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Devil take the hindmost

John Sutherland, 14 December 1995

Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Liverpool, 170 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 85323 439 6
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The History of Mr Wells 
by Michael Foot.
Doubleday, 318 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 385 40366 6
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A Modern Utopia 
by H.G. Wells, edited by Krishan Kumar.
Everyman, 271 pp., £5.99, November 1994, 0 460 87498 5
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... work of science fiction will ever win the Booker Prize – not even the joke 1890s version. H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine had no chance against ‘literary’ authors like Hardy and Conrad. In the twenty-five years it has been running, no SF title, as I recall, has even been shortlisted for Martyn Goff’s real thing. In 1940, T.S. Eliot struck the ...

The Kiss

Gaby Wood, 9 February 1995

Jean Renoir: Letters 
edited by Lorraine LoBianco and David Thompson, translated by Craig Carlson, Natasha Arnoldi and Michael Wells.
Faber, 605 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 571 17298 9
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... we concentrate (or so it seems) on technical detail, but meanwhile the emotion in the scene swells up beneath the surface, catching us unawares. Where we cannot fail to feel Renoir’s presence during this film which really is a film in the process of being made, is in the sound of his voice. There is always a moment of concentration for the actors ...

Flying Mud

Patrick Parrinder, 8 April 1993

The Invisible Man: The Life and Liberties of H.G. Wells 
by Michael Coren.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 7475 1158 6
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... Late in 1900 H.G. Wells sat down to draft the series of articles which were to make his reputation as the foremost prophet of the new century. His working title was ‘Speculations’ or ‘The New Prospectus’, and the essays were later published as Anticipations. His friend Arnold Bennett referred to them mockingly as ‘Uncle’s-dissipations’, but for Wells futurology was anything but a sideline ...

Michael Foot’s Fathers

D.A.N. Jones, 4 December 1980

My Life with Nye 
by Jennie Lee.
Cape, 277 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 224 01785 3
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Debts of Honour 
by Michael Foot.
Davis-Poynter, 240 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7067 6243 6
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... If Jennie Lee, Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot had achieved Cabinet rank together in the 1960s, the United Kingdom would be in better shape now. ‘That is my truth,’ as Bevan used to say. ‘Now tell me yours.’ What have they in common, though, this leftist Gang of Three, the Englishman, the Welshman and the Scot, Bevan, his wife and his friend, all from such different backgrounds? They have similar opinions, of course: but what of their human and moral nature, their style of writing and speaking? It may be worth noting that all three are childless and parentful: all three have been devoted to Protestant Christian parents and have (to my regret) firmly rejected the faith of their fathers ...

It’s a riot

Michael Ignatieff, 20 August 1981

‘Civil Disturbances’: Hansard, Vol. 8, Nos 143-144, 16 July 1981 – 17 July 1981 
HMSO, £80Show More
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... MORE MUST WE TAKE?’ This ‘we’ lends itself to easy caricature. It is ‘Outraged, Tunbridge Wells’ writ large, an army of indignant blue rinse. It is the passive ‘we’ of embattled parents, distributing blame to the ungrateful children with the aggrieved cry ‘What have we done to deserve this?’ In the wake of the riots, every newspaper seems to ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... was an accommodating Old Etonian called Jim Shelley. Their commercial property manager was Michael Hutchings, a young eccentric known as ‘the man with the golden nose’ – a reference not only to his ability to sniff out a nice little earner in the property market, but also to his highly-developed taste for wine. Hutchings loved travel and his work ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... scientists and technocrats, most famously and prolifically articulated in the novels of H.G. Wells. It is in this fertile, Fin-de-Siècle context of confused and competing Utopias that these two authors set their studies of conjugal crusaders which tell us much about informed, élite attitudes to Utopian ideas in this most recent phase of sustained and ...

