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Novel and Naughty

Blair Worden: Parliament and the People, 26 September 2019

Radical Parliamentarians and the English Civil War 
by David Como.
Oxford, 457 pp., £85, July 2018, 978 0 19 954191 1
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The Common Freedom of the People: John Lilburne and the English Revolution 
by Michael Braddick.
Oxford, 391 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 19 880323 2
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... disintegrated along with the mood he had captured and now seems inseparable from its time. Yet as David Como observes the book has earned ‘an enduring audience far beyond the walls of the academy’. It has also had a persistent influence inside them. When it appeared, the Levellers and Diggers had long been on the scholarly map, but the religious ...


Michael Wood: Chinese Whispers, 8 August 2013

edited by Adam Thirlwell.
Portobello, 380 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 1 84627 537 1
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... story by Kenji Miyazawa. It works wonderfully well in all three versions I can read (by David Mitchell, Valeria Luiselli and the Lethems –there is also an Urdu text by Nadeem Aslam), because in each rendering the curious mixture of fable and satire remains, and the tale of the Birch Tree (female, nervous, cultured, fond of reading and ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... out of the small worlds mapped in Eating people is wrong and The British Museum is falling down. David Lodge’s latest, Paradise News, crosses at least ten time zones from Rummidge, over the Pacific Rim, to Hawaii. Doctor Criminale clocks up fewer frequent-flyer miles, but short-hauls hectically. The narrative opens in London, flies to Vienna, boards the ...

Steamy, Seamy

David Margolick: The Mob’s Cuban Kleptocracy, 20 March 2008

The Havana Mob: Gangsters, Gamblers, Showgirls and Revolutionaries in 1950s Cuba 
by T.J. English.
Mainstream, 400 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 1 84596 192 3
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... outside Havana, with its scantily clad dancers and lavish floor shows. There, in boleros like ‘Como Fué’, sweet, smooth Beny Moré sang of lost love and the way things were. Those hankering for something more kinky went to the Shanghai Theater. In its most notorious skit, an X-rated version of an old Harpo Marx routine, a couple orders coffee, and the ...


Jeremy Harding: Syd Barrett, 2 January 2003

Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s Lost Genius 
by Tim Willis.
Short Books, 175 pp., £12.99, October 2002, 1 904095 24 0
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... Barrett, who died of cancer in 1961 – Barrett was nearly 16. (There was Roger Waters, too, and David Gilmour – who’d replace Barrett within moments, almost, of the band’s success. Both were Cambridge boys. Both, Willis tells us, had messed around with paint pots in a late-toddler phase in the same Saturday morning art club as Barrett at Homerton ...

Queening It

Jenny Diski: Nina Simone, 25 June 2009

Nina Simone: The Biography 
by David Brun-Lambert.
Aurum, 346 pp., £20, February 2009, 978 1 84513 430 3
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... unreliable ghosted memoir of her own and a reminiscence by the founder of her British fan club, David Nathan, and its secretary, Sylvia Hampton. Potential biographers might have been put off by the resistance of Simone’s daughter, who doesn’t want to talk about her mother, and many former friends and colleagues who refused to be interviewed or give ...


Benedict Anderson, 21 January 1988

Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800 
edited by Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden.
Princeton, 290 pp., £22, September 1987, 0 691 05372 3
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... AD’, but that, in its very essence, time was now ‘man-made’ and ‘man-co-ordinated’. From David Landes’s work we know that in exactly the same year in which the Thirteen Colonies declared their Independence, London’s Gentlemen’s Magazine included this brief obituary for John Harrison: ‘He was the most ingenious mechanic, and received the ...


Gaby Wood: How to Draw an Albatross, 18 June 2020

... image is trapped inside the prism. No one around you can see it – it’s almost a hallucination. David Hockney, who took up drawing with a modern camera lucida in 1999, described it in Secret Knowledge (2001) as projecting not ‘a real image of the subject, but an illusion of one in the eye’:At first I found the camera lucida very difficult to use ...

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