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New York Review

Herschel Post, 17 December 1981

The Cost of Good Intentions: New York City and the Liberal Experiment 
by Charles Morris.
Norton, 256 pp., £8.95, March 1981, 0 393 01339 1
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... mind. The Civil Rights movement was moving to the North in full force and becoming radicalised. As Morris writes, ‘the civil rights leadership seemed to expect economic parity with whites, or something approaching it, to follow closely upon the achievement of full legal equality. When no such decisive change was immediately apparent, the failure was taken as ...

The Great Lie

Charles Glass: Israel, 30 November 2000

The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World 
by Avi Shlaim.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780713994100
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Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 
by Benny Morris.
Murray, 752 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7195 6222 8
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A Blood-Dimmed Tide: Dispatches from the Middle East 
by Amos Elon.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 7139 9368 5
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Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ 
by Efraim Karsh.
Frank Cass, 236 pp., £39.50, May 2000, 0 7146 5011 0
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From Herzl to Rabin: The Changing Image of Zionism 
by Amnon Rubinstein.
Holmes & Meier, 283 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 8419 1408 7
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... work has steadily eroded the ‘old history’, especially since the publication in 1987 of Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-49. Morris’s research into the archives of the Israeli Defence Forces demonstrated what Palestinian Arab refugees and historians had been saying for years: that ...

‘It was necessary to uproot them’

Charles Glass: Post-Zionist historiography, 24 June 2004

A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples 
by Ilan Pappe.
Cambridge, 333 pp., £15.99, January 2004, 0 521 55632 5
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The Gun and the Olive Branch 
by David Hirst.
Faber, 624 pp., £16.99, August 2003, 0 571 21945 4
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The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited 
by Benny Morris.
Cambridge, 664 pp., £70, January 2004, 0 521 81120 1
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... Dayan’s on his American fund-raising tours, people listen. One post-Zionist historian, Benny Morris, has taken the argument a step further: yes, he says, Ben-Gurion and the Haganah had a hand in expelling Arabs; but, no, there was nothing wrong with this. Morris told the Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit in a remarkable ...

Bit by Bit

John Sturrock, 22 December 1994

Roland Barthes: A Biography 
by Louis-Jean Calvet, translated by Sarah Wykes.
Polity, 291 pp., £25, October 1994, 9780745610177
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... which, Calvet might have noted, Barthes was being true to the missionary tradition in semiotics of Charles Morris in Chicago, who had valued the study of signs as having the power to form more alert and less easily manipulated citizens. Mythologies remains a delight to read, both graceful and acerbic: a holy book, I trust, in departments of cultural ...

Dear Lad

Penelope Fitzgerald, 19 March 1981

The Simple Life: C.R. Ashbee in the Cotswolds 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Lund Humphries, 204 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 85331 435 7
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Philip Mairet: Autobiographical and Other Papers 
edited by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 266 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 85635 326 4
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... Charles Ashbee – C.R.A., as he asked to be called – must be counted as a successful man. He was an architect whose houses stood up, a designer whose work has always been appreciated, a homosexual who in his fifties became – almost absent-mindedly, it seems – the father of four daughters, and a dreamer who, by founding the Guild of Handicrafts, put his ideals into practice and then kept them going for twenty years ...

Anything but Staffordshire

Rosemary Hill, 18 September 1997

Rare Spirit: A Life of William De Morgan 1839-1917 
by Mark Hamilton.
Constable, 236 pp., £22.50, September 1997, 0 09 474670 2
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... learning’, which in the early 1850s fired the imaginations of the Oxford undergraduates William Morris and Edward Burne Jones. But De Morgan was enrolled at University College, where there was no scope for picturesque medievalism. The spirit of place did not haunt Gower Street. Having failed to get a degree, De Morgan decided to become a painter. He made ...

I had to refrain

Andrew Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses, 1 December 2005

Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... the puritan tradition. This study by Sheila Kirk and the equally thoughtful photographs by Martin Charles that go with it at last set out the full evidence on which this claim can rest. Webb was 18 and embarking on an obscure apprenticeship in Reading when The Seven Lamps of Architecture came out in 1849. By the time he met Ruskin seven years later, he was a ...

