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Susannah Clapp, 18 February 1988

A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924 
by Julia Briggs.
Hutchinson, 473 pp., £16.95, November 1987, 9780091682101
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Narratives of Love and Loss: Studies in Modern Children’s Fiction 
by Margaret Rustin and Michael Rustin.
Verso, 268 pp., £22.95, November 1987, 9780860911876
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... boy poet and his spirited sister. The weed’s name is Noel: Mrs Briggs has discovered that Noel Griffith, a friend of Reynolds and Barron, was another of Nesbit’s lovers. His twin – a continuously praised creature whom Mrs Briggs sees as ‘an image of E. Nesbit’s energetic and dominating side, standing guard over a less confident but more creative ...

Judges and Ministers

Anthony Lester, 18 April 1996

... These attacks have been concerted, populist and unfair. They have been led by the Home Secretary, Michael Howard (a frequent and bad loser in the courts), and the Chairman of his Party, Brian Mawhinney, who has urged Tory hangers and floggers to write in and complain about lenient sentencing on the part of judges, and has put out as party propaganda a ...

Missing the Vital Spark

Mark Ford: Tony Harrison, 13 May 1999

by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 86 pp., £8.99, November 1998, 0 571 19753 1
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... this attribution has been made with particular force in recent decades, most compellingly by M. Griffith in The Authenticity of ‘Prometheus Bound’ (1977). In a recent edition of the play in translation, Michael Ewans argues that ‘in dramatic style and technique, as well as language and poetic style, Prometheus is ...


Christopher Hitchens, 24 August 1995

To Renew America 
by Newt Gingrich.
HarperCollins, 260 pp., £18, July 1995, 9780060173364
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... Head: he can’t keep them out of the narrative. Recently, when he found the tempestuous Melanie Griffith in a House corridor (she was there to lobby against the cancellation of funding for public television and the arts: another joint Gingrich-Murdoch enterprise), the Speaker crept up and asked ‘Would you like to see my dinosaur?’ He has a Tyrannosaurus ...
Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 320 pp., $24.95, May 1996, 0 520 20407 7
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... Is there anything stranger than a pop star out of time? Before Elvis Presley, before Michael Jackson, there was Al Jolson – ‘the most popular entertainer of the first half of the 20th century,’ as Michael Rogin describes him. Eyes wide and mouth agape, arms outstretched and face painted black, Jolson concludes his performance in The Jazz Singer (1927) down on one knee, serenading the delighted actress who plays his mother in a voice as strong and piercing as a foghorn ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... and considered re-evaluation of classic American cinema. Godard recognised Hitchcock and Lang and Griffith as great masters – alongside Rossellini, Renoir and Eisenstein – but he also recognised the strengths of marginal and eccentric Hollywood productions, the odd films out of the studio system. Talking about his second film, Le Petit Soldat, he invoked ...

Get off your knees

Ferdinand Mount: An Atheist in the House, 30 June 2011

Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh, Atheist and Republican 
by Bryan Niblett.
Kramedart, 391 pp., £19.99, January 2011, 978 0 9564743 0 8
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... consequences such intercourse entails upon them.’ After this effusion, surpassing even Mervyn Griffith-Jones’s remarks in leading the prosecution of Lady Chatterley’s Lover 80 years later, it was not surprising that Jessel ordered custody of Mabel to be given to Besant. Annie then launched an appeal for a judicial separation, which Jessel ...


Iain Sinclair: London’s Lost Cinemas, 6 November 2014

... was ‘the first man to come from acting to directing’. Thereby erasing at a stroke D.W. Griffith, Erich von Stroheim, Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier. To say nothing of Chaplin. But, as Gareth Evans told the faithful few at the London College of Communication, performance spaces kindly disposed towards historic films were disappearing fast in the ...

Moral Lepers

John Banville: Easter 1916, 16 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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... no reference to Republicanism’. Similarly, and just as surprisingly, Townshend quotes Michael Collins, who had fought in 1916 and three years later became president of the IRB Supreme Council, insisting that ‘the cause was not the Irish Republic’ but ‘liberation from English occupation’.* Certainly it ‘did not change the relationship ...

‘What is your nation if I may ask?’

Colm Tóibín: Jews in Ireland, 30 September 1999

Jews in 20th-century Ireland: Refugees, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust 
by Dermot Keogh.
Cork, 336 pp., £45, March 1998, 9781859181492
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... to the newspapers attacked the influx of Jews, others also came to their defence, most notably Michael Davitt, the leader of the Land League. ‘The Jews have never to my knowledge done any injury to Ireland,’ he wrote in a letter to the Freeman’s Journal in 1893. ‘Like our own race, they have endured a persecution the records of which will for ever ...

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