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Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... I first got my hands on a typewriter at the age of nine. It was my father’s, a 1967 Olivetti in grey bakelite. He clearly had no use for it: why would a dentist need a typewriter? Whereas I needed it to write a novel, a fast-paced, gut-wrenching, hard-boiled murder mystery set in a primary school ...

Memories of Tagore

E.P. Thompson, 22 May 1986

... Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the 125th anniversary of whose birth is being celebrated by a series of festival events in London this month, returned to Bengal in September 1913 after a triumphant spell in England. Sir William Rothenstein had introduced him to English literary and artistic circles in the course of the previous year ...

Ideal Speech

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 19 November 1981

Hegel contra Sociology 
by Gillian Rose.
Athlone, 261 pp., £18, May 1981, 0 485 11214 0
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The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School 
by George Friedman.
Cornell, 312 pp., £9.50, February 1981, 9780801412790
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Metacritique 
by Garbis Kortian, translated by John Raffan.
Cambridge, 134 pp., £12.50, August 1980, 0 631 12779 8
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The Idea of a Critical Theory 
by Raymond Geuss.
Cambridge, 99 pp., £10, December 1981, 0 521 24072 7
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The Politics of Social Theory 
by Russell Keat.
Blackwell, 245 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 631 12779 8
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Critical Hermeneutics 
by John Thompson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £17.50, September 1981, 9780521239325
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Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences 
by Paul Ricoeur, translated by John Thompson.
Cambridge, 314 pp., £20, September 1981, 0 521 23497 2
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... is born free but is everywhere in chains. ‘Civilised man’, unfortunately, ‘is born and dies a slave. The infant is bound up in swaddling clothes, the corpse is nailed down in his coffin. All his life man is imprisoned by institutions.’ Optimists will insist, as Helvétius did to Rousseau, that ‘l’éducation peut ...

Back to Byzantium

John Thompson, 22 January 1981

Destinations 
by Jan Morris.
Oxford, 242 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 19 502708 6
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The Venetian Empire 
by Jan Morris.
Faber, 192 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 9780571099368
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... There’s a jet on the cover of Destinations, soaring silently above New York, bathed in the rosy, gauzy haze of a dawn sun. The serenity of it all is deceptive, because Jan Morris is screaming in on a special assignment from Rolling Stone. Her collection of essays touches down in a quick succession of trouble-torn areas – India in the Emergency, post-Watergate Washington, Southern Africa, Panama, even London with its National Front marches – then screams off again for a further twenty culturally-absorbent pages elsewhere ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine, 16 August 1990

Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... of Her Majesty’s subjects. But for all that, the true-blue-rinse Thatcher years have not been a happy or an easy time for the House of Windsor. In public, the Prime Minister professes respect and admiration for her sovereign lady and the whole royal family. But it is difficult to believe that in private she offers the ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... out into the Atlantic from the southern coast of Ireland. For centuries sea captains have used it as a landmark. On 7 May 1915 a local family named Henderson, picnicking on the promontory in bright sunshine, were admiring a huge passenger liner with four raked-back funnels steaming ...

Absent Framers

Andreas Teuber, 31 March 1988

... Friend: ‘You have given us a good Constitution.’ Gouverneur Morris: ‘That depends on how it is construed.’ Last year was the year of the bicentennial of the US Constitution. Many celebrations were planned and held, not only in Philadelphia, where the framers had met from May to September in 1787, but in many American cities, large and small ...

John Homer’s Odyssey

Claude Rawson, 9 January 1992

Customs in Common 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 547 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 85036 411 6
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... Edward Thompson’s Customs in Common is described as a ‘companion volume’ to his The Making of the English Working Class, and rises to the occasion. It has the wide range of reference, the densely-textured documentation, a special quality of charged impressionism (sometimes tendentious, more often honourably concerned with generous perspectives and panoramic insight), the embattled moral fervour, which established the earlier book as a classic of historical scholarship and indeed of English letters ...
The Aristocracy in England, 1660-1914 
by J.V. Beckett.
Blackwell, 512 pp., £22.50, September 1986, 0 631 13391 7
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... As Britain chips away at her manufacturing base and slides towards becoming one vast open-air museum and tourist attraction, her aristocracy has emerged as the most dignified and venerable of museum pieces. Country houses are prized and revered as architectural gems, as art galleries and as period museums, and the frequently bizarre mixture of the excellent and the ordinary in their collections, or their downright second-rate quality, is successfully concealed by the adroit salesmanship which portrays all this in the full glory of its variety and eclecticism as a central part of the national heritage ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson, 19 February 2015

Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... An outsider​ by birth as well as by disposition, Flora Thompson took solitary pleasure in observing her fellow villagers. She stored away characters and scenes from an early age – the naughty children who pulled her hair, Queenie who spoke to bees, the annual pig killing, May Day, the harvest – but published nothing until she was in her thirties, and nothing on her childhood until her early sixties ...

Examples

Denis Donoghue, 2 February 1984

Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... I’ll talk mostly about Towards 2000, so I should give a brief account of Writing in Society and Radical Earnestness to begin with. Radical Earnestness is a brisk survey of a ‘tradition of thought’, a ‘mode of feeling’, which Fred Inglis identifies as English and, in a vague sense, socialist ...

So it must be for ever

Thomas Meaney: American Foreign Policy, 13 July 2016

American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 244 pp., £14.99, March 2014, 978 1 78168 667 6
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A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role 
by John A. Thompson.
Cornell, 343 pp., £19.95, October 2015, 978 0 8014 4789 1
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A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s 
by Daniel J. Sargent.
Oxford, 369 pp., £23.49, January 2015, 978 0 19 539547 1
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... It is a sign​ of true political power when a great people can determine, of its own will, the vocabulary, the terminology and the words, the very way of speaking, even the way of thinking, of other peoples,’ Carl Schmitt wrote in 1932, at the wick’s end of the Weimar Republic ...

Pulp

Scott Bradfield, 14 December 1995

Jim Thompson Omnibus: The Getaway, The Killer inside Me, The Grifters, Pop. 1280 
Picador, 570 pp., £7.99, November 1995, 3 303 34288 1Show More
Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson 
by Robert Polito.
Knopf, 543 pp., $30, October 1995, 0 394 58407 4
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... Jim Thompson never actually claimed to write capital-L Literature, but today, nearly twenty years after his death, many of his admirers are making the claim for him. Born in a sheriff’s apartment over the Caddo County Jail in Oklahoma in 1906, Thompson, like many good American boys, grew up to be a lot like his father ...

English Protestantism

J.B. Trapp, 4 September 1980

Studies in the Reformation: Luther to Hooker 
by W.D.J. Cargill Thompson.
Athlone, 259 pp., £18, July 1980, 9780485111873
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... Towards the end of 1533, Sir Thomas More turned to write the last of his harsh rejoinders to a pamphlet attack, printed abroad, on the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist. He did not know who the author was, though he guessed it to be his fierce old adversary William Tyndale, or perhaps George Joye, Tyndale’s former friend and collaborator, now his mortal enemy ...

Thinking the unthinkable

John Naughton, 4 September 1980

... The Western powers and the USSR started by producing and stockpiling nuclear weapons as a deterrent to general war. The idea seemed simple enough. Because of the enormous amount of destruction that could be wreaked by a single nuclear explosion, the idea was that both sides in what we still see as an East-West conflict would be deterred from taking any aggressive action which might endanger the vital interests of the other ...

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