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Powers of Darkness

Michael Taylor: Made by Free Hands, 21 October 2021

Not Made by Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition 
by Bronwen Everill.
Harvard, 318 pp., £31.95, September 2020, 978 0 674 24098 8
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... short of a holy war to be prosecuted ‘upon the strongholds, the deep intrenchments of the very powers of darkness’. In her subsequent pamphlet, No British Slavery (1825), Heyrick explained that ‘abstentionism’ alone could destroy the British market for slave-grown crops – in the ten years either side of 1800, the West Indies had produced between ...

In Memory of Michael Rogin

Stephen Greenblatt, 3 January 2002

... isn’t true, at least not for me. I have had other deaths, but the death last month of my friend Michael Rogin was a shock. It’s not that we had, in recent years, spent much time together. I left Berkeley, where we taught together on the faculty of the University of California, in the mid-1990s, and almost immediately lost touch with most of my network of ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal, 31 July 2014

... liked them very much, but still didn’t know why Wilson had been fired by the New Republic. Michael Straight was his sister’s husband – can that be right? the chains of relation are sometimes bewildering in Vidal’s world, where literally everybody seems to know everybody – but when Vidal had asked him, Straight simply said: ‘Well, he ...

Doctor in the Dock

Stephen Sedley, 20 October 1994

Medical Negligence 
edited by Michael Powers and Nigel Harris.
Butterworth, 1188 pp., £155, July 1994, 0 406 00452 8
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... for use in court; and by Paul Knapman, an experienced coroner, who describes carefully the powers and procedures of his office – a useful source of evidence for lawsuits and often the only formal inquiry into a iatrogenic death – but omits to mention that an inquest verdict is not even prima facie evidence of the cause of death in a court of ...

Don’t you care?

Michael Wood: Richard Powers, 22 February 2007

The Echo Maker 
by Richard Powers.
Heinemann, 451 pp., £17.99, January 2007, 978 0 434 01633 4
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... Just doing their job. There aren’t too many significant resemblances between Pynchon and Richard PowersPowers’s imagination is deeply invested in the local and in Pynchon the local is always about to become something else – but the passage about the Line and the Good finds an interesting and no doubt unintended ...

Daddy’s Boy

Michael Ignatieff, 22 December 1983

The Shoemaker: Anatomy of a Psychotic 
by Flora Rheta Schreiber.
Allen Lane, 432 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 7139 1636 2
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... 38-year-old shoemaker from Philadelphia was finally arrested in 1975, he and his 14-year-old son Michael had murdered and then castrated a little Puerto Rican boy, José Collazo, whom they happened to meet on the street; they had tied another of Joe’s sons, Joey, to a ladder and watched him drown in a pool of water on an abandoned building site; they had ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone, 18 March 2004

Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... but without it life would be meaningless as well. Or so the characters come to suspect. Michael Ahearn, the leading man of Stone’s new novel, Bay of Souls, starts out as one of these worldly protagonists. Quietly dissatisfied, fond of the bottle but sustained by the unexamined vestiges of Catholic faith, he teaches American literature in a sterile ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Shape of Water’, 22 March 2018

... but all that seems to happen in this line is that the agent, Richard Strickland, played by Michael Shannon with fabulously nasty relish, tortures him with a cattle prod – and loses two fingers in the process. The creature is referred to as ‘the asset’, indeed ‘the most sensitive asset’ the facility has entertained, but this is wishful ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Rebecca’, 20 July 2006

directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
June 2006
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... the way was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me . . . On and on wound the poor thread that had once been our drive.’ But of course in the film we see what she is talking about, and it isn’t a dream at all, it’s a shifting picture of a dark ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Spider-Man 3’, 24 May 2007

Spider-Man 3 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2007
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... quite believe. Pieces of plot float in from nowhere, supernatural characters develop new sets of powers in mid-scene, all the most soppy and obvious scenes are played as if they were Ibsen and all the jokes have been replaced by weary memories of what the movies used to be like – what the two previous Spider-Man movies were like, I mean. American critics ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Pandora’s Box’, 21 June 2018

... number. This is the one moment in the work where she does seem to be a femme fatale. She has her powers of enchantment, and she uses them. But for every irresistible person there is someone failing to resist, and the arrogant, monocled lover is almost likeable here, a victim of desire rather than the pompous preacher he otherwise is. Now he decides he has to ...

War within wars

Paul Addison, 5 November 1992

War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honour of Sir Michael Howard 
edited by Lawrence Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O’Neill.
Oxford, 322 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 822292 0
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... As he looks forward to his 70th birthday Sir Michael Howard can also look back over a distinguished career which began with Wellington, Christ Church and the Coldstream Guards. In 1943, as Lieutenant Howard, fresh from the University, he led his platoon in a dangerous uphill charge against a German position north of Salerno ...

The World according to Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld

Michael Byers: American isolationism, 21 February 2002

... law might provide the means for the Federal Government of the US, whose constitutional powers in the field of foreign relations are considerable, to override the otherwise careful delimitation between its powers and those of the 50 constitutive states. Concern about the aggrandisement of Federal ...

Questions of Chic

Michael Mason, 19 August 1993

City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London 
by Judith Walkowitz.
Virago, 353 pp., £16.99, November 1992, 1 85381 517 9
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Cruelty and Companionship: Conflict in 19th-century Married Life 
by James Hammerton.
Routledge, 236 pp., £37.50, November 1992, 0 415 03622 4
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Victorian Scandals: Representations of Gender and Class 
edited by Kristine Ottersen Garrigan.
Ohio, 337 pp., $34.99, August 1992, 0 8214 1019 9
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... the odds this burly two-volume compilation of essays, brought together by Jim Dyos in England and Michael Wolff in America, became a classic. Against the odds, because these essays were, in origin, conference proceedings, and there were nearly forty of them. Conventional publishing wisdom would hope for only a modest success from such a formula, but The ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Dune’, 16 December 2021

... belongs to a sisterhood called the Bene Gesserit, whose members have remarkable psychic powers, including an ability to assume a ‘voice’ that compels other people to do things against their will without the least recourse to torture. They can also eavesdrop magically, a skill comically revealed at the beginning of the Lynch movie when the ...

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