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The Great Copyright Disaster

John Sutherland, 12 January 1995

Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright 
by Mark Rose.
Harvard, 176 pp., £21.95, October 1993, 0 674 05308 7
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Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation 
by Susan Stewart.
Duke, 353 pp., £15.95, November 1994, 0 8223 1545 9
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The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature 
edited by Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi.
Duke, 562 pp., £42.75, January 1994, 0 8223 1412 6
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... the brink of those works entering the public domain, the public whose domain it is was informed by Michael Black of Cambridge University Press that the standard Lawrence texts were culpably imperfect. A new authorised edition was put in hand – and a new copyright thereby created. As I recall, the Lawrence estate’s agents, Laurence Pollinger, initially ...

Buckle Up!

Tim Barker: Oil Prices, 1 June 2017

Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices 
by Robert McNally.
Columbia, 300 pp., £27.95, January 2017, 978 0 231 17814 3
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... and studiously avoids political controversy. The book expands on a pair of articles (written with Michael Levi) in Foreign Affairs, which argued that recent fluctuations in the price of oil marked the end of a period of relative stability that began in the late 1970s. The first piece ran in 2011, when the yearly average price of Brent crude exceeded $100 for ...

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 ...

A Preference for Torquemada

Michael Wood: G.K. Chesterton, 9 April 2009

Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy: The Making of GKC 1874-1908 
by William Oddie.
Oxford, 401 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 0 19 955165 1
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The Man Who Was Thursday 
by G.K. Chesterton.
Atlantic, 187 pp., £7.99, December 2008, 978 1 84354 905 5
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... with Kipling’s narrowness and a host of other national failures. His highest praise for H.G. Wells is that ‘he has come to the most dreadful conclusion a literary man can come to, the conclusion that the ordinary view is the right one.’ It’s not Chesterton’s fault that his idea should have become so popular with people who didn’t have to go to ...


Iain Sinclair: My Olympics, 30 August 2012

... bonanza. The soft-spoken Californian rodent was attended by his sleepover pal and minder, Michael Jackson. We have heard it stated, quite accurately, that construction work on the Olympic Park has been carried out with few casualties. But cycle deaths are mounting, from the early casualties of the fresh-painted lanes at the base of the Bow ...

The Excavation

Joseph Roth, translated by Michael Hofmann, 4 January 2001

... illnesses. People got belly-aches and died from eating rotten fruit, the water ran out in the wells, a couple of pine forests burned down, and the dry grass on the steppes caught alight. At night, the horizon was red, and there were acrid fumes in the air. We kept getting new visitors to the morgue. The authorities announced that the water was ...

Another A.N. Wilson

Michael Irwin, 3 December 1981

Who was Oswald Fish? 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 314 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 436 57606 6
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... stereotypes. His working-class dialogue seems to be based on recollections of the novels of H.G. Wells and of random conversations with college porters and cleaning-ladies: it stops just this side of Lawks-a-mussy. An ungenerous reading of the book would be that various proletarian and transatlantic characters have to be ushered (compassionately) into the ...


Michael Dibdin: Ulster Questions, 21 April 1988

... churches disdain such tactics; they would no more think of second-guessing the Deity than Stanley Wells would of paraphrasing Shakespeare. The result is that pure blasts of 17th-century English peal out amid the High Street mix, creating acute problems of harmonisation. John Julius Norwich pointed out that St Paul can sound like Nancy Mitford (‘How shall ...

Ovid goes to Stratford

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare Myths, 5 December 2013

Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare 
by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith.
Wiley-Blackwell, 216 pp., £14.99, December 2012, 978 0 470 65851 2
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... 30, for instance, one would be better off turning to James Shapiro’s Contested Will, or Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson’s collection, Shakespeare beyond Doubt.)* Nevertheless it means that their book is always alert, memorable and to the point. Come to think of it, Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare is made up of sections exactly the length of ...

Oui Oyi Awè Jo Ja Oua

Michael Sheringham: The French Provinces, 31 July 2008

The Discovery of France 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 454 pp., £9.99, July 2008, 978 0 330 42761 6
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... shouting distance of the bridegroom’. Your traditional enemies were the ne’er-do-wells in the next village, known by a rude nickname. Robb asserts that such discrimination ‘was the lifeblood of tribal France’. There was nothing necessarily sinister about this: some, like the inhabitants of the remote Pyrenean village of Goust, or the ...

Babylon with Bananas

Michael Newton: Tarzan's best friend, 29 January 2009

Me Cheeta: The Autobiography 
by Cheeta.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £16.99, October 2008, 978 0 00 727863 3
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... books on animal behaviour and sleazy anecdotes of the Hollywood Golden Age. That these two wells of inspiration should be so strikingly similar is the premise of the book. ‘Life ain’t perfect, as the one and only Wallace Beery supposedly told Gloria Swanson after raping her on their wedding night.’ In such asides we are told more than we ever ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... mostly familiar, come from dozens of the Eye’s contributors, including the superb Ed McLaghlan, Michael Heath (Great Bores of Today etc), Ken Pyne, whose National Association of Builders Convention (1986) is proudly displayed (as are the many builders’ cracks in the drawing), Barry Fantoni, Nick Newman, Martin Honeysett, Willie Rushton … the list is ...


Jonathan Meades: Archigram’s Ghost, 21 May 2020

Archigram: The Book 
edited by Dennis Crompton.
Circa, 300 pp., £95, November 2018, 978 1 911422 04 4
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... architectural band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial practices and local authorities. They formed in the early 1960s and over the next decade or so produced thousands of designs for ‘cities of the future’ that were highly ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... Institute and was long rumoured to have been the source for the cut of its former director Stanley Wells’s beard; for some reason this picture looks slightly out of focus, as though seen through the wrong reading glasses). Macmillan’s accountants must be relying on the book selling in large quantities and over a long period in order to recoup their ...

Staying in power

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 7 January 1988

Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution: The Ending of the Socialist Era 
by Peter Jenkins.
Cape, 411 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 224 02516 3
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De-Industrialisation and Foreign Trade 
by R.E. Rowthorn and J.R. Wells.
Cambridge, 422 pp., £40, November 1988, 0 521 26360 3
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... been most evident in manufacturing and the provision of welfare. Thirty years ago, Rowthorn and Wells explain, industry employed more people than all the services. ‘Never before, nor since, in any capitalist country at any time has industrial employment been significantly more important than it was in Britain in 1955.’ (At 48 per cent of the total, it ...

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