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Peter opened Paul the door

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The Case for Case, 9 July 2009

The Oxford Handbook of Case 
edited by Andrej Malchukov and Andrew Spencer.
Oxford, 928 pp., £85, November 2008, 978 0 19 920647 6
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... the beginning, don’t understand the end.’ In Part II, on the morphology of case, Andrew Spencer considers (among other things) Australian languages in which cases not only correspond to verb-categories such as tense or the syntactical status of the clause, but are themselves given the morphology of verbs. At this point the reader ...

Angels and Dirt

Robert Dingley, 20 November 1980

Stanley Spencer RA 
by Richard Carline, Andrew Causey and Keith Bell.
Royal Academy/Weidenfeld, 239 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 297 77831 5
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... One can find,’ wrote Stanley Spencer, ‘interesting and very nice things in dustbins and incinerators.’ Ferreting about among rubbish heaps struck him as ‘a distinctly entertaining and elevating pastime’ and the beads, scraps of china and old books he disinterred ‘really satisfied my highest thoughts ...

In Memory of Ruby Yates

Andrew Motion, 1 October 1998

... Here comes Stanley Spencer with his pram – his bowl-cut – and his crazy-uncle specs – so this must be your childhood Ruby – must be Cookham – must be 19 – 19-what – is nothing black and white – what sort of question’s that – the war has come and gone – let’s call it 1920 and you ten – and look there’s Stanley turning in the churchyard – cherry’s out – the purple buddleia – red admirals – where he unpacks a canvas from his pram – a clever brush – and makes the green grass open up – the graves too split – dry peapods – and the well- dressed dead fly straight to heaven – some do – others tumble on the grass like picnickers – they’re happy – they’re ecstatic – all brave souls – kind hearts – bright sparks – and one’s a girl – a baby – but my mother – I can tell – my mother and your – what’s the word – your little one – your own though not your own – your loved one all those years to come – those years all come – they do – there’s me now – bright spark on the grass – I’m next in line for you – nanny – that’s the word thank you Stanley, have you finished – finished no not finished but the light is finished this light’s finished ain’t it – off we go – go where now – let me think – so many days – you see – here comes my daughter now – she’s your age Ruby – well – the age you were or one of them – feel that – she’s kissed your face – hello is this – it’s not – a goodbye kiss – and not the churchyard either – this high bed – and you – your skin gone threadbare – parched lips moving – soundless – O – you don’t know what you mean – you don’t – but I know what you mean ...

Suppose the Archduke had ducked

Andrew Berry: Game theory and human evolution, 7 September 2000

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny 
by Robert Wright.
Little, Brown, 435 pp., £22.50, March 2000, 0 316 64485 4
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... Interviewed by the BBC 25 years after Herbert Spencer’s death, Beatrice Webb, who had known him well, referred to him as Darwin’s John the Baptist. Spencer would have relished the description, which is in many ways appropriate: he coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ and was responsible for popularising the term ‘evolution ...

Homophobes and Homofibs

Adam Mars-Jones, 30 November 1995

Homosexuality: A History 
by Colin Spencer.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85702 143 6
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Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality 
by Andrew Sullivan.
Picador, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 34453 6
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Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography 
by David Halperin.
Oxford, 246 pp., £14.99, September 1995, 0 19 509371 2
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... of intellectual ambition. Here are Gay Studies Advanced, Intermediate and also Rudimentary. Colin Spencer’s Homosexuality: A History is the work of a hobbyist, who offers what is essentially a scrap-book of the various ways that homosexuality has been inflected in different periods and cultures. Spencer leaves ...

Squidging about

Caroline Murphy: Camilla and the sex-motherers, 22 January 2004

Camilla: An Intimate Portrait 
by Rebecca Tyrrel.
Short Books, 244 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 904095 53 4
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... 1966, when she was 19, the knicker-throwing debutante met a 27-year-old lieutenant in the Guards, Andrew Parker Bowles. He was handsome, and his parents were ‘excellent in-law material’. His father, Derek, a steward at Newbury racecourse, was a great friend of the Queen Mother’s, while his mother, Ann (nicknamed ‘Rhino’), was the Chief Commissioner ...

Lotharios

Steve Jones, 10 September 1992

The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: How our animal heritage affects the way we live 
by Jared Diamond.
Vintage, 360 pp., £6.99, August 1992, 0 09 991380 1
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... of being nearly right nearly all the time. Most of his successors have no such defence. Herbert Spencer – who coined the phrase ‘the survival of the fittest’ – was in favour of arranging society on Darwinian lines. Not surprisingly, his ideas were popular with Andrew Carnegie and his fellow steel magnates. Konrad ...

