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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 ...

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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... printed as an appendix in the Clarendon Press Nineteen Eighty-Four, which uses the text Davison has prepared for the new complete edition of Orwell, and has a critical Introduction and annotations by BernardCrick. 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 ...


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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... the memoir of Richard Rees and The Unknown Orwell by William Abrahams and Peter Stansky (lamed by the late Soni Orwell’s refusal of permission to quote), and, more recently, the expansive Life by BernardCrick, 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 ...


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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... to say on this aspect, the Charter is part of the history of women’s involvement in British political life – an involvement that is also discussed, directly or indirectly, in Out of Apathy and BernardCrick’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 ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard Crick

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 ...
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 ...

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 BernardCrick, 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 ...


Anne Sofer: The Silliest Script Ever Written

1 September 1983
... making Tory policies work’. For them, there is no theoretical problem: capitalism is the enemy, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. In between the two is the fudge recommended by BernardCrick 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 ...

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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... he wrote to the head of the Eastern Service in September 1943. In so doing Orwell laid the ground for the widespread, if largely unexamined view that his time at the BBC was mostly unprofitable. As BernardCrick 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 ...

Prep-School Girl

Sarah Wintle

4 April 1985
... George Orwell was sent to St Cyprian’s in September 1911, when he was eight years old. His sisters, Marjorie and Averil stayed at home until they were 11. Orwell went on to Eton, his sisters, BernardCrick 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 ...
22 December 1983
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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by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... gives them a more lasting value. One should read them not so much in order to learn about society, as in order to learn how to think about society. The comparison with Tocqueville has been made, by BernardCrick 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 ...

1984 and ‘1984’

Randolph Quirk

16 February 1984
... that Orwell was drawn, rather than to the more radical thinking associated with Ogden. And in a quite simple-minded way at that. His essay ‘Propaganda and Demotic Speech’ reveals, according to BernardCrick, ‘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 ...

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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... deeply scarred by that childhood trauma, she would scarcely have had the courage to return to Warsaw to help lead the revolution in 1905, at the risk of imprisonment and the firing-squad. Empathy, as BernardCrick 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 ...


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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... provided by Brown’s adviser, Ed Balls. ‘So it wasn’t Brown. It was Balls.’ The celebrated ‘Michael 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 ...


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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... sociological writings consistently applied the logic of theodicy to history and society: he justified 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 ...

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