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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 ...

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 ...

Two Poems

Ruth Padel, 28 April 2011

... acres of graves, guarded and layered in rose-pink. Walls, city, dust. We have been here for ever. Anonymous pinchpenny plague tombs from medieval centuries. Bronze epitaphs in French, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic. Fathers and children, fathers and wives. The Jewish Cemetery, Marrakesh. A visitor, wearing the guard’s black velvet kippah, wanders, takes notes, then ...

Someone Else

Peter Campbell, 17 April 1986

In the American West 
by Richard Avedon.
Thames and Hudson, 172 pp., £40, October 1985, 0 500 54110 8
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by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Thames and Hudson, 283 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 500 54109 4
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... the other hand, no one really doubts that photography is art. Meanwhile, in these pictures of the anonymous and deprived, ethnography and fashion join hands. Fashion photographers are famous for stopping girls in the street, and making their faces their fortunes. Avedon, who has taken some of the best fashion pictures, looked for these less fortunate Western ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Kursk, 30 November 2000

... tabloid-format Novaya Gazeta printed what purports to be a transcript of an interview with an anonymous sailor, apparently from the crew of Peter the Great, though this is nowhere specified. ‘We were in the same area as the Kursk,’ he says – presumably it’s ‘we’: in Russian this is ambiguous – and goes on: The test-firing was organised by ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Vatileaks Saga, 25 October 2012

... informed about nefarious goings-on in the Vatican, the butler decided to send him an anonymous message by taking a clutch of stolen letters and other documents to a journalist. Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose Vaticano S.p.A. (‘Vatican Ltd’), an investigation into the Vatican’s shadier financial dealings, came out in 2009, published some of what ...

On ‘Spoofing’

Donald MacKenzie: Spoofing, 21 May 2015

... Michael Coscia, who was indicted in October last year. The trading of shares and futures is now anonymous and electronic. You no longer stand in a crowded trading pit, shouting and gesticulating. You sit quietly at your computer – often it’s doing the trading for you – and enter bids to buy or offers to sell. Those bids and offers are transmitted ...

Out of Sight

Richard Murphy: What is a tax haven?, 14 April 2011

... bribery and extortion. Third, they are used by those who want their activities to be anonymous, even if they are entirely legitimate. Some people wish to hide their wealth from their spouses, for example; others might want to conduct trade which, though legitimate, might risk their reputation. Fourth, they are used by those seeking somewhere ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 2 July 1981

... society – fishermen, actors, courtesans and samurai – mixing it. Following no useful calling, anonymous in their nakedness, lovers clutch each other. We might be watching ourselves, dizzy men and women without designations ... We jostle in the dark for a better view. The Interviewer ‘You will have noticed the dissonance: my common surname and ...

Doing Philosophy

Julia Annas, 22 November 1990

The ‘Theaetetus’ of Plato 
translated by M.J. Levett and Myles Burnyeat.
Hackett, 351 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 915144 82 4
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... them by argument, but who does so ad hominem, uncommitted to a philosophical view of his own. An anonymous commentator on the dialogue, writing probably in the late first century BC, notes of this passage: ‘Some say, as a result of passages like these, that Plato belongs in the sceptical Academy, since he holds no beliefs.’ Socrates perhaps, but Plato ...

Grassi gets a fright

Peter Burke, 7 July 1988

Galileo: Heretic 
by Pietro Redondi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £17.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9007 4
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... Redondi does not confess). The letter, which is printed at the end of Galileo: Heretic, is anonymous. It is effectively a denunciation of Galileo as a heretic. It notes that Galileo ‘openly declares himself a follower of the school of Democritus and Epicurus’ – and therefore, a believer in atoms – and goes on to point out the ...

M for Merlin

Helen Cooper: Chrétien de Troyes, 25 November 1999

Perceval: The Story of the Grail 
by Chrétien de Troyes, translated by Burton Raffel.
Yale, 307 pp., £22.50, March 1999, 0 300 07586 3
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... storytelling is that the readers or listeners are not allowed omniscience. If a character is anonymous in the story, the audience is kept in the dark as much as the people he meets. We have no knowledge of Perceval’s name, or Enide’s, or Lancelot’s, until they are publicly revealed. Alternative names are adopted by the storyteller as ...


Gerald Howard, 18 July 1996

Secret Life 
by Michael Ryan.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 7475 2545 5
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... the manipulative pseudo-sincerity of the television talk-show and the jargon of Alcoholics Anonymous into the literary memoir. In a review in the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani warned of ‘an approach that will be familiar to anyone who watches Oprah or Geraldo, an approach that is bound to become more popular in book-stores as the recovery movement ...


Mark Ford: Donald Justice, 16 November 2006

Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... This was for me the real thing, devoid of affectation and mannerism. The style was almost anonymous and therefore classical, as I saw it then, and still today see it. It may be hard for some readers now to imagine the impression of simple purity the Kees style could engender. The first of Justice’s poems it engendered turned out to be uncannily ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... is also interesting on William Sprigge’s A Modest Plea for an Equal Commonwealth of 1659, the anonymous Chaos (1659) and The Free State of Noland (1696), which he classifies as ‘Harringtonian’. He has even found a couple of Royalist utopias, which he discusses in Chapter Ten. More important, he distinguishes a category of ‘full-employment ...

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