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Conflationism

Colin Burrow: ‘Hamlet’ as you like it, 21 June 2007

Hamlet 
edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor.
Arden, 613 pp., £8.99, March 2006, 1 904271 33 2
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Hamlet: The Texts of 1603 and 1623 
edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor.
Arden, 368 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 1 904271 80 2
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‘Hamlet’ without Hamlet 
by Margreta de Grazia.
Cambridge, 267 pp., £17.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69036 2
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... How many Hamlets would you like? A play of that name was performed in the late 1580s. It was probably bloody and Senecan, and probably written by Thomas Kyd. Another one (probably Shakespeare’s) was performed on board a ship anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone in 1607 at the request of the captain, William Keeling: ‘I invited Captain Hawkins to a ffishe dinner, and had Hamlet acted abord me: which I permitt to keepe my people from idlenes and unlawfull games, or sleep ...

Missing Elements

Rosalind Mitchison, 14 May 1992

Strategic Women: How do they manage in Scotland? 
by Elizabeth Gerver and Lesley Hart.
Aberdeen University Press, 216 pp., £9.95, June 1991, 0 08 037741 6
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A Guid Cause: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland 
by Leah Leneman.
Aberdeen University Press, 304 pp., £11.95, June 1991, 0 08 041201 7
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Marriage and Property: Women and Marital Customs in History 
edited by Elizabeth Craik.
Aberdeen University Press, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1991, 9780080412054
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A Woman’s Claim of Right in Scotland 
Polygon, 142 pp., £7.95, August 1991, 0 7486 6103 4Show More
Nationalism in the Nineties 
edited by Tom Gallagher.
Polygon, 192 pp., £7.95, August 1991, 0 7486 6098 4
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Cultural Weapons: Scotland and Survival in a New Europe 
by Christopher Harvie.
Polygon, 119 pp., £7.95, March 1992, 0 7486 6122 0
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Literature and Nationalism 
edited by Vincent Newey and Ann Thompson.
Liverpool, 286 pp., £27.50, June 1991, 0 85323 057 9
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The Invention of Scotland: The Stuart Myth of the Scottish Identity, 1638 to the present 
by Murray Pittock.
Routledge, 198 pp., £30, September 1991, 0 415 05586 5
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Scotland: A New History 
by Michael Lynch.
Century, 499 pp., £18.99, August 1991, 0 7126 3413 4
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... In all our sets of mental pigeonholes there is one labelled ‘don’t bother’. It contains groups of people and of ideas to which we have decided not to pay attention. These books, in one way or another, relate to such groups. Women are an obvious case. Yet, except in societies which kill off female babies or starve small girls, they cannot be dismissed as a minority ...

The First Person, Steroid-Enhanced

Hari Kunzru: Hunter S. Thompson, 15 October 1998

The Rum Diary 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 204 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 9780747541684
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The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters. Vol. I 
by Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Douglas Brinkley.
Bloomsbury, 720 pp., £9.99, July 1998, 0 7475 3619 8
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... away from ‘neutral background’ (or seemed less able to stop himself doing it) than Hunter S. Thompson. Even at the start of his career, he was no believer in journalistic neutrality. Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937, Thompson was often in trouble with the police, spending his high-school graduation day in ...

Ode on a Dishclout

Joanna Innes: Domestic Servants, 14 April 2011

Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £21.99, November 2009, 978 0 521 73623 7
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... early 18th centuries, and his characterisation of household relationships was a little schematic. Ann Kussmaul’s study of servants in husbandry was in its way brilliant, exploiting administrative records to build up a wide-ranging and suggestive picture from the structure and logic of an obscure employment form, but she was not much concerned with ...

Boundary Books

Margaret Meek, 21 February 1980

Kate Crackernuts 
by Katharine Briggs.
Kestrel, 224 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 7226 5557 6
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Socialisation through Children’s Literature: The Soviet Example 
by Felicity Ann O’Dell.
Cambridge, 278 pp., £14, January 1979, 9780521219686
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Divide and Rule 
by Jan Mark.
Kestrel, 248 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 7226 5620 3
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... the more exacting erudition of Propp’s morphology of the folk tale and the work of Aarne and Thompson. She is neither populariser nor pedant, but she fears the commercialism by which traditional stories can be coarsened and falsified. ‘This is not the legitimate spontaneous growth which we find in stories handed down from father to son or in customs ...

Nuclear Family

Rudolf Peierls, 19 June 1980

Disturbing the Universe 
by Freeman Dyson.
Harper and Row, 283 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 06 011108 9
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... could have reduced the casualty rate among air crews. This chapter is followed by one about Frank Thompson, whom he knew at Winchester, and who was executed in Bulgaria for fighting with the anti-Nazi resistance. The portrait of Thompson belongs here because it is part of the war, but perhaps also as a contrast with ...

