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That Stupid Pelt

Helen King: Wolf’s retelling of Medea, 12 November 1998

Medea: A Modern Retelling 
by Christa Wolf, translated by John Cullen.
Virago, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1998, 1 86049 480 3
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... Recent interpretations of Medea have tended to focus on issues of gender and race, portraying her either as a feminist challenging Jason’s misogyny, or as a freedom fighter on behalf of the oppressed Colchian immigrants in Corinth. In what remains the best-known version of her myth, the one created by Euripides in 431 BC, her actions turn out to be as violent and tyrannical as those of her oppressors, as she kills her own children in a quest for revenge ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... not to be confused with a novel of the same title by Anita Brookner). In the earlier book Michael Cullen left working-class Nottingham for the metropolis, fell into the proverbial bad company, and ended up as a convicted gold-smuggler. Now, having been abandoned by his wife after ten years of idleness in the Cambridgeshire village of Upper Mayhem, he needs ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... Strahan, Thomas Cadell (father and son) and George Robinson in London, and Alexander Kincaid, John Balfour, John Bell and William Creech in Edinburgh, were not ‘mechanicks’ as Strahan once complained, but collaborators in a London-Edinburgh publishing enterprise that put Scotland on the literary map. For ...

One Big Murder Mystery

Adam Shatz: The Algerian army’s leading novelist, 7 October 2004

The Swallows of Kabul 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by John Cullen.
Heinemann, 195 pp., £10.99, May 2004, 9780434011414
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Wolf Dreams 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by Linda Black.
Toby, 272 pp., $19.95, May 2003, 1 902881 75 3
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Morituri 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by David Herman.
Toby, 137 pp., £7.95, May 2004, 1 59264 035 4
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... It’s a good time to be a Muslim writing about ‘the trouble with Islam’, to borrow the title of a recent jeremiad by Irshad Manji, a Pakistani-Canadian lesbian feminist. Readers in the West, especially Americans, are eager to know ‘what went wrong with Islam’, as Bernard Lewis delicately puts it, particularly if it can be traced to cultural pathology and envy of ‘our freedom ...

Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

... bêtise, niaiserie, démence’. Two important Enlightenment systematists, R.A. Vogel and William Cullen, made a different decision: in their systems paranoia was enlarged by making it part of the vesaniae, which included mania and melancholia; in Cullen’s system, a disorder of the class vesaniae would involve a lesion of ...

Our Founder

John Bayley: Papa Joyce, 19 February 1998

John Stanislaus Joyce: The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father 
by John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello.
Fourth Estate, 493 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 85702 417 6
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... rather, and the tones, are those of the old artificer, the father of the tribe, Simon Dedalus, John Stanislaus Joyce. Like the violins of Cremona, Dubliners, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake are the products of a joint concern, a family undertaking. Joyce himself was frank about this. As long as he had escaped he could still be in the bosom of the family. As long ...

At Driscoll Babcock

Christopher Benfey: The Shock of the Old, 15 June 2016

... the British-born painter Thomas Cole and the Romantic poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant – whom he depicted contemplating a lushly idealised Catskills landscape of bluffs and waterfalls, their names inscribed like those of lovers on a nearby birch tree. Cole and Durand are reunited in an intimate exhibition of 25 Hudson River School ...

Flowers in His Trousers

Christopher Benfey: Central Park’s Architect, 5 October 2016

Frederick Law Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture and Society 
edited by Charles E. Beveridge.
Library of America, 802 pp., £30, November 2015, 978 1 59853 452 8
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... with help from his father, his own farm on Staten Island. He visited his younger brother, John, at Yale, making friends with some of his high-minded circle, including Charles Loring Brace, who later founded the Children’s Aid Society. Brace and the Olmsted brothers travelled to Europe in 1850, walking through the English countryside and visiting ...

Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast , 9 January 1992

... Church – more effectively silenced than by the Penal laws. Where, for instance, is Cardinal Cullen, architect of the identification between Irishness and Catholicism? Nationalists play down Catholicism, not only because it gives hostages to the opposition, but because of the Church’s wary attitude towards uncompromising Republicanism. In Portrait of ...

Dev and Dan

Tom Dunne, 21 April 1988

The Hereditary Bondsman: Daniel O’Connell, 1775-1829 
by Oliver MacDonagh..
Weidenfeld, 328 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 297 79221 0
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Eamon de Valera 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
University of Wales Press, 161 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7083 0986 0
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Nationalism and Popular Protest in Ireland 
edited by C.H.E. Philpin.
Cambridge, 466 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 521 26816 8
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Northern Ireland: Soldiers talking, 1969 to Today 
by Max Arthur.
Sidgwick, 271 pp., £13.95, October 1987, 0 283 99375 8
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War as a Way of Life: A Belfast Diary 
by John Conroy.
Heinemann, 218 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 434 14217 4
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... gives a voice to a group who are not generally believed to have (or to be entitled to) one, while John Conroy’s account is that of a sympathetic outsider nervously learning the codes and concerns of a small Catholic community at the eye of the storm. At the academic level, the heightened interest in Irish history in England has found a focus in the dynamic ...

Anxiety of Influx

Tony Tanner, 18 February 1982

Plotting the Golden West: American Literature and the Rhetoric of the California Trail 
by Stephen Fender.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £15, January 1982, 0 521 23924 9
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Witnesses to a Vanishing America: The 19th-Century Response 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Princeton, 320 pp., £10.70, July 1981, 9780691064611
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... by all the other literature-soaked rhetorics currently available. A neat chapter on the explorer John Charles Frémont serves to make a similar point: Fender shows Frémont moving between picturesque modes of writing and scientific recording – ‘sometimes the oscillation between the two modes is nervously rapid’ (‘nervous’ – what else!). There is ...

Flossing

Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... improved on, with the publication of such instant classics as How to Become a Schizophrenic by John Modrow (1992) and How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer (1989).1 There are people who will only read Westerns or Crime and others who prefer not to read any book unless, like the works of Maya Angelou, it manages somehow to have a self-help ...

The Thrill of It All

Michael Newton: Zombies, 18 February 2016

Zombies: A Cultural History 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Reaktion, 224 pp., £16, August 2015, 978 1 78023 528 8
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... for – not least because the post-apocalyptic world may yet seem to them more all-American, more John Wayne, than the current state of the nation. The zombie genre immerses you in a world of unending threat, where the only human contact is collaboration without closeness, where random cruelty is the rule, and life closes down on you as an experience not only ...

Delays that Kill

Jane Binyon: Rail safety, 16 March 2000

... difficult relationships between the privatised companies will add considerably to the problems. John Uff, the chairman of the Southall Inquiry, says that the privatised rail industry is unable to deal effectively with inter-company issues, and that research and development projects open lines of conflict between the commercial interests of different parties ...

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