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Vagueness

Hans Keller

1 May 1980
Michael Tippett: An Introductory Study 
by David Matthews.
Faber, 112 pp., £5.95, December 1979, 0 571 10954 3
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Tippett and his Operas 
by Eric Walter White.
Barrie and Jenkins, 142 pp., £7.97, January 1980, 0 214 20573 8
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... withstanding its inspirations. No insult meant: it happens in the best circles (Brahms, Schumann), which are not always the best quartet circles. Both musically and biographically, David Matthews and EricWalterWhite are quite exceptionally well informed, and never get their facts wrong – even though they are not beyond getting their right facts mixed up. As we know from the recently published ...

State Aid

Denis Arnold

22 December 1983
A History of English Opera 
by Eric Walter White.
Faber, 472 pp., £30, July 1983, 0 571 10788 5
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... does it really treat of English opera, although there is ample information about theatres, librettists and composers. It is an obvious example of Hamlet without the Prince: in this case, music. Mr White is clearly more at home with literary sources than with musical style, and on the few occasions when he does embark on comment about the music, he shows no great grasp (his comments about Handel’s ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council

4 December 1986
... in England (actor, editor on the London Magazine and much, much more) and his first steps as a writer. Even then we don’t really find out how it happened – just a whim, it seems, of the late EricWalterWhite. But Osborne had an important qualification for the job: his certainty that he knew the best when he saw it and, even more important, could smell the worst – indispensable qualities in ...

Big Fish

Frank Kermode

9 September 1993
Tell Them I’m on my Way 
by Arnold Goodman.
Chapmans, 464 pp., £20, August 1993, 1 85592 636 9
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Not an Englishman: Conversations with Lord Goodman 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 237 pp., £17.99, August 1993, 1 85619 365 9
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... attacked for what they did or do in their offices. Others are disliked on perhaps less explicable grounds. I was surprised to come upon a sustained and in my view immoderate onslaught on the late EricWalterWhite, who, during Goodman’s chairmanship, was Literature Director at the Arts Council and its much admired organiser of festivals. I worked with White for some years, and he was certainly a ...

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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... Palace’ in her diaries and wrote an essay on ‘The Cinema’ in 1926. Clive Bell wrote two articles on cinema in the 1920s; the Hogarth Press published two pamphlets on film by the music critic EricWalterWhite; 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 ...

On the Beaches

Richard White: In Indian Country

21 March 2002
Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America 
by Daniel Richter.
Harvard, 317 pp., £17.95, January 2002, 0 674 00638 0
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... When I was a child in the mid-1950s, there was an American television programme called You Are There. The pretence was that a reporter, who in my mistaken memory was always Walter Cronkite, would be on hand as a historical event unfolded. No matter what the century, the reporters were from the 1950s, with notepads or microphone in hand. ‘General Washington, General ...

Freddie Gray

Adam Shatz

20 May 2015
... in the image of a noose, and a black figure in mourning. More than three thousand blacks were lynched between the end of Reconstruction and the 1960s, often for such crimes as daring to look at a white woman. Black bodies no longer swing in the Southern breeze, as Billie Holiday sang. Instead, they are victims of chokeholds, bullets and other ‘restraining’ measures inflicted by the police, and ...

Diary

David Denby: Deaths on Camera

7 September 2016
... On 19 July​ 2015, a sullen, hot day with white skies, an unarmed black man was killed in Cincinnati. The incident began when Officer Ray Tensing, a member of the University of Cincinnati campus police, pulled over Samuel DuBose, whose car was ...
1 December 1983
A Dictionary of Mottoes 
by L.G. Pine.
Routledge, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780710093394
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Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon 
by Jonathon Green.
Routledge, 263 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9685 2
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The Oxford Miniguide to English Usage 
by E.S.C. Weiner.
Oxford, 412 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 19 869127 0
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The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English: Volume II 
by A.P. Cowrie, R. Mackin and I.R. McCaig.
Oxford, 685 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 19 431150 3
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A Dictionary of the Teenage Revolution and its Aftermath 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 28517 4
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A Dictionary of Catch-Phrases 
by Eric​ Partridge.
Routledge, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9989 4
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... Lexicographical apparatus, as Walter Ong recently reminded us in Orality and Literacy, was ‘a very late accretion to language as language’. It was also quite a profitable accretion for at least two classes of language-user: printers ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration

3 May 2017
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... One of​ the great paradoxes of the Obama era is that it encouraged so many liberals, both black and white, to see the black experience in America not as a slow, arduous struggle for freedom culminating in the election of a black president – Obama’s version, not surprisingly – but as an unending ...
21 September 1995
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... with his cousin. The two imagine moving after he leaves office into a cottage he is planning to build on what they affectionately call ‘Our Hill’. The President’s secretary, who lives at the White House (and has lived with the President since he was Governor of New York), thinks her boss will be moving into the cottage with her. The President’s wife, another cousin, stays in her own ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X

4 February 1999
Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... a quarter of the district’s residents were of Caribbean origin, while half of New York’s black businesses were owned by West Indians. In 1952, however, when Congress passed the McCarran Walter Act restricting migration, prospective migrants to the US were obliged to reconsider. The United Kingdom, where some of their kin had already settled, was an obvious choice. Officially, 492 West ...

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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... own sons indicate in their hyper-filial edition of Schlesinger’s letters). During a year abroad 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 ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: At Bluewater

3 January 2002
... huge tents that once sheltered London’s smallpox cases on Temple Hill in Dartford are the inspiration for this collision of ribbed domes and curved windows. The American architectural consultant Eric Kuhne, invited to talk the site up, spoke of a ‘new kind of city’, a ‘resort’. A form of petrol-guzzling tourism has evolved: Bluewater is a Ballardian resort (Vermilion Sands), shopping is ...

Fill it with fish

Helen Cooper: The trail of the Grail

6 June 2002
Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A Grail Romance Retold for Our Time 
by Lindsay Clarke.
HarperCollins, 239 pp., £14.99, September 2001, 0 00 710813 3
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Merlin and the Grail: ‘Joseph of Arimathea’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Perceval’ The Trilogy of Arthurian Romances Attributed to Robert de Boron 
translated by Nigel Bryant.
Boydell and Brewer, 172 pp., £30, May 2001, 0 85991 616 2
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Le Livre du Graal. Tome I: ‘Joseph D’Arimathie’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Les Premiers Faits du Roi Arthur’ 
edited by Daniel Poirion and Philippe Walter.
Gallimard, 1993 pp., £50.95, April 2001, 2 07 011342 6
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... wrote the earliest of the Grail narratives, entitled simply Le Conte du Graal, describes it as the appropriate dish for a pike or lamprey or salmon. Chrétien had previously written romances called Eric and Enide and The Knight with the Lion; others had written a Romance of Troy, a Romance of Eneas, and love stories called such things as Floris and Blauncheflour and Tristan. But The Story of the ...

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