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Parkinson Lobby

Alan Rusbridger, 17 November 1983

... hubris: ‘The Greeks have a word for it,’ we were repeatedly told. Jock (now Lord) Bruce-Gardyne, former Economic Secretary to the Treasury, managed to combine at least two of these factors in an article in the Times, ‘Hounded out by Hypocrisy’, the day after Mr Parkinson’s resignation. ‘So that great British tradition, hypocrisy, has ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Anna Karenina, New Puritans, Books on Cooking the Books, 22 February 2001

... one of the reasons ‘the face of the British gangster is changing.’ But Mad Frankie Fraser and Bruce Reynolds – both of whom have recently written memoirs – aren’t the only old crooks being forced to change their ways, if we are to believe Denise Deegan, whose Managing Activism: A Guide to Dealing with Activists and Pressure Groups was published in ...


Karl Miller, 21 October 1982

On the Black Hill 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 249 pp., £7.50, September 1982, 0 224 01980 5
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... the lorry-driver was no oil-painting. This strange story can’t have escaped the sharp eye of Bruce Chatwin, who is an expert on strange places and strange people and on strange words, and who used to work for the Sunday Times. Chatwin is an admired writer who has now published three books. In Patagonia told of a trip to Latin America’s Ultima ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín, 10 June 1993

Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... He had everything going for him until the first crisis arose and the North blew up in 1969. Bruce Arnold has been a commentator on Irish political and cultural life for the past thirty years. He writes about politics using logic and reason, which is unusual in Ireland. He is able to write about certain Irish political figures with a respect which the ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... on the eve of the Battle of Flodden in 1513. That is followed immediately by a nearly twenty-page selection from Gavin Douglas’s great translation of the Aeneid ‘written in the language of Scottis natioun’, completed in that same year. This juxtaposition of Latin, Gaelic and Scots may point to different Scotlands; yet there are shared features. The ...

Damp-Lipped Hilary

Jenny Diski: Larkin’s juvenilia, 23 May 2002

Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions 
by Philip Larkin, edited by James Booth.
Faber, 498 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 571 20347 7
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... is typed over in red, and a short red line has been typed below the date. The verso of the title-page is blank; thereafter the pages are numbered in the centre at the bottom –1–, –2– etc. The essay ends at the bottom of p. 29 which is not numbered but has the final ornament ___ooOoo___, with the O and os in red. The verso of the final sheet is ...

He Couldn’t Stop Himself

Michael Kulikowski: Justinian’s Wars, 21 March 2019

The Codex of Justinian 
translated by Fred H. Blume, edited by Bruce W. Frier.
Cambridge, three vols, 2963 pp., £450, May 2016
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... and ought to have been pulped on publication). The new one, admirably curated by a team led by Bruce Frier, is based on a draft made by the Wyoming justice Fred H. Blume (1875-1971) that had languished in manuscript for decades. Frier and company secured the use of the text from Blume’s estate, with all profits from the expensive three-volume set, its ...

Comedy is murder

Thomas Powers: Joseph Heller, 8 March 2012

Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller 
by Tracy Daugherty.
Robson, 548 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84954 172 5
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Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller was Dad and Life was a Catch-22 
by Erica Heller.
Vintage, 272 pp., £8.99, October 2011, 978 0 09 957008 0
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... was to save that manuscript! He joked about everything but not about this. Heller began the first page of every book hoping to write something for the ages. He managed it once, critics generally agree, but his later efforts all fell short. The problem was the standard. A book for the ages requires something more than a talented author with a good idea at the ...

No Escape

Bruce Robbins: Culture, 1 November 2001

Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress 
edited by Samuel Huntington and Lawrence Harrison.
Basic Books, 384 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 0 465 03176 5
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by Francis Mulhern.
Routledge, 198 pp., £8.99, March 2000, 0 415 10230 8
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Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 299 pp., £12.50, November 2000, 0 674 00417 5
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... so transcending the individual scholar’s brief mortal span. As Mulhern puts it on his last page, ‘it is better, surely, to settle for lucidity.’ Yet there’s one meaning of the word politics that Weber did not have to take into consideration. Calling one’s subject matter political has been a way of claiming to do work of legitimate concern to ...

Crazy America

Edward Said, 19 March 1981

... of ‘Fright Decade I’, the war against civilisation by terrorists. For Bill Green on the same page of the Post, ‘the Iranian obscenity’ raised the possibility that the ‘freedom of the press’ which presented news about Iran might be ‘perverted into a weapon aimed directly at the heart of American nationalism and self-esteem’. There were some ...


Gabriele Annan, 6 March 1997

The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stan ford White Family 
by Suzannah Lessard.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £18.99, March 1997, 0 297 81940 2
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... and tastes. In her straining after the essence of things, she reminds one of David Malouf and of Bruce Chatwin (who married into her clan). I don’t mean that she copies them: she is too committed, too intense for that; an element of what an American reviewer called ‘self-administered therapy’ convinces one that she is too seriously involved to be ...

The night that I didn’t get drunk

Claude Rawson, 7 May 1987

Boswell: The English Experiment 1785-1789 
edited by Irma Lustig and Frederick Pottle.
Heinemann, 332 pp., £30, February 1987, 0 434 08130 2
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The Converse of the Pen: Acts of Intimacy in the 18th-Century Familiar Letter 
by Bruce Redford.
Chicago, 252 pp., £21.25, January 1987, 0 226 70678 8
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Printing Technology, Letters and Samuel Johnson 
by Alvin Kernan.
Princeton, 357 pp., £19.70, February 1987, 0 691 06692 2
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... passing up the particular social opportunity then on offer, and later, when Mr Ramus the King’s page invited him to St James’s, he noted: ‘Formerly I should have jumped at such an opening. I am now too far advanced. Yet I may go.’ It’s like Crusoe feeling he can’t use the ship-wrecked money but then deciding to keep it, accelerated to the tempo of ...

Ponting bites back

Tam Dalyell, 4 April 1985

The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... and doubtless for his own good reasons Mr Ponting felt that he should steer clear of me. As Bruce Laughland, his counsel, and Jonathan Caplan, the deputy counsel, were to reiterate in court, they were counsel for Mr Ponting and not Mr Dalyell. There were differences. For example, before the trial Mr Ponting said he did not share my contention that the ...

Lore and Ordure

Terence Hawkes: Jonson and digestion, 21 May 1998

The Fury of Men’s Gullets: Ben Jonson and the Digestive Canal 
by Bruce Thomas Boehrer.
Pennsylvania, 238 pp., £36.50, January 1998, 0 8122 3408 1
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... down to the deepest terrors and desires. Jonson’s most certainly have not.’ Insofar as Bruce Thomas Boehrer’s resourceful sifting of Jonson’s plays focuses on the network of tentacular roots animating their language, it might be seen as a salutary transatlantic redressing of an earlier American deformation. His concern to explore the furthest ...

Who’d call dat livin’?

Ian Glynn: Ageing, 3 January 2002

The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Ageing 
by S. Jay Olshansky and Bruce A. Carnes.
Norton, 254 pp., £19.95, August 2001, 0 393 04836 5
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... the charming detail from Giacomo Jaquerio’s painting that adorns the jacket of Jay Olshansky and Bruce Carnes’s book suggests that this is the convention.) Immortality is not synonymous with eternal youth, however, and Olshansky and Carnes remind us of one of the less well-known stories in Gulliver’s Travels. It involves a tiny minority in the country of ...

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