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Getting on

Joyce Carol Oates, 12 January 1995

Colored People: A Memoir 
by Henry Louis Gates.
Viking, 216 pp., £16, January 1995, 0 670 85737 8
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... anarchic the controversy is. And how far from being resolved, or even fully articulated. Henry Louis Gates, professor of English and chairman of Afro-American Studies at Harvard, has been one of the most articulate commentators on the subject. His first scholarly interest was the recovery and editing of ‘lost’ and ignored texts, primarily ...

Every single one matters

Elaine Showalter and English Showalter: The first black female novelist?, 18 August 2005

In Search of Hannah Crafts: Critical Essays on ‘The Bondwoman’s Narrative’ 
edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Hollis Robbins.
Basic Books, 458 pp., £17.50, January 2005, 0 465 02708 3
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... On 11 November 2001, the New York Times announced a major literary discovery. Henry Louis Gates, chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Harvard, had bought at auction the unpublished manuscript of the ‘earliest known novel by a female African-American slave and probably the earliest known novel by a black woman anywhere ...

On the Secret Joke at the Centre of American Identity

Michael Rogin: Ralph Ellison, 2 March 2000

Juneteenth 
by Ralph Ellison, edited by John Callaghan.
Hamish Hamilton, 368 pp., £16.99, December 1999, 0 241 14084 6
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... is a set of fragments masquerading as a whole – a Frankenstein’s monster, Louis Menand called it in the New York Times – and the simple plot line that Callahan imposes for unifying effect violates the form Ellison imagined and failed to achieve in this disparate, untitled, unfinished work, several sections of which had already ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 3 December 2015

Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... lists like ‘Geniuses of Western Music’ written by people who evidently believed Louis Armstrong and Aretha Franklin did not exist. That tradition continues. Dylan Byers knows nothing of your work, and therefore your work must not exist. Here is the machinery of racism – the privilege of being oblivious to questions, of never having to ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... Eventually a younger generation of African-American scholars, prominent among them Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates Jr, came round and paid respects to The Confessions of Nat Turner, and some even designated Styron the inadvertent father of the postmodern slave narrative, but by then he may have been so bruised by the ...

Joseph Jobson

Patrick Wormald, 18 April 1985

Saladin in his Time 
by P.H. Newby.
Faber, 210 pp., £10.95, November 1983, 0 571 13044 5
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Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War 
by Ronald Finucane.
Dent, 247 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 460 12040 9
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... of communal government at Acre which probably inspired his famous constitutional experiments under Henry III. Sir Steven Runciman began his three-volume History of the Crusades, one of the truly great examples of English narrative historiography, with the implied question: do we regard the Crusades ‘as the most tremendous and romantic of Christian adventures ...

Joint-Stock War

Valerie Pearl, 3 May 1984

The Age of Elizabeth: England Under the Later Tudors 1547-1603 
by D.M. Palliser.
Longman, 450 pp., £13.95, April 1983, 0 582 48580 0
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After the Armada: Elizabethan England and the Struggle for Western Europe 1588-1595 
by R.B. Wernham.
Oxford, 613 pp., £32.50, February 1984, 0 19 822753 1
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The Defeat of the Spanish Armada 
by Garrett Mattingly.
Cape, 384 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 224 02070 6
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The First Elizabeth 
by Carolly Erickson.
Macmillan, 446 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 333 36168 7
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The Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland: Essays in Honour of Gordon Donaldson 
edited by Ian Cowan and Duncan Shaw.
Scottish Academic Press, 261 pp., £14.50, March 1983, 0 7073 0261 7
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... was,’ he writes, ‘a war of the same kind as those that England was later to wage against Louis XIV and Napoleon I, against Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler. It involved the whole of Western Europe as well as, indeed more than, the Atlantic and the Caribbean.’ One hesitates about accepting parallels with ‘wars of the same kind’. England’s ...

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