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Disaffiliate, Reaffiliate, Kill Again

Jeremy Harding: Régis Debray

7 February 2008
Praised Be Our Lords: The Autobiography 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 328 pp., £19.99, April 2007, 978 1 84467 140 3
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... an object of amused condescension when it features at all, which is mostly as a pretext for reflection, digression, exposition, all done with stylish dispatch, admirably rendered by the translator, JohnHowe. Closer to a looped sequence of essays than a memoir, the book nonetheless shows off the memoirist’s skill to stunning effect in three somewhat unflattering portraits – Castro, Guevara and ...

Like What Our Peasants Still Are

Landeg White: Afrocentrism

13 May 1999
Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes 
by Stephen Howe.
Verso, 337 pp., £22, June 1998, 1 85984 873 7
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... the outcome of a genocidal white conspiracy to eliminate Africans? More to the point, do you believe these are serious questions, requiring patient and scholarly rebuttal? Afrocentrism, says Stephen Howe, comes in two varieties. The first is an interest in Africa and its culture reinforced by the belief ‘that Eurocentric bias has blocked or distorted knowledge of Africans and their cultures ...

Into the Dark

Kathleen Jamie: A Winter Solstice

18 December 2003
... waves, the oil-dark sea. It gave me a fright, and had anyone else been out on deck I might have tugged their arm and said: ‘Listen!’ I’m glad I was alone, because, so help me, it was only Elton John. The music was so nearly drowned out by the ship’s engines that I’d just caught the top notes. I bent down, stuck my ear to the speaker and yes, it was Elton John, singing, of all things: ‘Don ...
18 April 1996
Scott Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... of neutrality as flexibly as possible.’ In late 1984, a new approach was agreed, which was to govern the whole question of military exports to Iran and Iraq for the duration of the war. The ‘Howe Guidelines’ (after the Foreign Secretary) were as follows: 1. We should maintain our consistent refusal to supply any lethal equipment to either side. 2. Subject to that overriding consideration ...
20 August 1998
Free Trade and Liberal England, 1846-1946 
by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 336 pp., £45, December 1997, 9780198201465
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The Origins of War Prevention: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1730-1854 
by Martin Ceadel.
Oxford, 587 pp., £55, December 1996, 0 19 822674 8
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... Imperial roles. At its simplest, this could be regarded as a contest between different types of Englishmen and competing political tendencies; between little Englanders (such as Richard Cobden and John Bright) on the one hand and chauvinist imperialists (such as Lord Palmerston and Joseph Chamberlain) on the other; between a maritime and peaceful trading nation and a military-imperial superpower ...

Yes and No

John​ Bayley

24 July 1986
Lionel Trilling and the Fate of Cultural Criticism 
by Mark Krupnick.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $25.95, April 1986, 0 8101 0712 0
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... and associated it with that insight into the nature of good and evil, innocence and guilt, with which he sought to animate his own fables. In ‘Of this time, of that place’, the college teacher, Howe, has two such exemplary ones among his pupils: Tertan, an original, perhaps brilliant, but wholly unstable creature, and the horrible Blackburn, a clean-limbed undergraduate type who is adroit ...

Why did it end so badly?

Ross McKibbin: Thatcher

18 March 2004
Margaret Thatcher. Vol. II: The Iron Lady 
by John​ Campbell.
Cape, 913 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 224 06156 9
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... Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. Even those, John Campbell suggests, who have little or no memory of Margaret Thatcher, live in a world she created; and from which there is no going back. More than any other British prime minister, even Gladstone ...

Happy Knack

Ian Sansom: Betjeman

20 February 2003
John​ Betjeman: New Fame, New Love 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 736 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 7195 5002 5
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... sleep over, drink to excess, write, read or publish literary criticism, and commit crime. It certainly helps explain why Bevis Hillier has written an enormous biography of a dead English minor poet. John Betjeman: New Fame, New Love is the second volume of Hillier’s proposed trilogy and covers, roughly, the years 1933-58, the period when Betjeman, as Larkin put it, ‘became Betjeman’. The book ...

A Revision of Expectations

Richard Horton: Notes on the NHS

2 July 1998
The National Health Service: A Political History 
by Charles Webster.
Oxford, 233 pp., £9.99, April 1998, 0 19 289296 7
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... Services (‘SSSS? Impossible!’ Crossman wrote in his diary), reached into one of his three ministerial red boxes to find a long report by a still rather obscure Conservative barrister. Geoffrey Howe had entered Parliament in 1964, only to lose his seat when Wilson increased Labour’s majority from four to 95 in 1966. Crossman’s predecessor, Kenneth Robinson, had appointed Howe to chair an ...

