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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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... are conventional festschrift contributions largely unrelated to the thought of the figure whom they honour. Three of the contributors do, however, engage Kermode’s thought in a fairly serious way: JohnStokes, 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 ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode

11 January 1990
In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John​ Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... the importance of Wilde as the martyred prophet of a new dispensation. Others have preferred to look back, finding in the poetry of the period a dilute version of the Symbolism of the Eighties. But JohnStokes is synchronic and aims to show how the arts were related to other aspects of the life of their own time, fixing on certain ‘topics and texts’ – the New Journalism, the New Art Criticism ...
24 January 1980
Romantic Roots in Modern Art 
by August Wiedmann.
Gresham, 328 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 905418 51 4
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Symbolism 
by Robert Goldwater.
Allen Lane, 286 pp., £12.95, November 1980, 9780713910476
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Decadence and the 1890s 
edited by Ian Fletcher.
Arnold, 216 pp., £9.95, July 1980, 0 7131 6208 2
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... kind. Hence the cult of the positively unnatural: cosmetics, dancers lost in their own mirrors or their own performances, behind footlights or from Java; hence the cult of Eleanora Duse, on which JohnStokes here contributes a very good paper. Shaw admired her extraordinary professional skills, but others saw her as a Prazian Fatal Woman, wishing to be scared or exalted out of their wits by her ...

First Movie in the White House

J. Hoberman: ‘Birth of a Nation’

12 February 2009
D.W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’: A History of ‘The Most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time’ 
by Melvyn Stokes.
Oxford, 414 pp., £13.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 533679 5
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... one that has had the greatest impact on America and, indirectly, the world. Never was a movie more aptly named; and rarely have quotations marks been more superfluous than in the subtitle of Melvyn Stokes’s informative book. What did Griffith bring into the world? Imagine an unholy combination of The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11, a movie as violent and sentimental as Saving Private Ryan ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism

22 November 2018
Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... unpack, you must go back.’ In local elections on 6 May (the same day as the Mirror’s story), the Front’s 168 candidates secured an average vote of 8.9 per cent. During a Commons debate in July, JohnStokes, the Conservative MP for Halesowen and Stourbridge, a former admirer of General Franco and a supporter of the Monday Club, pointed to the growing constituency for the National Front and ...

Redheads in Normandy

R.W. Johnson: The 1997 election

22 January 1998
The British General Election of 1997 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 343 pp., £17.50, November 1997, 0 333 64776 9
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Labour's Landslide 
by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge.
Manchester, 211 pp., £40, December 1997, 0 7190 5159 2
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Britain Votes 1997 
edited by Pippa Norris and Neil Gavin.
Oxford, 253 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 9780199223220
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Collapse of Stout Party: The Decline and Fall of the Tories 
by Julian Crtitchley and Morrison Halcrow.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £20, November 1997, 0 575 06277 0
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Les Election Legislatives, 25 Mai-1er Juin 1997: Le president desavoue 
Le Monde, 146 pp., frs 45, June 1998Show More
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... section out to others and has even coined a new word – psephology – to describe his own preoccupation with the election-as-event. The term has often met with derision elsewhere. ‘Ah, Professor Stokes, you’re a psephologist, aren’t you?’ the Queen once said to the great American political sociologist, Donald Stokes, who collaborated with Butler in the Sixties and Seventies. To which Stokes ...

French Air

John​ Sutherland

12 November 1987
The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the French Social Imagination 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Miriam Kochan.
Berg, 307 pp., £18, November 1986, 0 907582 47 8
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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer 
by Patrick Süskind, translated by John​ Woods.
Penguin, 263 pp., £3.95, September 1987, 0 14 009244 7
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The Double Bass 
by Patrick Süskind, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 57 pp., £8.95, September 1987, 9780241120392
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... are missing: expertise with the nose is suppressed by social conventions which stigmatise any strong smell as a bad smell. In one of the few investigations of the subject before Corbin’s, Adrian Stokes noted that unlike the other four senses, that of scent had not inspired any art, or aesthetic cultivation. (I think Stokes may have overlooked the use of the nose in wine-bibbing.) There is no ...

