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Natural Learning

John Murray, 20 September 1984

... Logan stood outside the shop which looked like an English funeral parlour, black-painted and all its contents invisible. On the window was inscribed in English in impressive calligraphy LEGAL OPIUM AND GANJA SHOP FOR HOLY MEN. It lay along one of those relatively deserted back streets of central Calcutta, the only wayfarers being the trams and the cadaverous dogs who roamed like wolves in their desperate packs ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, 19 January 2017

by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... in utopian and dystopian writing – a world apart, for good or ill, as in Aldous Huxley’s Pala, George Orwell’s Airstrip One, the vivisectionist paradise of H.G. Wells’s Dr Moreau, Margaret Cavendish’s polymorphous freakshow in The Blazing World, or William Golding’s reworking of R.M. Ballantyne’s coral island as Beelzebub’s atoll ...

Not Dead Yet

Anthony Grafton: Latin, 8 January 2015

Latin: Story of a World Language 
by Jürgen Leonhardt, translated by Kenneth Kronenberg.
Harvard, 352 pp., £22.95, November 2013, 978 0 674 05807 1
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... On 22 May 1724​ James Logan, a wealthy Philadelphian fur trader, scientist and bibliophile, took a day trip with friends from London to Windsor. Big crowds accompanied them, and no wonder: they were making their way to a dramatic public occasion – a scientific counterpart to the hangings at Tyburn that drew enthusiastic spectators in droves in the same period ...


Richard Shone: Lydia Lopokova’s Portraits, 23 June 2022

... I took one down, the skeleton of a small bird fell out from behind it. ‘They do not belong to me,’ Lydia would say emphatically, and in most cases this was true. Keynes had bequeathed them to King’s College, Cambridge, stipulating that they should remain with Lydia during her lifetime. In fact, from the late 1960s onwards, the more valuable French ...

Destined to Disappear

Susan Pedersen: ‘Race Studies’, 20 October 2016

White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations 
by Robert Vitalis.
Cornell, 272 pp., $29.95, November 2015, 978 0 8014 5397 7
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... citizenship rights and colonial self-determination. All were, as the historian of anthropology George Stocking put it, ‘evolutionists’: that is, they assimilated ‘races’ to ‘stages’ of the human evolutionary past, and then assumed each had to develop separately and at its own pace. After all, these were the principles that governed race ...

Out of this World

David Armitage, 16 November 1995

by Thomas More, edited by George Logan, Robert M. Adams and Clarence Miller.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £55, February 1995, 0 521 40318 9
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Utopias of the British Enlightenment 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, July 1994, 0 521 43084 4
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... we also need to be reminded that Utopia was only the book’s subtitle. ‘I am sending you my “Nowhere”, which is nowhere well written,’ More wrote teasingly to Erasmus in September 1516, and the enclosed manuscript, when it appeared in print three months later, bore the title, ‘On the Best State of the Commonwealth, and of the New ...

A Bit of a Lush

Christopher Tayler: William Boyd, 23 May 2002

Any Human Heart 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 504 pp., £17.99, April 2002, 9780241141779
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... often someone available to explain this state of affairs. In Armadillo, for example, it’s George Hogg, an implausibly lyrical loss adjuster. ‘No, my friends,’ he tells his team, ‘life does not run smoothly along tracks that we have laid down . . . However much we seem to have it under control, to have every ...

Newspapers of the Consensus

Neal Ascherson, 21 February 1985

The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. II: The 20th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 718 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 241 11181 1
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Lies, Damned Lies and Some Exclusives 
by Henry Porter.
Chatto, 211 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2841 0
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Garvin of the ‘Observer’ 
by David Ayerst.
Croom Helm, 314 pp., £25, January 1985, 0 7099 0560 2
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The Beaverbrook I Knew 
edited by Logan Gourlay.
Quartet, 272 pp., £11.95, September 1984, 0 7043 2331 1
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... of Tariff Reform was, or that Free Trade Unionism had nothing to do with the TUC, or how Lloyd George dished Asquith in 1915 and 1916, the sections of the book dealing with how the press treated these things will be incomprehensible. Koss has no time to stop and help you. Matters become easier as the book approaches the present day. This is partly, of ...

When the Mediterranean Was Blue

John Bayley, 23 March 1995

Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life 
by Clive Fisher.
Macmillan, 304 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 333 57813 9
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... away from the sea but not so far from his one-time prep school, St Cyprian’s. There he had met George Orwell and Cecil Beaton, and the three began to develop their characteristic talents: Orwell by reading Gulliver’s Travels and brooding satirically on the horrors to be enshrined later in Such, Such Were the Joys; Beaton by singing ‘If you were the ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... enjoying the story, though I cannot now recall any of the detail. However, another item caught my attention and has stayed with me since: an agency story datelined Londres to the effect that the Court of Appeal had suddenly and unexpectedly freed the three men and one woman known in Britain as the Guildford Four. ...
... domestic existence is shattered; in Enduring Love, Clarissa and Joe witness the death of John Logan as he falls from a balloon, are changed for ever, and spend the rest of the novel trying to absorb the consequences of the spectacle; Black Dogs is in part about how Bernard Tremaine, a politician, scientist and rationalist, drifts away from his wife, June ...

The least you can do is read it

Ian Hamilton, 2 October 1997

Cyril Connolly: A Life 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 653 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 224 03710 2
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... a life-style and a work-style. Observing the dinner-table impact of lordly non-producers like Logan Pearsall Smith and Desmond MacCarthy, Connolly in his mid-twenties realised that failure, if worked on, could handsomely pay off. At worst, the notion of gifts wasted or withheld might lend a dark coherence to the most fragmentary output. At best, it might ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... well of others. In that world, a very special thrill attached to speaking ill of one’s friends. Mr Pryce-Jones could reasonably retort that Connolly’s allegiances were by no means with Bloomsbury but with that distinct district Chelsea. Certainly there is evidence of the malicious rage which, for instance, Virginia Woolf vented upon, for instance, Cyril ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... pleading: ‘If your firm doesn’t like it, make some excuse when you give it back to me. Say the Autumn List is already full, or something like that. Not just that they don’t think it good enough to publish.’ The same diffidence made him choose later the sobriquet of Palinurus, the steersman of Aeneas in Virgil’s poem (after whom the ...


John Banville: Exit Zuckerman, 4 October 2007

Exit Ghost 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 292 pp., £16.99, October 2007, 978 0 224 08173 3
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... I can call upon when a self is required, an ever-evolving stock of pieces and parts that forms my repertoire. But I certainly have no self independent of my imposturing, artistic efforts to have one. Nor would I want one. I am a theatre and nothing more than a theatre. The Counterlife is the most ‘European’ of ...

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