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People’s War

John Ellis, 19 February 1981

Tomorrow at Dawn 
by J.G. de Beus.
Norton, 191 pp., £5.75, April 1980, 0 393 01263 8
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The Crucible of War 
by Barrie Pitt.
Cape, 506 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 0 224 01771 3
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Chindit 
by Richard Rhodes James.
Murray, 214 pp., £10.50, August 1980, 0 7195 3746 0
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The Chief 
by Ronald Lewin.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780091425005
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Special Operations Europe: Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War 
by Basil Davidson.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 575 02820 3
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... example of the ordinary soldier’s memoir and covers a lot of the ground already traversed by John Masters, Bernard Fergusson and Michael Calvert. Yet it is none the less welcome for that. Despite the profusion of fighting soldiers’ memoirs, from all fronts, the appalling severity of their ordeal is still not properly appreciated. This is one genre that ...

Thinking Persons

John Ellis, 14 May 1992

Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation 
edited by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Warner.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £40, July 1991, 9780333531372
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The Poverty of Structuralism: Literature and Structuralist Theory 
by Leonard Jackson.
Longman, 317 pp., £24, July 1991, 0 582 06697 2
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Inconvenient Fictions: Literature and the Limits of Theory 
by Bernard Harrison.
Yale, 293 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 300 05057 7
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Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science 
by Mark Turner.
Princeton, 298 pp., £18.99, January 1992, 0 691 06897 6
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Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics 
by Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson.
Stanford, 530 pp., $49.50, December 1990, 0 8047 1821 0
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... honour. Three of the contributors do, however, engage Kermode’s thought in a fairly serious way: John Stokes, George Hunter and Patrick Parrinder. Two ways of doing so were possible. Either Kermode’s general view of the critic’s task or his ideas concerning specific texts or groups of texts could have been the focus of attention. Stokes and Hunter choose ...

Radical Literary Theory

John Ellis, 8 February 1990

Fraud: Literary Theory and the End of English 
by Peter Washington.
Fontana, 188 pp., £4.99, September 1989, 0 00 686138 5
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... When theory of literature first began to make claims upon the attention of literary scholars and critics several decades ago, the meaning of the word ‘theory’ was clear enough from its use in other fields: it referred to a consciously analytical scrutiny of the concepts and practices of literary criticism, which is what anyone unfamiliar with criticism but familiar with the meaning of the word ‘theory’ in other contexts would have assumed ...

Doing something different

John Ellis, 27 July 1989

Doing what comes naturally: Change, Rhetoric and the Practice of Theory in Literary and Legal Studies 
by Stanley Fish.
Oxford, 613 pp., £35, July 1989, 9780198129981
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... Before Stanley Fish started doing what comes naturally, he wrote standard works of literary criticism which dealt, as most such books do, with particular literary figures and periods. Then, in 1980, he published his first volume devoted to theory of criticism, Is there a text in this class?, a collection of his essays from the Seventies. Doing what comes naturally is Fish’s second volume of theory, but while this, too, is a collection of his essays from the previous decade, it is quite different in important respects ...

Talk about doing

Frank Kermode, 26 October 1989

Against Deconstruction 
by John Ellis.
Princeton, 168 pp., £13.70, February 1989, 0 691 06754 6
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The New Historicism 
by H. Aram Veeser.
Routledge, 318 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 415 90070 0
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Rethinking Historicism: Critical Essays in Romantic History 
by Marjorie Levinson, Marilyn Butler, Jerome McGann and Paul Hamilton.
Blackwell, 149 pp., £22.50, August 1989, 0 631 16591 6
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Towards a Literature of Knowledge 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 138 pp., £16.50, May 1989, 9780198117407
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The Stoic in Love: Selected Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Harvester, 209 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 7450 0614 0
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... depends on the very presuppositions that have already been terminally deconstructed. The virtue of John Ellis’s book is that he insists on putting his questions in pre-deconstructive terms, refusing to believe that they can be dismissed as inapposite. For, as he remarks more than once, the importance of a new way of thinking can only be estimated by ...

The Sun-Bather

Michael Neve, 3 July 1980

Havelock Ellis 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Allen Lane, 492 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 7139 1071 2
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... by far the most powerful and influential, possibly because he was the most pessimistic. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) seems more elusive. Ellis has received critical and biographical attention before, notably in Arthur Calder-Marshall’s well-known study of 1959, and also in Vincent Brome’s Havelock ...

