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Facing both ways

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

19 August 1993
Bisexuality in the Ancient World 
by Eva Cantarella, translated by Cormac O Cuilleanain.
Yale, 284 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 0 300 04844 0
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... of history in which a young male was prepared for the rites de passage from which he would emerge as a full warrior by the tuition of an older male who was his lover. Further, the American scholar DavidHalperin published A Hundred Years of Homosexuality (1990), a volume of essays in which he enthusiastically supports Foucault’s view that ‘homosexuality’ is a construction of Western culture ...
30 November 1995
Homosexuality: A History 
by Colin Spencer.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85702 143 6
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Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality 
by Andrew Sullivan.
Picador, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 34453 6
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Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography 
by David Halperin.
Oxford, 246 pp., £14.99, September 1995, 0 19 509371 2
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... reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn’ (Matthew 13, 30). Religious language with a different resonance is deployed by DavidHalperin in his Saint Foucault, which bears the subtitle ‘Towards a Gay Hagiography’. Halperin is well aware of the dangerous echo of Saint Genet, Sartre’s overbearing and invasive gloss on ...

Pal o’ Me Heart

David Halperin: Jamie O’Neill

22 May 2003
At Swim, Two Boys 
by Jamie O'Neill.
Scribner, 572 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 7432 0714 9
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... A great Irish lady, her disgraced nephew and a young priest with strong Republican sympathies are driving through Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, 1916. ‘They were speaking of patriots, Dublin associations of famous rebels, ancient and modern.’ Merrion Square evokes the memory of a distinguished Irishman whom the English put on trial. His enemies bullied and corrupted the witnesses against him, the ...
23 May 1996
by Leo Bersani.
Harvard, 208 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 0 674 40619 2
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... In the spring of 1919 military staff at the United States Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island, launched an investigation into the scope of ‘immoral conditions’ in the local community. They recruited from among the young enlisted men stationed at the base a number of sailors who volunteered to serve as decoys and to seek out and identify men they suspected of being sexual perverts. The ...

Rug Time

Jonathan Steinberg

20 October 1983
Kissinger: The Price of Power 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 699 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 571 13175 1
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... the next page. You get a lot of facts for your £15. How much else you get is less clear. Watergate fans will recognise the old cast of characters, those almost-forgotten names – Charles Colson, David Young, Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh – and there is pleasure in this: a bit like watching an old horror film on late-night TV. Yet on that level Mr Hersh is not exciting. We know the Watergate story from ...

Speak for yourself, matey

Adam Mars-Jones: The Uses of Camp

22 November 2012
How to Be Gay 
by David Halperin.
Harvard, 549 pp., £25.95, August 2012, 978 0 674 06679 3
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... he was just about to hurry away when the driver crooked a finger to bring him closer. ‘With your height,’ he said, ‘and the weight of your chin, I’d recommend a hat with a broader brim.’ DavidHalperin’s new book, How to Be Gay, addresses the mysterious persistence of discredited elements from pre-Stonewall gay male culture. In theory camp should have been rendered obsolete by the ...

Cures for Impotence

James Davidson

19 October 1995
Foucault’s Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality 
by Simon Goldhill.
Cambridge, 194 pp., £30, January 1995, 0 521 47372 1
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... reduce all these penises, big ones, small ones, wooden ones, leather ones, the attached and the unattached, the flightless and the fully fledged, to one function only: masculine power. According to DavidHalperin, one of the most sophisticated members of this school of thought, ‘the symbolic language of democracy proclaimed on behalf of each citizen, “I, too, have a phallus.” ’ The herms are ...

Woman in Love

Brigid Brophy

7 February 1985
The Life of Jane Austen 
by John Halperin.
Harvester, 400 pp., December 1984, 0 7108 0518 7
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... Two voices are there of Centennial Professor of English at Vanderbilt University John Halperin, whose rank and area of operation are, by what strikes me as a publishing solecism in a book that solicits a general readership, placed in apposition to his name on the title-page. The first voice is ...

Tall and Tanned and Young and Lovely

James Davidson: The naked body in Ancient Greece

18 June 1998
Art, Desire and the Body in Ancient Greece 
by Andrew Stewart.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 45064 0
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... to understand these alien objects by situating them in their own peculiar cultural environment. There is plenty of theory, too, with lots of citations from Lacan, Berger, Bourdieu, Terry Eagleton and DavidHalperin. His exposition of these writers is exceptionally clear, but sometimes the theory, which tends to be modern and universalising, sits uncomfortably with the emphasis on cultural specificity ...

Enabler’s Revenge

David​ Runciman: John Edwards

25 March 2010
The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down 
by Andrew Young.
Thomas Dunne, 301 pp., $24.99, January 2010, 978 0 312 64065 1
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Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House 
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
Viking, 448 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 670 91802 7
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... The mismatch between the public poise and private chaos involved in running for high office, and the reluctance of the press to probe that gap, is also one of the themes of John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s Race of a Lifetime, which tells the story of the 2008 campaign from inside the camps of all the leading candidates. The Edwards fiasco gets a condensed treatment here, the main difference from ...
21 January 1988
Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... The publication of three substantial biographies of Jane Austen within a decade smacks of excess. But, compared with Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Jane Austen (1979) and John Halperin’s The Life of Jane Austen (1984), the work under review is in so many ways the best that it deserves to make its mark. The three authors, moreover, approach their subject (or subjects) from quite ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?

2 June 2005
The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... Lesbos or the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus in the Iliad, whose (apparently) non-sodomitical same-sex love was deleted from the history of ‘Greek homosexuality’ by Kenneth Dover and DavidHalperin, as if the fact that a spectacularly homosexualising culture produced some of the most spectacular (but non-sodomitical) lesbian love poetry and has a spectacular (but non-sodomitical ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy

6 February 2003
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... to organise the writing of an internal historical study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to the present based on top secret documents. McNaughton assigned the project to his deputy, Morton Halperin, who in turn delegated leadership of the work to his deputy, Leslie Gelb. At the time neither Halperin nor Gelb had ever been to Vietnam. They, in turn, hired Ellsberg to write one of the projected ...


David​ Bromwich: The Establishment President

13 May 2010
... the elite does him two kinds of harm: it spurs resentment in people lower down the ladder; and it diminishes his stature among the grandees by showing that he needs them. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin in their absorbing history of the 2008 campaign, Race of a Lifetime, speak of Obama’s ‘million-dollar smile’.* It is indeed a great asset. His voice has proved not so sure a thing. It alters ...


John Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... Flame is an unusually timely book, and will be buoyed by current celebrated causes. The right to authorial privacy is even now being fiercely defended by Stephen Spender against the intrusive Hugh David. There has recently been the quarrel between Nabokov’s biographers – the publishing rascal Andrew Field and friend of the family, Brian Boyd. Should Diane Middlebrook have had access to Anne ...

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