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Say not the struggle

J.M. Winter, 1 November 1984

The Labour Governments: 1945-51 
by Henry Pelling.
Macmillan, 313 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 333 36356 6
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... Judged by European standards, the role of intellectuals in the history of the British Labour movement has not been especially distinguished. There are no figures in British Labour history of the stature of Jean Jaurès, Karl Kautsky or Antonio Gramsci, whose theoretical and historical works have been recognised as significant contributions to socialist politics ...

New Life on the West Bank

J.M. Winter, 7 January 1988

... One of Antonio Gramsci’s most compelling distinctions is between two kinds of political struggle. What he variously called the ‘war of manoeuvre’ or the ‘war of movement’ entailed the seizure of state power. This is not a problematic concept, and has as its clear model the Bolshevik experience. Understandably, in the inter-war years, this was the destination of Communist politics, but under the harsh circumstances of Fascist rule, it could only have been the ultima ratio, and not the prima ratio, of political action ...

Something of Importance

Philip Williamson, 2 February 1989

The Coming of the First World War 
edited by R.J.W. Evans and Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann.
Oxford, 189 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 19 822899 6
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The Experience of World War One 
by J.M. Winter.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 333 44613 5
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Russia and the Allies 1917-1920. Vol II: The Road to Intervention, March-November 1918 
by Michael Kettle.
Routledge, 401 pp., £40, June 1988, 0 415 00371 7
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Douglas Haig 1861-1928 
by Gerald De Groot.
Unwin Hyman, 441 pp., £20, November 1988, 0 04 440192 2
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Nothing of Importance: A Record of Eight Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion 
by Bernard Adams.
The Strong Oak Press/Tom Donovan Publishing, 324 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 9781871048018
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1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War 
by Lyn Macdonald.
Joseph, 346 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 0 7181 3188 6
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... can hope to reach a substantial ‘general’ readership: the Evans and Pogge von Strandmann, Winter and De Groot books each have this audience in mind. The subject also attracts many non-academic writers, editors and compilers, contributing a large literature of ‘popular history’. The war has stimulated some of the most impressive work within these ...

Warfare and Welfare

Paul Addison, 24 July 1986

The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation 
by Correlli Barnett.
Macmillan, 359 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 333 35376 5
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The Great War and the British People 
by J.M. Winter.
Macmillan, 360 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 333 26582 3
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... national asset. The same was true of Britain during the Great War, as may be discovered from Jay Winter’s superb scholarly analysis. The subject-matter is more specialised than his title suggests. This is a socio-economic historian’s investigation of the impact of war on population trends and civilian health, with an epilogue, which reads a bit like the ...

A Novel without a Hero

Christopher Ricks, 6 December 1979

The Mangan Inheritance 
by Brian Moore.
Cape, 336 pp., £5.50
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... the poetry, the wild blood had been transferred across the Atlantic Ocean to this cold winter land, to this, his father’s harsh native city in which he now lay dying. He looked at his father’s face and wished that those features were his own.’ Much of Davie’s spirited salute to Waverley (’one of the greatest novels in the ...

Idiot Mambo

Robert Taubman, 16 April 1981

Cities of the Red Night 
by William Burroughs.
Calder, 332 pp., £9.95, March 1981, 0 7145 3784 5
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The Tokyo-Montana Express 
by Richard Brautigan.
Cape, 258 pp., £6.50, April 1981, 0 224 01907 4
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... in ‘the smallest snowstorm on record’ – ‘Have you ever tried to find two snowflakes on a winter landscape that’s been covered with snow for months?’ These two flakes aren’t in fact found and preserved in the freezer – ‘where they would be comfortable’ – but they’re preserved in Brautigan’s art. Perhaps this miniature art has ...

On the Farm

Daisy Hildyard, 7 June 2018

... At that time of year the cattle on my father’s beef farm in Yorkshire come inside for the winter, and we had recently separated a group of young bullocks from the rest of the herd. The bullocks went into a barn and the others were supposed to stay out for a few more days, but they didn’t like it, and expressed their dislike loudly. We had to move ...

