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What We Have

David Bromwich: Tarantinisation, 4 February 1999

The Origins of Postmodernity 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 143 pp., £11, September 1998, 1 85984 222 4
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The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-98 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 206 pp., £11, September 1998, 1 85984 182 1
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... is compelled to treat as a second nature. This claim, too, had been made first in architecture, by Robert Venturi: ‘The main justification of the honky-tonk elements in the architectural order is their very existence. They are what we have.’ Eventually, Post-Modernism itself would be given a honky-tonk logo and shorthand promo: around 1992, its friends and ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... with a chairman who accused me of being a disciple of Sorel, a writer of whom I had barely heard. (David Caute sardonically notes that ‘the allusion to Sorel was standard nonsense among professors of history and politics hostile to the New Left: one may search in vain for any favourable reference to Sorel in New Left ideology.’) I had also been National ...

Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... don’t know exactly why, it probably alludes to the drama’s ritual, even sacrificial origins. Robert Cowan remarks that tragedy ‘was born under tyranny but flowered under democracy’, though Mitchell Greenberg notes that in the 17th century tragic theatre enjoyed a golden period in an age of political absolutism. It ...

Bevan’s Boy

John Campbell, 20 September 1984

The Making of Neil Kinnock 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13266 9
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Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership 
by G.M.F. Drower.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 297 78467 6
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... to do so: it is the first great piece of luck on which his career has flourished. The second, as Robert Harris points out, was the date of his birth: Kinnock is just old enough to have imbibed at first hand from his parents, uncles and grandparents vivid memories of the hardship and degradation of Tredegar between the wars, but just young enough to have ...

Prolonging her absence

Danny Karlin, 8 March 1990

The Wimbledon Poisoner 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 307 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 571 14242 7
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The Other Occupant 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 0 333 52509 4
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Possession 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 511 pp., £13.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3260 4
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... in its own terms, has the feel of a writer who has broken bounds. The book opens with Roland Mitchell, research assistant to the dour Scots Professor Blackadder, discovering a couple of manuscript drafts of letters from the Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash in a copy of one of Ash’s books in the London Library. The letters address an unknown lady; they ...

Obama’s Delusion

David Bromwich: The Presidential Letdown, 22 October 2009

... that he could trespass against objections by Obama’s negotiators, Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell, and the gamble has worked. The American desiderata were never backed by a sanction, and the Netanyahu government approved thousands of new units for the expansion of the Israeli colonies. This the Americans called ‘not helpful’. Healthcare has been ...
... and that the offender would be sacked. That’s the language of the new Fleet Street tycoons. David Astor, the former editor of the Observer, wrote in a letter to the Times: ‘To allow a newspaper catering to political sector X of our community to be taken over by a proprietor who is a militant member of political sector Y is, plainly, not in the ...

Staying in power

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 7 January 1988

Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution: The Ending of the Socialist Era 
by Peter Jenkins.
Cape, 411 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 224 02516 3
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De-Industrialisation and Foreign Trade 
by R.E. Rowthorn and J.R. Wells.
Cambridge, 422 pp., £40, November 1988, 0 521 26360 3
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... 43. Notwithstanding the new blue suits and roses, it is increasingly clear, as Austin Mitchell wrote in July, that Labour is ‘being relegated to the peripheries of British life, because our structures, ethos and attitudes tie us to a world that is dying’. In Britain, as elsewhere, we may be seeing, in Jenkins’s own subtitle, ‘the ending of ...

To Be Worth Forty Shillings

Jonah Miller: Early Modern Inequality, 2 February 2017

Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status and the Social Order in Early Modern England 
by Alexandra Shepard.
Oxford, 357 pp., £65, February 2015, 978 0 19 960079 3
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... at the church court in Chichester. ‘Twenty shillings,’ he answered. He had been called by one Robert Constable to support a case for defamation against Stephen Pentecost. Pentecost’s witnesses said Tanner couldn’t be trusted: he was ‘a poore needy fellow’ with ‘a little cottage of his owne to dwell in … and noe other meanes to live’. One ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... eyes two great tears rolled, like stones, and he died’) I thought sadder than anything in Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen. I was also interested in Thomas Kinsella’s ‘Another September’, because I knew the house just outside Enniscorthy where it was set and I had met the poet’s wife, whose sleeping figure was evoked in the poem. What was most ...

Bunnymooning

Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... Jeremy in December 1954, at the end of our first term, when the editor-designate of Isis, Adrian Mitchell, appointed me as the next term’s deputy news editor and Jeremy as one of his two Union reporters (the other being Christopher Driver). I knew him by reputation. There were people quite as clever as Jeremy, several of them his friends, but somehow word ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?, 20 March 2008

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... industry was created in 1976 ‘over a couple of beers’ at a bar, in a conversation between Robert Swanson, a 29-year-old venture capitalist, and Herbert Boyer, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco. Working with the Stanford geneticist Stanley Cohen, Boyer had helped to develop some elegant recombinant DNA technologies which ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... between them. When you read the conversation that ensued you find that they end up agreeing over a Robert Lowell poem, ‘For the Union Dead’. It was agreed by both to have emotional content but also to have a sort of marmoreal shapeliness.Well, it is one of Lowell’s best poems. Was the dialogue edited much? No, we let them be as they were. And I think ...

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