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What are trees about?

Jerry Fodor, 24 May 2012

Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter 
by Terrence Deacon.
Norton, 602 pp., £19.99, February 2012, 978 0 393 04991 6
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... extends this convoluted causal circularity one level further’ started to get me down; as Deacon quite correctly remarks, ‘life and health are fragile.’ Also, I came to suspect that, when the terminology got to be heavy-going, that often masked the begging of questions that Deacon was most keen to answer. Some ...

East Hoathly makes a night of it

Marilyn Butler, 6 December 1984

The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765 
edited by David Vaisey.
Oxford, 386 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 19 211782 3
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John Clare’s Autobiographical Writings 
edited by Eric Robinson.
Oxford, 185 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 19 211774 2
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John Clare: The Journals, Essays, and the Journey from Essex 
edited by Anne Tibble.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 85635 344 2
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The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare 
edited by Margaret Grainger.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, January 1984, 0 19 818517 0
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John Clare and the Folk Tradition 
by George Deacon.
Sinclair Browne, 397 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 86300 008 8
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... cultural history of a parish, assembled from the inside. This material is selected and analysed in George Deacon’s John Clare and the Folk Tradition, one of the most informative and valuable studies of Clare’s poetry yet to appear. The total oeuvre proves him to have been an observer of his rural habitat on the same scale as Turner, though Clare’s ...

Hitler at Heathrow

E.S. Shaffer, 7 August 1980

The Memoirs of Bridget Hitler 
edited by Michael Unger.
Duckworth, 192 pp., £4.95, March 1979, 0 7156 1356 1
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The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. 
by George Steiner.
Granta, 66 pp., £1.50
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Young Adolf 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 174 pp., £6.95, November 1978, 0 7156 1323 5
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... deadpan account of the tracking and capture of Eichmann in The House on Garibaldi Street; Richard Deacon, The Israeli Secret Service, which tells the story, among others, of Wolfgang Lotz, the Israeli spy with unassailably Aryan looks who infiltrated Egyptian government circles to get plans for rocket sites and the names of German technicians: a story ...

Something to Do

David Cannadine, 23 September 1993

Witness of a Century: The Life and Times of Prince Arthur of Connaught, 1850-1942 
by Noble Frankland.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 476 pp., £22.95, June 1993, 0 85683 136 0
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... lifetime, he was Queen Victoria’s favourite son; King Edward VII was his eldest brother, King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II were his nephews, and King Edward VIII and King George VI his great-nephews. And in the half-century since his death, the royal roll-call has been further extended. Queen Elizabeth II is his ...

Resurrecting the Tudors

John Pemble: James Anthony Froude, 23 May 2013

James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet 
by Ciaran Brady.
Oxford, 500 pp., £45, May 2013, 978 0 19 966803 8
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... Froude was mortified but unrepentant. He was used to controversy. James Anthony Froude by George Reid, 1881. The Life was a homemade bomb; the History was a meteorite, a bolide from somewhere remote and unknown. It inspired Tennyson to try to reactivate English verse drama with Queen Mary. It’s huge – two and a half million words in six and a ...

In a Tuft of Thistle

Robert Crawford: Borges is Coming, 16 December 2021

Borges and Me: An Encounter 
by Jay Parini.
Canongate, 299 pp., £14.99, August, 978 1 83885 022 7
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... eager for literary mentorship, was beginning a PhD at St Andrews on the laconic Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown. Things did not look promising. His PhD supervisor was Alexander Falconer, a wartime naval officer whose ‘masterwork’ was Shakespeare and the Sea (1964), which he had followed up with A Glossary of Shakespeare’s Sea and Naval Terms ...

The Railway Hobby

Ian Jack, 7 January 2021

... engines. ‘Ju-Jubes’ were Jubilees, a class that entered service during the 25th anniversary of George V’s accession and whose engines were named after imperial possessions, famous warships and English heroes. The jargon made you part of the country’s largest and least violent gang, the drifts of boys of all ages and social classes who gathered at the ...

By All Possible Art

Tobias Gregory: George Herbert, 18 December 2014

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert 
by John Drury.
Penguin, 396 pp., £9.99, April 2014, 978 0 14 104340 1
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... The world, the flesh and the devil keep coming back, and must be rejected again and again. George Herbert’s poems vividly describe the inner weather of Christian devotion. It’s all there: self-abasement before God; horror at his absence; meditation on the boundless enormity of sin; meditation on the boundless generosity of Christ’s ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... decidedly modern, often with racy connotations. When Edward Prince of Wales asked his father, George V, if he could have the use of Fort Belvedere at Windsor the king was surprised: ‘What could you possibly want that queer old place for? Those damn week-ends I suppose.’ He caved in and perhaps regretted it, for the weekends with their associated ...

The Unrewarded End

V.G. Kiernan: Memories of the CP, 17 September 1998

The Death of Uncle Joe 
by Alison Macleod.
Merlin, 269 pp., £9.95, May 1997, 0 85036 467 1
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Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party 
by Francis Beckett.
Merlin, 253 pp., £9.95, August 1998, 0 85036 477 9
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... though the latter continued to dominate, she believes – was a likeable character; and George Matthews (still active today) seemed, as he did to everyone, a man full of ‘earnest honesty’. The Party set up in 1920 was designed to be ready for immediate action. Its modes of speech might suggest that it was already on a war footing; this persisted ...

Seeing through Fuller

Nicholas Penny, 30 March 1989

Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... didactic – ‘one of the things they were about was the indisposability of plastic.’ Richard Deacon, who is with Cragg ‘the most expensive, the most written about, the best patronised ... of the new British sculptural establishment’, makes startling hybrids: ‘To produce one of his small sculptures an old brass navigational aid must have screwed a ...

Burke and Smith

Karl Miller, 16 October 1980

Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... for at one level they issued from, and conferred, an experience of the good things of life. George III is credited with the accurate prediction that ‘he was a very clever fellow, but that he would never be a bishop.’ Smith was bored by the country, but was exiled for most of his career to rural livings – at Foston in Yorkshire and Combe Florey in ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller, 9 May 2002

... Why Darkies Were Born’, the title of a song performed by the Caucasian Frank Munn in George White’s Scandals of 1931, a Broadway hit, and also recorded by the estimable Mildred Bailey that same year. Her friend Bing Crosby, a jazz-inflected singer then, who recorded a memorable ‘St Louis Blues’ with Duke Ellington’s band in ...

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