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Renaissance

Patricia Craig

2 March 1989
Fictions of the Irish Literary Revival: A Changling Art 
by John Wilson Foster.
Gill and Macmillan, 407 pp., £30, November 1987, 0 8156 2374 7
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... Lady Gregory and the rest of them got going on the campaign to add dignity to Ireland. ‘The looking-glass, cracked, does not tell the truth’ – and the resulting distortions are, in a sense, JohnWilsonFoster’s subject in his impressive new scrutiny of the revival era (roughly the period between 1890 and the early 1930s). The word ‘fictions’ in Foster’s title denotes both fictional ...
5 June 1997
Last Dinner on the ‘Titanic’: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner 
by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley.
Weidenfeld, 128 pp., £9.99, April 1997, 1 86448 250 8
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The ‘Titanic’ Complex 
by John Wilson Foster.
Belcouver, 92 pp., £5.99, April 1997, 0 9699464 1 4
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Down with the Old Canoe 
by Steven Biel.
Norton, 300 pp., £18.95, April 1997, 9780393039658
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... overwhelmed by the irony of calm waters and fragile steel scuttling the complacency of the very rich in first class, and the hopes of the dispossessed in steerage. The Titanic was a ship of fools. As JohnWilsonFoster tells us, the grand staircase came in William and Mary style, though the balustrade was Louis XIV; the first-class dining saloon and reception rooms were Jacobean, the restaurant Louis ...

Moral Lepers

John​ Banville: Easter 1916

15 July 2015
Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £10.99, May 2015, 978 0 241 95424 9
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... the fact that in the period immediately following the Rising, most of Europe entered a critical period of revolutionary change. There was the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, and in 1918 Woodrow Wilson, though hardly a firebrand, issued the principles of a new world order of which national self-determination would be a key component. The following January, an assembly of Irish MPs, elected to ...

Hopeless Warriors

Michael Gorra: Sherman Alexie’s novels

5 March 1998
The Lone Ranger and Tonto in Fistfight Heaven 
by Sherman Alexie.
Vintage, 223 pp., £6.99, September 1997, 9780749386696
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Reservation Blues 
by Sherman Alexie.
Minerva, 306 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 0 7493 9513 3
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Indian Killer 
by Sherman Alexie.
Secker, 420 pp., £9.99, September 1997, 0 436 20433 9
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... away the blood, the remains of the placenta, the evidence’ – the evidence that this ever happened. For the girl has agreed to adoption: the baby is given to the Smiths of Seattle. They name him John, a choice that Alexie uses to signal a well-meaning lack of imagination, and when John Smith grows up, Indian-born but raised by whites, he will become the chief suspect in the search for the Indian ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect

28 November 2002
Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John​ Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... the Twin Towers. Today, of course, the murder of 128 American citizens would provoke swift and massive retaliation. In 1915, however, it elicited only an indignant diplomatic note. President Woodrow Wilson’s immediate, unscripted attempt to cool American tempers – ‘there is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to ...

Losers

Ross McKibbin

23 October 1986
The Politics of the UCS Work-In: Class Alliances and the Right to Work 
by John Foster and Charles Woolfson.
Lawrence and Wishart, 446 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 85315 663 8
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A Lost Left: Three Studies in Socialism and Nationalism 
by David Howell.
Manchester, 351 pp., £29.95, July 1986, 0 7190 1959 1
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The Miners’ Strike 1984-5: Loss without Limit 
by Martin Adeney and John​ Lloyd.
Routledge, 319 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 7102 0694 1
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Red Hill: A Mining Community 
by Tony Parker.
Heinemann, 196 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 57771 5
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Strike Free: New Industrial Relations in Britain 
by Philip Bassett.
Macmillan, 197 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 9780333418000
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... even part of the folk memory. It is hard now to associate Jimmy Reid the benign television guide to the inhabited ruins of industrial Glasgow with the compelling CP shop-steward of 1971. Yet as Foster and Woolfson argue, the work-in was a definite moment in Scottish history and not just a symbol. The strength of their book lies in its structural analysis: the fate of the Clyde shipyards is placed ...

