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Sucking up

Michael Rogin, 12 May 1994

Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... hundreds of babies from Kuwaiti incubators. It ignored the story that the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, paid millions of dollars by Kuwait, had orchestrated the television testimonies to the alleged atrocity, that the unidentified female eyewitness was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, and that the only documented ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miami Vice’, 17 August 2006

Miami Vice 
directed by Michael Mann.
August 2006
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... no world, just the set or the simulation where the conversations take place. When directors like Michael Mann, whose movie version of Miami Vice has just opened, say they want to make episodes of television series as if they were movies, they mean, among other things, that they want to create a world, a location which is a kind of character. This is as true ...

This happens every day

Michael Wood: On Paul Celan, 29 July 2021

Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan 
by Jean Daive, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop.
City Lights, 186 pp., £11.99, November 2020, 978 0 87286 808 3
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Microliths They Are, Little Stones: Posthumous Prose 
by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Contra Mundum, 293 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 1 940625 36 2
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Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry 
by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Farrar, Straus, 549 pp., £32, November 2020, 978 0 374 29837 1
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... heartnear’. Geoffrey Hill had a good time with the title of Celan’s collection Atemwende, or Breathturn (1967). In The Orchards of Syon (2002) he anglicises ‘breathturn’ into ‘turn of breath’. But he also has ...

Ediepus

Michael Neve, 18 November 1982

Edie: An American Biography 
by Jean Stein and George Plimpton.
Cape, 455 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 224 02068 4
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself 
by Jan Kerouac.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 233 97487 3
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... Harvard. Slowly, he went crazy, and Doctor Millet was needed again, his asylum now being in Silver Hill, Connecticut. Minty killed himself, in the asylum, in March 1964, hanged himself with a neck-tie. There had been homosexual impulses, and he had said: ‘I’m not sure whether I’m Francis Junior or Francis Senior.’ Stein and Plimpton’s staccato ...

Rough Wooing

Michael Brown: Flodden, 23 January 2014

Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 
by George Goodwin.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86739 5
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... by Surrey, who cut off the Scottish army’s route north, forcing it to move to Branxton Hill, where its cannon could not be effectively positioned. James was still confident enough to risk battle against the smaller English army, but the resulting clash on 9 September 1513 was a disaster for the Scots. In a valley to the north of his camp on Flodden ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Hungarians and Falklanders, 17 February 1983

... me with envy. The Institute of Historical Research in Budapest has extensive quarters on Castle Hill and over sixty paid researchers on its staff. The comparable English Institute in London has modest quarters in the Senate House and no paid researchers. The Hungarian Academy has a palace all to itself just across from the Parliament House: colonnaded ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: A New Carl, 5 September 1985

... long a-coming. Meanwhile I content myself with an occasional stretch of my legs up Parliament Hill and find even that hard going. My car engine would, I am sure, run excellently if I let it. My physical engine seems to be grinding to a halt. Catherine Karolyi, who has just died at the age of 93, was a treasured friend of mine. She started long ago as ...

Cute, My Arse

Seamus Perry: Geoffrey Hill, 12 September 2019

The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 148 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 19 882952 2
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... You​ would be hard pressed to describe Geoffrey Hill’s final work. To say it is a sort of notebook cast as a prose poem in 271 sections of greatly varying length doesn’t get you very far. In one way it is squarely in the tradition of Pope’s Dunciad (which it mentions): it is a poem about the betrayal of England, a yowl of anger and outrage at the prevailing imbecility Hill often addressed in his later works ...

The Adventures of Richard Holmes

Michael Holroyd, 1 August 1985

Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 340 28337 8
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... appear. For a day and a half there was much talk of Mr Holmes. How would he appear? Over what hill? Across what pond? From time to time messages would arrive which we carefully decoded. Then suddenly a man in a field called threateningly to us: were we looking for Mr Sherlock Holmes? We agreed that we were. He pointed onwards and we increased our ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 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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... as much for his sake as for mine) for an unofficial Heaney – along the lines of Michael Hamburger’s book of Rilke, called An Unofficial Rilke – makes me conclude that the official and the unofficial in him are never far from each other, like two sides of the same coin. The poem with ‘boozed’ and ‘borean’ is the one that also has ...

They were all drunk

Michael Brock, 21 March 1991

The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol I: 1872-1889 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 386 pp., £45, November 1990, 0 333 36086 9
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The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol II: 1890-1899 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 386 pp., £45, November 1990, 0 333 36087 7
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... from Caroline Kipling’s diaries for his biography. Moreover, although the letters to Mrs Edmonia Hill were bought and destroyed, they had been copied, however inaccurately. These copies have survived and are invaluable for Kipling’s last two years in India. All this destruction did not prevent views of Kipling being obtainable from his private writings. It ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, 27 January 2022

... do him any harm and that he will not be vanquished ‘until/Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him’) he doesn’t go to see them, since they are already in the castle. They show up in the roof, among the high beams. It is a fine directorial touch. The witches are often seen as escapees from Macbeth’s mind, and they are ...

Dignity and Impudence

Oliver Whitley, 6 October 1983

A Variety of Lives: A Biography of Sir Hugh Greene 
by Michael Tracey.
Bodley Head, 344 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 370 30026 2
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... system of thought.’ The reader will find all these items in the identikit portrait which Michael Tracey constructs. Greene was good to work for, and with, above all because he liked diversity among his associates. We were each perfectly free to weave our own views into a harmonious system of thought, if we wanted to, while he relied on his ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... only one or two bees per bonnet. The Pevsnerian approach was different. In a witty essay, Michael Taylor, who drove Pevsner round Warwickshire, recalls the experience as stimulating and slightly nightmarish, ‘like viewing a video of a thousand years … of history … fast-forwarded’. Pevsner ‘robbed the word “specialist” of its meaning by ...

Novel and Naughty

Blair Worden: Parliament and the People, 26 September 2019

Radical Parliamentarians and the English Civil War 
by David Como.
Oxford, 457 pp., £85, July 2018, 978 0 19 954191 1
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The Common Freedom of the People: John Lilburne and the English Revolution 
by Michael Braddick.
Oxford, 391 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 19 880323 2
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... In​ 1972, during the era of student revolt, the Marxist historian Christopher Hill wooed its participants in his book The World Turned Upside Down. It explored the mid-17th century, a ‘period of glorious flux and intellectual excitement’, when the nation’s institutions broke down and Gerrard Winstanley, the leader of a Digger commune, declared ‘the old world’ to be ‘running up like parchment in the fire ...

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