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Fit and Few

Donald Davie, 3 May 1984

The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in Modern American, English and Irish Poetry 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 30632 5
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... but himself. If he is in earnest – and if he isn’t we’ll not bother with him, any more than David Trotter does – he thought that he was testing his society by moving out to the periphery of that society, speaking for and with the disaffected, the vagabonds, the ill-adjusted. How disconcerting, then, to find that the disaffection he thought he was ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry, 4 October 2001

Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... Brigaders, Trotskyites, Communists, pacifists failed by their tribunals. The playwright David Hare declared recently that working-class conscripts now met ‘the officer class’ for the first time and rebelled; but plenty had met the people issuing orders, at least since Peterloo. Moreover, an Army largely unemployed except in training or retreat ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... was an ideal anthology for a sixth-form prize on Speech Day. Here were Scott’s lieutenants: W.T. Arnold, grandson of Arnold of Rugby; L.T. Hobhouse, social philosopher and member of a Liberal dynasty; and Herbert Sidebotham, sent on a scholarship to Balliol but as Lancashire as his name. Here was Scott himself, presiding ...

The Prodigal Century

David Blackbourn: Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th Century by John McNeill, 7 June 2001

Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th Century 
by John McNeill.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, August 2001, 0 14 029509 7
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... not adopt. His book is explicitly anthropocentric – he distances himself from the approach of Arnold Toynbee in ‘The Roman Revolution from the Flora’s Point of View’, where speaking roles were given to plants. By implication, at least, he would also reject the injunction of the American environmental historian Donald Worster that we learn to ...

Princes, Counts and Racists

David Blackbourn: Weimar, 19 May 2016

Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present 
by Michael Kater.
Yale, 463 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 0 300 17056 6
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... the possibility of Weimar’s revival. This would be a recurring pattern. Franz von Lenbach and Arnold Böcklin, two of the first teachers at the painting academy established by Grand Duke Carl Alexander, would later become major artists, but both left within a few years, repelled by the philistinism of local notables and the formality of the court. A ...

An Urbane Scholar in a Wilderness of Tigers

Robert Irwin: Albert Hourani, 25 January 2001

A Vision of the Middle East: An Intellectual Biography of Albert Hourani 
by Abdulaziz Al-Sudairi.
Tauris, 221 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9781860645815
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... escaped from a prison camp and joined a band of Italian partisans during the Second World War. David Storm Rice, an expert on Islamic metalwork, had an affair with Clara Malraux, fought as a commando in Ethiopia and, after a distinguished career as an art historian, suffered a nervous breakdown and committed suicide. Robin Zaehner carried out dangerous ...

Back to the futuh

Robert Irwin, 1 August 1996

The Middle East: 2000 Years of History from the Birth of Christianity to the Present Day 
by Bernard Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 433 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 297 81345 5
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... in a ‘History of Civilisation’ series, in which it joins such works as Charles Burney and David Marshall Lang’s The People of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus (1971) and George Lichtheim’s Europe in the 20th Century (1972). Indeed, the back of Lichtheim’s book announced Lewis’s work as forthcoming, though it then bore the title The ...

Putting on Some English

Terence Hawkes: Eagleton’s Rise, 7 February 2002

The Gatekeeper: A Memoir 
by Terry Eagleton.
Allen Lane, 178 pp., £9.99, January 2002, 0 7139 9590 4
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... it wasn’t altogether surprising that another gate opened, courtesy of Maurice Bowra and Lord David Cecil, to a fellowship at Oxford. The only begetter of the study of literary theory at Oxford, he became the subject’s best-known teacher there, the leading authority in the field in Britain, and one of its most acclaimed proponents in the world ...

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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... imagination, and went so far as to doubt whether his works should be called poetry. Matthew Arnold took this line further, dismissing Pope and Dryden as ‘classics of our prose’. Attacks on Pope’s morals also continued in the 19th century: C.W. Dilke was shocked to discover that Pope had ‘cooked’ a few letters in his published correspondence by ...

Diary

Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds, 22 November 2018

... And indeed, in his 1862 book The Illustrated Natural History – Birds, the Rev. J.G. Wood, the David Attenborough of his day, states that the cream-coloured courser ‘seems to live chiefly in Barbary or Abyssinia’. In the late 1860s, with the publication of Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, the word ...

Vagueness

Hans Keller, 1 May 1980

Michael Tippett: An Introductory Study 
by David Matthews.
Faber, 112 pp., £5.95, December 1979, 0 571 10954 3
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Tippett and his Operas 
by Eric Walter White.
Barrie and Jenkins, 142 pp., £7.97, January 1980, 0 214 20573 8
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... unless you accept that there is no substitute for, no viable alternative to, clarity. According to David Matthews, Tippett himself has come close to this view – ever since the early Sixties, when he ‘joined Britten in a liking for clear, uncluttered textures’. Did he? And has he thus continued? On and off. His most recent, Fourth Quartet (1977-8) is a ...

Other People

Dinah Birch, 6 July 1989

The Middleman, and Other Stories 
by Bharati Mukherjee.
Virago, 197 pp., £11.95, June 1989, 1 85381 058 4
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The Burning Boys 
by John Fuller.
Chatto, 128 pp., £10.95, June 1989, 9780701134648
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Termination Rock 
by Gillian Freeman.
Pandora, 182 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 04 440352 6
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Blackground 
by Joan Aiken.
Gollancz, 254 pp., £11.95, June 1989, 0 575 04502 7
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... A timid Tamil schoolmaster makes an unlikely adventurer in ‘Buried Lives’. Taking Matthew Arnold to heart (‘But there’s a something in this breast’), he breaks out of his stale existence and makes for the unknown satisfactions of the West. Against all expectations, including his own, it looks as though he might succeed. The last story, ‘The ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gardens, 8 July 2004

... looks at present-day English suburbs in photographs by Martin Parr and a painting of a patio by David Rayson are also urban landscapes rather than garden pictures. In Rayson’s picture white plastic chairs on a neatly mown lawn lean around a table as if avoiding the gaze of the identical new brick houses which surround them. There are pieces in the ...

Which is the hero?

David Edgar, 20 March 1997

Henrik Ibsen 
by Robert Ferguson.
Cohen, 466 pp., £25, November 1996, 1 86066 078 9
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... are exposed in his treatment of When We Dead Awaken, in which another ageing creator (the sculptor Arnold Rubek) meets a lover of his youth – the model for his only work of authentic genius – and leaves his wife, Maja, to commune with his lifelong love in the mountains (Maja herself chooses to commune with a virile young huntsman). As Ferguson puts ...

He wouldn’t dare

David A. Bell: Bloodletting in Paris, 9 May 2002

Blood in the City: Violence and Revelation in Paris 1789-1945 
by Richard D.E. Burton.
Cornell, 395 pp., £24.50, September 2001, 0 8014 3868 3
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... in which he died on a makeshift altar; the brazenly Christ-like representation of his dead body by David; the renaming of Montmartre (Martyr’s Mount) as Montmarat; the chant of ‘cor de Jésus, cor de Marat’ as members of the Cordelier club carried his heart through the streets of Paris. What did this imitation really amount to? Did it simply express a ...

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