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For Kenneth Rexroth, 1905-1982

George Woodcock, 19 January 1984

... Hearing you were dead, I went out to look at mountains. Forty years we had been friends, writing between cities, meeting in cities, talking of anarchist persons and principles and never climbing a mountain together. Yet all it meant was mountains, and always in your poems the mountains rose, bright as freedom, crystalline as science. Kenneth, you were like Shaw ...

Dreams of Fair Game

George Woodcock, 20 May 1982

Maps and Dreams 
by Hugh Brody.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 297 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 906908 76 0
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... The White Man’s inability or refusal even to see the existence of Indian economic systems is the one theme that threads its way through the story of the New World,’ says Hugh Brody in Maps and Dreams. ‘European beliefs that hunting people occupied the bottom rung of an evolutionary ladder, together with contrary views of the hunter as an ideal of human existence alongside which contemporary European or American destruction of the Noble Savage could be judged and condemned, are two of the rhetorics that, in different ways, consign hunting peoples to the dustbins of history ...

Traven identified

George Woodcock, 3 July 1980

The Man who was B. Traven 
by Will Wyatt.
Cape, 326 pp., £8.50, June 1980, 0 224 01720 9
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The Government 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 356 2
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The Cotton-Pickers 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 200 pp., £5.50, October 1979, 0 85031 284 1
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The White Rose 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 209 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 369 4
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... I am convinced, after reading his book, The Man who was B. Traven, that the BBC producer Will Wyatt has (with some notable assistance from others) finally solved one of the most tantalising literary mysteries of our age, and has established, as firmly as it ever will be, the identity of the novelist who called himself B. Traven. In the process, he has shown that Traven was perhaps the most multiply pseudonymous man in literary history: at various stages in his life he used no less than 27 aliases, not counting his nom-de-plume and his real name which, as Mr Wyatt persuasively demonstrates, was not Ret Marut – the first name under which he presented himself to public attention – but Hermann Albert Otto Max Fiege, that of a native of the East Prussian village of Schwiebus, now in the Polish province of Poznan ...

Elegy for an Anarchist

George Woodcock, 19 January 1984

... autobiography, delivered out of the left-hand corner of his mouth. ‘When I was a boy in Chicago, George, selling small dogs for sexual purposes …’ Relations with Rexroth alternated between times of enthusiastic acceptance and times of harsh rejection, at least with men; towards women he was much more consistently benevolent. Perhaps the reason I never ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue, 20 December 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... Remembered by Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick (Ariel, 287 pp., £3.95, 5 January, 0 563 20200 9), George Orwell: A Personal Memoir by T.R. Fyvel (Hutchinson, reissue, 221 pp., £4.95, October 1983, 0 09 151741 9), Unwelcome Guerrilla. George Orwell and the ‘New Statesman’: An Anthology, edited by Alan ...

All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union, 19 October 2000

British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... correspondents – right up to the miners’ strike of 1984-85.’ In a fascinating essay about George Woodcock, the TUC General Secretary in the 1960s, Taylor expresses similar feelings about the unions’ inability to establish a relationship with government which would give them a lasting right to joint decision-making. ...


Frank Kermode, 2 November 1995

Roy Fuller: Writer and Society 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £25, September 1995, 1 85754 133 2
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... Aloof with rolling eye’; he didn’t like the neologistic epithet ‘penis’, partly because George Barker had used it first, partly because penises can only with difficulty be imagined to have ‘rolling’ eyes. ‘What the lighthouse was more like (the one at Dungeness) was a vinegar bottle with a perforated ceramic attachment to its cork, enabling ...

Propaganda of the Deed

Steve Fraser: Emma Goldman, 26 February 2009

Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol I: Made for America, 1890-1901 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 659 pp., $35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07541 4
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Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol. II: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 641 pp., £35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07543 8
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... court injunctions and hurling makeshift weapons at advancing militiamen from behind barricades. George Pullman was so sure that labour insurgents would desecrate his corpse that he left instructions for his lead-lined casket to be covered with tar paper and asphalt and deposited in a vault made of concrete and reinforced steel. Small conspiratorial ...

This Sporting Life

R.W. Johnson, 8 December 1994

Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... to cut defence spending, end conscription and maintain full employment: indeed, Vic Feather and George Woodcock, both future TUC General Secretaries, would visit him in secret to give him private briefings. The Suez crisis and Eden’s departure put Macleod on the spot. He had always supported Butler but when Salisbury came round to make his soundings ...


Nicolas Walter, 27 February 1992

Demanding the impossible: A History of Anarchism 
by Peter Marshall.
HarperCollins, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 00 217855 9
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The Self-Build Book 
by Jon Broome and Brian Richardson.
Green Books, 253 pp., £15, December 1991, 1 870098 23 4
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... a survey of previous research. For thirty years the standard work of this kind in English has been George Woodcock’s Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (1962), which was a synthesis – an inexpensive paperback, elegantly written, deliberately designed for ordinary readers rather than scholars. There have been other general ...

Bird-man swallows human

David Craig: Birds’ Eggs, 20 October 2016

The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and outside) a Bird’s Egg 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 288 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 4088 5125 8
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... spiralling silently upwards a few yards below me in a corrie of Beinn Alligin in Torridon, or a woodcock zigzagging through a deserted orchard two hundred yards east of my Cumbrian home, or a kestrel darting in and out of a Yorkshire cliff as it hunted the nestlings of the martins’ autumn broods and feathers spattered down around my feet. Guillemot ...

The Chase

Inigo Thomas: ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’, 20 October 2016

... The tide of modern art wasn’t long in coming: in the first Impressionist salon in 1874, George Braquemond showed an etching of Manet’s Olympia alongside an intriguing version of Rain, Steam and Speed. He captured some of the elements of Turner’s title – the wind-driven rain slashes across the bridge – but his train appears as static as a ...

Frog’s Knickers

Colin Burrow: How to Swear, 26 September 2013

Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing 
by Melissa Mohr.
Oxford, 316 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 0 19 974267 7
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... slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninnie-hammer flycatchers, noddiepeak simpletons, turdie gut, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets’. As these few tasters from Sir Thomas Urquhart’s translation of Rabelais indicate, swearing can be ...


Tim Dee: Twitching, 11 March 2010

... lost redpolls but finding solace in siskins, watching lapwings mopping at a wet sky, or hearing a woodcock grunting its love song overhead at dusk, or feeling redstarts tug you in pursuit of them by quivering their rusty tails? That list is mine; every birder will have their own. To me ducks seem hard to love while thrushes are easy. Some birders in recent ...

The British Disease

Peter Jenkins, 21 August 1980

Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience 1964-79 
by Denis Barnes and Eileen Reid.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 435 83045 7
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... at least some of them, imagined themselves to be blazing a trail for advanced industrial society. George Brown’s incomes policy and National Plan and, later, the Social Contract were claimed as major socio-economic innovations – British firsts. The Manchu Empire had suffered similar ethnocentric delusions and had published maps which showed it to lie at ...

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