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Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... recent phase of sustained and self-conscious development. There, however, the similarities end. Britain’s densely-researched book is a revised doctoral dissertation which views the Webbs with Webb-like detachment: Young’s account is longer but also slighter – an affectionate (if faintly equivocal) survey by an Old Dartingtonian, who knew both ...

South Britain

Rosalind Mitchison, 1 April 1982

The Economic History of Britain since 1700. Vol. 1: 1700-1860 
edited by Roderick Floud and Donald McCloskey.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £25, October 1981, 0 521 23166 3
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The Economic History of Britain since 1700. Vol. II: 1860 to the 1970s 
edited by Roderick Floud and Donald McCloskey.
Cambridge, 485 pp., £30, October 1981, 0 521 23167 1
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... an economic history of England and Wales since 1700’, thereby displaying a curtailed concept of Britain. Most of the chapters concentrate on England, though almost all of the tables, of which there are many, are based on figures for Great Britain as a whole or, in Volume II, for the United Kingdom. Occasionally one of the ...

Europe or America?

Ian Gilmour, 7 November 2019

... Plot’, came out in 1998, Hugo Young said that it was ‘the story of fifty years in which Britain struggled to reconcile the past she could not forget with the future she could not avoid’. Ian Gilmour reviewed the book in the ‘LRB’ of 10 December 1998. What he says seems apposite. The​ first political ...

At Tate Britain

James Cahill: Frank Bowling, 15 August 2019

... lived experience has proved, for Bowling, a powerful dualism. His current retrospective at Tate Britain (until 26 August) is his first at a British gallery. Institutional recognition has been slow, despite presentations at the Whitney in 1971 and the Serpentine in 1986. Bowling was made a Royal Academician in 2005 but he has remained a quiet man of British ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gardens, 8 July 2004

... by intention, one through neglect. The desire to make landscape pictures is particularly strong in Britain. Gardeners’ ideas have been available in print from the time of the great 18th-century landscape gardeners and on through Robinson and Jekyll right up to Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto. The highest achievement in gardening, even when plots are ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: ‘Phantom Ride’, 4 July 2013

... Simon Starling’s film installation Phantom Ride, commissioned by Tate Britain for its vast Duveen Galleries, takes its title from a cinematic fad of the early 1900s. Cameras and cameramen were hitched to the buffers of trains, and latterly trams, and filmed the track and scenery as they hurtled along. An early phantom ride was typically a single shot, just a few minutes long, which might, if you visited Hale’s Tours of the World (established on Oxford Street in 1906), have had its speeding colonial vistas enhanced with railway whistles, hissing steam and even shaking benches ...

Well done, Ian McEwan

Michael Wood, 10 May 1990

The Innocent 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 231 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 224 02783 2
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... is no defence, innocence doesn’t stand a chance. A complex variant of this scene haunts Ian McEwan’s fiction, and creates, among other things, an eerie resonance for the mild-seeming title of his remarkable new novel. For McEwan, the innocent is never entirely innocent, always has a murky relation to the corpse and the knife. But an innocence ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 3 April 2014

... remains of something else, of which they must necessarily be a shadow, an echo or a critique. Tate Britain’s exhibition (until 18 May), drawn mostly from its own collection and gathered under the capacious heading of Ruin Lust, takes too little account of this. Beginning with Piranesi’s views of Rome it offers many fine things to look at, but the parts add ...

Leaving it alone

R.G. Opie, 21 April 1983

Britain can work 
by Ian Gilmour.
Martin Robertson, 272 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 85520 571 7
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The Use of Public Power 
by Andrew Shonfield, edited by Zuzanna Shonfield.
Oxford, 140 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 215357 9
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... Sir Ian Gilmour has written a splendid book about a splendid subject. The question he asks is: ‘How did Monetarism capture the Conservatives?’ It is a genuine mystery, and also a very serious issue, as more than three million Britons, including Sir Ian, know to their cost. They – and he – have lost their jobs as a result of it: they as victims of a heartless, misguided and ill-founded policy, and he as a victim of his views about it ...

Squealing

Ian Buruma, 13 May 1993

Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... resent the privileges the toffs are terrified of losing. Like every other country in the world, Britain is changing, but in few developed countries do people have such a strong feeling that every change is for the worse. Britain is plagued by a mood of cultural pessimism that brings to mind France of the 1870s. Every ...

An Exploration of Geography

W.R. Mead, 18 March 1982

Shell Guide to Reading the Landscape 
by Richard Muir.
Joseph, 368 pp., £10.50, May 1981, 0 7181 1971 1
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The Environment in British Prehistory 
edited by Ian Simmons and Michael Tooley.
Duckworth, 334 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 9780715614419
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Geography, Ideology and Social Concern 
edited by D.R. Stoddart.
Blackwell, 250 pp., £12, May 1981, 0 631 12717 8
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... environmentalist and as the ideologist. Richard Muir looks at the landscape as nature’s stage. Ian Simmons and Michael Tooley, with their team of scientists, identify the stages of nature as they have changed through the successive periods of British prehistory. David Stoddart’s conclave of geographers engage in a philosophical exploration of geography ...

Diary

Ian Aitken: Party Fairy-Tales, 22 March 1990

... Sunday Telegraph. It came to be widely accepted that this trial represented a clash between an Old Britain personified by Mr Worsthorne and a New Britain exemplified by the man Private Eye calls ‘Brillo Pad’. The thesis behind this characterisation was that Mr Worsthorne represented a kindly, charitable, condescending ...
The Economic Legacy 1979-1992 
edited by Jonathan Michie.
Academic Press, 384 pp., £25, March 1992, 0 12 494060 9
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The Godley Papers: Economic Problems and Policies in the 1980s and 90s 
by Wynne Godley.
New Statesman and Society, £2
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Full Employment in the 1990s 
by John Grieve Smith.
Institute for Public Policy Research, 68 pp., £7.50, March 1992, 1 872452 48 5
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... For thirty years after the war Britain had full employment, stable (if slow) growth, low inflation, and a welfare state that was widely admired. And it was common ground that governments could and should provide those things. Since the mid-Seventies, all that has changed. The norm for unemployment has risen five or sixfold from about half a million to nearly three million; growth is slow and uneven, inflation is stubbornly higher than in the early post-war period; the provision of public services has markedly deteriorated; and new disparities in the distribution of income and wealth have opened up ...

Second Last Leader

Ian Gilmour, 7 June 1984

Another Heart and Other Pulses: The Alternative to the Thatcher Society 
by Michael Foot.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 00 217256 9
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... Labour claimed to represent the workers, and because of the virtual absence of a peasantry, Britain had a higher percentage of these than other comparable countries. The Labour Party also had the benefit of the support of some of the country’s cleverest people. Unfortunately, the workers had little liking for the medicine prescribed for them by those ...

Lucky Brrm

John Sutherland, 12 March 1992

Brrm! Brrm! 
by Clive James.
Cape, 160 pp., £12.99, November 1991, 0 224 03226 7
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Saint Maybe 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 337 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 7011 3787 8
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Faustine 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 140 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571142637
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... primarily a West End and small screen entertainer with his largest viewing constituency in Britain. The same – but more – could be said of Clive James. James has earned himself reputations as a television host, reviewer, newspaper columnist, songwriter, ‘metropolitan critic’, versifier and novelist (Brrm! Brrm! is his third published title). He ...

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