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How Utterly Depraved!

Deborah Friedell: What did Ethel know?, 1 July 2021

Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £20, June, 978 0 297 87100 2
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... sounded good to her. She was envious of her clever only daughter and favoured her youngest child, David. One of Ethel’s childhood friends remembered that Tessie was ‘more bigoted than religious … If God had meant for Ethel to have music lessons, he would have provided them. As he hadn’t there was something sinful about music lessons.’ Much of the ...

Turns of the Screw

Hugh Barnes, 7 August 1986

Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... from the campus novels (more academic, not so upper-class) of, say, Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge. Miles Tattershall lectures, with moderate success, in 17th-century literature at Cambridge. He, too, is conventional, in so far as conventions exist for fictional men of letters. Like Nick Jenkins in Anthony Powell’s sequence of novels – whose ...

Cleanser to Cleansed

Gabriel Piterberg: S. Yizhar, 26 February 2009

‘Midnight Convoy’ and Other Stories 
by S. Yizhar, translated by Misha Louvish et al.
Toby, 283 pp., £9.99, May 2007, 978 1 59264 183 3
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Khirbet Khizeh 
by S. Yizhar, translated by Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck.
Ibis, 131 pp., $16.95, April 2008, 978 965 90125 9 6
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by S. Yizhar, translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Toby, 305 pp., £14.95, May 2007, 978 1 59264 190 1
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... and has given rise to great unease, even evasiveness, among liberal commentators in Israel. David Shulman’s afterword to this edition is an impressive exception. Khirbet Khizeh is an Arab village, which is captured – more or less without a fight – by a detachment of Israeli soldiers in the 1948 war. (The word khirbah in Arabic, like the Hebrew ...


Patrick Cockburn: A report from Baghdad, 18 March 2004

... two American contractors had been shot and killed, when a ground-to-air missile, fired from date groves near the Euphrates, shot down a giant Chinook helicopter, killing 16 men. The helicopter pilots who try to guard convoys around Fallujah are based ten miles from the town in an old Iraqi airbase at Habbaniyah. A detachment equipped with light Kiowa Warrior ...


Yonatan Mendel: A Palestinian Day Out, 15 August 2019

... cities, with more than eighty thousand inhabitants, a vibrant port and prospering orange groves, with at least six movie theatres – the Orient, the Apollo, the Nabil, the Farouq, the Rashid and the Alhambra. Following the Nakba it lost 95 per cent of its population, and now, after seventy years of Israeli ‘modernisation’, it is a suburb of Tel ...

At Tate Britain

John Barrell: Late Turner, 18 December 2014

... free’ means something like the opposite of what it meant for Gowing. The aim of the co-curators, David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon and Smiles, is to set Turner’s last paintings free from what Brown calls the ‘reductive critical stereotypes’ that have been applied to his work by those who are determined to ignore its historicity, as if its quality and ...

What did her neighbours say when Gabriel had gone?

Hilary Mantel: The Virgin and I, 9 April 2009

Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary 
by Miri Rubin.
Allen Lane, 533 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 7139 9818 4
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... her litany stated, Mirror of Justice, Cause of Our Joy, Spiritual Vessel, Mystical Rose, Tower of David, House of Gold, Ark of the Covenant, Gate of Heaven and Morning Star. Not a woman I liked, on the whole. She was the improbability at the heart of spiritual life; a paradox, unpollinated but fruitful, above nature yet also against nature. She could have ...

Ehud Barak

Avi Shlaim: Ehud Barak, 25 January 2001

... belief that he could impose his own terms on the Palestinians was the summit held at Camp David in Maryland in July last year. The request for the summit came from Barak – and Bill Clinton, ‘the last Zionist’ as one Israeli newspaper aptly called him, obliged. At the summit Barak presented a package which covered all the key final-status ...


Hugh Honour, 13 November 1997

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... Tourists seem usually to have been conducted within the endogamous British upper class, although David Hume made himself ridiculous by his unrequited passion for a Piedmontese countess and James Boswell did more than flirt with a Sienese lady foolish enough to fall for him. ‘Whore hunting amang groves o’ myrtles’ may ...

Horror like Thunder

Germaine Greer: Lucy Hutchinson, 21 June 2001

Order and Disorder 
by Lucy Hutchinson, edited by David Norbrook.
Blackwell, 272 pp., £55, January 2001, 0 631 22061 5
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... Apsley (1616-83). The poem described by Lee as ‘rarely accessible’, now easily accessible in David Norbrook’s modern spelling edition, offers according to Norbrook ‘a particularly strong corrective to the conventional view that literature after 1660 became firmly Royalist’, for it is entirely informed by the religious and political ideals of ...

Go and get killed, comrade

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Spanish Civil War, 21 February 2013

Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle against Fascism 
by Richard Baxell.
Aurum, 516 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 1 84513 697 0
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I Am Spain: The Spanish Civil War and the Men and Women Who Went to Fight Fascism 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Old Street, 363 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 1 908699 10 7
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... overcome with emotion. The train to Barcelona was so slow they could jump down into the orange groves, throw fruit to their comrades, and get back on board. In Barcelona they were greeted by a tumult of brass bands and sloganeering. From there they were sent to Albacete. Albacete was the base for the International Brigades, which were officially formed in ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... a real-life King Lear in which foolish intentions would inexorably melt into blood (‘in the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows’). A swelling number of French counter-revolutionaries agreed with him, hoping in vain to forge a new, conservative Franco-British entente. As the Revolution became more ...


Ian Gilmour and David Gilmour, 7 February 1985

From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict 
by Joan Peters.
Joseph, 601 pp., £15, February 1985, 0 7181 2528 2
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... of Sir Moses Montefiore, who went there in the 1830s and wrote enthusiastically of the olive groves, the vineyards, the pasture land and the fine fields of wheat and barley. Peters gets the date of this visit wrong, and does not quote what he said. As Mr Cockburn has pointed out, Peters cites the historian Makrizi to back one of her statements about ...

Spying made easy

M.F. Perutz, 25 June 1987

Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... forty pages on the separation of the uranium isotopes by diffusion. How easy it all was! General Groves, the American commander of the project, was notorious among the scientists for his obsession with security, but Fuchs could load a pile of secret documents, including a scale drawing of the plutonium bomb, into his car and drive out of the Los Alamos ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... circle, Who look upon the hills with tenderness, And make dear friendships with the streams and groves. But Mason really doesn’t care for ‘a coterie keen on pathetic fallacy’, and a touch of self-satire on Wordsworth’s part won’t win him round. The notes to the third poem in the series look ahead to the circle as it will appear in the fourth, as ...

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