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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 WalterWhite.
Barrie and Jenkins, 142 pp., £7.97, January 1980, 0 214 20573 8
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... are not always the best quartet circles. Both musically and biographically, David Matthews and Eric WalterWhite 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 second edition of ...

State Aid

Denis Arnold, 22 December 1983

A History of English Opera 
by Eric WalterWhite.
Faber, 472 pp., £30, July 1983, 0 571 10788 5
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... 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 operas on page 169 are crashingly beside the ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council, 4 December 1986

... Even then we don’t really find out how it happened – just a whim, it seems, of the late Eric WalterWhite. 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 an arts ...

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 WalterWhite; 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 ...

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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... grounds. I was surprised to come upon a sustained and in my view immoderate onslaught on the late Eric WalterWhite, 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 ...

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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... 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 Washington,’ Mr Cronkite would call to George Washington, who ...

Freddie Gray

Adam Shatz, 20 May 2015

... 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 not only below the Mason-Dixon line. Police killings of ...

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 missing its front licence plate. Tensing was wearing a body camera, and when the Hamilton County district attorney released the video ten days later, on 29 July, Americans watching the news that night saw about two minutes of what happened ...

All my eye and Betty Martin

Roy Harris, 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 and publishers. It still is, to judge by the way dictionaries continue to proliferate ...

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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... 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 nightmare. Not least among the reasons was that a black man ...

Too Close to the Bone

Allon White, 4 May 1989

... marshes in which the malarial mosquitoes breed. For many years I have treasured a quotation from Walter Benjamin which may have helped spawn the character of Arnow or, more likely, contributed something further to a figure already compounded of many memories and unconscious sources: ‘The slightest carelessness in the digging of a ditch or the buttressing ...

America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... he fell down a ravine and lost consciousness (he had a heart condition), but Washington is a very white state, and some of his friends and family suspected racist foul play. At the time I doubted this; now I’m not so sure. One of his friends told a reporter that he hadn’t packed any provisions because he was only ‘going out for a couple hours … sort ...

Jingoes

R.W. Johnson: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War, 6 May 2004

The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War 
by Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, May 2003, 0 521 82453 2
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... heir to the Bangwato chieftaincy and eventually the first president of Botswana, for marrying a white woman; the refusal to take a tougher line against apartheid – it has been essentially vindicated by the current harmonious relationship with an ANC-ruled South Africa, back within the Commonwealth. If the book has a hero it is Sir John Maud, the British ...

Herberts & Herbertinas

Rosemary Hill: Steven Runciman, 19 October 2016

Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman 
by Minoo Dinshaw.
Penguin, 767 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 241 00493 7
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... photographed by Cecil Beaton Runciman was born in 1903, one of the five children of Hilda and Walter Runciman, Liberal politicians who were the first married couple to sit simultaneously in Parliament. The considerable family fortune came from the shipping line founded by Walter’s father and the Runcimans’ five ...

Angry or Evil?

Michael Wood: Brecht’s Poems, 21 March 2019

The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht 
translated by Tom Kuhn and David Constantine.
Norton, 1286 pp., £35, December 2018, 978 0 87140 767 2
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... suddenly let him down. But it hasn’t changed. He has remembered where he is in moral time. The white poplar, a famous local beauty Today an old hag. The lake A bowl of slops, don’t touch it! The fuchsias among the snapdragon cheap and showy. Why? Last night in a dream I saw fingers pointing at me As though at a leper. They were worn by work and They were ...

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