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Virginia Weepers

Judith Shklar, 17 May 1984

The Pursuit of Happiness 
by Jan Lewis.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £20, November 1983, 0 521 25306 3
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Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels: ‘The Philosophy of Jesus’ and ‘The Life and Morals of Jesus’ 
edited by Dickinson Adams.
Princeton, 438 pp., £28.50, September 1983, 0 691 04699 9
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... enjoy ‘the Halcyon calms succeeding the storm’, as he put it to his old fellow-sailor John Adams. Why should the new generation not flourish? To be sure, Jefferson did not believe that we could all be entirely happy, but ‘the deity’ had kindly ‘put it in our powers’ to come quite close to it. All of us have moreover been created in such a way ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: The Killers', Criterion Collection, 24 September 2015

... way, then go looking for their target, who is clearly not going to show up at the diner/bar. Nick Adams, the other person in the place, runs off to warn the victim. The victim scarcely reacts: it’s as if he has already accepted his own death. ‘There ain’t anything to do now,’ he says. ‘I got in wrong.’ The story finishes before the killers arrive ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Who’s Afraid of the Library of America?, 19 June 2008

... omissions smack of rows over royalties and copyright: no Ernest Hemingway, no Emily Dickinson, no Marianne Moore.) Some have even argued that the brief has been stretched too far. Wilson’s canonisation came after those of Charles Brockden Brown, H.P. Lovecraft, James Weldon Johnson, George Kaufman, William Bartram and Theodore Roosevelt. He ...

Big Ben

Stephen Fender, 18 September 1986

Franklin of Philadelphia 
by Esmond Wright.
Harvard, 404 pp., £21.25, May 1986, 0 674 31809 9
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... taxes on America, in the shape of the Townshend Acts of 1767 (to which other Americans like John Dickinson and Samuel Adams responded with ever more ingenious arguments like the right of Parliament to legislate for the colonies, as against tax them), Franklin wrote his son William ‘that no middle doctrine can be well ...

The Schoolmen ride again

Richard Mayne, 15 May 1980

Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: The Major Film-Makers 
edited by Richard Roud.
Secker, 1120 pp., £25, February 1980, 9780436428302
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The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain 
by Michael Chanan.
Routledge, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0319 6
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... theorist Andrew Sarris, the nouveau romancier Claude Ollier and the avant-gardist P. Adams Sitney. And yet, as Roud confesses, ‘this work is less an objective survey than a covert statement, a normative view of the art of the film.’ Roud lists his own ‘pantheon’ of favourite directors. Some are acknowledged masters like ...

Separation Anxiety

Eric Foner, 18 April 1996

A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution 
by Theodore Draper.
Little, Brown, 544 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 316 87802 2
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... to ‘level all distinctions’ within the ranks of the militia. ‘We have been told,’ John Adams observed on the eve of independence, ‘that our struggle had loosened the bonds of government everywhere; that children and apprentices were disobedient; that schools and colleges were grown turbulent; that Indians slighted their guardians, and negroes ...

Dislocations

Stephen Fender, 19 January 1989

Landscape and Written Expression in Revolutionary America: The world turned upside down 
by Robert Lawson-Peebles.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £35, March 1988, 0 521 34647 9
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Mark Twain’s Letters. Vol. I: 1853-1866 
edited by Edgar Marquess Branch, Michael Frank and Kenneth Sanderson.
California, 616 pp., $35, May 1988, 0 520 03668 9
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A Writer’s America: Landscape in Literature 
by Alfred Kazin.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £15.95, September 1988, 0 500 01424 8
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... renamed is still a wilderness,’ writes Lawson-Peebles in apparent agreement with John Quincy Adams and Joseph Hall, both of whom had scorned the ‘edenic’ fables told about the West. But is it? Yes, in the sense that you can still starve or freeze or get eaten in it. But we’re talking about writing and reading here. To an audience familiar with the ...

The Greening of Mrs Donaldson

Alan Bennett: A Story, 9 September 2010

... a frame on which to hang symptoms. Dr Ballantyne put Mr Maloney in the picture. ‘This is Mrs Dickinson. She has come to see her GP not for the first time about some recurrent eczema. Previous visits have not succeeded in uncovering any particular cause; all the usual remedies have been prescribed but the eczema always returns. Her GP has now begun to ...

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