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David Runciman: 1979, 26 September 2013

Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century 
by Christian Caryl.
Basic, 407 pp., £19.99, June 2013, 978 0 465 01838 3
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... to fit into the timeframe defined by a single year. History rarely can. That is the problem with Christian Caryl’s fascinating and frustrating book, which identifies 1979 as the year that gave birth to the 21st century. Caryl builds his case around five overlapping stories, four about individuals and one about a ...

Lunacharsky was impressed

Joseph Frank: Mikhail Bakhtin, 19 February 1998

The First Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin 
by Caryl Emerson.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, December 1997, 9780691069760
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... one capable of coping with the latest, bewilderingly fractured products of Post-Modernism. As Caryl Emerson remarks, this idea, ordinarily associated with figures such as Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson, could hardly be explained to her Russian colleagues at various Bakhtin conferences and colloquia. They simply could not comprehend that ‘the debased ...


Peter Campbell, 18 May 1989

Any Old Iron 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 339 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 09 173842 3
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The Ragged End 
by John Spurling.
Weidenfeld, 313 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 297 79505 8
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Higher Ground 
by Caryl Phillips.
Viking, 224 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 670 82620 0
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The Flint Bed 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 185 pp., £10.95, April 1989, 0 436 09788 5
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by Ben Elton.
Joseph, 453 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 0 7181 3302 1
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... sticks to him), is shown to be the soundest of them, if a little fey and very smelly. The Christian symbolism of the fish is noted in a jocular aside of Reg’s – which both defuses and reinforces it. Burgess chooses locations for his novel which ensure high production values. Any Old Iron has a cinematic feel which becomes explicit when a ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... staunch Presbyterianism’ and someone else was ‘a very private person with a profound belief in Christian values and the family as the basis of civilised life’. But this is not to say that there is any general reluctance to tick off the dead. Dick Emery was ‘a talent sadly unfulfilled’, George Brown’s career was ‘hampered’ by ‘his explosive ...

Urban Messthetics

John Mullan: Black and Asian writers in London, 18 November 2004

London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City 
by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Harper Perennial, 498 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 00 653214 4
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... extraordinary travels and his eventual aspirations as a free man – which range from being a good Christian to learning the French horn. Equiano stayed with the godly and genteel Guerin sisters in Greenwich, and took ‘many opportunities of seeing London, which I desired of all things’. He tried training as a hairdresser in the Haymarket, he went to ...

Slavery and Revenge

John Kerrigan, 22 October 2020

... account is the most significant of the many passages from the literature of slavery that Caryl Phillips recycles in his novel Cambridge (1991). Inventing a backstory, he decided that Cambridge had been married to Christiana, and that his feelings towards her, if vindictive at all, were stirred up by Brown, who, in a repulsive episode reported by ...

Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander Pope: A Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... are ‘scaling Engines’ a somewhat modern intrusion, but the whole passage has become a kind of Christian miracle, in which a ‘rising Host appears’ and ‘spears’ (now visibly ‘glitt’ring’ rather than ‘edged’) become a ‘Wood’. Even a stone used as a weapon gains different significance from the moral tone of Pope’s ...

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