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Answering back

James Campbell

11 July 1991
The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... European literature,’ wrote DavidDabydeen in his essay ‘On not being Milton: Nigger Talk in England Today’, ‘is littered with blacks like Man Friday, who falls to earth to worship Crusoe’s magical gun, or the savage in Conrad’s ...

At the Hop

Sukhdev Sandhu

20 February 1997
Black England: Life before Emancipation 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 244 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 7195 5251 6
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Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 
by Norma Myers.
Cass, 162 pp., £27.50, July 1996, 0 7146 4576 1
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... came the Brixton Riots of 1981. The first International Conference on the History of Blacks in Britain was held in the same year, at the University of London. Studies by Peter Fryer, James Walvin and DavidDabydeen appeared in the next few years. Fryer, whose Staying Power is still the most detailed – and most often consulted – account of the subject, gave more than two hundred talks and lectures ...

Knick-Knackatory

Simon Schaffer

6 April 1995
Sir Hans Sloane: Collector, Scientist, Antiquary, Founding Father of the British Museum 
edited by Arthur MacGregor.
British Museum, 308 pp., £50, November 1994, 0 7141 2085 5
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... him with samples of ointments used in Guinea. Sloane also obtained an Asante drum, which, as J.C.H. King reports here, is the only surviving 18th-century African artefact associated with slavery. DavidDabydeen has pointed out that the very word ‘patron’ could at this point mean both connoisseur and slave-owner. It would be intriguing to know whether the peculiar interest which Sloane had in ...

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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... Phillips’s play The Shelter (1984) tells of ‘an elegant 18th-century West Country lady who finds herself marooned on a desert island with a slave whom she despises but is wholly reliant on’. DavidDabydeen, whose 1987 book, Hogarth’s Blacks, was a study of ‘Images of Blacks in 18th-Century English Art’, based his novel A Harlot’s Progress (1999) on a startled black servant in one of ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer

25 January 1990
The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... relationships between English and another language. Professional linguists (among them Sidney Greenbaum and Randolph Quirk) jostle with poets and novelists (including Medbh McGuckian and Amy Tan). DavidDabydeen writes ‘On Not Being Milton: Nigger Talk in England Today’, and discusses, in impeccably establishment English, a question that might just as well come under ‘Art’: how does a black ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford

20 April 1989
Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... on the journey of a great writer’. Not the sort of language you should get away with at home. People who write poetry of home are often aware of its dangers though they may not always avoid them. DavidDabydeen’s ‘Coolie Odyssey’, dedicated ‘for Ma’, and included in Section One of the four-part ‘alternative’ anthology, The New British Poetry, opens: Now that peasantry is in vogue ...

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