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Whose Candyfloss?

Christopher Hilliard: Richard Hoggart, 17 April 2014

Richard Hoggart: Virtue and Reward 
by Fred Inglis.
Polity, 259 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 7456 5171 2
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... The lecture was printed in the teachers’ journal Use of English, whose editor was Denys Thompson, a grammar school headmaster and former Scrutiny co-editor. Thompson was the person who did most to extend F.R. Leavis’s brand of literary criticism into the terrain of mass culture and to embed Scrutiny’s approach ...

Dismantling the class war

Paul Addison, 25 July 1991

The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol I.: Regions and Communities 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 608 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25788 3
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The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol II.: People and Their Environment 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 392 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25789 1
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The Temper of the Times: British Society since World War Two 
by Bill Williamson.
Blackwell, 308 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 631 15919 3
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... a mass of unrelated specialisms. The Cambridge Social History, edited in three volumes by Michael Thompson, looks very much like an ambitious attempt to restore coherence and direction. But the stated aim is the more modest one of communicating ‘the fruits of recent writing and the most recent research in social history to the wider audience of students who ...

Scenes from Common Life

V.G. Kiernan, 1 November 1984

A Radical Reader: The Struggle for Change in England 1381-1914 
edited by Christopher Hampton.
Penguin, 624 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 14 022444 0
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Riots and Community Politics in England and Wales 1790-1810 
by John Bohstedt.
Harvard, 310 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 674 77120 6
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The World We have Lost – Further Explored 
by Peter Laslett.
Methuen, 353 pp., £12.95, December 1983, 0 416 35340 1
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... such people as the maid-of-all-work in 1909 whose duties kept her busy from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.* Christopher Hampton gives us, in an anonymous 15th-century poem, a lament over women’s perpetual drudgery. His extract from the early feminist Mary Astell, writing in 1721, acknowledges that by comparison with Eastern women, who ‘are born Slaves, and live ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... studies of the case and what it reveals about postwar Britain and its social structure. Thompson’s book is a mixture of all of these and the result is persuasive and revealing in some parts, absurd and tasteless in others. Yet it is a compelling read. The story doesn’t pall because it has become a myth and myths change with time. As the Lucan ...

In Love

Michael Wood, 25 January 1996

Essays in Dissent: Church, Chapel and the Unitarian Conspiracy 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 264 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85754 123 5
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... the moderation of Isaac Watts and Thomas Hardy as at least as interesting as the wildness of Christopher Smart and W.B. Yeats. I’m not sure how moderate Hardy was – an amiable re-opening of this question was the subject of the postcard from Stanford – but Watts does sound like the unanxious Calvinist, the man who has made his peace with the ...

Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... and went early to university, where he quickly established himself as a comic genius. Harry Thompson has written a serious and carefully researched biography, and his early pages can be read in perfect silence. Suddenly, however, as it reaches the early Sixties, the narrative is interspersed with indented passages of Peter Cook’s jokes. They creep up ...

Doofus

Christopher Tayler: Dave Eggers, 3 April 2003

You Shall Know Our Velocity 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 350 pp., £16.99, February 2003, 0 241 14228 8
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... argumentative and operating on their own mysterious logic, Hand and Will are rather like Hunter S. Thompson and his sidekick in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But they don’t do drugs: they do whimsy. Hand, whose real name is Justin, is given to telling people he’s called Sven and breaking into pidgin English. He turns up in Dakar in a shirt bearing the ...