Sidney and Beatrice

Michael Holroyd, 25 October 1979

A Victorian Courtship: The Story of Beatrice Potter and Sidney Webb 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Weidenfeld, 148 pp., £5.50
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... pair – ‘two active self-centred people, excessively devoted to the public cause,’ as H.G. Wells characterised them in The New Machiavelli – was the oddest romance in the Fabian calendar and a triumph for Sidney’s policy of gradualism. Beatrice was 34 at the time of their marriage and apparently determined to prove an old maid. Handsome, with huge ...

Modern Shakespeare

Graham Bradshaw, 21 April 1983

The Taming of the Shrew 
edited by H.J. Oliver.
Oxford, 248 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812907 6
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Henry V 
edited by Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 330 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812912 2
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Muir.
Oxford, 205 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812903 3
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Palmer.
Methuen, 337 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 416 47680 5
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... and greatness. Where Shakespeare is concerned, such issues are especially vexing. As Stanley Wells, the General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare, engagingly remarks in the title essay of Modernising Shakespeare’s Spelling,* they drive an editor to ‘a state of impotent neurosis, or drink, or an early grave’. To take one example from Troilus (and I ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘No Country for Old Men’, 21 February 2008

No Country for Old Men 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
January 2008
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... into his eyes carrying with it his slowly uncoupling world visible to see’; ‘everything that Wells had ever known or thought or loved drained slowly down the wall behind him.’ The movie murderer is not such a connoisseur, and he doesn’t philosophise quite as much as his print counterpart (‘how to prevail over that which you refuse to acknowledge ...

And That Rug!

Michael Dobson: Images of Shakespeare, 6 November 2003

Shakespeare’s Face: The Story behind the Newly Discovered Portrait 
by Stephanie Nolen.
Piatkus, 365 pp., £18.99, March 2003, 0 7499 2391 1
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Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions 
by Stephen Orgel.
Palgrave, 172 pp., £25, August 2003, 1 4039 1177 0
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Shakespeare in Art 
by Jane Martineau et al.
Merrell, 256 pp., £29.95, September 2003, 1 85894 229 2
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In Search of Shakespeare 
by Michael Wood.
BBC, 352 pp., £20, May 2003, 9780563534778
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... in a more aristocratic and accomplished manner, complete with emblematic fruit, by John Michael Wright’s c.1668 painting of James Cecil, fourth Earl of Salisbury and his sister Lady Catherine, now at Hatfield. Unhelpfully, there is no indication on the canvas as to the pear-bearing girl’s identity, and no date either. However, a modern brass ...

Imbued … with Exigence

Christopher Tayler: Rachel Cusk, 22 September 2005

In the Fold 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, September 2005, 0 571 22813 5
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... between its two central characters. Francine Snaith – ‘the tarty temp from Tunbridge Wells’ who sets out to ensnare the hapless Ralph Loman, driven by a mixture of boredom, malice and neediness – is a fairly memorable figure. But the elevated style in which Cusk describes her low-level manoeuvres is better suited to projecting ironic distance ...

Hoydens

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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... velveteen all day. I wore it only in the evening.’ Beneath the velveteen was venom. When H.G. Wells tried to propel the Fabians towards more vigorous political action there was a row with the Blands. When Wells was intercepted with Bland’s daughter Rosamund at Paddington Station, en route for the Continent, there was ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist, 5 June 2003

... de Menil, a major patron and heir to the Schlumberger fortune (made from drill bits for oil wells). Along with a third collaborator, a young art historian called Helen Winkler, Friedrich and de Menil saw that this new work had opened a structural gap in the art world – neither private nor public, its scale was beyond the means of individual collectors ...

Power-Seeker

Frank Kermode, 12 October 1989

Bernard Shaw. Vol. II: The Pursuit of Power 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 422 pp., £18, September 1989, 0 7011 3350 3
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... another, and, nearer home, Gilbert Murray and the lecherous, contentious and extremely able Wells). He worked heroically to keep the Court Theatre going, to overthrow the stage censorship, to educate the public in all ethical, civic and artistic affairs. He feuded with Irving, debated with Chesterton. He bought, drove and crashed dangerous ...

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