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1 November 1984
Philosophy in France Today 
edited by Alan Montefiore.
Cambridge, 201 pp., £20, January 1983, 0 521 22838 7
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French Literary Theory Today: A Reader 
edited by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by R. Carter.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.50, October 1982, 0 521 23036 5
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Histoire de la Sexualité. Vol. II: L’Usage des Plaisirs 
by Michel Foucault.
Gallimard, 285 pp., £8.25, June 1984, 2 07 070056 9
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Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 256 pp., $8.95, December 1983, 0 226 16312 1
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The Foucault Reader 
edited by Paul Rabinow.
Pantheon, 350 pp., $19.95, January 1985, 0 394 52904 9
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Michel Foucault and the Subversion of Intellect 
by Karlis Racevskis.
Cornell, 172 pp., £16.50, July 1983, 0 8014 1572 1
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Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Western Culture: Toward a New Science of History 
by Pamela Major-Poetzl.
Harvester, 281 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 7108 0484 9
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Michel Foucault: Social Theory as Transgression 
by Charles Lemert and Garth Gillan.
Columbia, 169 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 231 05190 5
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Foucault, Marxism and Critique 
by Barry Smart.
Routledge, 144 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9533 3
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... is his most significant contribution, no exposition of it is clearer or more helpful than that by Barry Smart in Foucault, Marxism and Critique. But now that Foucault has de-emphasised his conception of power and shifted his attention to sexual ethics, all three groups of questions must be reconsidered. Does the story Foucault tells in the newest volumes ...

Guts Benedict

Adam Bradbury

11 June 1992
The Wrecking Yard 
by Pinckney Benedict.
Secker, 195 pp., £7.99, March 1992, 0 436 20062 7
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Sacred Hunger 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 241 13003 4
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The Butcher Boy 
by Patrick McCabe.
Picador, 217 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 9780330323581
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... over-anxious to play down. He lives, apparently, on the family farm. The cover picture has him in smart check shirt and braces, no doubt chewing a slug of baccy. Like Pynchon’s and Nelson Algren’s, his writing celebrates tips, junkyards, diners, small-town sheriffs’ offices. ‘Small’ is an understatement. These are virtually ghost towns, with less ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents

5 January 2012
The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... and unsentimental in its judgments. Barack Obama Sr emerges as a minor tragic figure. He was smart, ambitious and eager to join the first generation of Kenyans to govern their country after the end of British rule. He was also afflicted by overweening arrogance, dogmatic certainty and a self-destructive fondness for Johnnie Walker Black. In spite of his ...
11 May 1995
High Fidelity 
by Nick Hornby.
Gollancz, 256 pp., £14.99, April 1995, 0 575 05748 3
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... to get hold of it, and he gets very nervous when we go anywhere near it.’ His other colleague, Barry, likes to stick his lips out and clench his teeth and go DA-DA, in imitation of the guitar riffs on Clash records. He otherwise spends much time talking about music, films, Terry Prat-chett ‘and anything else which features monsters, planets and so ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth

19 August 2004
Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... greyer than the version flourished in early snapshots – the cover of A Serial Biography, the Barry Flanagan etching from Act – but this is still the same mouth, the same disguise. The same bite. The lights are on and there is somebody at home. The speed of eye/ear/mind remains, absolutely, that of a particle accelerator. Heart is everything: the ...

Lucky Brrm

John Sutherland

12 March 1992
Brrm! Brrm! 
by Clive James.
Cape, 160 pp., £12.99, November 1991, 0 224 03226 7
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Saint Maybe 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 337 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 7011 3787 8
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Faustine 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 140 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571142637
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... as culturally over-extended. Stead was writing in the LRB about his friend and fellow Antipodean, Barry Humphries. Humphries is nowadays primarily a West End and small screen entertainer with his largest viewing constituency in Britain. The same – but more – could be said of Clive James. James has earned himself reputations as a television ...

