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Long live the codex

John Sutherland: The future of books, 5 July 2001

Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future 
by Jason Epstein.
Norton, 188 pp., £16.95, March 2001, 0 393 04984 1
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... line up to offer puffs for Book Business: ‘brilliant, moving and profoundly insightful’ (Toni Morrison); ‘a putative classic … fine and impeccable style’ (Norman Mailer); ‘an extremely important literary document, elegantly written and impeccably argued’ (E.L. Doctorow). Norton should distribute little blue sachets of salt, like the ones you ...

The Magic Bloomschtick

Colin Burrow: Harold Bloom, 21 November 2019

The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Pynchon 
by Harold Bloom, edited by David Mikics.
Library of America, 426 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 59853 640 9
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... world of writing. There are chapters on black authors (Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Robert Hayden, Jay Wright) as well as on 12 women writers. Toni Morrison (‘a child of Faulkner’) is given shorter shrift than she deserves and told off for being ideological, but some of these ...

Waiting for the Poetry

Ange Mlinko: Was Adrienne Rich a poet?, 15 July 2021

The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography 
by Hilary Holladay.
Doubleday, 416 pp., £25, November 2020, 978 0 385 54150 3
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Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 345 pp., £13.99, May, 978 0 393 54142 7
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... a synonym for “safe space” in which alikeness rather than difference could be explored.’ Elizabeth’s Bishop’s poem about Billie Holiday, ‘Songs for a Coloured Singer’, is called out for appropriation in 1983:This is a white woman’s attempt – respectful, I believe – to speak through a Black woman’s voice. A risky undertaking, and it ...

From Sahib to Satan

Keith Kyle, 15 November 1984

The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951 
by William Roger Louis.
Oxford, 818 pp., £45, July 1984, 0 19 822489 3
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... as their own sovereignty, the overlordship of the peoples of the Upper Nile, but also – and here Elizabeth Monroe was almost certainly right in her excellent little book on Britain’s Moment in the Middle East – because Egypt was sick and tired of compulsory partnerships, which as in this case would bring British troops back whenever there was any trouble ...

Voldemort or Stalin?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Shostakovich, 1 December 2011

Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets 
by Wendy Lesser.
Yale, 350 pp., £18.99, April 2011, 978 0 300 16933 1
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Shostakovich in Dialogue: Form, Imagery and Ideas in Quartets 1-7 
by Judith Kuhn.
Ashgate, 296 pp., £65, February 2010, 978 0 7546 6406 2
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... under his signature. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a small flood of memoirs – of which Elizabeth Wilson’s Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (1994) was the most notable – and published correspondence and interviews with his friends showed him full of acid-tongued contempt for the stupidities of Soviet bureaucracy. Even the famously patriotic ...

Astral Projection

Alison Light: The Case of the Croydon Poltergeist, 17 December 2020

The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story 
by Kate Summerscale.
Bloomsbury, 345 pp., £18.99, October, 978 1 4088 9545 0
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... scraps of fish, levitate and break against the back door. A palm reader, Professor Morrisone (Mr Morrison in civvy street), tells Alma that she is a very strong ‘carrier’ of ectoplasm, the substance with which some mediums materialise spirits. Alma’s older sister, Doris, their mum and Alma’s best friend, Rose (the lodger’s sister-in law) come and ...

Stewed, roasted, baked or boiled

Claude Rawson, 6 August 1992

The Intelligencer 
by Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan, edited by James Woolley.
Oxford, 363 pp., £50, March 1992, 0 19 812670 0
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Jonathan Swift: A Literary Life 
by Joseph McMinn.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £35, May 1991, 9780333485842
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... Half-pence, which I have read in an English Historian of great probity, and Truth’. ‘Fines Morrison ... was Secretary of State to the Lord Monjoy, our chief Governour, in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth,’ says Sheridan, so he ‘had the best oportunity, of knowing the State of this Nation at that time’. An Irish ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... such working-class heroes as Frank Little and Big Bill Haywood of the IWW, the Communist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Louis Tikas (a union leader gunned down in John D. Rockefeller Jr’s ‘Ludlow Massacre’ of striking copper miners and their families), but also recognises the corporate and state industrial violence and denial of labour freedom that ...

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