I hate thee, Djaun Bool

Denis Donoghue: James Clarence Mangan

17 March 2005
James Clarence Mangan: Selected Writings 
edited by Sean Ryder.
University College Dublin, 514 pp., £21, February 2004, 1 900621 92 4
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1832-39 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 416 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2577 1
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1840-82 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 496 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2735 9
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James Clarence Mangan: Poems 
edited by David Wheatley.
Gallery Press, 160 pp., £8.95, April 2005, 1 85235 345 7
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Selected Poems of James Clarence Mangan 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Rudolf Holzapfel, Peter Van der Kamp and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 320 pp., £16, May 2003, 0 7165 2782 0
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... which he knew only at the double remove of German translations. It is doubtful that he knew any Irish: his most celebrated poems were written from literal translations supplied by James Hardiman, John O’Donovan, Eugene O’Curry, John O’Daly, Edward Walsh, Samuel Ferguson and other sources. It is impossible to know how Mangan could have written so many poems and essays in a few years beset by ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone

22 December 2019
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... though many of them felt profoundly guilty about what they were doing. It was, in their own minds, merely how the game sometimes has to be played.The means they ultimately chose was to rally around John Major as the person best placed to stop Heseltine. Thatcher reluctantly came to accept this and therefore to accept the ostensible reasons they gave for her stepping aside. Very soon she would regret ...
7 November 1985
Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady 
by Samuel Richardson, edited with an introduction by Angus Ross.
Viking, 1533 pp., £19.95, August 1985, 0 670 80829 6
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Memoire of Frances, Lady Douglas 
by Lady Louisa Stuart, edited by Jill Rubenstein.
Scottish Academic Press, 106 pp., £9.50, August 1985, 0 7073 0358 3
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... dazzling Parliamentary feats and turns. ‘Those volatile salts are evaporated,’ ran one of the tributes. Watson calls attention to the statement, in the biography of the politician by Namier and John Brooke, that Townshend needed his wit to shield a poverty of heart. This might be held to be like Lovelace, and in each case the wit is very brilliant. Each is a paragon in this respect. And ...

Thank you for your letter

Anthony Grafton: Latin

1 November 2001
Latin, or the Empire of a Sign: From the 16th to the 20th Centuries 
by Françoise Waquet, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 346 pp., £20, July 2001, 1 85984 615 7
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... form of Latin thus came, over time, to symbolise and embody the traditions and majesty of Catholicism – and was charged with deep meaning by many prelates and intellectuals. At Vatican II, John XXIII himself dwelt lovingly on the universality, antiquity and majesty of the Latin language, which Providence – so he argued – had led the Church to adopt. Catholics, then, were bombarded every ...

The Greatest

R.W. Johnson

4 August 1994
Charles de Gaulle, Futurist of the Nation 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 111 pp., £29.95, April 1994, 0 86091 622 7
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De Gaulle and 20th-Century France 
edited by Hugh Gough and John​ Horne.
Edward Arnold, 158 pp., £12.99, March 1994, 0 340 58826 8
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François Mitterrand: A Study in Political Leadership 
by Alistair Cole.
Routledge, 216 pp., £19.99, March 1994, 0 415 07159 3
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... attending the Liberation thanksgiving ceremonies in Notre-Dame, insisted that the Papal Nuncio be withdrawn, and had seven bishops sacked. When the new Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII), went to plead the cause of Catholic schools, he took with him a map of France with all the under-funded Catholic schools marked in red. De Gaulle sent him packing: ‘This map is the map of ...

Must poets write?

Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language

10 May 2012
Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 232 pp., £11.50, April 2012, 978 0 226 66061 5
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Columbia, 272 pp., £15.95, September 2011, 978 0 231 14991 4
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Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Northwestern, 593 pp., £40.50, December 2010, 978 0 8101 2711 1
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Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: [Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
Wesleyan, 224 pp., £20.50, May 2010, 978 0 8195 6929 5
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... has trained at least two generations of scholars and written many books on writers and artists – tracing a line from Rimbaud through Futurism to Gertrude Stein, Wittgenstein, Frank O’Hara, John Cage and beyond – who have advanced what she sees as modernist goals: above all, the up-to-date, sceptical investigation of the materials and ideas from which a work of art gets made. Though much ...

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