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Virgin’s Tears

David​ Craig: On nature

10 June 1999
Nature: Western Attitudes since Ancient Times 
by Peter Coates.
Polity, 246 pp., £45, September 1998, 0 7456 1655 0
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... and silent in Canadian literature’. When I was in Manitoba nine years ago, scholars in Winnipeg were arguing vigorously that the journals and other descriptive writings of explorers such as DavidThompson, Simon Fraser and Alexander MacKenzie were the first contributions to Canadian literature, and these works teem with a sense of the forests and prairies, lakes and rivers as the inexhaustible new ...

The Kiss

Gaby Wood

9 February 1995
Jean Renoir: Letters 
edited by Lorraine LoBianco and David Thompson, translated by Craig Carlson, Natasha Arnoldi and Michael Wells.
Faber, 605 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 571 17298 9
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... Jean Renoir was admired by his followers and contemporaries for the relaxed feel of his films. He himself loved the improvisatory quality of the Commedia dell’Arte, which he saw as a struggle between ‘the tendency toward exterior realism and that toward interior realism’, and wrote that what he considered to be ‘the ultimate in cinema as in theatre’ was ‘a style and dialogue that sometimes ...

Pulp

Scott Bradfield

14 December 1995
Jim Thompson​ Omnibus: The Getaway, The Killer inside Me, The Grifters, Pop. 1280 
Picador, 570 pp., £7.99, November 1995, 3 303 34288 1Show More
Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson 
by Robert Polito.
Knopf, 543 pp., $30, October 1995, 0 394 58407 4
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... Jim Thompson never actually claimed to write capital-L Literature, but today, nearly twenty years after his death, many of his admirers are making the claim for him. Born in a sheriff’s apartment over the Caddo ...

Spookery, Skulduggery

David​ Runciman: Chris Mullin

4 April 2019
The Friends of Harry Perkins 
by Chris Mullin.
Scribner, 185 pp., £12, March, 978 1 4711 8248 8
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... reviled him were most fulsome in their tributes.’ So this isn’t going to be Corbyn’s story, at least not yet. Instead, the book follows the fortunes of Perkins’s former press secretary, Fred Thompson, who was portrayed in the first novel (and especially by Keith Allen who played him in the TV version) as a proto Seumas Milne, all flinty attitudes and angry disdain for the bastards trying to do ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David​ Craig: Walking England

20 December 2012
The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... with the highly conscious enjoyment of wild country, although both writers know that the aesthetic savouring of the land – the ‘landscape’ – must overlap with more workmanlike uses of it. Ian Thompson’s history of the Lake District is grounded almost exclusively in the aesthetic. ‘Since the Lake District is an imaginative construction,’ he argues, ‘it has no real boundaries, physical or ...

Too Proud to Fight

David​ Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect

28 November 2002
Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David​ Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... on the British side, in particular the claim that Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, deliberately sacrificed the Lusitania to draw the United States into the war. Both Diana Preston and David Ramsay deal briskly and effectively with this. Churchill and Jackie Fisher, the First Sea Lord, were preoccupied with the escalating political crisis over Gallipoli. The absence of British naval ...

What’s Missing

Katrina Navickas: Tawney, Polanyi, Thompson

11 October 2018
The Moral Economists: R.H. Tawney, Karl Polanyi, E.P. Thompson​ and the Critique of Capitalism 
by Tim Rogan.
Princeton, 263 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 691 17300 9
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... period’. Charting the social and economic impact of the Protestant Reformation in 16th-century Europe, Tawney’s book also served as a warning against the moral perils of a market economy. E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, published in 1963, was ‘surely the most widely read and most influential work of history published in English during the 20th century’. Thompson, like ...

Country Life

David​ Cannadine

5 November 1981
The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... of shopkeepers, carriers and publicans, and the varied and contracting tasks of the country craftsmen. The rural proletariat (both male and female) also gets its due, and in the concluding essay, David Hey reminds us of the industrialised villages that lurked in the countryside. Here, fully revealed for the first time, is the world of the rural town, with middle-class, skilled artisans and ...

The Ruling Exception

David​ Cannadine

16 August 1990
Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... recent royal lives have still been penned by genteel amateurs, and there is no book on the modern British monarchy comparable in scholarly stature to Denis Mack Smith on the Kings of Italy. Dorothy Thompson’s study of Queen Victoria is thus the more to be welcomed, for she is a writer in a very different tradition from such conventional courtly biographers as Elizabeth Longford, Cecil Woodham-Smith ...

Tremendous in His Wrath

Eric Foner: George Washington, Slave Owner

9 December 2019
‘The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret’: George Washington, Slavery and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon 
by Mary Thompson.
Virginia, 502 pp., £32.50, January 2019, 978 0 8139 4184 4
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... experimental gardens, stables, shops for carpenters, blacksmiths and other craftsmen, and a mansion, where Washington and his wife lived, attended by slaves dressed in red and white livery. Mary Thompson’s book is the most detailed examination yet published of slavery at Mount Vernon. Thompson has worked for many years as a research historian at the estate and has a perhaps excessive admiration for ...
8 May 1997
Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... E.P. Thompson, historian and peacemaker, known as Edward to his friends, died at his home near Worcester in 1993. Four years on, Beyond the Frontier is a volume of material set aside far earlier. Indeed, there ...

Short Cuts

Helen Thompson: West Ham Disunited

25 April 2018
... constructing an Olympic stadium that a football club could inherit when the games were over. In 2013 the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham, under the majority ownership of David Gold and David Sullivan, two businessmen who had made their money from pornography, agreed that the club would acquire a 99-year lease on the Olympic stadium. By then, West Ham had gone too far to ...
8 March 1990
Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... Wim Wender’s very pleasurable Paris, Texas (1984) is both an American movie and a European film. Its creative pedigree is mixed – all through the credits: the German Wenders as director, the American Sam Shepard as writer; the German Robby Müller as cinematographer, the American Ry Cooder as composer/performer of the music; the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central ...

I Will Tell You Everything

Rosemary Hill: Iris Murdoch

22 April 2010
Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War – Letters and Diaries 1939-45 
edited by Peter Conradi.
Short Books, 303 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 1 906021 22 1
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With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch 
by David​ Morgan.
Kingston, 143 pp., £13.99, March 2010, 978 1 899999 42 2
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... trying to get back to London and realising that life will never be the same again. In the letters that make up the rest of the book, simultaneous correspondences with two Oxford contemporaries, Frank Thompson and David Hicks, Murdoch, if still not quite a writer, is now at war and no longer the ingénue of the student troupe. The ‘playtime of the ’30s when we were all conscience-ridden spectators ...

Final Jam

Michael Irwin

2 June 1988
The Sykaos Papers 
by E.P. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 482 pp., £13.95, May 1988, 0 7475 0117 3
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... This futuristic aspect of the story poses problems that don’t arise in Gulliver. A couple of sentences of nautical jargon and Swift can maroon his unlucky hero and get down to satirical business. Thompson has equipment to sort out. Oi Paz must be provided with a Translator, a device that can ‘command any language through a process of recording, sorting into grammatical parts, decoding and storing of ...

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