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No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair, 2 November 2006

A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... a focus was that Eyre had personally authorised the arrest in Kingston of a man named George Gordon, and what today would be called his extraordinary rendition to Morant Bay. Arriving there on a Saturday, Gordon was given an instant trial without access to counsel and hanged two days later – the military commander ...

Menagerie of Live Authors

Francesca Wade: Marys Shelley and Wollstonecraft, 8 October 2015

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley 
by Charlotte Gordon.
Hutchinson, 649 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 09 195894 7
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... think like other people!’ Percy Florence was unusual in a uniformly cerebral family. Charlotte Gordon’s premise for writing a dual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley is that while their lives overlapped only for ten days, they shared a spirit. Wollstonecraft’s work – especially her treatise on education and A Vindication of the Rights ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated ...

The Cow Bells of Kitale

Patrick Collinson: The Selwyn Affair, 5 June 2003

... looked for a position of some kind but without success. A deal was struck with his elder brother, Gordon, a leading Anglican theologian and Dean of Winchester, who took possession of the title deeds of the farm and offered them a loan. But the condition was that Helen was to take over. Her husband was to follow her instructions, even obey her orders. She ...

Success and James Maxton

Inigo Thomas, 3 January 2008

... Independent Labour Party MP, socialist, orator, Scotsman and the subject of a biography written by Gordon Brown twenty years ago – was not a successful leader, although some of his contemporaries in the 1920s thought he might become one. ‘Maxton was never a government minister,’ Brown wrote of his subject, ‘and his failure to achieve any high office ...

Scribbling Rascal

Leslie Mitchell, 1 August 1996

John Wilkes 
by Peter D.G. Thomas.
Oxford, 280 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 19 820544 9
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... misplaced desire to tease. John Wilkes met all these criteria, and was therefore much loved. Peter Thomas has produced the first serious study of Wilkes for some years. This neglect is surprising, in that Wilkes was the quintessential English Radical. With few teeth, a pronounced lisp and one of the most famous squints in history, he leers out of Hogarth’s ...


Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 July 1996

Edward ThomasSelected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... It would be quite possible to read about Edward Thomas and wonder how it was that so many people made such allowances for him. A man who had a house built for himself and then refused to live in it, he tormented his wife and children with his restlessness – he calculated he was never happy for more than a quarter of an hour in the day ...

Arty Party

Hal Foster: From the ‘society of spectacle’ to the ‘society of extras’, 4 December 2003

Relational Aesthetics 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Matthew Copeland.
Les Presses du réel, 128 pp., €9, March 2002, 2 84066 060 1
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by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Jeanine Herman.
Lukas and Sternberg, 88 pp., $19, October 2001, 0 9711193 0 9
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Interviews: Volume I 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Charta, 967 pp., $60, June 2003, 9788881584314
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... to an accredited painting or sculpture); and in the second two instances (by Liam Gillick and by Thomas Hirschhorn), a notion of art as an informal probing into a specific figure or event in history or politics, fiction or philosophy. Although each type of work can be tagged with a theoretical pedigree (in the first case, ‘the gift’ as seen by Marcel ...

Travelling in the Classic Style

Thomas Laqueur: Primo Levi, 5 September 2002

Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics 
by Robert Gordon.
Oxford, 316 pp., £45, October 2001, 0 19 815963 3
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Primo Levi 
by Ian Thomson.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 09 178531 6
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The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography 
by Carole Angier.
Viking, 898 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 670 88333 6
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... survive Auschwitz’, shaken, challenged to the core, ‘but intact’, is the subject of Robert Gordon’s superb book. Its thesis is that very early in his career Levi moved beyond the language of testimony to the ‘language of ethics’, a ‘flexible, sensitive, intelligent language’ that extends his work on the death camps into ‘a hypothetical ...

Balls in Aquaria

Thomas Crow: Joseph Rykwert, 23 October 2008

The Judicious Eye: Architecture against the Other Arts 
by Joseph Rykwert.
Reaktion, 496 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 86189 358 1
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... landscape’. Though he plainly has in mind works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Rachel Whiteread, Gordon Matta-Clark, Jeff Koons (who in fact used basketballs), Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, once again he doesn’t trouble us with names, as if that would be to indulge such artists further. These swipes are an odd fit in a book that means to illuminate ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Michael Crichton’s Revenge, 4 January 2007

... team, is on the side of the plaintiff. Crowley’s not the only paedophile in the story: Brad Gordon is a security guard at a Californian biotech firm, BioGen Research Inc. He’s terrible at his job, but gets to keep it because his uncle, Jack Watson, is the firm’s principal shareholder. Brad spends his free time watching 11-year-old girls play ...

At Tate Britain

Inigo Thomas: Frederick Swynnerton, 21 January 2016

... older than the Jatakas, older than the Mahabharata, older than history itself’. ‘General Gordon’s Last Stand’ by George Joy (1885) Frederick never knew a single career. He wrote about neolithic Manx history, he wrote on Indian themes for the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, but painting was dominant. He was taught ...

Short Cuts

Matthew Beaumont: The route to Tyburn Tree, 20 June 2013

... in the 1820s as a triumphal entrance for Buckingham Palace, then relocated to Hyde Park, where Thomas Cubitt rebuilt it in 1851. But – because Nash’s original plans for reliefs commemorating English victories in the Napoleonic conflict were never fully executed – the triumph it celebrates is an oddly blank one. After it was ‘islanded’ in ...

Rogering in Merryland

Thomas Keymer: The Unspeakable Edmund Curll, 13 December 2007

Edmund Curll, Bookseller 
by Paul Baines and Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 388 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 19 927898 5
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... perhaps, but also a reminder that Curll, by publishing the 1725 Works, did more than anyone before Thomas Hollis in the 1760s to keep alive Marvell’s reputation. Curll’s intertwining of seduction and sedition was targeted and exploited by the authorities, and his belated prosecution for publishing pornographic titles including Venus in the ...

‘Famous for its Sausages’

David Blackbourn, 2 January 1997

The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 190 pp., £22.50, July 1995, 0 19 509499 9
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... ideological weapons against Russian ‘barbarism’ and the ‘superficial’ British and French. Thomas Mann’s Observations of a Non-Political Man, published in 1916, is the prize exhibit of historians concerned to pin down this pattern of thinking. The same mental set has often been viewed as an important enabling element in the coming of National ...

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