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Ancient and Modern

M.A. Screech, 19 November 1981

Masters of the Reformation: The Emergence of a New Intellectual Life in Europe 
by Heiko Augustinus Oberman, translated by Dennis Martin.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £22.50, June 1981, 0 521 23098 5
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Montaigne 
by Peter Burke.
Oxford, 96 pp., £5.50, October 1981, 9780192875235
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... Fascinating, too, at the onset of the witchcraft craze, to find a little-known Nominalist, Martin Plantsch, marshalling arguments which ought to have nipped it in the bud and saved countless women from torture. Plantsch denied that hosts or holy water had real powers that witches could exploit for devilish purposes. Luther’s lack of iconoclastic zeal ...

City of Dust

Julian Symons, 25 July 1991

A Den of Foxes 
by Stuart Hood.
Methuen, 217 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 9780413651105
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Dirty Tricks 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 241 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 571 16216 9
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A Strange and Sublime Address 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Heinemann, 209 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 9780434123483
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Spider 
by Patrick McGrath.
Viking, 221 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 670 83684 2
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... Question does engage the attention of novelists, they approach it with glancing allusiveness, like Martin Amis, or cover it with the cloak of magical realism, which, whatever its dubious imaginative benefits, weakens any intended social point. So it is no surprise that Stuart Hood and Michael Dibdin concern themselves with the present state of society and ...

Pork Chops

John Bayley, 25 April 1991

Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 00 217662 9
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... in the museum of the past. So many Victorian things do; it seems a feature of that epoch. R.B. Martin’s skills as a biographer, already manifest in his detailed and persuasive studies of Tennyson, FitzGerald and Charles Kingsley, are at their best in that rich Victorian ambience where religion, art and sex mingled in an unself-conscious totality. He ...

Made for TV

Jenny Diski, 14 December 1995

Fight & Kick & Bite: The Life and Work of Dennis Potter 
by W. Stephen Gilbert.
Hodder, 382 pp., £18.99, November 1995, 0 340 64047 2
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Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen 
by John Cook.
Manchester, 368 pp., £45, October 1995, 0 7190 4601 7
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... The death of Dennis Potter may have been authored by God, but it was adapted for television by Potter himself. It began after a brief report in the Guardian suggested that Potter’s terminal cancer related to his lifelong addiction to nicotine. By return there was a gleeful letter from Potter revelling in the Potteresque fact that far from his ‘beloved cigarettes’ being the culprits, his forthcoming death from pancreatic cancer was probably iatrogenic: the result of years of lethal medication ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... of Olympic protocol, only the US National Anthem was sung to open the games. Only Americans – Dennis Mitchell after winning a 100-metres heat and Michael Johnson after taking the 200-metre gold – puffed out their chests and pulled their jerseys to display the national emblem. Only Americans accused an Irish swimmer of using drugs when she won the ...

Squealing

Ian Buruma, 13 May 1993

Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... by education (King’s College, Canterbury), and Certainly not mediocre. But neither were Dennis Compton, Freddy Trueman or Ian Botham, or indeed Graham Gooch, and they were (are) all very much Players. In his autobiography, breezily ghost-written by Martin Johnson, the joker of the Independent’s back page, Gower ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Mary Whitehouse’s Letters, 20 December 2012

... Shaw, which are good theatre,’ and which could have been used instead. The head of radio drama, Martin Esslin – not an English name, she observed – replied to Whitehouse that the play was simply a comedy about a steam engine enthusiast who wanted to turn an old mill into a steam engine museum (radio drama was evidently as compelling then as it is ...

The Lobby Falters

John Mearsheimer: Charles Freeman speaks out, 26 March 2009

... who does use them is almost certain not to get a high-level government position. But Admiral Dennis Blair, the new director of national intelligence, greatly admires Freeman: just the sort of person, he thought, to revitalise the intelligence community, which had been very politicised in the Bush years. Predictably alarmed, the Israel lobby launched a ...

