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Philosophical Vinegar, Marvellous Salt

Malcolm Gaskill: Alchemical Pursuits, 15 July 2021

The Experimental Fire: Inventing English Alchemy, 1300-1700 
by Jennifer M. Rampling.
Chicago, 408 pp., £28, December 2020, 978 0 226 71070 9
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... the treasure of health’, which drew on the work of the 15th-century alchemists Thomas Norton and George Ripley, who in turn were indebted to the formulations of Ramon Llull, a 13th-century Majorcan polymath. The key to alchemy was deep reading, between texts and across the ages. Keynes’s scrabbling about for Newton’s papers was as nothing compared to the ...

Populist Palatial

Rosemary Hill: The View from Piccadilly, 4 March 2021

London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 19 882341 4
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Survey of London: Volume 53, Oxford Street 
edited by Andrew Saint.
Paul Mellon Centre, 421 pp., £75, April 2020, 978 1 913107 08 6
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... gawping out-of-town tourist an easy mark for a pickpocket. In Covent Garden, two centuries before George Young described the homeless as ‘the people you step over when you come out of the opera’, departing audiences were picking their way through prostitutes and cabbage leaves left over from the market. Shortly after Trafalgar Square was created in the ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Gaitskell; lists were drawn up of such notorious Communists or Communist sympathisers as Brian Walden, David Owen, Robert Mellish, John Stonehouse, Roy Hattersley and Reg Prentice; and even a bogus pamphlet on ‘revolutionary strategy’ for the installation of socialism in Britain was contrived for off-the-record briefing of American journalists, the ...

God wielded the buzzer

Christian Lorentzen: The Sorrows of DFW, 11 October 2012

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 
by D.T. Max.
Granta, 352 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 84708 494 1
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... after a wounded bird.’ The bird flew back to Amherst that autumn. The lesson of Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern’s running mate who dropped out of the 1972 election after it was reported that he’d undergone electroshock therapy, meant Wallace could forget about politics: ‘No one’s going to vote for someone who’s been in a nuthouse.’ He and ...

I want to boom

Mark Ford: Pound Writes Home, 24 May 2012

Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895-1929 
edited by Mary de Rachewiltz, David Moody and Joanna Moody.
Oxford, 737 pp., £39, January 2011, 978 0 19 958439 0
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... economic matters could read his spirited attempts to convert Senator Bronson Cutting, Congressman George Tinkham and Senator William E. Borah to Poundian solutions to American policy issues: these were collected in volumes published in 1995, 1996 and 2001 respectively. His epistolary career began with this of 1895 to his mother, Isabel, who was visiting ...

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