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The Mourning Paper

David​ Simpson: On war and showing pictures of the dead

20 May 2004
... combat troops poised to go into battle, six men and six women. On 30 March and 2 June, the faces were those of the now dead – along with a photo of a British coffin being unloaded at RAF Brize Norton. The Times’s running headnote, ‘A Nation at War’, echoed ‘A Nation under Attack’, which ran in the days after 9/11. In between was the eerie iconographic emptiness of Afghanistan, now ...

God wielded the buzzer

Christian Lorentzen: The Sorrows of DFW

11 October 2012
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David​ Foster Wallace 
by D.T. Max.
Granta, 352 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 84708 494 1
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... David Foster Wallace’s parents, Sally and Jim, were the sort of couple who read each other Ulysses in bed while holding hands. Jim read David and his younger sister Amy Moby-Dick as a bedtime story. It wasn’t inevitable that the boy would grow up to write an epic novel, but it wasn’t accidental. Jim was a philosophy professor at the ...

Top People

Luke Hughes: The ghosts of Everest

20 July 2000
Ghosts of Everest: The Authorised Story of the Search for Mallory & Irvine 
by Jochen Hemmleb and Larry Johnson.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780333783146
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Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine 
by Peter Firstbrook.
BBC, 244 pp., £16.99, September 1999, 0 563 55129 1
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The Last Climb: The Legendary Everest Expeditions of George Mallory 
by David​ Breashears and Audrey Salkeld.
National Geographic, 240 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7922 7538 1
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... tradition of excelling on Everest. Technically, most of the climbing on the North Face is not hard, though the effects of exposure and altitude demand either strong climbing instincts or what Colonel Norton, the leader of the 1924 expedition who got within 1000ft of the summit without oxygen, described as ‘PBS – pure, bloody sweat’. So what of the case for Mallory and Irvine having made it to the ...
23 June 1988
When the fighting is over: A Personal Story of the Battle for Tumbledown Mountain and its Aftermath 
by John Lawrence and Robert Lawrence.
Bloomsbury, 196 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 7475 0174 2
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Tumbledown 
by Charles Wood.
Penguin, 80 pp., £3.95, April 1988, 0 14 011198 0
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... to the wars, performs deeds of derring-do, is badly wounded, shipped – and flown – home to a hero’s welcome. But the hero’s welcome was missing. The walking wounded were greeted at RAF Brize Norton by their families, the press and TV cameras: but the more seriously injured, the badly burned and maimed, were kept out of sight – even their families were not permitted to see them until they were ...

Down with DWEMs

John Sutherland

15 August 1991
ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education 
by Charles Sykes.
St Martin’s, 304 pp., $9.95, December 1989, 0 312 03916 6
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Tenured Redicals: How politics has corrupted our Higher Education 
by Roger Kimball.
HarperCollins, 222 pp., $9.95, April 1991, 0 06 092049 1
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... with the sole aim of destroying ‘our’ universities is body-snatcher paranoia. Kimball devotes a section of Tenured Radicals to the de Man affair, as an academic cover-up of Watergate dimensions. David Lehman’s Signs of the Times – reviewed here not long ago by Claude Rawson – is a narrative and meditation on the same subject. The tone is less enjoyably sarcastic than Kimball’s, but Lehman ...
1 August 1996
Lords of the Lebanese Marches: Violence and Narrative in an Arab Society 
by Michael Gilsenan.
Tauris, 377 pp., £14.95, February 1996, 1 85043 099 3
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World 
edited by John L. Esposito.
Oxford, 480 pp., £295, June 1995, 0 19 506613 8
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Unfolding Islam 
by P.J. Stewart.
Garnet, 268 pp., £25, February 1995, 9780863721946
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Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East 
by Fred Halliday.
Tauris, 256 pp., £35, January 1996, 1 86064 004 4
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... therefore, fills an important gap; it does not shy away from such controversial issues as terrorism, holy war, human rights and the status of women. In his entry on Terrorism, Augustus Richard Norton argues that the ‘deliberate and random uses of violence for political ends against protected (i.e. non-combatant) groups’ has historic roots in the Middle East, but is far from being exclusive to ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder

