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22 January 1981
... In one sense, nothing has changed. As we move into the Era of Foot, the Labour Party remains what it always was: a coalition of trade unions, working-class institutions and middle-class intellectuals (or men and women who have become middle-class by rising up). During the Labour leadership crisis, the political correspondents in the press had to move quickly from the ‘basic threat’ of Benn to the scarcely less frightening terror of Foot ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue

20 December 1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... for the new complete edition of Orwell, and has a critical Introduction and annotations by Bernard Crick. Davison reports that Orwell wrote about fifty pages of the book in the summer of 1946: the novel in its first form was typed in the summer of 1947 and completed by October. Between the middle of May 1948 and early November 1948 Orwell revised ...

Cockaigne

Frank Kermode

24 October 1991
Orwell: The Authorised Biography 
by Michael Shelden.
Heinemann, 563 pp., £18.50, October 1991, 0 434 69517 3
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... late Soni Orwell’s refusal of permission to quote), and, more recently, the expansive Life by Bernard Crick, at first authorised by the widow to emphasise her rejection of Stansky and Abrahams, and later de-authorised by her to indicate disapproval of Crick, who, much to her annoyance, had lawyers good enough to ...

Pow-Wow

Mary Beard

26 October 1989
After Thatcher 
by Paul Hirst.
Collins, 254 pp., £7.99, September 1989, 0 00 215169 3
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Out of Apathy: Voices of the New Left Thirty Years On 
Verso, 172 pp., £22.95, August 1989, 0 86091 232 9Show More
Essays on Politics and Literature 
by Bernard Crick.
Edinburgh, 259 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 85224 621 8
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... life – an involvement that is also discussed, directly or indirectly, in Out of Apathy and Bernard Crick’s Essays. Westminster-style politics belongs to men. Anthony Barnett has well described it as the politics of ‘clubland’, and ‘clubland’ by definition excludes women. It is not just a matter of changing the hours of House of Commons ...
7 October 1982
... The word ‘biography’ can create as many different expectations as the word ‘Orwell’. It can mean a memorial or a panegyric, it can mean a hatchet job, it can simply mean a good read (Wyndham Lewis once said that good biographies are like novels); or it can mean something scholarly, academic, definitive: a dull attempt to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – as far as that is possible ...
22 January 1981
George Orwell: A Life 
by Bernard Crick.
Secker, 473 pp., £10, November 1980, 9780436114502
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Class, Culture and Social Change: A New View of the 1930s 
edited by Frank Gloversmith.
Harvester, 285 pp., £20, July 1980, 0 85527 938 9
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Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties 
edited by Jon Clark, Margot Heinemann, David Margolies and Carole Snee.
Lawrence and Wishart, 279 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 0 85315 419 8
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... Professor Crick’s subject is important and his research has evidently been diligent. We now know a lot more about Orwell than we did, and the increment of knowledge is not always trivial. Why, then, is it impossible to commend this book with warmth? For two main reasons: first, in a work of such length the prevalence of carelessly written pages is a strong disincentive to continuing (and of course they are shown up all the more by their proximity to quotations from Orwell); and secondly, Orwell was a literary figure as well as a political thinker, and Crick’s literary touch is far from certain ...

How Does It Add Up?

Neal Ascherson: The Burns Cult

12 March 2009
The Bard: Robert Burns, a Biography 
by Robert Crawford.
Cape, 466 pp., £20, January 2009, 978 0 224 07768 2
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... The late Bernard Crick, who had a fine and memorable funeral in Edinburgh the other day, left a legacy of sharp opinions behind him. Among the least popular was his opinion of the British tradition of biography, and his remarks remain a stinging nettle in the path of all ‘life-writers’. In the introduction to his life of George Orwell, Crick said that most biographies were just dressed-up historical novels ...

Diary

Anne Sofer: The Silliest Script Ever Written

1 September 1983
... it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. In between the two is the fudge recommended by Bernard Crick in the New Statesman: ‘A democratic socialism can only arise from a capitalist base. First catch the rabbit; but it now needs fattening before it can be cooked and shared equally.’ (A curiously deceitful attitude to the electorate!) How to ...

Going on the air

Philip French

2 May 1985
Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... the widespread, if largely unexamined view that his time at the BBC was mostly unprofitable. As Bernard Crick writes in the briefest chapter of his authorised biography – the chapter entitled ‘Broadcasting Days (1941-43)’: ‘Then for two precious years his talents were mainly wasted, his colleagues later agreed, in producing cultural programmes ...

Prep-School Girl

Sarah Wintle

4 April 1985
... Marjorie and Averil stayed at home until they were 11. Orwell went on to Eton, his sisters, Bernard Crick writes, ‘to a girls’ boarding-school at Oxford, a decent enough place but by no means famous or front rank’. Forty-five years later I went, at nine, to a girls’ prep school, and then, at 12, to a girls’ public school, both of them ...
22 December 1983
Mémoires 
by Raymond Aron.
Julliard, 778 pp., frs 120, September 1983, 9782260003328
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Clausewitz: Philosopher of War 
by Raymond Aron, translated by Norman Stone and Christine Booker.
Routledge, 418 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9009 9
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Clausewitz 
by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... as in order to learn how to think about society. The comparison with Tocqueville has been made, by Bernard Crick among others. Aron rightly rejects it. Superficially, Tocqueville seems to embody a similar kind of common sense but on closer inspection we detect in his work an analytical skeleton that is lacking in Aron’s. We also detect passions and ...

1984 and ‘1984’

Randolph Quirk

16 February 1984
... simple-minded way at that. His essay ‘Propaganda and Demotic Speech’ reveals, according to Bernard Crick, ‘his belief that political liberty and simplicity of language are closely linked.’ As late as 1946, when the essay ‘Politics and the English Language’ appeared in Horizon, his thinking was only a shade less naive and no more ...

Rosa with Mimi

Edward Timms

4 June 1987
Rosa Luxemburg: A Life 
by Elzbieta Ettinger.
Harrap, 286 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 245 54539 5
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... to help lead the revolution in 1905, at the risk of imprisonment and the firing-squad. Empathy, as Bernard Crick pointed out in his biography of George Orwell, is no substitute for evidence. The assumption that one can enter so completely into another person’s mind may endow a scholarly biography with the undertones of a romantic novelette: ‘The fear ...

Hobnobbing

Simon Hoggart

24 April 1997
Michael Heseltine: A Biography 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 241 13691 1
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... knows exactly where to find the clitoris of the Conservative Party’ is attributed by Crick to Noel Picarda, a Liberal, though I’m fairly certain it was said by Heseltine’s old friend Julian Critchley. These speeches take an enormous amount out of him. He was desperate to prove that his heart attack in the summer of 1993 was caused by a ...

Snobs

Jon Elster

5 November 1981
La Distinction: Critique Sociale du Jugement 
by Pierre Bourdieu.
Editions de Minuit, 670 pp., £9.05, August 1979, 2 7073 0275 9
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... luxury, for instance, as a regrettable but unavoidable side-effect of prosperity. It was left to Bernard Mandeville – the founder of the modern sociodicy – to argue more boldly that luxury, by creating employment, was actually a means to prosperity. The theme struck by The Fable of the Bees has been pursued for more than two centuries, by Adam ...

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