Fiction and the Poverty of Theory

John Sutherland, 20 November 1986

News from Nowhere 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 403 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 241 11920 0
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O-Zone 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 469 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 241 11948 0
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Ticket to Ride 
by Dennis Potter.
Faber, 202 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780571145232
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... their oinkers joggling. It’s the fashion.’ Oinkers are, in my view, clunkers. The situation of Dennis Potter’s Ticket to Ride (like the title) has a slightly used feel to it. A man comes to consciousness on an Inter-City train. He has no memory, and no clues to his identity on his person. ‘I? Who is I?’ he asks himself. On arrival at Paddington the ...

The Iceman Cometh

Ross McKibbin: Tony Adams, 6 January 2000

Addicted 
by Tony Adams and Ian Ridley.
HarperCollins, 384 pp., £6.99, August 1999, 0 00 218795 7
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... Graham’s ‘smirk’. A dapper dresser, Graham ‘usually reeked of Paco Rabane aftershave, as Martin Hayes always pointed out to us’. What the reader wants to know, of course, is whether Graham could have done anything about Adams’s drinking. He asks himself this question directly. The answer is somewhat ambiguous. ‘Who knows. Perhaps there were ...

We want our Mars Bars!

Will Frears: Arsène Who?, 7 January 2021

My Life in Red and White 
by Arsène Wenger, translated by Daniel Hahn and Andrea Reece.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4746 1824 3
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... It’s Only Ray Parlour (Arsenal midfielder, 1992-2004); Stillness and Speed: My Story by Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal striker, 1995-2006); Addicted by Tony Adams (Arsenal centre-back, 1983-2002); and, now, Arsène Wenger’s My Life in Red and White. Arsène Wenger on the touchline at the Emirates Stadium, 29 March 2014. The Premier League has come ...

Some must get rich first

Colin Legum, 15 March 1984

The Heart of the Dragon 
by Alasdair Clayre.
Harvill, 281 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 00 272115 5
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The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. Vol. II: The Great Leap Forward 1958-1960 
by Roderick MacFarquhar.
Oxford, 470 pp., £22.50, June 1983, 0 19 214996 2
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Son of the Revolution 
by Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro.
Chatto, 301 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2751 1
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Shenfan 
by William Hinton.
Secker, 789 pp., £15.95, November 1983, 0 436 19630 1
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The Messiah and the Mandarins 
by Dennis Bloodworth.
Weidenfeld, 331 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 297 78054 9
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The Cambridge History of China. Vol. XII: Republican China 1912-1949, Part I 
edited by John Fairbank.
Cambridge, 1002 pp., £50, October 1983, 0 521 23541 3
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The Middle Kingdom: Inside China Today 
by Erwin Wickert.
Harvill, 397 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 00 272113 9
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... public park in Beijing to be closed so that she and her Gang could use it as a private estate. Dennis Bloodworth’s truly magisterial biography of Mao concludes that, for all his faults and mistakes, he was a founding emperor comparable to Quin Shi Huangdi or to Liu Bang of the Han Dynasty: ‘He was the right man at the right moment. A flawed giant, the ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... and so on. Then there come in turn Look back in anger, the ‘smart playfulness’ of Nigel Dennis, later developed by Orton and Stoppard, cultural despair variously expressed – for instance, by Herbert Read and Kingsley Amis; and then to the sorts of things about which Appleyard enjoys talking, such as Brutalism and Pop Art. He does not neglect ...

2000 AD

Anne Sofer, 2 August 1984

The British General Election of 1983 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 333 34578 9
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Militant 
by Michael Crick.
Faber, 242 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13256 1
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... of raising the standards. But the sternest indictment is of the press. Parts of this chapter by Martin Harrop are very funny – I particularly relished the tabulation of headlines which shows, for instance, the Telegraph’s ‘Labour’s £11bn manifesto’ against the Mirror’s ‘Paras’ Gang-Bang’, or the Times’s ‘Tory and Labour worry about ...

Diary

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Tribute to Ayrton Senna , 9 June 1994

... that perhaps no other driver ever could have done. ‘The ice-cool bit,’ the British driver Martin Brundle said of him earlier this year, ‘is part of his make-up. He’s totally single-minded, selfish even. That partly explains his success. But emotionally he can be caught out.’ Perhaps that’s what happened at Imola. At any time, his loss would ...

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