In the Tart Shop

Murray Sayle: How Sydney got its Opera House, 5 October 2000

The Masterpiece: Jørn Utzon, a Secret Life 
by Philip Drew.
Hardie Grant, 574 pp., AUS $39.95, October 1999, 1 86498 047 8
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Jørn Utzon: The Sydney Opera House 
by Françoise Fromonot, translated by Christopher Thompson.
Electa/Gingko, 236 pp., £37.45, January 1998, 3 927258 72 5
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... Everything that is planned for the Opera House is based on the desire to take people from their daily routine into a world of fantasy, a world which they can share with the musicians and actors. Jørn Utzon, July 1964 Two flicks of a saw-toothed roofline on the Olympic logo, and the world knew which city staged the games. Sydney Opera House is the only 20th-century building that has become a city’s icon – Big Ben, Miss Liberty and the Eiffel Tower date from the 19th – and may well rank with Hagia Sophia and the Taj Mahal as our era’s legacy to the ages ...
Literature and Popular Culture in 18th-Century England 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 215 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0981 6
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Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Studies in Literature and Society in the Age of Walpole 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 173 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0986 7
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Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in 18th-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper 
by Claude Rawson.
Allen and Unwin, 431 pp., £30, August 1985, 0 04 800019 1
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Jonathan Swift 
edited by Angus Ross and David Woolley.
Oxford, 722 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 19 281337 4
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... misleading. In Eighteenth-Century Encounters he reverts to his disagreement with E.P. Thompson about the Berkshire Blacks and the Waltham Black Act of 1723 which made it illegal for anyone to go disguised into woods. The particular issue between Thompson and Rogers is the bearing of the episode upon Pope. ...

Politician’s War

Tam Dalyell, 3 March 1983

The Battle for the Falklands 
by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins.
Joseph, 384 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7181 2228 3
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... ever there was a politicians’ battle, then Goose Green was to be it.’ Brigadier Julian Thompson, the senior officer ashore at the time, found himself summoned to the satellite terminal at Ajax Bay. The headquarters at Northwood told the Brigadier exactly what to do. The command in Britain considered it essential that the landing force should engage ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don, 8 May 1986

... to fall within the same tradition as Darwin. Probably none of our other leading historians – Christopher Hill, E.P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, Keith Thomas – will gain such dubious recognition either. Alan’s style of narrative history has drawn criticism in recent years from young historians seeking a more ...

Big Books

Penelope Fitzgerald, 15 September 1988

William Morris: An Approach to the Poetry 
by J.M.S. Tompkins.
Cecil Woolf, 368 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 900821 84 1
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... can. Although she doesn’t make the claim herself, her book can be seen as a complement to E.P. Thompson’s William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary. ‘We have to make up our minds about William Morris,’ Thompson said. ‘Either he was an eccentric, isolated figure, personally admirable, but whose major thought was ...

Give me a Danish pastry!

Christopher Tayler: Nordic crime fiction, 17 August 2006

The Priest of Evil 
by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, translated by David Hackston.
Arcadia, 352 pp., £11.99, May 2006, 1 900850 93 1
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Roseanna 
by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, translated by Lois Roth.
Harper Perennial, 288 pp., £6.99, August 2006, 0 00 723283 7
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Borkmann’s Point 
by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson.
Macmillan, 321 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 333 98984 8
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The Redbreast 
by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 520 pp., £11.99, September 2006, 9781843432173
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Voices 
by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Bernard Scudder.
Harvill Secker, 313 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 1 84655 033 5
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... Chasing a cross-dressing serial killer through a tunnel beneath Helsinki, Timo Harjunpää, the hero of The Priest of Evil by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, pulls out his gun and then pauses to consider the health and safety implications of what he’s doing. ‘He recalled that this communal tunnel was used for almost everything: water and drainage, heating, electricity, telephone cables ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops, 5 June 2014

Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... whom one has been in open conflict.’ In an essay published in the New Statesman in 1978, E.P. Thompson took a different view, imagining Pincher as ‘a kind of official urinal in which, side by side, high officials of MI5 and MI6, sea lords, permanent under-secretaries, Lord George-Brown, chiefs of the air staff, nuclear scientists, Lord Wigg and ...

Endearingness

Donald Davie, 21 March 1991

The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... the sickliness of this has been recognised and condemned. It was one of the Leavisites – Denys Thompson, I believe – who put the boot in on the Essays of Elia; and this was one of the Leavisite demolition-jobs that truly cleared a space, and let the air in, for a more than academic public. John Gross, though he dutifully and unavoidably finds space for ...

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