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Taking back America

Anatol Lieven: The right-wing backlash, 2 December 2004

What’s the Matter with America? The Resistible Rise of the American Right 
by Thomas Frank.
Secker, 306 pp., £12, September 2004, 0 436 20539 4
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... as Republicans. The great populist wave of the 1890s which led to the adoption of William Jennings Bryan as the Democratic presidential candidate was imbued with fundamentalist Protestantism. Bryan’s ‘leftism’ did not take precedence over his fundamentalist Christianity; nor in his own mind was there any tension ...

Sod off, readers

John Sutherland, 26 September 1991

Rude Words: A Discursive History of the London Library 
by John Wells.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, September 1991, 0 333 47519 4
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Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English 
by Geoffrey Hughes.
Blackwell, 283 pp., £16.95, August 1991, 0 631 16593 2
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... been immune to such essentially human feelings. Carlyle happened to be in the library in 1875 when Bryan Courthope Hunt – the child of a famously irregular marriage – chose to commit suicide there. Hunt had asked at the issue desk for the second volume of George Henry Lewes’s Problems of Life and Mind but discovered that it was out. Lewes’s wife had ...

One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham, 4 October 2001

The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... Tate Gallery St Ives exhibition catalogue for 1995 there is a comical photograph of the painter Bryan Wynter and some friends at Zennor in themid-1950s. They are seated round a bottle-strewn table. Wynter is smiling absently, Karl Weschke is looking down at his hands or the tablecloth, a woman lies slumped in an armchair and a young man holds his head in an ...

The Passing Show

Ian Hacking, 2 January 1997

On Blindness: Letters between Bryan Magee and Martin Milligan 
Oxford, 188 pp., £16.99, September 1995, 0 19 823543 7Show More
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... Bryan Magee is a brilliant philosophical entrepreneur, host of two BBC television series in which he interviewed live philosophers and dead ones (the latter mediated by other live ones). The late Martin Milligan was a talented philosopher, one who was blind, not from birth but early in life. Magee, with characteristic panache, had a splendid idea: let’s get at some philosophical issues about perception by pursuing a dialogue ...

Music and Beyond

Hans Keller, 21 October 1982

Hanns Eisler: Political Musician 
by Albrecht Betz, translated by Bill Hopkins.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £25, June 1982, 0 521 24022 0
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Music and Political: Collected Writings 1953-81 
by Hans Werner Henze, translated by Peter Labanyi.
Faber, 286 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 571 11719 8
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Vindications: Essays on Romantic Music 
by Deryck Cooke and Bryan Magee.
Faber, 226 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11795 3
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... from my intra-musical position. ‘Conceptually communicable’: I choose my words with care. In Bryan Magee’s otherwise profoundly sensitive and knowledgeable ‘memoir’ of Deryck Cooke, there is a single gravely misleading sentence: ‘As a conceptual thinker, in the academic sense, he was competent but unremarkable, though he kept himself up to ...

Beau Beverley

George Melly, 27 June 1991

Beverley Nichols 
by Bryan Connon.
Constable, 320 pp., £20, March 1991, 0 09 470570 4
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... sentimentality. What I read was a fascinating account of a very English tragi-comedy. The author, Bryan Connon, was invited to take it on by Nichols before his death, and assured there would be no restraints. ‘You must tell the truth as you see it. However unflattering it may be.’ I wonder, had he lived to read it, if he would have regretted this carte ...

Rachel and Her Race

Patrick Parrinder, 18 August 1994

Constructions of ‘the Jew’ in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875-1945 
by Bryan Cheyette.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £35, November 1993, 0 521 44355 5
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The Jewish Heritage in British History: Englishness and Jewishness 
edited by Tony Kushner.
Cass, 234 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7146 3464 6
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... Jew, like Karl Marx or Lord Beaconsfield. On the other hand, she did not originate what Bryan Cheyette would call a ‘semitic discourse’, though she certainly became the object of one. Disraeli rhapsodised over the ‘semitic principle’ which, he thought, ensured that true Jews were also true-blue Conservatives. Marx, most notoriously in his ...

