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The Cloud Bookcase

Eliot Weinberger, 28 July 2011

... Absorption of Solar and Lunar Essences by Anonymous (4th century) Alchemy of the Purple Coil by Anonymous (12th century) A treatise on sexuality. The female sexual organ is referred to as the ‘furnace of the reclining moon’. A later commentator notes that ‘it has never been known that one can obtain immortality by mounting women ...

Lumpy, Semi-Dorky, Slouchy, Smarmy

John Lanchester, 23 August 2001

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... attribution of a late poem of (maybe) Shakespeare’s; as a media star, wheeled out to comment on anonymous, or would-be anonymous, texts of all sorts; and as an expert witness in law cases. By the end of the book he is complaining about his e-mail: ‘in one recent year, thirteen thousand messages were addressed to my ...


Terry Eagleton: Anonymity, 22 May 2008

Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
Faber, 374 pp., £17.99, January 2008, 978 0 571 19514 5
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... All literary works are anonymous, but some are more anonymous than others. It is in the nature of a piece of writing that it is able to stand free of its begetter, and can dispense with his or her physical presence. In this sense, writing is more like an adolescent than a toddler ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... has put it into Doonesbury. Street vendors in Washington are selling buttons that read ‘I am not Anonymous.’ Primary Colors, the funny, literate and juicy roman à clef about the 1992 Democratic Presidential primary campaign, featuring an ambitious, visionary, greedy, gregarious and womanising Southern governor named Jack Stanton, seen through the eyes of ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Anonymity, 19 January 2017

... chooses? Or is it information which belongs as much in the public domain as the books she writes? Anonymous and pseudonymous publication has a long history. It may now be the exception in literary and specialist journalism, but at the start of the 19th century it was pretty much the rule – to the extent that France in 1850 legislated to forbid the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bad Manners, 6 July 2000

... 795 2) is an anthology of mainly Victorian advice collected by Sarah Kortum from such books as the anonymous Gems of Deportment (1880) and Things that Are Not Done by Edgar and Diana Woods (1937). In 1860, The Perfect Gentleman, the work of ‘a Gentleman’, suggested: ‘Do not praise bad wine, for it will persuade those who are judges that you are an ...

En famille

Douglas Johnson, 16 August 1990

Little Gregory 
by Charles Penwarden.
Fourth Estate, 247 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 1 872180 31 0
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... was missing, her brother-in-law Michel, some twelve kilometres away, received a phone call. The anonymous caller announced that he had taken Grégory and put him in the River Vologne. Michel told this to his parents, who lived next door. They telephoned their local gendarmerie. Having learned about the anonymous phone ...

A Dangerously Liquid World

John Sutherland: Alcoholics Anonymous, 30 November 2000

Bill W. and Mr Wilson: The Legend and Life of AA’s Co-Founder 
by Matthew Raphael.
Massachusetts, 206 pp., £18.50, June 2000, 1 55849 245 3
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... apostolic few who gathered in the basement of King School in Akron, Ohio, in June 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has grown into the largest secular self-help organisation in the Western world. With its ten million members, it’s bigger than the Freemasons, the Rotarians, the TUC, the White Aryan Resistance, the Samaritans, the KKK, the Women’s Institute and ...


Tam Dalyell: The Belgrano Affair, 7 February 1985

... that it was by the courteous and concerned officers of West Mercia Police – was kindled by an anonymous phone call. An authoritative voice came through to my Commons Office-cum-Cupboard, and rather peremptorily told me to read an article in the New Statesman, ‘The Death of Miss Murrell’ by Judith Cook. Some two days later, since I read the New ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... right back to the beginning, to a rath in front of an oak wood singled out for comment by some anonymous poet of the sixth century, and cherished as a survival from an even more distant past, while the Faber book takes as its starting-point (as the blurb has it) the death of Yeats. The American publisher and critic Dillon Johnston plumps for Joyce, rather ...


Frank Kermode, 5 February 1987

The Enchanter 
by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dmitri Nabokov.
Picador, 127 pp., £8.95, January 1987, 0 330 29666 3
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... opusculum of 1939 as the product of ‘the first little throb of Lolita’, and added that its ‘anonymous nymphet’ was ‘basically the same lass’ as Dolores Haze. At the time he supposed the story to have been lost, indeed claimed to have destroyed it: but a copy turned up soon afterwards, and in 1959 he wrote to the publisher Putnam suggesting ...

Scenes from Common Life

V.G. Kiernan, 1 November 1984

A Radical Reader: The Struggle for Change in England 1381-1914 
edited by Christopher Hampton.
Penguin, 624 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 14 022444 0
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Riots and Community Politics in England and Wales 1790-1810 
by John Bohstedt.
Harvard, 310 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 674 77120 6
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The World We have Lost – Further Explored 
by Peter Laslett.
Methuen, 353 pp., £12.95, December 1983, 0 416 35340 1
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... in 1909 whose duties kept her busy from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.* Christopher Hampton gives us, in an anonymous 15th-century poem, a lament over women’s perpetual drudgery. His extract from the early feminist Mary Astell, writing in 1721, acknowledges that by comparison with Eastern women, who ‘are born Slaves, and live Prisoners all their ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Anonymous and Abuse, 21 November 2019

... of the Birmingham, Guildford, Woolwich and M62 bombings. I kept a box in my office labelled A & A (Anonymous and Abuse) in which such missives were deposited. Even now, ten years after my retirement and nearly thirty years after the release of the Birmingham Six, I continue to receive a steady trickle of abusive tweets and emails relating to the case. Earlier ...


Frank Cioffi, 22 June 2000

The Rumour: A Cultural History 
by Hans-Joachim Neubauer, translated by Christian Braun.
Free Association, 201 pp., £16.95, November 1999, 1 85343 472 8
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... a rumour is its baselessness, if not its falsity; at others its mode of transmission via anonymous and multiple sources, irrespective of the truth or warrantability of its content, is his criterion. This ambiguity is implied by the prominence given to Virgil’s account of Fama from Book 4 of the Aeneid, which provided the epigraph for Gordon ...

Low-Hanging Fruit

Francis FitzGibbon: An American Show Trial, 22 January 2015

... So intent was the prosecution on proving that the HLF was funding Hamas that it called an anonymous witness, known only as Avi, to testify as an expert that Hamas controlled the zakat committees named in the indictment. Experts normally have to demonstrate what makes them experts but neither the defence nor the jury were allowed to know who Avi was or ...

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