. Elsa insisted on being called ‘mummy’. ‘Never call that German woman what you called your own mother,’ an aunt had insisted. Guilt and treachery thus informed the children’s ...
2 April 1981
The Poetry of Edward Thomas 
by Andrew​ Motion.
Routledge, 193 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7100 0471 0
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... use. Confident readers would go, as they have always gone, straight to the poetry itself, while the diffident ones would nowadays turn to something briefer and more selective, such as either of R. George Thomas’s introductions to the Collected Works, and preferably the one in paperback that came out earlier this year*; or Vernon Scannell’s pamphlet written for the British Council in 1963. In any ...
16 September 1999
Bonar Law 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 458 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7195 5422 5
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... troubled by warfare within his own ranks and confronted by a broad alliance of political opponents. Can William Hague draw any comfort from the experience of his similarly beleaguered predecessor Andrew Bonar Law, a scarcely visible figure in the pantheon of Tory leaders? What is best known about him is that he is ‘unknown’. Lord Blake’s celebrated biography, The Unknown Prime Minister (1955 ...

Short Cuts

Andrew​ O’Hagan: A journey to citizenship

16 November 2006
... notion is, of course, rather American, and, for years now, people who wish to become American citizens have had first to mug up on the fact that Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend is called Minnie and that George Washington used to gad about wearing wooden teeth. The British requirements for citizenship are no less strenuous. The point, the book tells us, is to help immigrants ‘to integrate’, and it might ...

Diary

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Dr Macgregor’s Diagnosis

3 March 2011
... He spoke belligerently. He spoke as though to oppose what he was saying would be to offend against common decency. British politicians don’t talk that way any more, even when it matters. Take Andrew Lansley, the secretary of state for health and once the principal private secretary to Norman Tebbit. Like so many of his cabinet colleagues, and so many of those student politicians in the shadow ...
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 ...

Ismism

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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... in modernist studies. A tremendous amount of work is still to be done: in the introduction to the second 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 ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne

4 November 1993
... himself, executed when he was at Stowe, which makes Lord Dismiss Us or The Loom of Youth look positively 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 ...

Nasty Lucky Genes

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Fathers and Sons

21 September 2006
The Arms of the Infinite 
by Christopher Barker.
Pomona, 329 pp., £9.99, August 2006, 1 904590 04 7
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... answers. That day, she drew her finger over a line of volumes, took one down and read the poems where she stood, deciding by the last page that the author was the man she was put on earth to marry. George Barker. His name seems almost seedy now, redolent of multiple fatherings and free drinks and Benzedrine, a low-rent Catholic visionary forever caught in some personal smog of Latinate rhetoric and ...

Private Thomas

Andrew​ Motion

19 December 1985
Edward Thomas: A Portrait 
by R. George​ Thomas.
Oxford, 331 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 19 818527 8
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... R. George Thomas is a cautious man. His life of Edward Thomas (no relation) is ‘a portrait’ not ‘a biography’. Maybe this is just as well. The poet was a cautious man too. He was also a scrupulous one ...

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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... manufacturing and property. In 1849, Thomson made his first bid to emulate the business dealings of 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 ...

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