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Enabler’s Revenge

David Runciman: John Edwards

25 March 2010
The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down 
by Andrew Young.
Thomas Dunne, 301 pp., $24.99, January 2010, 978 0 312 64065 1
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Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House 
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
Viking, 448 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 670 91802 7
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... that although he had indulged in a “one-night” fling with Rielle, in recent weeks she had become my [i.e. Young’s] mistress!’ (Showing commendable restraint, this is the only exclamation mark that Young uses throughout his narrative – if nothing else, he is a man who knows how to punctuate.) Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth turns on Young, showering him with vicious emails and encouraging the ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Establishment President

13 May 2010
... among the elite does him two kinds of harm: it spurs resentment in people lower down the ladder; and it diminishes his stature among the grandees by showing that he needs them. John Heilemann and MarkHalperin in their absorbing history of the 2008 campaign, Race of a Lifetime, speak of Obama’s ‘million-dollar smile’.* It is indeed a great asset. His voice has proved not so sure a thing. It ...
21 January 1988
Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... The publication of three substantial biographies of Jane Austen within a decade smacks of excess. But, compared with Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Jane Austen (1979) and John Halperin’s The Life of Jane Austen (1984), the work under review is in so many ways the best that it deserves to make its mark. The three authors, moreover, approach their subject (or subjects) from quite ...

Cures for Impotence

James Davidson

19 October 1995
Foucault’s Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality 
by Simon Goldhill.
Cambridge, 194 pp., £30, January 1995, 0 521 47372 1
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... on his elephantine organ. This array of virilia bore many symbolic associations. Big ones seem most often to have indicated obscenity and buffoonery, lust, luck and fertility; others were used to mark senility (when pendulous), otherness (when circumcised) and self-control. They were a symbol as much for women as for men and figured in a number of women-only festivals in the form of phallic ...

Pal o’ Me Heart

David Halperin: Jamie O’Neill

22 May 2003
At Swim, Two Boys 
by Jamie O'Neill.
Scribner, 572 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 7432 0714 9
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... during the past fifteen years, on both sides of the Atlantic, has been preoccupied with historical themes. O’Neill’s novel deserves to be read alongside Hollinghurst, the films of Derek Jarman, Mark Merlis’s American Studies and An Arrow’s Flight, Robert Glück’s Margery Kempe, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and, above all, Neil Bartlett’s inexhaustible Who Was That Man? A Present ...

Being splendid

Stephen Wall

3 March 1988
Civil to Strangers 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 333 39128 4
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The Pleasure of Miss Pym 
by Charles Burkhart.
Texas, 120 pp., $17.95, July 1987, 0 292 76496 0
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The World of Barbara Pym 
by Janice Rossen.
Macmillan, 193 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 333 42372 0
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The Life and Work of Barbara Pym 
edited by Dale Salwak.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 333 40831 4
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... and distressing gap in her publishing career might have had artistically valuable effects is not much considered. Generally, individual novels are preferred or not on idiosyncratic bases. John Halperin, for instance, offers Jane and Prudence as ‘arguably Pym’s best novel’ because it illustrates most powerfully his theme: her treatment of the war between the sexes. It ‘depicts women as the ...
19 July 1984
Jesus and the Politics of his Day 
edited by Ernst Bammel and C.F.D. Moule.
Cambridge, 511 pp., £37.50, February 1984, 9780521220224
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... on the character of Jesus, though Paul never met Jesus, and based his idea of him on visions. Styler has to admit that the ‘pacifist’ passages are mostly not found in the earliest sources, Q and Mark, but points out that Q contains Jesus’s injunction to ‘turn the other cheek’. This is not necessarily a pacifist saying. Bonhoeffer was no doubt willing to turn his own cheek, but not that of ...

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