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Something Fine and Powerful

Thomas Laqueur: Pearl Harbor Redux, 25 August 2011

Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq 
by John Dower.
Norton/The New Press, 596 pp., £22, October 2010, 978 0 393 06150 5
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... In June 2001, John Dower, a historian of Japan, wrote a comment piece in the New York Times about the blockbuster movie Pearl Harbor. The problem with it, he thought, was not its predictable romantic digressions or historical errors but its moral obtuseness. Like earlier films on the subject, it was ‘a paean to patriotic ardour and an imagined American innocence … sanitised to an attractive level of virtual violence ...

Looking to Game Boy

R.T. Murphy: Modern Japan, 3 January 2002

The Making of Modern Japan 
by Marius Jansen.
Harvard, 871 pp., £23.95, November 2000, 0 674 00334 9
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... as a more correct analysis for the Japanese to use in interpreting their own experience’, as John Dower put it. One job flowed from the other: Americans were unlikely to take kindly to the notion that their Asian protégé was in the grip of an intellectual establishment obsessed with the labour theory of value. I had no inkling of these ...

Father-Daughter Problems

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Bad Daughters, 8 May 2008

The Lodger: Shakespeare in Silver Street 
by Charles Nicholl.
Allen Lane, 378 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 7139 9890 0
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... child-like duty, I … turn her out to who will take her in. Then let her beauty be her wedding dower … This speech isn’t from the first scene of King Lear (1605-6) at all, but from The Two Gentlemen of Verona (c.1589), at III.i, 68-78. I have cheated slightly by removing a single line, but even so this passage would look much more at home in the ...

A Singular Territory

Fintan O’Toole, 3 July 1997

... to starry consummation, Mountain roads into the Milky Way. Earth is strewn with Danae’s golden dower. Grandly here the Master Builder’s power Crowns the work of England in Cathay. Now that Clementi’s poem has become an Ozymandian folly, and the end of England in Cathay, which he thought unimaginable, has arrived, the urge to snigger is almost ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... opens with a brisk pair of essays by David Fallow and Michael Wood on the subject of his parents: John Shakespeare, born in about 1530, the son of a tenant farmer in the outlying village of Snitterfield, and Mary née Arden, some years younger, of a more prosperous family from Wilmcote. Neither of their baptisms is documented, nor the date of their ...

Winged Words

Tariq Ali: On Muhammad, 17 June 2021

by Maxime Rodinson, translated by Anne Carter.
NYRB, 373 pp., £14.99, March 2021, 978 1 68137 492 5
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... contract. But in order that there may be some semblance of matrimony, the future wife, by way of dower, offers her husband a spear and a tent, with the right to leave him after a stipulated time, if she so elects: and it is unbelievable with what ardour both sexes give themselves up to passion.‘This description is undoubtedly an exaggeration,’ Rodinson ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... gainer, and to compensate himself he annexed a large percentage of the future income from Mary’s dower lands. For the former queen, getting hold of her income was not easy. It was never a matter of collecting a bag of gold at Calais. When Anglo-French relations were under strain, the money would be cut off, and the couple had to renegotiate their debt to the ...

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