At the David Parr House

Eleanor Birne: There are two histories here, 7 November 2019

... terraced houses. In the 1980s my secondary school English teacher lived there: he would drive his Morris Minor out to our village to tell us about books and music and more books. In my mind, Gwydir Street was the sophisticated centre of the urban world. Walk down it now, past the old Dewdrop Inn (a Victorian joke: ‘do drop in’) and you barely notice ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... In his introductory note to the Kelmscott edition of Ruskin’s The Nature of Gothic William Morris proudly states that Ruskin didn’t just ‘let a flood of daylight into the cloud of sham-technical twaddle which was once the whole substance of “art criticism”’: he had ‘done serious and solid work towards that new-birth of Society, without ...

Character Building

Peter Campbell, 9 June 1994

Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernity 
by Jerome McGann.
Princeton, 196 pp., £25, July 1993, 0 691 06985 9
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Letters from the People 
by Lee Friedlander.
Cape, 96 pp., £75, August 1993, 9780224032957
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Margins and Marginality 
by Evelyn Tribble.
Virginia, 194 pp., $35, December 1993, 0 8139 1472 8
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... way on the texts they contain? Jerome McGann reckons that the private press movement (William Morris and his followers) was an agent in the rise of Modernist poetry, and goes on to make large claims for the ability of poetry in the Modernist tradition to unknot linguistic and philosophical binds. His line of argument is skittish – he breaks into it from ...

Balls and Strikes

Charles Reeve: Clement Greenberg, 5 April 2007

Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg 
by Alice Goldfarb Marquis.
Lund Humphries, 321 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 85331 940 5
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... up’; Clyfford Still never left the minor league; Marcel Duchamp was a joker (not in a good way); Morris Louis painted as brilliantly as Raphael. In a 1959 essay, ‘The Case for Abstract Art’, he answered his critics by drawing on Kant to argue that taste is objective because art takes its viewer outside history. A ‘mere glance’ at the picture ...

Sex is best when you lose your head

James Meek, 16 November 2000

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition and Sexual Conflict 
by Tim Birkhead.
Faber, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 571 19360 9
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... In 1853 the Reverend Frederick Morris, an opponent of Charles Darwin’s and a man with a Victorian sense of propriety, urged his parishioners to emulate the fidelity of a small bird called the dunnock. Be thou like the dunnock, he told them – the female and the male impeccably faithful to each other ...

English Art and English Rubbish

Peter Campbell, 20 March 1986

C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist 
by Alan Crawford.
Yale, 500 pp., £35, November 1985, 0 300 03467 9
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The Laughter and the Urn: The Life of Rex Whistler 
by Laurence Whistler.
Weidenfeld, 321 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78603 2
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The Originality of Thomas Jones 
by Lawrence Gowing.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £4.95, February 1986, 0 500 55017 4
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Art beyond the Gallery in Early 20th-century England 
by Richard Cork.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, April 1985, 0 300 03236 6
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Alfred Gilbert 
by Richard Dorment.
Yale, 350 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 300 03388 5
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... ponderous than its subject deserves’ unnecessary. Ashbee’s ideas were a legacy of Ruskin and Morris: the Ruskin who could write of a little girl he saw in ill-fitting hand-me-downs when he was lecturing in Oxford that ‘nothing spoken about art’ could be ‘of the least use’ to anyone in his audience. ‘For their primary business, and mine, was ...


James Wood: These Etonians, 4 July 2019

... English, Latin and history. For history, we were given Heaven’s Command, the first volume of Jan Morris’s trilogy about the rise and fall of the British Empire, along with extracts from the other two volumes. The trilogy is a lush, romantic account of the enormous, bloody, dust-filled adventure of empire. Morris – who ...

Iraq Must Go!

Charles Glass: The Making and Unmaking of Iraq, 3 October 2002

... usually the hulking bombers from Habaniya that restored things to their grumpy normal,’ James Morris wrote in The Hashemite Kings (1959). At the same time, Britain had established a native Army with British and former Ottoman officers to supplement the RAF in controlling opposition to the new order. The goal was to protect both oil production and imperial ...

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