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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... made historical inquiry seem peripheral and even irrelevant. Why bother finding out exactly what Spencer and Gillen thought about exogamy among the Aborigines a hundred years ago? Who now cares about Malinowski, R-B, or E-P? The result of all this is that in recent years a number of anthropology departments in the United States have abandoned the teaching of ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner, 29 August 1991

The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... William Spencer Cavendish, sixth Duke of Devonshire, was born ‘in a somewhat furtive manner for a baby of his exalted rank’. In 1790 his father, the fifth Duke, and his mother, the giddy Duchess Georgiana, had been travelling in the Low Countries, where the Austrian threat became such that they bolted for the safety of Revolutionary Paris ...

Send them to Eton!

Linda Colley, 19 August 1993

The End of the House of Windsor: Birth of a British Republic 
by Stephen Haseler.
Tauris, 208 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 1 85043 735 1
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The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 211 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 1 85619 354 3
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Royal Throne: The Future of the Monarchy 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Hodder, 189 pp., £16.99, April 1993, 0 340 58587 0
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Diana v. Charles 
by James Whitaker.
Signet, 237 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 670 85245 7
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The Tarnished Crown 
by Anthony Holden.
Bantam, 400 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 593 02472 9
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Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family 
by Dennis Friedman.
Sidgwick, 212 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 283 06124 3
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Raine and Johnnie: The Spencers and the Scandal of Althorp 
by Angela Levin.
Weidenfeld, 297 pp., £17.99, July 1993, 0 297 81325 0
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... firmly and mistakenly that books about the monarchy always sell. The exceptional success of Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story suggested that sycophantic royal biographies were out, and savage royal exposés were in. Hence the commissioning of a spate of Mortonesque knife-jobs. It was also supposed that what the Sun called the Queen’s bum year ...

Tunnel Vision

Jenny Diski: Princess Diana, 2 August 2007

The Diana Chronicles 
by Tina Brown.
Century, 481 pp., £18.99, June 2007, 978 1 84605 286 6
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Diana 
by Sarah Bradford.
Penguin, 443 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 14 027671 8
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... tabloid, it isn’t entirely obvious what fascinated people so about Diana Windsor, née Spencer, the uneducated, O-level-free daughter of an ancient house, former nanny, Sloane, clothes-horse, playgirl, campaigner, therapist addict. Take the bright lights away and you have a regular messy divorce, friends taking sides, money, adultery, using the ...

Prada Queen

Elaine Showalter: Shopping, 10 August 2000

Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London’s West End 
by Erika Diane Rappaport.
Princeton, 323 pp., £21.95, January 2000, 0 691 04477 5
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... said that shopping was what they liked best about the city. In her fashion guidebook, Mimi Spencer exhorts her readers to ‘shop for England … just for the sheer entertainment value of it all’. Suzy Gershman, the American author of Born to Shop: Great Britain, is ‘so enamoured’ of the January sales that she recommends flying in from Cleveland ...

Ecoluxury

John Gray, 20 April 1995

The Fading of the Greens: The Decline of Environmental Politics in the West 
by Anna Bramwell.
Yale, 224 pp., £18.95, September 1994, 0 300 06040 8
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The Chicago Gangster Theory of Life: Nature’s Debt to Society 
by Andrew Ross.
Verso, 308 pp., £18.95, October 1994, 0 86091 429 1
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Green Delusions: An Environmentalist Critique of Radical Environmentalism 
by Martin Lewis.
Duke, 288 pp., $12.95, February 1994, 0 8223 1474 6
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... been economic. It is to the surprising, and perhaps ominous, recrudescence of biologism that Andrew Ross devotes some of the most interesting chapters of The Chicago Gangster Theory of Life. Ross makes some shrewd and witty criticisms of recent exclusions by natural scientists into sociobiology, such as those of Richard Dawkins, the behaviour of ...

Me First

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 March 1996

Peter York’s Eighties 
by Peter York and Charles Jennings.
BBC, 192 pp., £12.99, January 1996, 0 563 37191 9
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... that one of the pivotal moments of the decade was buying your first Chicken Kiev from Marks and Spencer. ‘With a how-to book and a little cash,’ he writes, ‘aspirants could escape the Human Condition, could play-act, be someone entirely new.’ Hard news and current affairs were trifling: advertorial was the main thing. It would not be right to say ...

I had to refrain

Andrew Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses, 1 December 2005

Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... and on the whole exceedingly trusting. A number of the earlier ones were painters, such as Spencer Stanhope, George Howard, Val Prinsep, G.P. Boyce and G.F. Watts, for whom Webb created an unusual house on the Isle of Wight, now destroyed. Victorian painters made good money, and Webb was the main pioneer of the studio house, which involved linking ...

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