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British Blues

Barbara Wootton, 21 May 1981

British Government and its Discontents 
by Geoffrey Smith and Nelson Polsby.
Harper and Row, 202 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 06 337016 6
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... picture of the melancholic mood of the British public. Why do we worry so much? ‘Partly,’ say Smith and Polsby, ‘because we are told to.’ Never was a truer word spoken. The media are flooded with analyses and forecasts of the steady worsening of Britain’s plight, both absolutely and in comparison with other countries. With the recent appalling ...

Sydpolarfarer

Chauncey Loomis, 23 May 1985

The Norwegian with Scott: Tryggve Gran’s Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 
edited by Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith, translated by Ellen Johanne McGhie.
HMSO, 258 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 11 290382 7
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... quick sensibility necessary to transform the stuff of tedium into something interesting. Editor Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith has put flesh on the rather bare bones of the diary by editorial insertions. Throughout the text he has scattered passages from Gran’s own memoir Fra tjuagutt til sydpolarfarer, written many years ...

My Mummy’s Bones

Gaby Wood, 24 April 1997

The Foundation Pit 
by Andrei Platonov, translated by Robert Chandler and Geoffrey Smith.
Harvill, 168 pp., £14.99, May 1996, 1 86046 049 6
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... Towards the end of The Foundation Pit, our wandering hero pours a miscellany of inanimate objects onto the desk of the local Communist Party ‘activist’ and asks him to make an inventory of his findings. He had been round the village collecting every wretched cast-off object he could find, all the forgotten bits and pieces that had no name or identity, so Socialism could avenge them ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... and an op-ed page without a policy. Only the charm of its obituaries is undiminished although Geoffrey Smith continues to write a wise if ponderous political column. Which leaves the Financial Times, the Independent and the Guardian. The Financial Times is a very good paper. It has replaced the Times in the authority of its features and the influence ...

Listen to the women

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1993

An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution 
by Partha Dasgupta.
Oxford, 661 pp., £35, July 1993, 0 19 828756 9
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... Forties and early Fifties. It showed its origins. Economically, development meant industry. Adam Smith and Marx, it was assumed, were right. Output could most effectively be raised by moving as quickly as possible to capital-intensive mass production. David Hume’s alternative, to think in terms of a ‘product cycle’, of simple agriculture at one end and ...

In praise of Geoffrey Lloyd

Helen King, 8 October 1992

Methods and Problems in Greek Science: Selected Papers 
by G.E.R. Lloyd.
Cambridge, 457 pp., £45, May 1991, 0 521 37419 7
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... Geoffrey Lloyd has held the position of Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Science in the University of Cambridge since 1985. The creation of this personal chair not only honoured a great and generous scholar, but also gave a much-needed boost to the growing interest in ancient science: a subject which, over the last two centuries, had been pushed to the margins of Classical scholarship while simultaneously being eclipsed by the rise of modern science ...

On the Rwandan Border

Stephen Smith, 9 June 1994

... about instead, I hope not unconscionably, was a matched pair of Ronald Searle plates for one of Geoffrey Willans’s Molesworth books, showing a Gaul marching on Rome and a Roman marching on Gaul. What one pencil-sucking hack at the poolside of the Bujumbura Novotel was heard to call Rwanda’s ‘ethnic cocktail’ could also be found in Burundi, albeit in ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... Geoffrey Grigson’s best poem, and the type of his best poetry, is ‘His Swans’. Evidently and justly, he thinks well enough of it to put it in the Faber Book of Reflective Verse as his sole exhibit: Remote music of his swans, their long Necks ahead of them, slow Beating of their wings, in unison, Traversing serene Grey wide blended horizontals Of endless sea and sky ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 October 1983

In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... They were all convinced that with Keynes, Beveridge, most of Whitehall, Transport House and even Smith Square behind them, they could do something towards a more decent society. They did not, of course, all always agree. ‘Crap merchant,’ said Crosland to Titmuss at Vaizey’s own wedding. But they were all radicals, and they were all, in Vaizey’s ...

Sad Century

David Parrott: The 17th-Century Crisis, 5 March 2015

Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 871 pp., £16.99, August 2014, 978 0 300 20863 4
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... to another set of essays, The General Crisis of the 17th Century, published in 1978 and edited by Geoffrey Parker and Lesley Smith. Thanks particularly to the editors’ introduction and John Eddy’s essay on the effect of sunspots, the debate was pushed in a new direction: climate change and its impact on the food supply ...

The Great NBA Disaster

John Sutherland, 19 October 1995

... the op-ed page was dominated by a gloating ‘Good Riddance to the Net Book Agreement, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft.’ Wheatcroft wrapped up what was evidently a rushed piece with the Maoist-Thatcherite slogan: ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom, nourished by the marketplace.’ One hundred might be thought a parsimonious spray even in these new times. Why the ...

Richly-Wristed

Ian Aitken, 13 May 1993

Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... I would have been quite so ebullient about it if I had known what I know now, after reading Geoffrey Taylor’s riveting book, is another matter entirely. To be sure, I knew that the dear old Grauniad was not exactly flush – my new salary would have told me that even if I hadn’t noticed that one of my future colleagues pinned his bus-tickets to his ...

Informals of the world unite

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 9 November 1989

The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World 
by Hernando de Soto, translated by June Abbott.
Tauris, 271 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 1 85043 144 2
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Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru 
by Edmundo Morales.
University of Arizona Press, 228 pp., £17.95, August 1989, 0 8165 1066 0
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A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present 
by Rondo Cameron.
Oxford, 437 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 19 504677 3
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... many different things, been deployed in many different fights, and explained little. For Adam Smith, it was the success of merchants persuading the Crown that profit lay in exporting much and importing little and accumulating the difference in gold and silver. For Germans a hundred years or so later, by contrast, as for de Soto himself, although his ...

Suffocating Suspense

Richard Davenport-Hines, 16 March 2000

Cult Criminals: The Newgate Novels 1830-47 
by Juliet John.
Routledge, 2750 pp., £399, December 1998, 0 415 14383 7
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... by his angry pride and obdurate perversity, he is gulled into friendship by the conman de Burgh Smith and his fellow outcast Bill Gawtrey. The latter is a fallen gentleman whose life has been ruined by the cardsharp Lord Lilburne. ‘The difference between man and man is money,’ Gawtrey says in order to explain the different fates of Lilburne and ...

Beddoes’ Best Thing

C.H. Sisson, 20 September 1984

The Force of Poetry 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 447 pp., £19.50, September 1984, 0 19 811722 1
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... Wordsworth and Beddoes, together with a handful of 20th-century poets from A.E. Housman to Geoffrey Hill. In Wordsworth we are to attend particularly to line-endings and to prepositions, in Marvell to ‘a particular figure of speech’, in Gower to ‘diction and formulae’. The sophistication of the critic is to be given its full range but the ...

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