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The kind of dog he likes

W.G. Runciman: Realistic Utopias

18 December 2014
Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy 
by David Miller.
Cambridge, 254 pp., £18.99, January 2013, 978 1 107 61375 1
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... Why ‘earthlings’​ ? David Miller isn’t drawing a contrast with justice for creatures from outer space. Nor is he taking issue directly with Ronald Dworkin’s ‘justice for hedgehogs’ in Dworkin’s book of 2011 with that title, although Miller does say in a footnote that he disagrees with him ...

Fatty

Tom Shippey

5 May 1988
Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard 
by Russell Miller.
Joseph, 390 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2764 1
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Dianetics 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 605 pp., £3.50, February 1988, 9781870451185
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Mission Earth. Vol. V: Fortune of Fear 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 365 pp., £10.75, July 1987, 1 870451 01 5
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Mission Earth. Vol. VI: Death Quest 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 351 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 1 870451 02 3
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... As its title so obviously shows, the main thesis of Russell Miller’s book is that L. Ron Hubbard, inventor of Dianetics and founder of Scientology, was all his life an incorrigible liar. That being the case, it is a pity that the book starts off with a statement which sounds hypocritical at best. ‘I would like to be able to thank the officials of the Church of Scientology for their help in compiling this biography ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg

18 November 2004
The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... a fictional symposium that ran in the paper between 1822 and 1835. The author of the Noctes was John Wilson, who constructed dialogues between his own alter ego (‘Christopher North’) and that of Hogg (‘the Shepherd’). The Shepherd gets the best lines – better, some have suggested, than anything Hogg ever wrote – but he is also made to look a ...
3 March 1988
Timebends: A Life 
by Arthur Miller.
Methuen, 614 pp., £17.95, November 1987, 0 413 41480 9
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Vivien Leigh: The Life of Vivien Leigh 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79118 4
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... Pursuing the truth about the McCarthyite witch-hunt via 17th-century Salem, Arthur Miller was one day transfixed by an etching in a library. It had been made by an eyewitness of the original trials, and showed a bearded judge with arms upraised in horror as he watched a covey of girls screaming and clawing at invisible tormentors ...

Inside the Barrel

Brent Hayes Edwards: The French Slave Trade

10 September 2009
Memoires des esclavages: la fondation d’un centre national pour la memoire des esclavages et de leurs abolitions 
by Edouard Glissant.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €14.90, May 2007, 978 2 07 078554 4
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The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade 
by Christopher Miller.
Duke, 571 pp., £20.99, March 2008, 978 0 8223 4151 2
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... imagine Toni Morrison or Caryl Phillips being asked to take charge of such matters. As Christopher Miller points out in The French Atlantic Triangle, in France ‘literature was one of the most important battlegrounds for the debate on slavery.’ But in spite of the wealth of scholarship on the Atlantic slave trade, surprisingly little work has been done on ...
17 June 1982
... led to a reconsideration of their practice as teachers. The book’s editors, Stephen Eyers and John Richmond, suggest what this work meant for them as teachers: ‘The study of language in schools is not essentially to do with the reading of reports or the shaping of policy documents (though the presence of reports and the need for statements of policy may ...

Diary

Karl Miller: On Doubles

2 May 1985
... on conclusions reached in the book I had written. I don’t want to interfere with a discussion by John Bayley which the paper will be publishing shortly: but I would like to diarise a little about this piece of Antipodean duality. Like other strange stories of the genre, it both embodies and attracts coincidence. A strong pang was felt when my eye travelled ...

A Very Modern Man

Edmund Gordon: William Boyd

8 March 2012
Waiting for Sunrise 
by William Boyd.
Bloomsbury, 368 pp., £18.99, February 2012, 978 1 4088 1774 2
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... faces and momentous events is a familiar move in Boyd’s fiction. In The New Confessions (1987), John James Todd, a Scottish filmmaker, fights in the trenches, is pauperised by the Wall Street crash, witnesses the rise of Nazism in Berlin (where he attends parties with Fritz Lang and Thomas Mann), and arrives in Hollywood just in time to fall foul of ...

Uncle Max

Patricia Craig

20 December 1984
The man who was M: The Life of Maxwell Knight 
by Anthony Masters.
Blackwell, 205 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 631 13392 5
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Unreliable Witness: Espionage Myths of the Second World War 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 166 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 297 78481 1
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The Great Betrayal: The Untold Story of Kim Philby’s Biggest Coup 
by Nicholas Bethell.
Hodder, 214 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 340 35701 0
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... checking and double-checking haven’t always been carried out. The chapter entitled ‘War: Joan Miller and Tyler Kent’ illustrates the point. Joan Miller was a redoubtable young woman who found her way into the transport section of MI5 in September 1939, and attracted Knight’s attention almost at once. It wasn’t ...
29 October 1987
Emily Dickinson 
by Helen McNeil.
Virago, 208 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 0 86068 619 1
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Emily Dickinson: Looking to Canaan 
by John Robinson.
Faber, 191 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13943 4
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Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar 
by Christanne Miller.
Harvard, 212 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 674 25035 4
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Emily Dickinson: The Poet on the Second Story 
by Jerome Loving.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £20, April 1987, 0 521 32781 4
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... that she radically undermines traditional masculine values. In another centenary study, however, John Robinson insists that she is a timeless lyric poet whose work is not ‘centrally representative of women’. Robinson’s refusal to consider Dickinson’s polemical and subversive imagination is disappointing, but it can be argued that certain writers ...

Howl

Adam Mars-Jones

21 September 1995
Fullalove 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 231 pp., £14.99, August 1995, 0 436 20059 7
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... preferably with a direct link to violent crime, for a tabloid newspaper. His name is Norman Miller, but its similarity to Norman Mailer’s no longer gives him the pleasure it did when his pretensions, if not his values, were higher (an encounter with Mailer at the time of the Foreman-Ali fight in Zaire is one of the novel’s early flourishes). ...
19 May 1983
Khrushchev 
by Roy Medvedev, translated by Brian Pearce.
Blackwell, 292 pp., £9.50, November 1982, 0 631 12993 6
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Soviet Policy for the 1980s 
edited by Archie Brown and Michael Kaser.
Macmillan/St Antony’s College, Oxford, 282 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 333 33139 7
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... of the Soviet system completed six months before Brezhnev’s death. There is one complete dud: John Hazard’s contribution on Soviet legal trends. A man who accepts as ‘fact’ the Soviet Supreme Court’s claim that criminality in the Soviet Union has diminished since 1940, and who gives his readers to understand that the Soviet authorities resort to ...
16 August 1990
The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... This compilation arose out of Jonathan Miller’s 1985 production of Don Giovanni for the English National Opera, and his introduction to the book is agreeably illuminating, not least for those who for one reason or another never go to the opera. The main characters of Don Giovanni, he notes, have a prior and conspicuous existence outside the opera, being well-established figures of myth, a fact which both helps and hinders ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester

15 October 1987
Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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Mensonge 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... Those who have much leisure to think,’ Dr Johnson wrote, ‘will always be enlarging the stock of ideas, and every increase of knowledge, whether real or imagined, will produce new words or combinations of words.’ The words that aren’t in a dictionary can convey nearly as much information as the words that are: the main body of the OED, which was completed in 1933, has no entry for the first word I looked up in it – ‘genocide ...

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