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The Beast on My Back

Gerald Weissmann, 6 June 1996

The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 
by Allan Young.
Princeton, 327 pp., £28, March 1996, 0 691 03352 8
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... long winter between the Battle of Alamein and the Normandy invasion. At the time, the 24-year-old Douglas had pretty much recovered from wounds inflicted by German 88s in the Western Desert and by spring he was back in action. On 9 June, three days after landing in France, he was killed behind enemy lines. We can trace the beast to a passage in From Alamein ...

The Road to Reading Gaol

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 2017

... day as they circled the exercise yard.De Profundis, a 55,000-word letter addressed to Lord Alfred Douglas, written by Wilde during the final months of his two-year sentence, is a strange literary creation, a hybrid text. It was the only work he produced while in jail. On 4 April 1897 the prison governor informed the Prison Commission that each sheet of the ...

Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia, 25 September 2003

The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... maps’ of the land, by listening to the stories told about it. ‘I am a lexical cartographer,’ Jay Arthur writes. ‘I “map” through language, through the words that have accumulated about particular places. These “maps” are the conjunctions of the physical world and the imagination, a way of seeing a landscape, or, more precisely, a collection of ...

Just like Rupert Brooke

Tessa Hadley: 1960s Oxford, 5 April 2012

The Horseman’s Word: A Memoir 
by Roger Garfitt.
Cape, 378 pp., £18.99, April 2011, 978 0 224 08986 9
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... Hughes read at the Poetry Society. Coghill read his poems, but wasn’t very enthusiastic; Peter Jay took a photo of him in a green silk smoking jacket looking ‘just like Rupert Brooke!’; he talked about jazz with Robert Graves and about Keith Douglas with Edmund Blunden, the new professor of poetry. Poetry was both ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington, 30 November 2006

State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... When he says that he went to Crawford, Texas to interview George Bush, or that the retired general Jay Garner, briefly the head of Iraq’s post-invasion government, came over for breakfast at his place, he is emphasising his intimacy with those who talk to him. But in Plan of Attack he introduces himself in another way. He says that he regretted not pushing a ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton, 1 June 2000

45 
by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... the railway bridge. It’s not difficult to guess where they’re making for: their new gallery, Jay Jopling’s White Cube2 in Hoxton Square. You don’t really need to go inside the sugar-frosted box to see what’s happening. You can get it from the street. This is top dollar, scratchcard art. Either it works in one hit or forget it. If it doesn’t jab ...

So much was expected

R.W. Johnson, 3 December 1992

Harold Wilson 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 811 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 00 215189 8
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Harold Wilson 
by Austen Morgan.
Pluto, 625 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 7453 0635 7
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... had they all agreed on devaluation than Wilson would back off, haver and cavil. Gaitskell and Jay came to distrust him utterly while Dalton said of him: ‘He trims and wavers and is thinking more of what senior ministers – and even senior officials – are thinking of him than of what is right.’ Ultimately Gaitskell forced through a devaluation ...

I sizzle to see you

John Lahr: Cole Porter’s secret songs, 21 November 2019

The Letters of Cole Porter 
edited by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh.
Yale, 672 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21927 2
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... Linda died of emphysema in 1954. Porter, ‘a homosexual who had never seen the closet’, as Alan Jay Lerner put it, was always true to Linda in his fashion. After she had parted ways with her philandering first husband, who was reported to have had sadistic conjugal tastes, Linda ‘had had enough of the sexual side of marriage’, according to Brendan ...

Even more immortal

Paul Driver, 8 April 1993

Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards 
by Gerhard von Breuning, edited by Maynard Solomon, translated by Henry Mins and Maynard Solomon.
Cambridge, 154 pp., £15.95, November 1992, 0 521 41710 4
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Beethoven: Studies in the Creative Process 
by Lewis Lockwood.
Harvard, 283 pp., £31.95, July 1992, 0 674 06362 7
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... audience, Lockwood makes a rare foray into figurative language. With a flourish worthy of Stephen Jay Gould, he produces a metaphor drawn from Swift and the Scientific American to exemplify the idea that there is an ‘approximate correlation between the size of a work of art and the “amount of aesthetic experience” that it contains’. That implied ...

When Labour last ruled

Ross McKibbin, 9 April 1992

‘Goodbye, Great Britain’: The 1976 IMF Crisis 
by Kathleen Burk and Alec Cairncross.
Yale, 268 pp., £18.95, March 1992, 0 300 05728 8
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... is that there was no agreement within the Treasury about what should be done. Sir Douglas Wass, the permanent head, was, at least in the early part of 1976, rather a devaluationist, whereas Healey’s instincts were to worry about the inflationary consequences of devaluation. There were also divisions about the seriousness of events. Since the ...

It’s life but not as we know it

Tim Radford, 3 July 1997

... industry went into a spin. Star Trek and Star Wars were wistful dreams of what might have been. Douglas Adams’s Seventies radio masterpiece, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was a nose-thumbing at the horror of it all: a whole universe, 15 billion light-years across, and hardly anybody in it at all, except on the surface of a small planet near the ...

How to Make a Mermaid

Adrian Woolfson: A theology of evolution, 5 February 2004

Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe 
by Simon Conway Morris.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £18.95, September 2003, 0 521 82704 3
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... or would it be reassuringly familiar? One way of settling the issue, suggested by the late Stephen Jay Gould, would be to wind the tape of life back to its origins, around four and a half billion years ago, then let the tape run again and see what happens. Ideally, we’d repeat this a few thousand times, and if then all of the reruns ended up producing ...

Artovsky Millensky

Andrew O’Hagan: The Misfit, 1 January 2009

Arthur Miller, 1915-62 
by Christopher Bigsby.
Weidenfeld, 739 pp., £30, November 2008, 978 0 297 85441 8
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... the White House, who kept telling us . . . that the system was perfectly sound, who sent General Douglas MacArthur to burn the camp of the unemployed war veterans who had come to appeal to Washington, we wondered about the survival of representative American institutions; and we became more and more impressed by the achievements of the Soviet ...

A Cine-Fist to the Solar Plexus

David Trotter: Eisenstein, 2 August 2018

Beyond the Stars, Vol.1: The Boy from Riga 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by William Powell.
Seagull, 558 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 0 85742 488 4
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On the Detective Story 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Alan Upchurch.
Seagull, 229 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 85742 490 7
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On Disney 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Alan Upchurch.
Seagull, 208 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 85742 491 4
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The Short-Fiction Scenario 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Alan Upchurch.
Seagull, 115 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 85742 489 1
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Movement, Action, Image, Montage: Sergei Eisenstein and the Cinema in Crisis 
by Luka Arsenjuk.
Minnesota, 249 pp., £19.99, February 2018, 978 1 5179 0320 6
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... became a ‘celebrity’: a boutique director as fervently admired by Hollywood royalty – Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin – as he was in the European salons and cine-clubs. October (1928), which begins with the abdication of Nicolas II and concludes with the storming of the Winter Palace, followed; and then The General Line ...

The Art of Stealth

Bruce Ackerman: The Supreme Court under Threat, 17 February 2005

... Reagan was a tough man to convince. He nominated yet another neo-con academic-turned-judge, Douglas Ginsburg, and challenged his antagonists to continue the struggle. But Ginsburg’s past use of marijuana caused a scandal, and Reagan reluctantly called it quits. He returned to the path of pragmatic conservatism with Anthony Kennedy, who passed through ...

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