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John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... front line of the war between the sexes. The heroine Sadie (play on ‘sad’ and ‘sadist’) Thompson (play on Maugham’s unregenerate prostitute) is so comprehensively victimised that her only recourse is to victimise herself more shockingly than even her enemies can. And with her self-inflicted wounds she is supposed to win a kind of freedom. We ...

Paisley’s Progress

Tom Paulin, 1 April 1982

... In 1969, while he was serving a prison sentence for unlawful assembly, Ian Paisley sent this message to his congregation: I rejoice with you in the rich blessings of last weekend. I knew that our faithful God would pour out His bounty. In prayer in this cell I touched the Eternal Throne and had the gracious assurance of answered prayer ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... a foothold in the establishment they were criticising: in the words of Cook’s biographer, Harry Thompson, these were not rebellious outsiders but ‘young men questioning a system they had been trained to lead’ and laughing at ‘the society that had reared them’.The four cast members of Beyond the Fringe soon decamped to New York, where the revue ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... kind of thing better done than it has been done before.’ A Celebration includes an extract from Ian Buruma’s study of anglophilia, Voltaire’s Coconuts (1999), which discusses Pevsner in terms of the clash between ‘nativism and internationalism’ – a conflict which, Buruma suggests, he embodied without ever resolving. The objections, which rumble on ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... when there were plenty of people to stand by their woman. Those who wrote about her included Ian Gilmour, W.G. Runciman, Neal Ascherson, Christopher Hitchens, R.W. Johnson, Ross McKibbin, E.P. Thompson, Tam Dalyell and Peter Clarke. What they wrote seemed excellent to me, with Runciman bearing the palm for aphoristic ...

It’s a riot

Michael Ignatieff, 20 August 1981

‘Civil Disturbances’: Hansard, Vol. 8, Nos 143-144, 16 July 1981 – 17 July 1981 
HMSO, £80Show More
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... speaks of riot as the inevitable explosion, the moment when the spark hit the tinder. Tories like Ian Lloyd enjoy demolishing this inevitabilism, citing the example of wretched but peaceable Glasgow as proof that Labour’s correlation between poverty and looting is ‘seditious sociological claptrap’. The correlation may not be claptrap, but it offers no ...

In Search of People’s History

Eric Hobsbawm, 19 March 1981

People’s History and Socialist Theory 
edited by Raphael Samuel.
Routledge, 417 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 7100 0765 5
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British Labour History 
by E.H. Hunt.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.50, January 1981, 0 297 77785 8
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... means for working coal-miners (by Dave Douglass), pioneer studies of the Scottish peasantry (by Ian Carter), an exploration into the politics of Hertfordshire villagers at the time of Wat Tyler (by Ros Faith), observations on George V’s Silver Jubilee as celebrated in Kenya (by John Lonsdale), a powerful dissection of the problems of writing the history ...

Eat Caviar

Daniel Soar: Rubem Fonseca’s Cunning Stories, 26 February 2009

‘The Taker’ and Other Stories 
by Rubem Fonseca, translated by Clifford Landers.
Open Letter, 166 pp., $15.95, November 2008, 978 1 934824 02 3
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... to be very precise in its arsenal of weapons-related terminology – they’re using a 12-gauge Thompson – and equally interested in its details, but when you look closely at the way those details are described you find that the language keeps heading in a particular direction: ‘There was a hole in his chest that was big enough for a loaf of ...

With Bit and Bridle

Matthew Kelly: 18th-Century Ireland, 5 August 2010

Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves 
by Ian McBride.
Gill and Macmillan, 563 pp., £19.99, October 2009, 978 0 7171 1627 0
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... cent to 5 per cent. Confiscation and settlement alone, however, did not secure the Ascendancy. As Ian McBride emphasises, the Franco-Jacobite threat was temporarily removed in 1713, when France recognised the Protestant succession as part of the Treaty of Utrecht. Paving the way for the Anglo-French alliance of 1716-31, Utrecht allowed the consolidation of ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... body and convention to ‘soar like an eagle’ in the way of the blessed inebriate in Richard Thompson’s song ‘God Loves a Drunk’ (‘His shouts and his curses they are just hymns and praises/To kick-start his mind now and then’)? Timothy Neat writes not in order to leave his late friend in a heap on the floor, least of all the floor of the ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... really the Tardis, an ineptly camouflaged space-and-time-travel machine. The teachers, Barbara and Ian, will for a while go travelling with the Doctor, too – representing History and Science, the original show’s big themes. ‘An Unearthly Child’ was broadcast on a date to conjure with – 23 November 1963, the day after Kennedy was shot. The basic ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum, 25 October 2018

Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... Labour Party together. The British left anathematised the EEC as a capitalist club. For E.P. Thompson, it was ‘a group of fat, rich nations feeding each other goodies’. Barbara Castle, Michael Foot and Tony Benn led a powerful Labour campaign against the Common Market, in itself a pejorative term on the left. But Roy Jenkins and others on Labour’s ...

Witchiness

Marina Warner: Baba Yaga, 27 August 2009

Baba Yaga Laid an Egg 
by Dubravka Ugrešić, translated by Ellen Elias Bursác, Celia Hawkesworth and Mark Thompson.
Canongate, 327 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84767 066 3
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... crone, not even Sir Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann as the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella, or Ian McKellen camping it up as Widow Twankey, can approach the monstrosity of Baba Yaga. At the close of Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, the mysterious Dr Bagay herself sprouts feathers and finds her mouth stretching into a beak, and takes off on another kind of magical ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens, 28 June 1990

Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... historic journalist’s fear of the whims of the proprietor, whether Canadian like Beaverbrook, Thompson and Black, Australian-American like Murdoch, or berks or Burkes like most of the rest of them. The other two coercions, of the law of libel and the law of official secrecy, remain as strong as ever. Alan Watkins’s book is ostensibly an essay on the ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... the early graduates of Cambridge English, [D.W.] Harding, [L.C.] Knights, Q.D. Leavis and [Denys] Thompson – five authors who, in aggregate, wrote on virtually every topic that Scrutiny ever discussed. The second Scrutiny generation, led by [R.G.] Cox and Ford, was markedly more restricted in range.’ Ford and his like (according to Mulhern) worked through ...

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