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Carve-Up

Zara Steiner, 2 July 1981

The Allies and the Russian Collapse: March 1917-March 1918 
by Michael Kettle.
Deutsch, 287 pp., £14.95, March 1981, 0 233 97078 9
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... the illusions which led them to send money, agents and finally troops into Russian territories. Mr Kettle’s study is the first of four volumes. He has used a far wider range of sources than was available to Professor Richard Ullman when he began his masterly three-volume account of the same events. The title of this first book is somewhat misleading, for the ...

Something of Importance

Philip Williamson, 2 February 1989

The Coming of the First World War 
edited by R.J.W. Evans and Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann.
Oxford, 189 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 19 822899 6
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The Experience of World War One 
by J.M. Winter.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 333 44613 5
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Russia and the Allies 1917-1920. Vol II: The Road to Intervention, March-November 1918 
by Michael Kettle.
Routledge, 401 pp., £40, June 1988, 0 415 00371 7
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Douglas Haig 1861-1928 
by Gerald De Groot.
Unwin Hyman, 441 pp., £20, November 1988, 0 04 440192 2
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Nothing of Importance: A Record of Eight Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion 
by Bernard Adams.
The Strong Oak Press/Tom Donovan Publishing, 324 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 9781871048018
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1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War 
by Lyn Macdonald.
Joseph, 346 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 0 7181 3188 6
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... war, for he added: ‘Happily there seems no reason why we should be more than spectators.’ Michael Brock shows with great skill that it was not so much the German invasion of Belgium but the precise nature of that invasion which produced a wide British consensus for war 11 days later. In most cases, then, as ...

Bourgeois Masterpieces

Julian Symons, 13 June 1991

Literature and Liberation: Selected Essays 
by Arnold Kettle, edited by Graham Martin and W.R. Owens.
Manchester, 231 pp., £9.95, February 1991, 9780719027734
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... the All Party Alliance, although a wit said that his only allies were Anthony Morton, Gordon Ashe, Michael Halliday and other Creasey pseudonyms.) His books were popular but not highly regarded, and this worried and baffled him. Why, he asked me once, was there thought to be so much difference between Creasey and Shakespeare? Wasn’t Macbeth a crime ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 21 October 2015

... by a host of detractors, from within the paper and without: Tim Bale, Nick Cohen, Anne Perkins, Michael White, Martin Kettle, Peter Hain, Alan Johnson, Tony Blair (twice), Jonathan Jones, Frank Field, David Miliband (whose razor-sharp instinct for leadership contests led him to back Liz Kendall), Steve Coogan, Matthew ...

Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 22 June 1995

... the pallet, table and two chairs in the room at the top of the sharp and loose coir staircase, a kettle and ashtray before I remembered about food, the streetlamp almost within reach to slide down, fireman-style, im Falle eines Falles, the reflections of car windscreens bouncing on the ceiling, the solicitous Irish landlady, Marie’s sister, saying ‘Are ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Cold fish at the royal household, 20 November 2003

... is that he’s a die-hard monarchist, as he reveals in his memoir, A Royal Duty (Michael Joseph, £17.99), a book at once agonisingly boring and shamefully fascinating. Much the most interesting bits are the insights into such things as what the Queen has (or used to have) for breakfast: ‘one slice of granary toast, a smear of butter and a ...

Misinformed about Paradise

Michael Wood, 5 September 1996

Reading in the Dark 
by Seamus Deane.
Cape, 233 pp., £13.99, September 1996, 0 224 04405 2
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... waiting for her husband. ‘Then there would be no talking, just the ticking of the clock and the kettle humming and the china dogs on the mantelpiece looking, as ever, cross at one another.’ The narrator is embarrassed, because his own writing at this time is full of words like cerulean, azure phantasm and implacable. But when the writer describes the ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... so moveable, that one can pin it down no more closely than by calling it ‘anti-establishment’. Michael Frayn may have excoriated that phrase – in his brief, brilliant introduction to the published text, Beyond the Fringe, in 1963 – as denoting ‘a spacious vacancy of thought’, but really, I don’t see how we can do any better. Any real ...

Like the trees on Primrose Hill

Samuel Hynes, 2 March 1989

Louis MacNeice: A Study 
by Edna Longley.
Faber, 178 pp., £4.95, August 1988, 0 571 13748 2
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £4.95, August 1988, 0 571 15270 8
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A Scatter of Memories 
by Margaret Gardiner.
Free Association, 280 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 1 85343 043 9
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... the small particulars of living: pigeons and shop-window shutters and frock-coated statues, the kettle singing and the bacon sizzling and the morning’s first cigarette, ‘all our trivial daily acts’. And with memories, the contents of the mind’s museum, Ireland and school and Oxford. Everything is there. But precariously ...

It’s slippery in here

Christopher Tayler: ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’, 20 September 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 
created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.
Showtime/Sky Atlantic, 18 episodes, 21 May 2017 to 3 September 2017
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... from analogue special effects, and it was fun to see him using it to address significant absences. Michael J. Anderson, the Little Man from Another Place, refused to appear after a quarrel about his fee, so his character was replaced by a screeching shrub. The character played by David Bowie, who died before he could shoot his scenes, now lived in a sort of ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William Gibson, 22 May 2003

Pattern Recognition 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... tap water’, as she later notes – through ‘a German filter’ into ‘an Italian electric kettle’, and seeks out a bag of ‘imported Californian tea-substitute’. After a hasty Pilates session, she checks her watch – ‘a Korean clone of an old-school Casio G-Shock’ – and sees that it’s time for her meeting with Bernard Stonestreet, an ad ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... séance, and a hotel fire which carries off the intruments of Enderby’s inspiration (an electric kettle and box of strong tea bags), prove these fears well-founded. Yet Enderby himself is hardly at fault. Indeed, he starts to look Shakespearean. Swayed by the Terrebasse company, like the Bard by Burgess, Kemp et al., he gives the public What it Wills, As it ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... Put on the kettle and make the tay, and if they weren’t happy, that you may. By the time he wrote this, O’Malley knew all about post-revolutionary disillusionment. He went on to produce a sequel, The Singing Flame, which is less accomplished but possesses much of the ...

Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 
by Alethea Hayter.
Robin Clark, 224 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 0 86072 146 9
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Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850 
edited by John Barrell.
Oxford, 301 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198173922
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London: World City 1800-1840 
edited by Celina Fox.
Yale, 624 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 300 05284 7
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... the culmination of a dislike of Browning that began when he ruined her new carpet by putting a hot kettle down on it has perhaps no more than anecdotal value, but to know that Haydon’s short sight and his relatively cramped studio meant that he could never stand far enough back from his work to get a correct sense of proportion not only adds to an ...

Snakes and Leeches

Rosemary Hill: The Great Stink, 4 January 2018

One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 300 22726 0
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... Haydon approaches a crisis in his unhappy career. Browning annoys Jane Carlyle by putting a hot kettle down on her new carpet. Haydon takes his own life. So, from day to day and street to street, the sublime and the ridiculous appear in the proximity they occupy in life. This is surely one reason for the rise of microhistory, that it brings the texture of ...

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