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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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... in the 1940s. Sir Thomas More, who first wrote of the place, lost his head completely, for non-Utopian reasons, and since then a succession of charismatic cranks, frenzied philosophers and visionary vegetarians have aspired to realise heaven upon earth while more usually anticipating hell. Mighty prophets like Gerrard ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gardens, 8 July 2004

... it is paved, there is a frog pond, a fig tree, acanthus, bamboo and cranesbill. To the left an Italian neighbour has set out rows of plants in pots; she also has a well-pruned grape vine. You can see the planting she’s done here in London in front of houses in any hill town in Tuscany. Cheek by jowl, each in a piece of land not more than twenty feet by ...

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 ...

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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... as we all could be; innocence 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 ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 2 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 ...

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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... Recently in this journal C.K. Stead explained the dilemma of being a popular Australasian performer in England: ‘He can only be fully understood at home: but there he’s likely to encounter sullenness and resentment, which is overcome, paradoxically, by the irresistible force of a fame earned where the comprehension of what he is doing must be less than complete ...

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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... the handsome knight sacrificed by knaves. But good news is at hand: the hero has announced a brilliant season full of runs. In the tradition of General MacArthur, David Gower has announced his return. I hope he succeeds. But success is not the only thing that makes a hero. I have a nagging suspicion – no more than that – that his current popularity has ...

On the Window Ledge of the Union

Colin Kidd: Loyalism v. Unionism, 7 February 2013

Belfast 400: People, Place and History 
edited by S.J. Connolly.
Liverpool, 392 pp., £14.95, November 2012, 978 1 84631 634 0
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Ulster since 1600: Politics, Economy and Society 
edited by Liam Kennedy and Philip Ollerenshaw.
Oxford, 355 pp., £35, November 2012, 978 0 19 958311 9
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The Plantation of Ulster: Ideology and Practice 
edited by Eamonn O Ciardha and Micheál O Siochrú.
Manchester, 269 pp., £70, October 2012, 978 0 7190 8608 3
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The End of Ulster Loyalism? 
by Peter Shirlow.
Manchester, 230 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 7190 8476 8
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... was understandably exasperated by the Ulster problem – but no more so than a long line of politicians, before and since. Churchill – not so easily depicted as a faint-heart – lamented in the aftermath of the First World War that, while the cataclysm had transformed the rest of Europe, the Ulster question remained as intractable as ever and politic...

Not Many Dead

Linda Colley, 10 September 1992

Riot, Risings and Revolution: Governance and Violence in 18th-Century England 
by Ian Gilmour.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 09 175330 9
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... Ian Gilmour is a distinguished and highly intelligent example of a once rare species: he is a Conservative with a cause. Unfortunately for him, however – and perhaps for the rest of us as well – his cause is no longer that of the political party he has always espoused. The son of a baronet, he was born into Toryism in much the same way as Anthony Trollope’s Duke of Omnium was born to Whig Liberalism, passing through Eton, to Balliol, to marriage with a daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch, to the Bar, to safe Conservative seats in rural Norfolk and Buckinghamshire, and then on to cabinet rank, first as Secretary of Defence under Heath, and then as Lord Privy Seal and Deputy Foreign Secretary ...

Uniquely Horrible

Michael Howard, 8 September 1994

The Wages of Guilt 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 330 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 0 224 03138 4
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... to pay all the costs. In spite of the work of Fritz Fischer and his associates, few historians would now claim that this was fair. To the German people at the time it seemed outrageous. Their outrage was to be a major element in the revanchism so ably exploited by Hitler in his rise to power, and in the remorse that paralysed so much of British ...

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