Oms and Hums

Julian Symons

22 March 1990
Ginsberg: A Biography 
by Barry Miles.
Viking, 588 pp., £20, January 1990, 0 670 82683 9
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... and pathos that remains appealing, a sense that behind the secretary and the filing clerk and the smart awareness of the blessings of publicity there still lingers the Jewish boy who didn’t know much about the world, and could not reject madness because it would have meant rejecting his ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby

9 February 1995
Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... spurred conferences, projects and studies. The books run from Anthony Heilbut’s chatty and smart overview. Exiled in Paradise, to more specialised volumes like Barry Katz’s Foreign Intelligence, which tells the story of the Office of Strategic Services – the predecessor to the CIA that employed a bevy of refugee ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre

20 November 2003
Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... or even tolerable. Pierre’s splendour is the creation of a voice, that of a bitter, troubled but smart 15-year-old Texan schoolboy, Vernon Gregory Little. Vernon narrates the book, and hurls his spiked words right at us. At his best, Pierre captures a pathetic combination of defensive cynicism and pain. Vernon hates his stupid, materialistic mother, who ...
19 December 1985
Elvis and Me 
by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Sandra Harman.
Century, 320 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1131 2
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Are you lonesome tonight? 
by Alan Bleasdale.
Faber, 95 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 571 13732 6
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Elvis and Gladys 
by Elaine Dundy.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 9780297782100
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The Johnny Cash Discography 
by John Smith.
Greenwood, 203 pp., £29.95, May 1985, 0 313 24654 8
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Horse’s Neck 
by Pete Townshend.
Faber, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1985, 9780571138739
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Like Punk Never Happened 
by Dave Rimmer.
Faber, 191 pp., £4.95, October 1985, 0 571 13739 3
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Starlust: The Secret Fantasies of Fans 
by Fred Vermorel and Judy Vermorel.
Comet, 253 pp., £4.95, August 1985, 0 86379 004 6
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The Beatles 
by Hunter Davies.
Cape, 498 pp., £12.95, December 1985, 0 224 02837 5
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... each new venture into the field Elvis undergoes modification and change. While his supporters, smarting at unsavoury rumours, maintain he stayed smart to the end, the rest speculate about unsocial behaviour and a diet which consisted primarily of pretzels and pills. So business booms, and eight years after his death ...

Say thank you

Clive James: Witty Words in Pretty Mouths

23 May 2002
Fast-Talking Dames 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 365 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 300 08815 9
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... true, and much more interesting, to say that she was born after it. The postwar transition from smart Hollywood to stupid Hollywood gets us into the area of all the socio-political implications DiBattista doesn’t deal with, or at any rate hasn’t yet dealt with for publication. The sooner she does, the better. Film history can do without a treatise on ...

Cute, My Arse

Seamus Perry: Geoffrey Hill

12 September 2019
The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 148 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 19 882952 2
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... incorporated is winning. It is a poem on first name terms with tradition: ‘Will Blake’, ‘Kit Smart’, ‘Bert Brecht’, ‘Alun’ (Lewis), ‘Gerard’ (Hopkins) – and my favourite, ‘old Malc’, the composer Malcolm Arnold. (Did anyone call him that in his own lifetime?) Sometimes you have a clue: ‘Who say “cordiality responsible for such ...
3 November 1983
Alexander Pushkin: Complete Prose Fiction 
by Paul Debreczeny, translated by Walter Arndt.
Stanford, 545 pp., $38.50, May 1983, 0 8047 1142 9
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The Other Pushkin: A Study of Alexander Pushkin’s Prose Fiction 
by Paul Debreczeny.
Stanford, 386 pp., $32.50, May 1983, 0 8047 1143 7
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... consummated. There is all the difference between this kind of effect and those that are sought by Barry Cornwall in his ‘dramatic fragments’, a reading of which in French had given Pushkin his model. Very much in the spirit of the age, Cornwall had sought to wring every ounce of romantic melodrama out of the situations he treated. Pushkin does just the ...
23 April 1987
‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... various accounts of the poem’s reception, a bizarre compilation of ‘sources’ ranging through Smart and Shelley to Kurt Schwitters and Lorca, much of Ginsberg’s correspondence from the mid-Fifties, and a history of Howl’s ludicrous trial for obscenity in the San Francisco courts – the best the prosecution could muster was a private English tutor ...

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