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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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... ethnic identity’ or ‘class’ for the word ‘colour’, and one sees how far-ranging and how potentially anarchic the controversy is. And how far from being resolved, or even fully articulated. HenryLouisGates, 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 ...

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. HenryLouisGates, chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Harvard, had bought at auction the unpublished manuscript of the ‘earliest known novel by a female African-American slave and probably ...
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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... to two of his friends, Albert Murray and the critic Anatole Broyard. Ellison had good reason to feel troubled. Juneteenth 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 ...

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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... pronouncements about their world, about my world, and about the world itself. My life was delineated [on] 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 ...

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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... Writers Respond was reprinted under the even angrier title The Second Crucifixion of Nat Turner. Eventually a younger generation of African-American scholars, prominent among them Cornel West and HenryLouis 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 ...

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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... burning Albigensian heretics in southern France; it was his son and namesake’s experience 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 ...

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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... weak in wealth and manpower and coupled with uncertain and hesitant allies, against a great power. ‘It 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 ...

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