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Captain Swing

Eric Hobsbawm

24 November 1994
The Duke Ellington Reader 
edited by Mark Tucker.
Oxford, 536 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 19 505410 5
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Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America 
by David Stowe.
Harvard, 299 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 0 674 85825 5
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... swing more or less coincided with the era of Franklin Roosevelt. Others have hinted at or speculated about the links between the political and cultural histories of the USA during this period, but DavidStowe, who teaches American Thought and Language at Michigan State University, is, to my knowledge, the first writer to have attempted a systematic history of the relationship between jazz and New ...

Anti-Slavery Begins at Home

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

25 May 1995
The First Woman of the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child 
by Carolyn Karcher.
Duke, 804 pp., £35.95, March 1995, 0 8223 1485 1
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Harriet Beecher StoweA Life 
by Joan Hedrick.
Oxford, 507 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 19 506639 1
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... Independence. But then, Emerson never did feel great kinship with vanguard abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, much less with aspiring literary women like Lydia Maria Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who brought the injustices of slavery home to ordinary American readers. When, in 1850, Emerson came to support anti-slavery, he did so more from reasons of abstract ethics than from humanitarian ...

As God Intended

Rosemary Hill: Capability Brown

5 January 2012
The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-83 
by Jane Brown.
Chatto, 384 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8212 0
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... puns are sadly lost, along with so much else, but the trajectory of Brown’s career after Kirkharle is eloquent. It took him, within a couple of years, to the heart of the landscape garden movement. Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, the home of Lord Cobham, was the centre of Whig opposition to Walpole’s regime. It was also the place where moral allegory and political manifesto were being most powerfully ...

In Pursuit of an Heiress

Nicholas Penny: Hermann von Pückler-Muskau

15 June 2016
Letters of a Dead Man 
by Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, edited and translated by Linda Parshall.
Dumbarton Oaks, 753 pp., £55.95, May 2016, 978 0 88402 411 8
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... survived, not least because of his awareness of the artistry behind its picturesque beauty. In recollection it is elevated to a sublime combination of nature and architecture, as if painted by Caspar David Friedrich, or by Pückler’s friend Friedrich Schinkel, then the leading architect in Berlin: standing in that allée of ivy-clad columns … you see them recede in perspective until they come ...
4 August 1988
Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... the 18th-century heritage business showing how, as early as the 1750s, rival guidebooks to the stately homes of England competed in assuring their readers that a Sunday-afternoon trip to Blenheim or Stowe would add ‘a new relish to the day of rest’ and leave ‘the heart better disposed either for a religious thought or a benevolent action’. Her analysis of the political factors underlying the ...
17 July 1997
W.H. Auden: Prose 1926-38, Essays and Reviews and Travel Books in Prose and Verse 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 836 pp., £40, March 1997, 0 571 17899 5
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... to business, examiners chuckle over a novel setting of the problem of Achilles and the Tortoise, fathers sell grand pianos or give up tobacco, that little Adrian or Derek may go to Marlborough or Stowe ... he is beginning to beat out both the rhythms and rhetorical structures of ‘Spain’ (‘Yesterday ... today ... Tomorrow’) and to formulate its strange utopian classifications: Tomorrow the ...
7 July 1994
The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... was to become Patriotic Gore. As I think back on it now, it never even occurred to me to take the sparsely-attended course, partly because I wasn’t at the time that interested in Harriet Beecher Stowe and Sidney Lanier, and partly because I couldn’t imagine sitting in a class with the PhD-less Wilson, whom I had mistakenly fixed in my mind’s eye as a journalist, not a scholar or teacher of the ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’

6 August 2009
Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... Before it was a classic film, Gone with the Wind was a classic PR stunt. The film’s producer, David O. Selznick, announced that he would launch a nationwide search for the young woman who would play Scarlett O’Hara. The move provoked a furore; Margaret Mitchell’s novel, published in 1936, was ...

Petty Grotesques

Mark Ford: Whitman

17 March 2011
Democratic Vistas 
by Walt Whitman, edited by Ed Folsom.
Iowa, 143 pp., $24.95, April 2010, 978 1 58729 870 7
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... scrutiny in recent years. They were the subject of a superb essay by Ed Folsom called ‘Lucifer and Ethiopia’ that was published in the collection A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (edited by David Reynolds), and they also feature in Folsom’s excellent introduction to this facsimile edition of the first book publication of Democratic Vistas. Spurred into prose by Carlyle’s taunts and barbs ...

American Manscapes

Richard Poirier

12 October 1989
Manhood and the American Renaissance 
by David​ Leverenz.
Cornell, 372 pp., $35.75, April 1989, 0 8014 2281 7
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... all these won’t for long dissuade the hearty reader from going back to the classics as to some plate of infamous goodies. Meanwhile, FDA criticism will probably earn a few more adherents thanks to David Leverenz’s Manhood and the American Renaissance. It is better than most such books because, for one thing, he is at times a competent if constricted close reader, while being at heart resentful ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars

14 December 2000
Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... characters: Not just Antonia and Jim, but most of Cather’s main characters are shown to be ‘masked’ homosexuals: Alexandra in O Pioneers!, Thea in The Song of the Lark, Claude Wheeler and David Gerhardt in One of Ours, Euclide Auclair in Shadows on the Rock, and of course those two priests in Death Comes for the Archbishop. In The Professor’s House we hit pay dirt: according to various ...
23 July 1987
Dostoevsky. The Stir of Liberation: 1860-1865 
by Joseph Frank.
Robson, 395 pp., £17.95, April 1987, 0 86051 242 8
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Selected Letters of Dostoevsky 
edited by Joseph Frank and David​ Goldstein.
Rutgers, 543 pp., $29.95, May 1987, 0 8135 1185 2
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... monster’ category. Almost unconsciously, as it seems, Frank’s detailed study begins to present that sort of picture, as do Dostoevsky’s own letters, a selection of which has been edited by David Goldstein and Frank. The editing is superb, the notes meticulous, but it must be said that Dostoevsky does not come into the category of great letter-writers. The most interesting are not the ones ...

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