Cool It

Jenny Diski, 18 July 1996

I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 356 pp., £15.99, June 1996, 9780571144877
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... moments, your fingers die; at its edge, the 5.5 million square mile ice-cap (twice that size in winter) calves bergs, some as big as London, the largest recorded 60 miles long, which drift through the most turbulent seas in the world; no land-based vertebrate inhabits the southernmost continent, because nothing can live on it apart from breeding penguins ...

Utterly Oyster

Andrew O’Hagan: Fergie-alike, 12 August 2021

The Bench 
by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Puffin, 40 pp., £12.99, May 2021, 978 0 241 54221 7
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Her Heart for a Compass 
by Sarah, Duchess of York.
Mills & Boon, 549 pp., £14.99, August 2021, 978 0 00 838360 2
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... and government, and could impersonate the spring song of birds (‘And sing with us, Away, Winter away!/Cum, Somer, cum, the suete sesoùn and sonne!’). Meghan Markle, an actress down to her opalescent toenails, can do all this stuff standing on her head, especially the speaking with the dead bit. She has an instinct for posterity (all actors do) and ...

The Sacred Cause of Idiom

Frank Kermode: Lady Gregory, 22 January 2004

Lady Gregory's Toothbrush 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 127 pp., £7.99, September 2003, 0 330 41993 5
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... Lofty Things’: Augusta Gregory seated at her great ormolu table, Her eightieth winter approaching: ‘Yesterday he threatened my life. I told him that nightly from six to seven I sat at this table, The blinds drawn up.’ Her only son, Robert, killed in 1918 on the Italian front when a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, was ...

High Punctuation

Christopher Ricks, 14 May 1992

But I digress: The Exploitation of Parentheses in English Printed Verse 
by John Lennard.
Oxford, 324 pp., £35, November 1991, 0 19 811247 5
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... of the moon), but with pages of responsible and fascinating teasing-out:   For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!And overspread with phantom light,(With swimming phantom light o’erspreadBut rimmed and circled by a silver thread)I see the old Moon in her lap, foretellingThe coming-on of rain and squally blastAs for Eliot, there are evocations, as persuasive ...

Because He’s Worth It

David Simpson: Young Werther, 13 September 2012

The Sufferings of Young Werther 
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Stanley Corngold.
Norton, 151 pp., £16.99, January 2012, 978 0 393 07938 8
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... The presiding author is Homer, who comes from a land where lemon trees bloom. Book 2 is a winter book. It covers 15 months, from October to December of the following year, and changes mood dramatically. There are only a few short letters written in the summer months, as if Werther can’t write at any length until we get to early autumn: ‘As nature ...

Keep yr gob shut

Christopher Tayler: Larkin v. Amis, 20 December 2012

The Odd Couple: The Curious Friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin 
by Richard Bradford.
Robson, 373 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 1 84954 375 0
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... showing as the ranking literary man, publishing The North Ship (1945), Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947) before he was 26. Amis seems to have taken this in his stride, being more absorbed by the many sexual opportunities that came his way even as a junior academic. Larkin got on well with Amis’s first wife, Hilly Bardwell, and Bradford wonders how ...

Not a Damn Thing

Nick Laird: In Yeats’s wake, 18 August 2005

Collected Poems 
by Patrick Kavanagh, edited by Antoinette Quinn.
Allen Lane, 299 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 7139 9599 8
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... removed. He convalesced by lying on the banks of Dublin’s Grand Canal over the summer. In the winter of 1956 a small collection was produced by the literary quarterly Nimbus after Macmillan had rejected it. He spent part of 1957 in New York, and after that had a burst of lyric energy which produced a series of love poems, kinder and happier in tone than ...
Selected Poems 
by James Merrill.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £9.95, April 1996, 1 85754 228 2
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... had started going to Greece in about 1959 and soon bought a house in Athens, where he lived every winter for years. It is to Greece that many of the poems in this book and in later collections owe their settings, their characters and their very un-American blend of refined sensuality and sense of the divine inhabiting the human, of the god breathing through ...

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