17 April 1986
Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... of the United States’. At least Coover has been taught on college campuses all over the United States, thanks to the inclusion of a short story of his, ‘The Babysitter’, in the appropriate Norton anthology. (I have taught it myself, and it is splendid seminar material.) The principal characters of ‘The Babysitter’ are a married couple going out to an evening party, their children, the ...
5 April 1990
Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 240 pp., £25, February 1990, 0 19 812852 5
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Professing Literature: An Institutional History 
by Gerald Graff.
Chicago, 315 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 226 30604 6
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... with his Early English Texts Society. Arber’s referee, Henry Morley, calculated that his protégé had ‘already given wide currency to not fewer than 125 separate texts’. Another referee, David Masson, wrote that, ‘by his own unaided exertions’, Arber had ‘accomplished labours of editing and reprinting, such as might have tasked the united efforts of several Publishing Societies’. A ...

A Light-Blue Stocking

Helen Deutsch: Hester Lynch Salusbury Thrale Piozzi

14 May 2009
Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’ 
by Ian McIntyre.
Constable, 450 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 1 84529 449 6
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... matters (‘his Wife was not to stink of the Kitchen’), she found that hostess was the occupation that suited her best. Johnson was soon the star attraction of a circle that included Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, Frances Burney and Joshua Reynolds, whose portraits of the group adorned the walls of the library in Streatham. Hester presided with remarkable wit, vivacity and in Burney ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics

6 November 2003
The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... Gorboduc belonged to a political campaign that included the presentation of a Parliamentary petition to Elizabeth which repeated the language of the play and which one of its authors, the MP Thomas Norton, was delegated to read to her. The second episode produced the meditations on tyranny and misgovernment in Sidney’s Arcadia and Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender and Mother Hubberds Tale ...

Just about Anything You Want

Ben Jackson: Guerrilla Open Access

5 October 2016
The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz 
by Aaron Swartz.
Verso, 368 pp., £15.99, February 2016, 978 1 78478 496 6
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... open access journals and resign from publications that charge for subscriptions. ‘If Harvard can’t afford to purchase all the journals their researchers need, what hope do the rest of us have?’ David Prosser, executive director of Research Libraries UK, asked the Guardian. When Swartz was 21, he and three other unidentified authors wrote the ‘Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto’, the text of ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... have been that son of Yorkshire Jimmy Savile who seemed made from marzipan. But not now. No cake for James.7 August, Oxford. To Oxford and the Holywell Music Room where Bodley’s librarian emeritus David Vaisey and I have a conversation about our time at Oxford in the 1950s. David and I were first aware of each other at the scholarship examination in Exeter College hall in January 1954. The hall was ...
19 April 2001
... have no natural inclination’. The date of the wedding is not recorded, but it was before the end of April 1583, when Dee first refers to Kelley’s wife. She was Joan Cooper (or Cowper) of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire; her age was 19. Things did not start well. In early July Kelley rants: ‘I cannot abide my wife, I love her not, nay I abhor her.’ Dee describes him as ‘marvellously out of quiet ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things

31 October 2002
The Book History Reader 
edited by David​ Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... Terms or Margaret Drabble’s Oxford Companion to English Literature, and the names most ubiquitous in The Book History Reader, Roger Chartier and D.F. McKenzie, can be found on none of the new Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism’s several thousand pages. Perhaps this is as it should be; to call book history a theory would be to read it against the grain. For many literary critics a decade ...

Tick-Tock

Malcolm Bull: Three Cheers for Apocalypse

9 December 1999
Conversations about the End of Time 
by Umberto Eco and Stephen Jay Gould.
Allen Lane, 228 pp., £14.99, September 1999, 0 7139 9363 4
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Apocalypses: Prophesies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs throughout the Ages 
by Eugen Weber.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £18.99, July 1999, 0 09 180134 6
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Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium 
by Richard Popkin and David​ Katz.
Allen Lane, 303 pp., £18.99, October 1999, 0 7139 9383 9
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... This curious palimpsest was perhaps motivated by Kermode’s attempt to distance himself from Eliot while accepting the terms within which Eliot had formulated the question of time in ‘Burnt Norton’. Eliot’s premise is that ‘If all time is eternally present/All time is unredeemable.’ Humanity needs some kind of redemption from time, but, paradoxically, ‘Only through time time is ...

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