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Even Uglier

Terry Eagleton: Music Hall

20 December 2012
My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
by John Major.
Harper, 363 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 00 745013 8
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... consummate performer. Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, was said to have an ‘almost music-hall style of speaking’, while his son greatly admired the music-hall comic Dan Leno and would sing his songs with what this book enigmatically describes as ‘teddy bear gestures’. Harold Macmillan could do a superb ...
3 March 1988
... If John Bampfylde has any continuing public existence, it must be as the man on the right in this unusual double portrait by Joshua Reynolds. An interested enquirer might learn that Bampfylde was a minor poet of the later 18th century and, in the absence of much hard information, encounter what is scarcely more than a striking anecdote of frustrated love and subsequent insanity ...

Johnsons

John Sutherland

7 June 1984
The Place of Dead Roads 
by William Burroughs.
Calder, 306 pp., £9.95, April 1984, 0 7145 4030 7
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Angels 
by Denis Johnson.
Chatto, 209 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2777 5
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Moll Cutpurse: Her True History 
by Ellen Galford.
Stramullion, 221 pp., £4.50, May 1984, 0 907343 03 1
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... it as ‘vomit’. Nevertheless, helped by a determined defence from its British publisher, John Calder (who claimed to discern in Burroughs the James Joyce of our day), Naked Lunch went on to become a terrific post-Chatterley best-seller. The Place of Dead Roads is published with a grant from the Arts Council: a double seal of Establishment approval ...
23 May 2002
... myself: room after room of furniture no one could use; stairs leading upwards to nothing; an empty hall filling with snow where a door has been left ajar; then whatever I make of the one room high in the roof where something alive and frantic is hopelessly trapped, whatever I make of the sweetness it leaves behind on waking, what I know and cannot tell is ...

Journey

John Tranter

25 June 1992
... a locked book and an idiot rampant in a tree wondering what the fuss was about at the front of the hall:     the shriek, the slap,     the shattered glass, the     burst of clapping, the stock market crash and the shock declaration of war. And we seem to be rattling out of control along the track     that clatters into the ...

Ghost Artists

J.I.M. Stewart

18 December 1980
The Case of the Philosophers’ Ring by Dr John H. Watson 
by Randall Collins.
Harvester, 152 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 85527 458 1
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... A good many years ago the late Sir John Masterman, when Provost of Worcester College, had the idea of creating a species of Sherlock Holmes Apocrypha. He wrote two or three short stories which appeared, I think, in an evening newspaper. I myself can recall nothing of them except a little joke. In the course of investigating a case of poisoning ...

Simply Doing It

Thomas Laqueur

22 February 1996
The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain 1650-1950 
by Roy Porter and Lesley Hall.
Yale, 414 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 300 06221 4
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... suggest that maybe there is nothing to tell, only telling itself. Roy Porter and Lesley Hall say they agree with Michel Foucault that ‘sex must be understood as discursively produced.’ (Actually, I don’t think they do agree, but more about that later.) If we take the point, then the history of sexual knowledge becomes the history of the making ...
3 July 1997
Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... of them was that the Church bought out its partners at an early stage and at a generous price. Sir John Hall, the Newcastle entrepreneur, was bought out of the Gateshead Metro shopping centre before it was built. He got £40m, but the Church kept losing money on the project until it was finally sold at a staggering loss in 1990. Sir ...

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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... at the Globe, received its first documented performance before James I’s court at Whitehall on 26 December 1606. It was then printed in 1608, as M. William Shak-speare, his True Chronicle History of the life and death of King LEAR and his three daughters, but even after spending fifteen years or more training and nerving himself to complete ...

The Hippest

Terry Eagleton

7 March 1996
Stuart HallCritical Dialogues 
edited by David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen.
Routledge, 514 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 415 08803 8
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... to link its various trends and phases, would find themselves spontaneously reinventing Stuart Hall. Since he arrived in Britain from Jamaica in 1951, Hall has been the sort of radical they might have despatched from Central Casting. Charming, charismatic, formidably bright and probably the most electrifying public ...

One’s Self-Washed Drawers

Rosemary Hill: Ida John

28 June 2017
The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John 
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £25, May 2017, 978 1 4088 7362 5
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... door to a respectable life had slammed shut behind her. Ida Nettleship sketched by Augustus John (c.1900) Such, more or less, is the story of Ida Nettleship, the first wife of Augustus John, who died of puerperal fever at the age of 30 in 1907 and was soon lost to view. In ...
17 February 1983
From Author to Reader: A Social Study of Books 
by Peter Mann.
Routledge, 189 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 7100 9089 7
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David Copperfield 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 781 pp., £40, March 1981, 0 19 812492 9
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Martin Chuzzlewit 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Margaret Cardwell.
Oxford, 923 pp., £45, December 1982, 0 19 812488 0
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Books and their Readers in 18th-Century England 
edited by Isabel Rivers.
Leicester University Press, 267 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 7185 1189 1
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Mumby’s Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century 
by Ian Norrie.
Bell and Hyman, 253 pp., £12.95, October 1982, 0 7135 1341 1
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Reading Relations 
by Bernard Sharratt.
Harvester, 350 pp., £18.95, February 1982, 0 7108 0059 2
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... to the German Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens. Nor does Britain have an equivalent to John Tebbel’s multivolume history of American publishing. The student of the subject in this country (particularly if he is interested in contemporary matters) will find himself dredging through the pages of more or less hagiographic ‘house histories’ and ...

Democratic Sublime

Derek Hirst: Writing the English republic

19 August 1999
Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics 1627-60 
by David Norbrook.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £40, January 1999, 0 521 63275 7
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... opens Norbrook’s story), proved both an inspiration and a source for those who questioned or challenged monarchical power. While his significance has been noted by earlier scholars, nobody has explored so fully the extent of Lucan’s hold on mid-17th-century imaginations, nor his challenge to the Augustanism Virgil had ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica

20 March 2003
Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... of these critics, but the realisation that writers like Conrad and Kipling, or Jane Austen and John Stuart Mill, thought and wrote without the natives in mind as an audience. An Indian or Jamaican woman reading Kim or Jane Eyre was able to bring to light the usually unstated colonial and male-dominated ideological assumptions behind the form of the novel ...

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