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Ruling Imbecilities

Andrew Roberts, 7 November 1991

The Enemy’s Country: Words, Contexture and Other Circumstances of Language 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 153 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 19 811216 5
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... the earlier volume, suggesting that Hill may have responded to comments made by, among others, Eric Griffiths. In an essay included in Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Work (1985, edited by Peter Robinson), Griffiths expressed reservations about Hill’s ‘unsteady reliance on religious metaphors’ in his critical ...

Utterly Oyster

Andrew O’Hagan: Fergie-alike, 12 August 2021

The Bench 
by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Puffin, 40 pp., £12.99, May 2021, 978 0 241 54221 7
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Her Heart for a Compass 
by Sarah, Duchess of York.
Mills & Boon, 549 pp., £14.99, August 2021, 978 0 00 838360 2
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... of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (R.I.P. Eric Carle) or I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato are used to the small wonders of the children’s story. A good children’s writer makes children feel things without ever quite talking about feelings. They teach children how to read the world for signals of ...

Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies, 10 September 2009

The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... on cinema in the 1920s; the Hogarth Press published two pamphlets on film by the music critic Eric Walter White; and Roger Fry, in ‘An Essay in Aesthetics’ (1909), mentioned that it was only when he watched a ‘cinematograph’ that he noticed the bizarre habit people have of turning a full circle when they get off a train. In ‘The Cinema’, Woolf ...

Sweeno’s Beano

Nigel Wheale: MacSweeney, Kinsella and Harrison, 1 October 1998

The Book of Demons 
by Barry MacSweeney.
Bloodaxe, 109 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85224 414 3
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Poems 1980-94 
by John Kinsella.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £9.95, April 1999, 1 85224 453 4
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The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony 
by John Kinsella.
Arc, 108 pp., £7.95, January 1997, 1 900072 12 2
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The Kangaroo Farm 
by Martin Harrison.
Paper Bark, 79 pp., £8.95, May 1998, 0 9586482 4 7
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... laminated cover and a winning photograph of the poet, which immediately fused with one’s idea of Eric Burdon, the other Tyneside beauty of the moment. The poems were good, too: this was the New Lyricism, teasingly more complex than its lightness at first suggested, and showing a way with titles (which have got better still over the years). During the ...


Colin Kidd: After the Referendum, 18 February 2016

... Scottish town centres). A nationalist mob – inflamed by the perceived bias of the BBC’s Nick Robinson – descended on BBC Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow. Devine sees this through the other end of the telescope, as an episode which ‘allowed an unsympathetic press to wax eloquent on the disgraceful behaviour of nationalist thugs’. I found the ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... the Men in Green actually Men in Red? In the early texts Robin doesn’t give to the poor (a point Eric Hobsbawm missed in Bandits); he just gives, like most common or garden bandits, to numero uno. But he certainly robs the rich, and his politics are satisfyingly proletarian: he challenges injustice and hates oppressive kings. But non-oppressive ...

‘I’m not racist, but …’

Daniel Trilling, 18 April 2019

Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities 
by Eric Kaufman.
Allen Lane, 617 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 31710 5
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National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy 
by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin.
Pelican, 384 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 0 241 31200 1
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... reframe them as arguments for harmony and tolerance. ‘We need to talk about white identity,’ Eric Kaufmann writes at the beginning of Whiteshift, ‘not as a fabrication designed to maintain power, but as a set of myths and symbols to which people are attached: an ethnic identity like any other.’ Kaufmann offers a simple explanation for the rise of ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes, 26 January 2012

The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... pulp, but haunts the libraries, loos and luggage of people like T.S. Eliot, Ronald Knox, Eric Newby, Vladimir Nabokov and Umberto Eco. He even made it into Edmund Wilson’s bedroom. Although Holmes is a private detective, he’s frequently consulted by Scotland Yard and repeatedly succeeds where it fails. This leads Haia Shpayer-Makov to read in the ...


Andrew Lowry: Pyongyang’s Missing Millions, 6 December 2018

... Kims by countries around the world, everything from Nigerian tribal gear to a signed copy of Eric Clapton’s autobiography to an old Soviet plane that must have been taken apart and then reassembled underground. There was a glass plate sent by Derbyshire County Council and a tonne of stuff from Dennis Rodman’s various visits. The patchy electricity ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, 8 February 2018

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... at Cambridge, Schlesinger went on to make several friends and acquaintances on the left, including Eric Hobsbawm. His early work focused squarely on class conflict. In his first academic article, written while he was an undergraduate, he presented the New England Transcendentalist Orestes Brownson as a ‘Marxist before Marx’, claiming that any other theory ...


Neal Ascherson, 8 February 1996

The Collected Works of John Reed 
Modern Library, 937 pp., $20, February 1995, 0 679 60144 9Show More
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... never seen anything so close to pure joy,’ wrote Steffens (that quotation and the next come from Eric Homberger’s shrewd and reliable biography John Reed, published by Manchester University Press in 1990). Max Eastman, the socialist editor of the Masses, who met his future star correspondent in 1912, was more specific: He had a knobby and too filled-out ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... and therefore more likely to bolt from the shop. Cherished and admired as a local boy was Eric Portman, who had made good while playing with ‘the amateurs’. More robust than Donat, he was always said to have worked at a gents’ outfitters in Halifax where the aunties may even have claimed to have seen him behind the counter. Then he’d joined ...

What are you willing to do?

James Meek: On the case for civil war, 26 May 2022

How Civil Wars Start – And How to Stop Them 
by Barbara F. Walter.
Viking, 289 pp., £18.99, January, 978 0 241 42975 4
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... There are too many ethnic entrepreneurs around the world to list: Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson in the UK; Vladimir Putin, the Russian Milošević; Pauline Hanson in Australia; Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour in France. But Walter holds course to her principal target, the ethnic entrepreneurs of anocratic America: Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Alex ...

Last Night Fever

David Cannadine: The Proms, 6 September 2007

... of hand. Basil Cameron thought it might help to omit the repeat of the hornpipe, while Stanford Robinson thought the Sea Songs might be dispensed with altogether. Instead, it was Sargent who was dispensed with: he made his final appearance a fortnight before the 1949 season ended, and in an attempt to return to a more restrained atmosphere, Adrian Boult was ...

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