Poe’s Woes

Julian Symons

23 April 1992
Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance 
by Kenneth Silverman.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £25, March 1992, 9780297812531
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... The prosecution case against Edgar A. Poe looks a strong one. Taken in by the Richmond tobacco broker John Allan when left orphaned at the age of two by the death of his actress mother Eliza, brought up as a member of the family and sent to the University of Virginia, he responded by running up gambling ...

Italianizzati

Hugh Honour

13 November 1997
A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John​ Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... 18th-century art, a patron of living British painters, and in many ways a reincarnation of the ideal virtuoso and Grand Tourist. He was first drawn to the subject by the Roman landscapes of Richard Wilson; published a book on Wilson’s then little-known drawings; and went on to annotate the letters written from Rome in 1757 by a minor British painter who had mentioned Wilson and other British ...

Copyright

John​ Sutherland

2 October 1980
Copyright: Intellectual Property in the Information Age 
by Edward Ploman and L. Clark Hamilton.
Routledge, 248 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 7100 0539 3
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... pieces of legislation, such as the Berne Convention, do not even venture to define what ‘work’ may be. ‘Literary work’ in copyright law is thus a semantic convenience of the same order as ‘John Doe’: what it is all depends. The legal fiction that the literary work has an abstract, single existence which accompanies but mysteriously transcends any book fits in nicely with the academic ...
27 February 1992
All in a Life 
by Garret FitzGerald.
Macmillan, 674 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 333 47034 6
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... the claim in Articles 2 and 3 that its territory extends to the whole of the island, regardless of the wishes of the Northern majority. Haughey never had scruples about endorsing this harsh claim. John Hume maintained that these articles only expressed a harmless aspiration, of which no one took much notice, but would not concede that the Council of Ireland would bring these clauses to the ...

You have a new memory

Hal Foster: Trevor Paglen

11 October 2018
Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen 
by John​ P. Jacob and Luke Skrebowski.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 252 pp., £45, July 2018, 978 1 911282 33 4
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Trevor Paglen 
by Lauren Cornell, Julia Bryan-Wilson and Omar Kholeif.
Phaidon, 160 pp., £29.95, May 2018, 978 0 7148 7344 2
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... with information from the Snowden files and other sources, while each image in Undersea Cables shows a murky sea bottom with a section of tube that looks like marine junk. Here, as the curator John Jacob points out in his excellent essay in the Smithsonian publication, Paglen works against the obfuscation of terms like ‘cyberspace’ and ‘the cloud’; in his own words, Paglen aims to ...
26 November 1987
Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... on post-war British governments, starting with Paul Addison on the wartime background to Attlee’s success, and ending with some surprisingly detached reflections on Mrs Thatcher from the pen of John Vincent. As a final savoury, Tony Benn, Michael Fraser, David Marquand and David Butler sum up the entire era. The argument starts with the first and by some way the best piece in the collection ...

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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... contributor. To his periodic chagrin, he also appeared every month or so in the Noctes Ambrosianae, a fictional symposium that ran in the paper between 1822 and 1835. The author of the Noctes was JohnWilson, 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 ...
2 April 1987
Randall Jarrell’s Letters 
edited by Mary Jarrell.
Faber, 540 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 571 13829 2
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The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore 
edited by Patricia Willis.
Faber, 723 pp., £30, January 1987, 0 571 14788 7
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... cosy world of forty years ago, presided over by the Nation and Partisan Review. In 1946, Jarrell served a year as Literary Editor for the Nation, doing so well at matching books and reviewers that John Crowe Ransom said he deserved a Pulitzer Prize for it. ‘Not since Poe had an American poet laid down the law in quite such a carnival spirit.’ In those days of talented amateurs the Eng Lit ...

Royalties

John​ Sutherland

14 June 1990
CounterBlasts No 10. The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 42 pp., £2.99, January 1990, 0 7011 3555 7
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The Prince 
by Celia Brayfield.
Chatto, 576 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3357 0
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The Maker’s Mark 
by Roy Hattersley.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 9780333470329
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A Time to Dance 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 220 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 340 52911 3
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... with being a second-rate ex-colonial power, but they would not stand for Altrincham’s mild lèse-majesté. He was subjected to even more abuse from the British press and public than Nasser or JohnFoster Dulles. In a widely photographed incident, Altrincham was physically assaulted. His assailant shouted to the pressmen he had summoned to watch: ‘This is for insulting the Queen!’ The papers – ...

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