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Abishag’s Revenge

Steven Shapin: Who wants to live for ever?, 26 March 2009

Mortal Coil: A Short History of Living Longer 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Yale, 308 pp., £18.99, June 2008, 978 0 300 11778 3
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... Now King David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat ...

Diary

Linda Colley: Anita Hill v. Clarence Thomas, 19 December 1991

... from Pat Buchanan, certainly, though less threateningly, from the Louisiana ex-Ku-Klux-Klansman, David Duke. Neither is likely to succeed, but as a moderate who has committed the deadly sin of raising taxes, Bush knows that he has to make some attempt to conciliate the more conservative wing of his party. Since the collapse of Communism has left him with few ...

Post-Modernism and the Law

Robert Post, 21 February 1991

Languages of Law: From Logics of Memory to Nomadic Masks 
by Peter Goodrich.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 297 82024 9
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Post-Modern Law: Enlightenment, Revolution and the Death of Man 
edited by Anthony Carty.
Edinburgh, 166 pp., £25, August 1990, 0 7486 0156 2
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... attempts to connect Thomas More’s defence of ecclesiastical interpretative prerogative to Edward Coke’s similar claims for legal expertise, without apparently being aware that More’s own concept of law was essentially transparent. In contrast to matters divine, More desired that secular law be written so as to ‘be read or understood by every one of the ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... is a monument to white supremacy. The book and film offer different variations on the theme: the David O. Selznick production replaced Mitchell’s celebration of the Ku-Klux-Klan with a visually unforgettable paean to ‘the cavalier society’ of antebellum Atlanta, with its ‘knights and ladies, masters and slaves’. Atlanta was actually a frontier ...

Das Nuffa Dat and BigGloria3

Elaine Showalter: Up and Down the Academic Ladder, 1 November 2001

Academic Instincts 
by Marjorie Garber.
Princeton, 187 pp., £11.95, February 2001, 9780691049700
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Postmodern Pooh 
by Frederick Crews.
North Point, 175 pp., $22, October 2001, 0 86547 626 8
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... Fish. Fish’s salaries and lecture fees have been part of the lore of academic culture since David Lodge’s Changing Places (1975), where he appeared thinly disguised as Morris Zapp, who, ‘enviably offered his first job by Euphoria State, had stuck out for twice the going salary, and got it’; and who had ‘the professional killer instinct’ in a ...

Diary

August Kleinzahler: Too Bad about Mrs Ferri, 20 September 2001

... was Southern Italian. You might as well have been in Palermo, except the buildings were newer. David Chase, The Sopranos’ creator, grew up in Essex County. Fort Lee is Bergen County, but never you mind. I played as a child with Tony Soprano and his pals, if you can imagine them as eight-year-olds. During recess and the lunch hour the schoolyard at #4 ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: The Supreme Court’s Judgment, 2 March 2017

... their departments. The powers are residual for more than one reason. When in 1611 Chief Justice Coke held that ‘the King hath no prerogative but what the law of the land allows him,’ he was echoing what his predecessor Sir John Fortescue had written in the 15th century: the king had no power to alter the law (that was for Parliament) or to administer it ...

Sheep into Goats

Gabriele Annan, 24 January 1980

The British Aristocracy 
by Mark Bence-Jones and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.
Constable, 259 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 461780 5
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The Astors 
by Virginia Cowles.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 9780297776246
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Barclay Fox’s Journal 
edited by R.L. Brett.
Bell and Hyman, 426 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 7135 1865 0
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... land, that in itself can make him an aristocrat. The ‘great commoner’ with vast acres like Coke of Norfolk was a particularly English phenomenon. The authors’ aristocracy includes the intellectual aristocracy en bloc, as well as the great families of banking and industry like the Barings and the Guinnesses. It is all right for an aristocrat to be ...

Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... he went to Paris, aged 17, and lived on a secret allowance from his mother. Bridget Astor, wife of David Astor, former editor of the Observer, remembers his being ‘always considered a very glamorous figure around Torquay’. His uncle introduced him to osteopathy, seeing him as a clever drifter. Ward went to America, loved the Americans for their affability ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... tough keeping track of all the debutantes promenading into print and creating a stir: Donna Tartt, David Leavitt, Mary Gaitskill, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Nancy Lemann, Susan Minot, Mary Robison, Anderson Ferrell – a cast of dozens. Many of those rookies trained at the literary dojo of the author, editor, creative writing teacher and guru-mentor-mindgamer ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín, 6 September 2007

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... living, however eminent. Take Mike Newell, who wanted Rupert to do a bit of work for the role of David Blakely, the guy killed by Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England. Newell wanted to see Rupert’s pain. But, as Rupert himself admits, he was ‘a riddle as an actor. On screen, I had a lot of “feeling” but I couldn’t really act. On stage ...

How to Grow a Weetabix

James Meek: Farms and Farmers, 16 June 2016

... be cut. Or a future government could choose to abolish them, as the radical free marketeers of David Lange’s Labour Party did when they came to power in New Zealand in the 1980s. Many British farmers support Brexit. Others fear it would destroy them. The National Farmers Union has come out against, arguing that without subsidies, most British farms would ...

Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages 
by Harold Bloom.
Harcourt Brace, 578 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 15 195747 9
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... mother of Solomon, and finally as J, mistress of the sublime and the uncanny as well as of King David. In this new book Bloom cheerfully accepts the reviewer’s proposal. That the author of what eventually became the Torah should have been the relict of the unlucky Uriah, and not an Israelite, but a Hittite, was plainly irresistible. Henceforth, he ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... before she fled, then sank into a not so creative craziness with the daily help of three grams of coke, thirty beers, an untold amount of tequila, smoothed over with quantities of grass. After a suicide attempt and rehab, Wim Wenders cast him as an emotionally flat but lethally friendly Tom Ripley in The American Friend in 1977, probably his best movie and ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara, 20 July 2000

In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... of men’, ‘Meditations’ not-quite-joked: ‘all I want is boundless love.’ ‘Having a Coke with You’ pursues the very traditional theme in which every alternative pleasure pales beside the presence of the beloved: ‘Having a Coke With You/is even more fun than going to San ...

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