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Behind the Veil

Richard Altick, 6 March 1986

The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England 1850-1914 
by Janet Oppenheim.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 521 26505 3
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... public mind. In her exhaustively researched and coolly detached account of English spiritualism, Janet Oppenheim is less interested in those who came to scoff than in those who remained to subscribe. She estimates that from its beginnings in the 1850s down to the First World War, spiritualism attracted, at the very most, a hundred thousand men and ...

The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... Despite defences of John Buchan by Gertrude Himmelfarb in an essay in Encounter in 1960, and Janet Adam Smith in her biography of 1965, the mud stuck. By the end of the Sixties in England, John Buchan was sinking towards oblivion, the sort of forgotten bestseller (like Phillips Oppenheim) you find in seaside rental ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... for example, made him see red. Jews and the high finance.’Buchan’s biographers, starting with Janet Adam Smith in 1965, tend to hold up this turnaround as evidence that he wasn’t an antisemite. They point to his handful of Jewish friends, to his Zionism – a cause he learned about from his friend Arthur Balfour, who set him on the path of writing ...

Big toes are gross

Hal Foster: Surrealism's Influence, 6 June 2024

Why Surrealism Matters 
by Mark Polizzotti.
Yale, 232 pp., £16.99, March, 978 0 300 25709 0
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... definition in the Manifesto, Breton took the idea of psychic automatism directly from Pierre Janet: ‘Surrealism, n. Psychic automatism in its pure state by which one proposes to express – verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner – the actual functioning of thought … in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt ...

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