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May ’88

Douglas Johnson, 21 April 1988

Les Sept Mitterrand 
by Catherine Nay.
Grasset, 286 pp., frs 96, September 1988, 2 246 36291 1
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Secker, 647 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 436 01746 6
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Jacques Chirac 
by Franz-Oliver Giesbert.
Seuil, 455 pp., frs 125, April 1987, 2 02 009771 0
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Monsieur Barre 
by Henri Amouroux.
Laffont, 584 pp., frs 125, June 1986, 2 221 04954 3
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The Workers’ Movement 
by Alain Touraine, Michel Wieviorka and François Dubet, translated by Ian Patterson.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 322 pp., £35, October 1987, 0 521 30852 6
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The State and the Market Economy: Industrial Patriotism and Economic Intervention in France 
by Jack Hayward.
Wheatsheaf, 267 pp., £32.50, December 1985, 0 7450 0012 6
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France under Recession 1981-86 
by John Tuppen.
Macmillan, 280 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 333 39889 0
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... that no child was too young to have his personal computer (les pianonoteurs en culottes courtes). Catherine Nay claims that this was the turning-point of the Mitterrand septennat. He had become François Ronald-Reagan. François Léon-Blum had disappeared; the influence of Lamartine and Jaurès had diminished dramatically; the man who had intended to ...

It makes yer head go

David Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge, 18 February 1999

The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... time, sometimes I go to the cludgie. Having said that, I usually take it with me. But there’s nay law against reading books in cludgies,’ to which Jake ripostes: ‘There is if folk are waiting to get in.’ So the badinage crackles on until work takes over and the narrator sinks into his ‘world of daydreams’, which run from ‘annoyance at ...

Pay me for it

Helen Deutsch: Summoning Dr Johnson, 9 February 2012

Samuel Johnson: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Faber, 415 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22636 8
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Selected Writings 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Peter Martin.
Harvard, 503 pp., £16.95, May 2011, 978 0 674 06034 0
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The Brothers Boswell: A Novel 
by Philip Baruth.
Corvus, 336 pp., £7.99, January 2011, 978 1 84887 446 6
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The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. 
by John Hawkins, edited by O.M. Brack.
Georgia, 554 pp., £53.50, August 2010, 978 0 8203 2995 6
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... certainly, sir; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Nay, sir, it is wonderful what a difference learning makes upon people even in the common intercourse of life, which does not appear to be much connected with it.’ ‘And yet (said I) people go through the world very well, and carry on the business of life to ...

Seeing in the Darkness

James Wood, 6 March 1997

D.H. Lawrence: Triumph To Exile 1912-22 
by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 943 pp., £25, August 1996, 0 521 25420 5
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... hesitating, hectoring, colloquialising (how often in Lawrence that Nottinghamshire negative, ‘Nay’, appears), repeating, joking. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot said, was humourless. Actually, the appeal of his voice lies partly in its comedy. This is less obvious in the longer novels than in the stories, novellas, travel writing and poems, forms to which ...

Bastard Foreigners

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare v. the English, 2 July 2020

Shakespeare’s Englishes: Against Englishness 
by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £75, October 2019, 978 1 108 49373 4
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... hybridity, since one of Henry’s principal demands is marriage to the French princess Catherine, by whom he hopes ‘between Saint Denis and Saint George’ to ‘compound a boy, half-French, half-English’.In the 1590s, as Tudeau-Clayton notes, Shakespeare lodged in parts of London favoured by French migrant workers and refugees, and in 1603-4 ...

The Laying on of Hands

Alan Bennett, 7 June 2001

... dressed in a suit of stunning sobriety, relieved only by a diamond clasp that had once belonged to Catherine the Great and which was accompanied by an obligatory security guard insisted on by the insurance company. This bovine young man lounged in the pew picking his fingers, happy already to have pinpointed Suspect No. 1, the Waynflete Professor of Moral ...

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