Move Your Head and the Picture Changes

Jenny Turner: Helen DeWitt, 11 September 2008

Your Name Here 
by Helen DeWitt and Ilya Gridneff.
helendewitt.com, 580 pp., £8, May 2008
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... to this, though the surrounding apparatus floats something more complicated. The dedication is to Ann Cotton, the founder of CamFed, a charity that supports the education of girls in sub-Saharan Africa, as a note explains – so never mind Oxford or Harvard. To read The Last Samurai for the first time is to experience an odd mix of emotions. With its kanji ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... manufactured look. (He had, in fact, changed it by deed poll from William Guinneach Gunn to Thompson William Gunn – Thompson was his mother’s maiden name.) It was clear, too, that he enjoyed his own style, his wit, his urge to dismiss what was dull and cautious, to celebrate what was dangerous and alive. This was ...

Re-Readings

Chris Baldick, 10 November 1988

Poetry, Language and Politics 
by John Barrell.
Manchester, 174 pp., £21.50, May 1988, 0 7190 2441 2
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Garden – Nature – Language 
by Simon Pugh.
Manchester, 148 pp., £25, May 1988, 0 7190 2824 8
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Writing Ireland: Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture 
by David Cairns and Shaun Richards.
Manchester, 178 pp., £21.50, May 1988, 0 7190 2371 8
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The Shakespeare Myth 
edited by Graham Holderness.
Manchester, 215 pp., £25, May 1988, 0 7190 1488 3
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... two cheers to Charles Marowitz, none to Stoppard. The only solidly informative piece, though, is Ann Thompson’s review of recent feminist works on Shakespeare, which points out incidentally but revealingly that no woman has ever been admitted to the exclusive club which edits the major tragedies. Unlike Michael Bogdanov, who claims that The Taming of ...

Grateful Dead

John Barrell, 22 April 1993

The Dictionary of National Biography: Missing Persons 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 790 pp., £80, January 1993, 0 19 865211 9
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... There is a brief life of Butchell in the first Dictionary of National Biography; it was written by Thompson Cooper, who had an eye for such characters, and who contributed over 1400 biographies, more than anyone else to the original dictionary. Cooper made no claims for Butchell’s importance as a physician, or as an innovator in the history of ...

The Unpredictable Cactus

Emily Witt: Mescaline, 2 January 2020

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 297 pp., £18.99, May 2019, 978 0 300 23107 6
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... contends that the most consequential mescaline trip of the 1960s was taken not by Hunter S. Thompson, Allen Ginsberg or Carlos Castaneda, but by the biochemist Alexander Shulgin. Administered by a psychologist friend in 1960, it ‘unquestionably confirmed the entire direction of my life’, Shulgin wrote. He went on to rediscover MDMA (Merck had ...

Born to Lying

Theo Tait: Le Carré, 3 December 2015

John le Carré: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Bloomsbury, 652 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 2792 5
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... apparently at ease with himself – though guarded about his family’. His housemaster, R.S. Thompson, ‘known to the boys as “Thompers”’, an awkward, balding High Anglican, realised that Cornwell was suffering, and told the boy at a crucial moment that he must choose ‘between God and Mammon’. By Mammon, he meant Ronnie. Cornwell later wrote ...

Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... the most literate people in their village: Parker Clare could certainly read, although his wife, Ann Stimson, did not know a single letter of the alphabet and, like many country people, regarded printed texts as a form of witchcraft. At this time, Bate notes, illiteratemeant not ‘unable to read’ but ‘ignorant of polite letters’. Clare and a twin ...

Death in Greece

Marilyn Butler, 17 September 1981

Byron’s Letter and Journals. Vol. XI: For Freedom’s Battle 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 243 pp., £11.50, April 1981, 0 7195 3792 4
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Byron: The Complete Poetical Works 
edited by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 464 pp., £35, October 1980, 0 19 811890 2
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Red Shelley 
by Paul Foot.
Sidgwick, 293 pp., £12.95, May 1981, 0 283 98679 4
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Ugo Foscolo, Poet of Exile 
by Glauco Cambon.
Princeton, 360 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 691 06424 5
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... Indeed, the Giaour’s last days, spent skulking around a convent, suggest the later career of Ann Radcliffe’s villain Schedoni in The Italian, which, as far as the heroine of that novel is concerned, has certainly something vampirish about it. When the Giaour makes his deathbed confession to his Superior, in anything but a spirit of ...

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