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Proud to Suffer

G.S. Smith: The Intellectuals Who Left the USSR, 19 October 2006

The Philosophy Steamer: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Atlantic, 414 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 040 1
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... What is to be done in a country whose genius has gone?’ Lev Loseff asks in his poem ‘June 1972’; Loseff’s close friend Joseph Brodsky had left Leningrad that month. The question brings to mind the title of Chernyshevsky’s 1863 novel, which soon came to codify a central preoccupation of the Russian intelligentsia. But in this instance it also raises the notion that the poet’s departure symbolised a graver loss, to do with the country’s identity ...

Baleful Smile of the Crocodile

Neal Ascherson: D.S. Mirsky, 8 March 2001

D.S. Mirsky: A Russian-English Life 1890-1939 
by G.S. Smith.
Oxford, 398 pp., £65, June 2000, 0 19 816006 2
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... in Moscow. Mirsky was one of the most important Russian literary critics of the 20th century. G.S. Smith, author of this tremendous and impassioned biography, plainly thinks that he was the greatest of them. ‘Mirsky’ is not just a name but an expression, short for his History of Russian Literature which was first published in London in 1927 and which has ...

Idi Roi

Victoria Brittain, 21 August 1980

Ghosts of Kampala: The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin 
by George Ivan Smith.
Weidenfeld, 198 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 297 77721 1
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African Upheavals since Independence 
by G.S. Ibingira.
Westview/Benn, 349 pp., £14.95, January 1980, 0 89158 585 0
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A Political History of Uganda 
by S.R. Karugire.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 435 94524 6
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... at the Organisation of African Unity summit in Khartoum. To Britain’s disgrace, as George Ivan Smith points out, it will be remembered that Uganda Airlines flights to Stansted, where Amin bought the Western luxury goods that kept his inner circle loyal, went on until 4 March 1979, when the Tanzanian Army was on the point of ousting him. With the honourable ...

Agamemnon, Smith and Thomson

Claude Rawson, 9 April 1992

Homer: The ‘Iliad’ 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Viking, 683 pp., £17.95, September 1990, 0 670 83510 2
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by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 86 pp., £4.99, March 1991, 0 571 16141 3
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... apiece’ and ‘several Englishmen of pith, / Sixteen call’d Thomson and nineteen named Smith’, whose deaths go unrecorded by the epic muse and who are so numerous that Byron has to leave most of them to be listed in the official necrologies. Byron’s Don Juan is full of Homeric allusions, both loyal and jeering, and his handling of the ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... at club. Back here 9 to read Lucretius with Richmond and Dodgson. Then at 11.15 went in to F. Smith and had long talk about marriage. Bed 12.30, an hour later than usual. This is certainly energetic; but it is entirely institutional. John Cann Bailey might as well be writing his piece on Gibbon in the way that he reads Lucretius, ‘with Richmond and ...

Walking on Eyeballs

E.S. Turner: The history of gout, 7 January 1999

Gout: The Patrician Malady 
by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau.
Yale, 393 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 300 07386 0
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... of gout, will find much of the information in these pages riveting. Gout was likened by Sydney Smith to walking on his eyeballs. It not only created fiery anguish in the big toe but caused a white precipitation at the knuckles. Horace Walpole wrote of ‘chalky rills running from the fingers’ and ‘a hail of chalkstones and liquid chalk’, as if from a ...

Incriminating English

Randolph Quirk, 24 September 1992

Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... G.S. Rousseau on late 18th-century nerves could just as usefully have been a lot shorter. Nigel Smith is fascinating on ‘The uses of Hebrew in the English Revolution’ and Peter Burke’s little sketch of post-Medieval uses of Latin is wide-ranging and excellent. Other chapters suffer from being wide-ranging and bad. Victor Kiernan’s ‘Languages and ...

Come hungry, leave edgy

Sukhdev Sandhu: Brick Lane, 9 October 2003

Brick Lane 
by Monica Ali.
Doubleday, 413 pp., £12.99, June 2003, 9780385604840
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... straight line while others turned and stumbled’, and is very much the Millat character in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Karim is supposed to embody the dissonance and non-conformity of second-generation Bangladeshi youths. The focus of moral panic about Asian gangs, they should instead be listened to. Given half a chance, they will talk about their feeling ...

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