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Who was the enemy?

Bernard Porter: Gallipoli

20 May 2015
Gallipoli 
by Alan Moorehead.
Aurum, 384 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78131 406 7
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Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story 
by Arthur Beecroft.
Robert Hale, 176 pp., £12.99, March 2015, 978 0 7198 1654 3
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Gallipoli 1915 
by Joseph Murray.
Silvertail, 210 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 909269 11 8
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Gallipoli: The Dardanelles Disaster in Soldiers’ Words and Photographs 
by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers.
Bloomsbury, 344 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 4088 5615 4
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... to see that his ideals were sham’. Beecroft didn’t intend or expect it to be published: ‘The public,’ he wrote, ‘are getting sick of the subject – and a good job too.’ But here it is. JosephMurray’s book was compiled from his diaries and letters home while serving first as a seaman and then as a sapper in Gallipoli. It was originally published in 1965 as Gallipoli as I Saw It, and ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays

8 November 2018
... Some things​ in the relations between authors and publishers never change. Dear Mr Murray, edited by David McClay (John Murray, £16.99), a collection of letters written to six generations of the Murray family, is full of familiar complaints. Jane Austen was ‘very much disappointed … by the delays of the printers’. Maria Rundell, author of A New System of Domestic Cookery (1805), was furious ...

Boeotian Masters

Donald Davie

5 November 1992
The Paperbark Tree: Selected Prose 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 360 pp., £18.95, September 1992, 0 85635 976 9
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... I don’t know when I was so baffled by a book, or by my response to a book. Up to past the half-way mark I was delighted, finding in Murray’s prose repeatedly the dash and decisiveness that have won me over in many of his poems; after that, I was more and more turned off, left with a bad taste in my mouth, until in the end I was ...
7 March 2013
Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... to the left of the headword. Murray’s successors William Craigie and Charles Onions tussled over whether to maintain this practice. Proofs of the Supplement dated 11 September 1929 retain Murray’s so-called tramlines; in the next proofs, dated 2 July 1930, they are gone. Between these dates, Onions joined the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English, where he became acutely aware of the ...

All Fresh Today

Michael Hofmann: Karen Solie

2 April 2014
The Living Option: Selected Poems 
by Karen Solie.
Bloodaxe, 160 pp., £9.95, October 2013, 978 1 85224 994 6
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... Introducing Karen Solie, I would adapt what Joseph Brodsky said some thirty years ago of the great Les Murray: ‘It would be as myopic to regard Mr Murray as an Australian poet as to call Yeats an Irishman. He is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives.’ Solie is Canadian (born in 1966, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, of Norwegian immigrant ...

Eurochess

Michael Dummett

24 January 1985
Chess: The History of a Game 
by Richard Eales.
Batsford, 240 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 7134 4607 2
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... the author had, in writing the book, to address to himself: having complied with them, he has no need to communicate them to the reader. Another minor annoyance is the lack of graciousness to H.J.R. Murray, whose great History of Chess of 1913 must be the basis for any subsequent research, and to which Eales’s debt is necessarily great. A handsome tribute in the Introduction does not compensate for ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment

5 April 2007
The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... so Sher looks through all that Scottish mind and heart to the paper, cash and receivables behind. Other scholars, such as William Zachs in his study of the London-based Scottish publisher John Murray, have passed this way but none with such labour or at such Darntonian length. The heart or backbone of Sher’s enterprise is an ‘empirical database’ of 115 Scottish authors and 360 works ...

Muted Ragu Tones

Michael Hofmann: David Szalay

20 April 2016
All That Man Is 
by David Szalay.
Cape, 437 pp., £14.99, April 2016, 978 0 224 09976 9
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... expertly, patiently, memorably true to fact and witty. In the last instance, there’s the parody of tasting-notes, the nonce-Scottish design, the resourceful, somehow tailor-made unpleasantness. Joseph Brodsky used to say: aesthetics before ethics. How, then, given that one pub is described as having ‘muted ragu tones’, and another a ‘burgundy honeycomb’ of a ceiling, can we possibly hope ...

