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Upwards and Onwards

Stefan Collini: On Raymond Williams, 31 July 2008

Raymond Williams: A Warrior’s Tale 
by Dai Smith.
Parthian, 514 pp., £25, May 2008, 978 1 905762 56 9
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... Shortly after her husband’s death, Joy Williams entrusted the task to the Welsh historian Dai Smith, who had known (and greatly admired) Williams in the last decade or so of his life, and who shared many of his political allegiances. Smith was given unrestricted access to Williams’s papers; as, in effect, the ...

Diary

Tom Crewe: The Queen and I, 1 August 2019

... any one in Holy Orders [Johnson] habitually listened with a grace and charming deference … What drew the blasting flash must have been not the question itself, but the manner in which it was asked … Say the words aloud: ‘Were not Dodd’s sermons addressed to the passions?’ They are words which, if you have any dramatic and histrionic sense, cannot be ...

How Mugabe came to power

R.W. Johnson: Wilfred Mhanda, 22 February 2001

... It’s part of the general atmosphere of fin de règne. Mhanda was the sort of young boy in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia who was bound to grow up to become a guerrilla. His father was a keen African nationalist and his childhood heroes were not singers or soccer stars but Nkrumah, Sekou Touré and Kenyatta. He went to the primary school at Zvishavane which the ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: An Unexpected Experience, 6 December 1984

... the Society. Not long ago I received the present of a book called The English Companion by Godfrey Smith.* This is described on the dust-cover as ‘An Idiosyncratic A to Z of England and Englishness’. Godfrey Smith’s taste is wide: towns, shops, sports, epochs, writers, eatables. Public Schools come next to Pubs, and ...

Back to the futuh

Robert Irwin, 1 August 1996

The Middle East: 2000 Years of History from the Birth of Christianity to the Present Day 
by Bernard Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 433 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 297 81345 5
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... culture featured one of Botticelli’s illustrations to the Divine Comedy, but claimed that Dante drew it, there would be an outcry. Do publishers think that dead Arab painters don’t really matter? Fortunately, the text of The Middle East has not been written by the author of the captions. Bernard Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Studies at ...

Bachelor Life

Peter Campbell, 28 January 1993

Delacroix 
by Timothy Wilson-Smith.
Constable, 253 pp., £16.95, October 1992, 0 09 471270 0
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... which were so distinctively of the French 19th century in character that Timothy Wilson-Smith’s biography leaves the British reader feeling around for something familiar to get a grip on. Perhaps one should first rid oneself of the idea that Delacroix’s Anglophilia is going to be any help, and assume that England, as much as Morocco, was ...

Franklin D, listen to me

J. Hoberman: Popular (Front) Songs, 17 September 1998

Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left, 1926-53 
edited by Ronald Cohen and Dave Samuelson.
Bear Family Records, DM 390, June 1996
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... Anthology, edited by the polymath collector, underground film-maker, and beatnik shaman Harry Smith, is arcane, but the critical world has been primed for its reappearance. Robert Cantwell’s When We Were Good and Greil Marcus’s The Invisible Republic – recent accounts of the curious development of American folk music – both devote considerable ...

Diary

Matthew Hughes: The Man Who Killed Hammarskjöld?, 9 August 2001

... of skulduggery emerged. In 1992, Conor Cruise O’Brien and the Australian diplomat George Ivan Smith, both of whom were working for the UN in the Congo in the early 1960s, wrote to the Guardian arguing that Hammarskjöld had been the victim of a kidnap that went wrong. The following year, in another letter to the Guardian, Bengt Rosio, the former Swedish ...

At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: John Everett Millais, 15 November 2007

... chevelures merging into one. The casting, the lighting and the face and body language that Millais drew out of his actors secured The Princes in the Tower an instant niche in Britain’s national image repertory, where it has remained ever since. Millais’s portraiture could grapple confidently with the auras of the mighty: Tennyson, Gladstone, Disraeli. He ...

Can I have my shilling back?

Peter Campbell, 19 November 1992

Epstein: Artist against the Establishment 
by Stephen Gardiner.
Joseph, 532 pp., £20, September 1992, 9780718129446
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... are not unresolved in this way, nor are Degas’s, or Moore’s come to that, or even David Smith’s. It can be argued that this lack of poise is a positive thing, part of Epstein’s style, but it seems probable that, at best, it will in the end be judged a provincialism, akin to Hogarth’s ramshackle perspective. Although Gardiner insists that ...

In Search of Monsters

Stephen W. Smith: What are they doing in Mali?, 7 February 2013

... a divided Malian army has fallen apart; on whom shall we lean? Within days, the Villepin doctrine drew strength from events on the ground. French forces began operations with aerial bombardments of Islamist strongholds in northern Mali, a desert two and a half times the size of the United Kingdom; one helicopter pilot was killed. So ended the hope of ‘zero ...

The Last Quesadilla

Namara Smith: Leanne Shapton, 6 February 2020

Guestbook: Ghost Stories 
by Leanne Shapton.
Particular, 320 pp., £22, March 2019, 978 1 84614 493 6
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... her out as different from her wealthier classmates. Swimming offered a form of belonging. What drew her to the pool wasn’t fame – she knew early on she would never be a star – but the quieter pleasure of competence, the ‘unwavering details of technical precision’, the team sweatshirts that made her ‘look like something recognisable’, the ...

Abortion, Alienation, Anomie

Peter Medawar, 2 December 1982

Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary 
by Robert Nisbet.
Harvard, 318 pp., £12.25, November 1982, 0 674 70065 1
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... physis and nomos, and this made me think the antithesis a premonition of the one which Galton drew between nature and nurture. I liked this and was pleased to see that my children’s edition of Liddell and Scott renders nomos as a ‘feeding-place for cattle, pasture’. Nisbet enfolds the history and literary usage of ‘anomy’ with the degree of ...

In Piam Memoriam

A.J. Ayer, 20 June 1985

Alfred North Whitehead: The Man and his Work.Vol. I: 1861-1910 
by Victor Lowe.
Johns Hopkins, 351 pp., £26.40, April 1985, 0 8018 2488 5
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... in England’. I do not know what led Lowe to believe that ‘the great public schools that drew pupils from all over England came later.’ Whitehead went to Sherborne at the age of 15 and in due course became head of the school, a member of the cricket eleven and captain of the rugby fifteen. Professor Lowe’s conception of the old-fashioned public ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Precious Ramotswe, 9 October 2003

... of time, we thought, as we strolled along the Namibia road. The afternoon came and went; night drew on; few cars passed; none stopped. We pitched the tent at the side of the road. I spent a sleepless night, worrying about marauding elephants and the encroaching unlawfulness of our presence in the country. Salvation arrived gratifyingly soon after the sun ...

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