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Honest Lies

Michael Wood: Jean Giono, 27 July 2023

by Jean Giono, translated by Bill Johnston.
Archipelago, 171 pp., £12.99, September 2021, 978 1 953861 12 2
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The Open Road 
by Jean Giono, translated by Paul Eprile.
NYRB, 212 pp., £13.99, October 2021, 978 1 68137 510 6
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A King Alone 
by Jean Giono, translated by Alyson Waters.
NYRB, 155 pp., £14.99, June 2021, 978 1 68137 309 6
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... Jean Giono​ was closely associated with Provence. He lived there his whole life (1895-1970), scarcely travelling anywhere else. It was the setting of his many novels, and he wrote regularly of local geography and weather. And yet Walter Redfern could say, in 2010, that Giono was ‘not a regional novelist’. It’s an interesting claim and alerts us to all kinds of criss-crossing puzzles ...

To Stir up the People

John Barrell: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm, 23 January 2014

Unusual Suspects: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Oxford, 376 pp., £30, July 2013, 978 0 19 965780 3
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... war and to fix a French taint to the movement to reform a thoroughly corrupt parliament. Kenneth Johnston’s Unusual Suspects are men and women who fell foul of ‘Pitt’s determination to crush his domestic opponents’ and whose lives, careers, reputations were irrevocably damaged as a result. They were members of a brilliant generation of imaginative ...


Susan McKay: The Irish Border, 30 March 2017

... many in these parts did not cast their vote. ‘I didn’t understand it,’ one local man, Mervyn Johnston, told me. On the map, the village of Pettigo, where Johnston lives, is all but obliterated by the strong red line of the border as it staggers drunkenly across the country. At the centre of the village, most of which ...

The Atmosphere of the Clyde

Jean McNicol: Red Clydeside, 2 January 2020

When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside 
by Maggie Craig.
Birlinn, 313 pp., £9.99, March 2018, 978 1 78027 506 2
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Glasgow 1919: The Rise of Red Clydeside 
by Kenny MacAskill.
Biteback, 310 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 1 78590 454 7
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John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside 
by Henry Bell.
Pluto, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 0 7453 3838 5
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... her own mother all the way to Glasgow, around a hundred miles of rough mountainous country. Tom Johnston, founder and editor of Forward, which became the mouthpiece of the Glasgow ILP, wrote a popular series of polemical but impressively researched articles on the iniquities of Scottish landowning families. When it was published in book form in 1909 as Our ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... for Defence before it was announced that he was to join the Royal Bank of Scotland and Murray Johnston Trusts. Having been Mrs Thatcher’s staunchest ally, Norman Tebbit finally left the Government in 1987 after eight years of service. In the three years that followed, he became a director of Manpower (formerly the employment agency); a director of ...

Opprobrious Epithets

Katrina Navickas: The Peterloo Massacre, 20 December 2018

Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre 
by Jacqueline Riding.
Head of Zeus, 386 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 1 78669 583 3
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... of marchers led by the more militant Manchester reformers – John Bagguley, Samuel Drummond, John Johnston and William Benbow – set off from St Peter’s Field for London to petition the prince regent to dismiss his ministers. The radicals went out of their way to demonstrate their knowledge of legal and constitutional precedent. Taking Major Cartwright’s ...

Unliterary, Unpolished, Unromantic

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Merchant of Prato’, 8 February 2018

The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City 
by Iris Origo.
Penguin, 400 pp., £10.99, May 2017, 978 0 241 29392 8
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... distinguished Florentine artist Agnolo Gaddi, but the atmosphere soured when they presented their bill, and he turned them out of the house unpaid. ‘Having found some soft soil they mean to dig their spades in it up to the hilt,’ he grumbled. ‘When Giotto was alive he was cheaper!’ The case went to court. Experts were called in and valued the disputed ...

Chasing Steel

Ian Jack: Scotland’s Ferry Fiasco, 22 September 2022

... subsequent parliamentary debate over the renewal of the mail contract, the radical Labour MP Tom Johnston argued that there was ‘no justification whatsoever for allowing this private company, subsidised by the government, to retain control over these essential means of communication … Today we have an opportunity of breaking one of the cords that are ...

The Bergoglio Smile

Colm Tóibín: The Francis Papacy, 21 January 2021

... with the new pope’. The doubts had started early. In 1977, an English Jesuit, Michael Campbell-Johnston, sent to Argentina to report on the order there, wrote that he was appalled that ‘our institute in Buenos Aires was able to function freely because it never criticised or opposed the government,’ and, according to Ivereigh, ‘he berated Bergoglio ...

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