Examples

Denis Donoghue

2 February 1984
Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... other people’s abstractions), and a general preference for non-systematised or pluralist theories of political life’. The writers Inglis presents under this rubric are William Morris, T.H. Green, John Maynard Keynes, R.G. Collingwood, F.R. Leavis, George Orwell, Adrian Stokes, Tony Crosland – as he calls him – Richard Titmuss, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, John Berger, E.P. Thompson and ...

Misguided Tom

Eric Stokes

5 March 1981
Letters of Thomas Arnold the Younger 1850-1900 
edited by James Bertram.
Auckland/Oxford, 276 pp., £15, August 1980, 0 19 647980 0
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...  and the prospect of a new educational empire to be colonised from Rugby had solid attractions. J.P. Gell was dispatched in 1839 to start up the interdenominational Christ’s College at Hobart; John Buckland followed in 1846 to be headmaster of the Hutchins School. In his uncertainties over employment Clough kept open the antipodean possibility, making an unsuccessful application for a chair of ...
17 April 1980
Race, Sex and Class under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics 
by Kenneth Ballhatchet.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £9.50, January 1980, 0 297 77646 0
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Queen Victoria’s Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-1898 
by Michael Alexander and Sushila Anand.
Weidenfeld, 326 pp., £9.95, February 1980, 0 297 77656 8
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... but Duleep confessed his desire to obtain an English wife. The flirtatious Gouramma, who compromised herself seriously by falling in love with an English under-butler, was found a husband in Colonel John Campbell, a widowed brother-in-law of Dr Login, who had been placed in charge of Duleep in India and brought him up. Login owed his entire advancement to this connection, being invited to Court and ...

It takes a village

C.A. Bayly: Henry Maine

14 July 2011
Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism 
by Karuna Mantena.
Princeton, 269 pp., £27.95, March 2011, 978 0 691 12816 0
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... If, around 1880, an educated person in Britain had been asked to list the most important intellectuals of the previous generation, he or she might well have mentioned, alongside Darwin and John Stuart Mill, the name of Sir Henry Maine, the subject of Karuna Mantena’s valuable new study. His name isn’t heard much anymore, but in his own day Maine (1822-88) was regarded as a towering ...

Fitz

John​ Bayley

4 April 1985
With Friends Possessed: A Life of Edward FitzGerald 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Faber, 313 pp., £17.50, February 1985, 0 571 13462 9
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... and anonymously and offered for a shilling, soon reduced to a penny when no copies went off – has often been told. In 1861, two years after its appearance, a young Celtic scholar called Whitley Stokes fished several copies out of the bargain box and gave some to friends, including Monckton Milnes, Richard Burton and D.G. Rossetti. Ruskin and Burne-Jones discovered it; Meredith was bowled over by ...
7 November 1985
Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form 
by Marina Warner.
Weidenfeld, 417 pp., £16.95, October 1985, 0 297 78408 0
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... The psychologist John Layard – ‘Loony Layard’, as he is affectionately termed in one of Auden’s early poems – is said to have told a submarine officer that he had grown a beard as a masculine protest against the ...

Not His Type

Frank Kermode

5 September 1996
About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 448 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 7011 6268 6
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... by Barnett Newman, he remarks in a parenthesis, ‘I’m no Modernist by persuasion: Michelangelo and Poussin are my cup of tea.’ This may be a joke. He does cite with approval a remark of Adrian Stokes to the effect that ‘modern art, the art typical of our day, is the slang, so to speak, of art as a whole, standing in relation to the Old Masters as does slang to ordinary language,’ adding that ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie

7 March 1985
The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... of ‘the Gaelic genius, from its origin in Georgia to its modern expression in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Galicia and the Pays Basque’. The self-evident rottenness of the timber that stokes the fire is beside the point: what matters is the fire, the heat of it and the light it throws. (Which is not to deny that in the case of poets better than either MacDiarmid or Graves we respect the ...

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