Political Purposes

Frances Spalding: Art in postwar Britain, 15 April 1999

New Art New World: British Art in Postwar Society 
by Margaret Garlake.
Yale, 279 pp., £35, July 1998, 0 300 07292 9
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Cultural Offensive: America’s Impact on British Art since 1945 
by John Walker.
Pluto, 304 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 7453 1321 3
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... proof of Britain’s postwar vitality. The Whitechapel Art Gallery became a major venue after Bryan Robertson took over there, and the British Council, founded in 1934, also held important exhibitions, though it operated mostly abroad, becoming, as Garlake observes, an unacknowledged arm of the Foreign Office. Garlake quotes a letter, first brought to ...

Waiting for Something Unexpected

Sophie Pinkham: Gaito Gazdanov, 6 March 2014

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf 
by Gaito Gazdanov, translated by Bryan Karetnyk.
Pushkin, 167 pp., £7.99, November 2013, 978 1 78227 072 0
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... without a sense of living speech, and though it is often beautiful, it is at times colourless. Bryan Karetnyk’s translation is readable and sometimes elegant, but small inaccuracies, in a highly philosophical text, where precision is essential, make the underlying ideas sound more vague than they should. One of Gazdanov’s central themes is the absence ...

The Lie that Empire Tells Itself

Eric Foner: America’s bad wars, 19 May 2005

The Dominion of War: Empire and conflict in North America 1500-2000 
by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.
Atlantic, 520 pp., £19.99, July 2005, 1 903809 73 8
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... power of the United States in the name of liberty’. The Dominion of War might be read alongside J.M. Coetzee’s novel Waiting for the Barbarians. Coetzee’s protagonist, a well-intentioned petty bureaucrat living on the imperial frontier, develops a passionate hatred for a brutal official sent from the centre to extract information about a local ...


Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens, 21 September 1995

... details are roughly the same but the emotional effect on the abductee varies. According to C.D.B. Bryan’s incredibly lazy book, * in which he details the findings of a recent conference on the phenomenon, abductees are 94 per cent Caucasian, 75 per cent female, and have 1.9 children. All of them arrive at the therapist’s frightened, distressed, and with a ...

Royal Anxiety

Gabriele Annan, 9 June 1994

The Queen 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 341 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 297 81211 4
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Divine Right: The Inglorious Survival of British Royalty 
by Richard Tomlinson.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 316 91119 4
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... that the actions of the press’ – in publishing topless photographs of Fergie with Mr Bryan – ‘have aroused so little public indignation. It shows how low is the standing of the Duchess.’ Harris is fair to the point of paying tribute to Christopher Hitchens, but too much impartiality can be lethal: The Queen is a bore, even when it gets to ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Prunella Clough, 2 August 2007

... of her life. The designer Eileen Gray was her aunt; Clough was trustee of Gray’s estate and, as Bryan Robertson records in his obituary, she ‘licensed reproductions of furniture, and passed on all the annual royalties to art schools, as bursaries or as equipment, or to impoverished students and hard-up fellow artists’. A combination of modesty, broadly ...

At Tate Britain

James Cahill: Frank Bowling, 15 August 2019

... a picture of a grimacing woman slumped against a mattress, bisected by windowpanes. The curator Bryan Robertson wrote shortly afterwards that Bacon’s work had made Bowling ‘realise that a tragic sensibility could engender a commensurate use of paint and handling of colour’. But even early on it was clear that Bowling’s sensibility allowed for other ...

Unarmed Combat

Richard Usborne, 21 April 1988

The Anglo-French Clash in Lebanon and Syria, 1940-1945 
by A.B. Gaunson.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £29.50, March 1987, 0 333 40221 9
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Personal Patchwork 1939-1945 
by Bryan Guinness.
Cygnet, 260 pp., £9.50, March 1987, 0 907435 06 8
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Staff Officer: The Diaries of Lord Moyne 1914-1918 
edited by Brian Bond.
Leo Cooper, 256 pp., £17.50, October 1987, 0 85052 053 3
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... to be holding the wrong end of the stick simply through inattention. Second Lieutenant the Hon. Bryan Guinness of the Royal Sussex Regiment, novelist, poet, farmer, son and heir of Lord Moyne, was posted to the Spears Mission in Brazzaville in February 1941. He served there, and in Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus and Beirut, and was for a period stand-in ADC to ...

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