Mizzled

Roy Harris

21 February 1985
Longman Dictionary of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk.
Longman, 1875 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 582 55511 6
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The Private Lives of English Words 
by Louis Heller, Alexander Humez and Malcah Dror.
Routledge, 333 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 7102 0006 4
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The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words 
by Bill Bryson.
Viking, 173 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 7139 1653 2
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The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots 
by Joseph​ Shipley.
Johns Hopkins, 637 pp., $39.95, May 1984, 0 8018 3004 4
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A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English 
by Eric Partidge and Paul Beale.
Routledge, 1400 pp., £45, May 1984, 0 7100 9820 0
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... of the lexicographer by attested ‘examples’. But the positivism was bogus: the examples were always carefully selected. Classic examples of the 19th-century attitude towards lexicography were Murray in England and Emile Littré in France. Neither man was lacking either on the authoritarian or on the imaginative side: but both chose to present themselves, in accordance with the spirit of the age ...
18 June 1981
Unclean Spirits: Possession and Exorcism in France and England in the Late 16th and Early 17th Centuries 
by D.P. Walker.
Scolar, 116 pp., £9.95, March 1981, 9780859676205
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The Witches’ Advocate 
by Gustav Henningsen.
Nevada, 607 pp., $24, November 1980, 0 87417 056 7
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... exceptions, their tone has been rigorously sceptical, seeking to uncover the social and intellectual roots of what they unequivocally see as a delusion. In contrast to earlier rationalists such as Joseph Hansen, H.C. Lea or R.H. Robbins, however, modern specialists are inclined to take popular beliefs much more seriously. If the recent occultist vogue has done nothing else, it has at least undermined ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney

3 June 2015
New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... the celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of the birth of Sophocles?) Any life in poetry is a freakish thing in our time, a successful one almost unexampled. The very greatest – Heaney, or Les Murray – have come huge and unlikely distances from obscure origins: ‘Like starlight that is light years on the go/From far away and takes light years arriving.’ Murray’s biographer, Peter Alexander ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... So began the 1954 Senate hearings on subversive influence in the army. But those hearings turned out to be McCarthy’s last crusade; in a formal and spectacular sense, his career ended when Joseph Welch, a Boston lawyer and counsel for the army, replied to the ascription of Communist connections to a young lawyer on his staff: ‘Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your ...
18 December 1980
Healey’s Eye 
by Denis Healey.
Cape, 191 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 224 01793 4
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The Role of the Trade Unions: The Granada Guildhall Lectures 
by James Prior, Tony Benn and Lionel Murray.
Granada, 96 pp., £1, August 1980, 0 586 05386 7
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Rank and File 
by Hugh Jenkins.
Croom Helm, 179 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0331 6
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The Tragedy of Labour 
by Stephen Haseler.
Blackwell, 249 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780631113416
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Labour into the Eighties 
edited by David Bell.
Croom Helm, 168 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0443 6
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... reveal attractive aspects of the author’s personality and interests probably not hitherto widely recognised. In the Granada Lectures each contributor says just what one would expect him to say. Len Murray reviews the relations between the unions and governments (of either colour) and offers moderate but constructive proposals for the future, while James Prior, also in moderate terms, outlines his view ...

Bloody Sunday Report

Murray​ Sayle: Back to Bloody Sunday

11 July 2002
... On the night of 30 January 1972, Murray Sayle was sent by the Sunday Times to Londonderry to report on the fatal shooting of 14 unarmed civil rights marchers by British Army Paratroopers. The article he wrote diverged from the official ...

Last Exit

Murray​ Sayle

27 November 1997
The Last Governor: Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £22.50, July 1997, 0 316 64018 2
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In Pursuit of British Interests: Reflections on Foreign Policy under Margaret Thatcher and John Major 
by Percy Cradock.
Murray, 228 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 7195 5464 0
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Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule: The Economic and Political Implications of Reversion 
edited by Warren Cohen and Li Zhao.
Cambridge, 255 pp., £45, August 1997, 0 521 62158 5
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The Hong Kong Advantage 
by Michael Enright, Edith Scott and David Dodwell.
Oxford, 369 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 19 590322 6
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... ideal preparation for the problems that were bound to surface when it expired on 30 June. The problem of the lease was first raised with China by the most far-sighted of Hong Kong’s governors, Sir Murray (now Lord) Maclehose, during the first visit ever by a governor to Beijing in March 1979. The tall, dignified Scot had seen a vision of the Hong Kong that was to be; under his aegis, the first ...

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