Power Systems

John Bayley, 15 March 1984

Dante and English Poetry: Shelley to T.S. Eliot 
by Steve Ellis.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 521 25126 5
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Dante the Maker 
by William Anderson.
Hutchinson, 497 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 09 153201 9
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Dante: Purgatory 
translated with notes and commentary by Mark Musa.
Indiana, 373 pp., £19.25, September 1981, 0 253 17926 2
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Dante: Paradiso and Purgatorio 
with translation and commentary by Charles Singleton .
Princeton, 610 pp., £11.80, May 1982, 0 691 01844 8
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fitzgerald.
Harvill, 403 pp., £12.50, March 1984, 0 00 271008 0
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... and so are Dante’s, but in more far-reaching and more subtle ways. These are analysed by Steve Ellis with great sympathy and penetration, and his book is one of the most interesting for all lovers of poetry to have appeared for some time. In La Poesia de Dante Croce made a distinction between Dante the poet and Dante ‘filosofico e politico’, the ...

Stag at Bay

Adam Phillips: Byron in Geneva, 25 August 2011

Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 189 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84631 643 2
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... they/Could master all things.’ All this has a bearing on the before and after story that David Ellis wants us to take more seriously as the real story of Byron’s life. In Ellis’s view the summer of 1816, which he spent in Geneva, marked a turning point in Byron’s life. He was, ...

Remember me

Adam Phillips: Bret Easton Ellis, 1 December 2005

Lunar Park 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 308 pp., £16.99, October 2005, 0 330 43953 7
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... Bret Easton Ellis has always been interested in the ways in which people don’t pay attention, and in the cost of attention when it is paid. In the comédie humaine he has been writing since 1985, when his first novel, Less than Zero, was published, his characters, who recur throughout the books, are as torpid and enervated as Balzac’s are driven and determined ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... Lights, Big City, and Morgan Entrekin, the editor at Simon and Schuster who acquired Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero. Lish had the cult cred, but their properties shone the brightest. Gary and Morgan, Morgan and Gary, Jay and Bret, Bret and Jay – how often we heard their names tick-tock together then, the cricket chatter of the zeitgeist. Along with ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites, 12 September 2013

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... 13 years earlier. He died, aged 82, only six months after I glimpsed him. On the cover of David Ellis’s Memoirs of a Leavisite he is photographed standing with a tree and a bench behind him in (according to the jacket info) the very garden into which he escaped that autumn afternoon. He is wearing the same literary-critical uniform too: the baggy jacket ...

Extraordinarily Graceful Exits from Power

Nicholas Guyatt: George Washington’s Reticence, 17 November 2005

His Excellency George Washington 
by Joseph J. Ellis.
Faber, 320 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 571 21212 3
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... and whose character is shrouded by an almost painful formality? It’s no surprise that Joseph Ellis should now venture an answer to this question, having already produced biographies of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, as well as a book about the 1790s, Founding Brothers, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. Like many ...

Is he winking?

Joseph J. Ellis: Benjamin Franklin, 20 March 2003

Benjamin Franklin 
by Edmund S. Morgan.
Yale, 339 pp., £19.95, October 2002, 0 300 09532 5
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... the accompanying turf wars that claim so many academic casualties. He has written biographies of John Winthrop, Ezra Stiles, Roger Williams and George Washington; political histories of the Stamp Act crisis and the causes of the American Revolution; social histories of family life in colonial New England and Virginia; intellectual histories of Puritan ...

At the Shore

Inigo Thomas, 30 August 2018

... Visiting​ the sea for its own sake is a two-hundred-year-old idea, roughly speaking. John Nash finished his expansion of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton in 1822. A few years later, Boulogne, on the other side of the Channel, became an early beach resort: ‘You will find whatever you are looking for there,’ Manet wrote to a friend ...

The Same Old Solotaire

Peter Wollen, 4 July 1996

‘Salome’ and ‘Under the Hill’ 
by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.
Creation, 123 pp., £7.95, April 1996, 1 871592 12 7
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Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque 
by Chris Snodgrass.
Oxford, 338 pp., £35, August 1995, 0 19 509062 4
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... for supporters of Wilde and Beardsley, including Beerbohm, Carpenter, Conrad, Dowson, Havelock Ellis, Hueffer, Shaw and Yeats. The Savoy fizzled to an end (commercially at least) when W.H. Smith’s refused to distribute it after issue Number 3, on account of an illustration to an article by Yeats. Yeats later recalled how ‘the bookseller’s manager, no ...

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