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Going up to Heaven

Susan Pedersen: Before the Pill, 28 May 2009

Birth Control, Sex and Marriage in Britain 1918-60 
by Kate Fisher.
Oxford, 294 pp., £24, May 2008, 978 0 19 954460 8
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For Their Own Good: The Transformation of English Working-Class Health Culture, 1880-1970 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Ohio State, 409 pp., £64.95, October 2008, 978 0 8142 1094 9
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... mostly working-class English women and men whose recollections form the raw material of Kate Fisher’s book would have had little trouble understanding this omission. Caps and condoms were messy, uncomfortable, expensive and required a kind of calculation that turned intimacy sour. One would get ‘nicely carried away and going up to heaven ...

Vorsprung durch Techno

Ian Penman, 10 September 2020

Kraftwerk: Future Music from Germany 
by Uwe Schütte.
Penguin, 316 pp., £9.99, February, 978 0 14 198675 3
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... a bit retro itself – it’s almost exactly how ‘hauntology’ was posed on blogs written by Mark Fisher and others circa 2003. Kraftwerk’s ‘futurist’ vision can now look passingly timid: the robots they sometimes use to substitute for themselves on stage are palpably pre-digital, and today we have an entirely other sense of ‘bots’ and ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... break with Rome. Only one did so outspokenly – and he was rewarded by a martyr’s death. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was executed in June 1535 for refusing (like Thomas More) to take the oath of succession. He was prepared to swear to the succession itself, which he believed that King and nobles were entitled to change, but was unwilling to swear to ...

Smoking big cigars

David Herd, 23 July 1992

Goodstone 
by Fred Voss.
Bloodaxe, 180 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 1 85224 198 5
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... richly resourced language would necessarily distort the subject. Writing about the work of Roy Fisher in Thomas Hardy and British Poetry, Donald Davie takes Fisher to be ‘restricting himself as self-denyingly as Larkin to the urbanised and industrialised landscapes of modern England’ and identifies a ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... a ‘provincial’ bore, there have been poets around for some time, such as Edwin Morgan and Roy Fisher, who give the lie to that. Home is no longer ‘so sad’. At home few people speak Proper English all the time. Home-based poetry may be in dialect, which is present in nearly all the writers considered here: but it may also fuel itself with a ...

Door Closing!

Mark Ford: Randall Jarrell, 21 October 2010

Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy 
by Randall Jarrell.
Chicago, 277 pp., £10.50, April 2010, 978 0 226 39375 9
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... New Critical source-hunting and explorations of Eliot’s use of Grail mythology or Wagner or the Fisher King of the kind one finds in Cleanth Brooks’s 1939 study of The Waste Land. ‘T.S. Eliot and Obsessional Neurosis’, Jarrell planned to call it, and one can surmise the argument he intended to make from the paragraph he devotes to Eliot in a lecture ...

Wrinkled v. Round

Andrew Berry: Gregor Mendel, 8 February 2001

A Monk and Two Peas: The Story of Gregor Mendel and the Discovery of Genetics 
by Robin Marantz Henig.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £14.99, June 2001, 0 297 64365 7
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... his pea plants, quietly effecting a scientific revolution in complete isolation, is way off the mark. After a disastrous spell as a parish priest, Mendel became a teacher, initially in Znaim, and subsequently at Brünn’s Technical School. He had found his métier. Every reference to his teaching is laudatory, whether from colleagues or pupils. Hugo ...

A Slight Dash of the Tiresome

Brian Harrison, 9 November 1989

The Blind Victorian: Henry Fawcett and British Liberalism 
edited by Lawrence Goldman.
Cambridge, 199 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 521 35032 8
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... the Royal Society, where the layman was once made to feel at home, into learned societies. H.A.L. Fisher threatened to resign from the British Academy in 1938 if it refused to recommend Winston Churchill for election: such a decision, he said, would ‘mark the triumph of a tendency towards minute specialisation ... which I ...

Rose’s Rex

David Cannadine, 15 September 1983

King George V 
by Kenneth Rose.
Weidenfeld, 514 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78245 2
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... implausibly accusing Churchill of being a socialist, and obstructively opposing the return of Fisher to the Admiralty. This is a much less flattering picture than that painted by George V’s official biographers, and Rose’s account of the King in the war is equally critical. Of course, his duty, patriotism and dedication were beyond doubt, but not ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... a doubt hereabouts which leads him to the arch perversity of having among his dramatis personae Mark Pattison but then having Pattison’s mighty opposite be, not Jowett, but Jenkinson. Oh, it’s Jowett all right, complete with squeak, but why then submit him to the indignity of onomastic antics? And why retain Trinity College and Queen’s College but ...

He, She, One, They, Ho, Hus, Hum, Ita

Amia Srinivasan: How Should I Refer to You?, 2 July 2020

What’s Your Pronoun? Beyond He and She 
by Dennis Baron.
Liveright, 304 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 63149 604 2
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... appropriate agreement between personal pronouns and indefinites. The first to do so was Ann Fisher in her New Grammar, a widely used textbook originally published in 1745. ‘The Masculine Person answers to the general Name,’ Fisher explained, ‘which comprehends both Male and Female; as Any Person who knows what ...

Hyacinth Boy

Mark Ford: T.S. Eliot, 21 September 2006

T.S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet 
by James E. Miller.
Pennsylvania State, 468 pp., £29.95, August 2005, 0 271 02681 2
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The Annotated ‘Waste Land’ with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose 
by T.S. Eliot, edited by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 270 pp., $35, April 2005, 0 300 09743 3
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Revisiting ‘The Waste Land’ 
by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 203 pp., £22.50, May 2005, 0 300 10707 2
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... the last fingers of leaf that clutch and sink – but no more than Tiresias or Phlebas or the Fisher King or the hyacinth girl (or boy, for that matter) can she be made to organise the rest of the poem into manageable perspective. Like Hamlet in Eliot’s famous reading of it, The Waste Land remains elusive and ‘intractable’; perhaps that is why its ...

Viscount Lisle at Calais

G.R. Elton, 16 July 1981

The Lisle Letters 
edited by Muriel St Clare Byrne.
Chicago, 744 pp., £125, June 1981, 0 226 08801 4
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... a remnant of which was acquired by Sir Robert Cotton? Where are the papers of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More? Perhaps the former kept none; the latter, practising his famous discretion, very likely destroyed his in the months during which, still free, he could confidently look forward to his arrest. Of course, there are scattered items from ...

Holy Terrors

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 December 1986

‘Elizabeth’: The Author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ 
by Karen Usborne.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 370 30887 5
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Alison Uttley: The Life of a Country Child 
by Denis Judd.
Joseph, 264 pp., £15.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2449 9
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Richmal Crompton: The Woman behind William 
by Mary Cadogan.
Allen and Unwin, 169 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 04 928054 6
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... Elizabeth puts up against her husband, the Man of Wrath. His potato-pickers, she notes, get a mark and a half a day. ‘The women get less, not because they work less, but because they are women and must not be encouraged.’ Her delight in the weather and the forests would go for nothing without her calm, dry, outrageous defence of herself as a ...

Who knew?

Norman Stone, 20 November 1980

The Terrible Secret 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 262 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 297 77835 8
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... else, came, indirectly, from British readings of top-secret German codes; Anthony Read and David Fisher, in their Operation Lucy, show very well how deviously that system worked, so that top-secret information could be divulged where it mattered, without the source being disclosed or even suspected by the recipient. Whatever the case, Riegner’s report was ...

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