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Not God

David Lindley, 30 January 1992

Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science 
by Michael White and John Gribbin.
Viking, 304 pp., £16.99, January 1992, 0 670 84013 0
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... is a singularly fitting profession, requiring cogitation first and foremost. On the other hand, as Michael White and John Gribbin intimate, Hawking seems to have been a listless student and a rather charmless young man before ALS struck, obviously intelligent but lacking any passion to use his intelligence in one direction rather than another. Thus arises ...

Washed White

Michael Rogin, 10 June 1993

The Rites of Assent: Transformations in the Symbolic Construction of America 
by Sacvan Bercovitch.
Routledge, 424 pp., £40, November 1992, 9780415900140
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Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America 
by Garry Wills.
Simon and Schuster, 315 pp., £17.99, April 1993, 0 671 76956 1
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... it, proliferates different meanings instead of choosing different acts. Symbolic richness (the white whale, the Scarlet Letter A, Walden Pond) may reconcile writers and readers to the United States or, as in Melville’s Pierre, turn back on the interpreter in a nightmare of self-referentiality that cuts words off entirely from the world. But Pierre’s ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

... the job as leader of the Labour Party and already he wasn’t doing it right. What colour poppy, white or red, would he wear to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day? Would he kneel to the queen when he was admitted to the Privy Council (see Martin Loughlin’s piece on p. 29)? On the day after he was elected, he spoke at a mental health trust fun day in his ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... few​ significant American poets called as little attention to themselves in their lifetimes as Michael O’Brien, who died last November at the age of 77. Much as with Lorine Niedecker – whose ‘silences’, he wrote, ‘derive from an intellectual conviction that art, like science, demands total concentration on the object of attention’ – his ...

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 ...

White Man’s Heaven

Michael Wood, 7 February 1991

Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin 
by James Campbell.
Faber, 306 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 0 571 15391 7
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James Baldwin: Artist on Fire 
by W.J. Weatherby.
Joseph, 412 pp., £17.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3403 6
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... is not a human or personal reality; it is a political reality.’ A white liberal would say the same, but then, I take it, so would Nelson Mandela. The difference is in the intensity with which the political reality is experienced or denied. Baldwin understands the needs met by the Black Muslim movement in America, even as he ...

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 ...

White Slaves

Christopher Driver, 3 March 1983

Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight against White Slavery, 1870-1939 
by Edward Bristow.
Oxford, 340 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 19 822588 1
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Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes 
by Mikiso Hane.
Scolar, 297 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 85967 670 6
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... public and private depravity, and shines a torch into the laundry room of Judaism. This is to take white slavery as seriously as it was taken in the years before far worse befell in Europe. But it was never easy to keep a solemn countenance in the Runyonesque world that greeted the transatlantic voyager – stuffed full of promises and stowed away in a coal ...

Blame it on the boogie

Andrew O’Hagan: In Pursuit of Michael Jackson, 6 July 2006

On Michael Jackson 
by Margo Jefferson.
Pantheon, 146 pp., $20, January 2006, 0 375 42326 5
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... Since being acquitted of child molestation charges last summer, Michael Jackson has been hanging out in Bahrain, enjoying the hospitality of the ruler’s poptastic son Sheikh Abdullah. Jackson is said to have become a Muslim (which is sure to please his critics on Good Morning America), but evidence would suggest he has yet to get the hang of Islamic custom ...

Astride a White Horse

Declan Kiberd: Bridget Clearly, 6 January 2000

The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story 
by Angela Bourke.
Pimlico, 240 pp., £10, August 1999, 0 7126 6590 0
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... an early suffragist. She knew how to earn good money as a dressmaker and hen-keeper. Her husband Michael Cleary was an educated and literate cooper, whose services were much in demand by local businesses. He had served his apprenticeship in the progressive town of Clonmel and had good prospects. As a couple, they seemed the very image of a modernising ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 18 October 1984

... peers into the lit sitting-room and says, ‘Are you here?’ ... Yes, I am in one of his cloudy white leather armchairs, with one foot not too disrespectfully on the table, reading Horvâth’s Godless Youth. Without another word, he goes out again, baffling and incommunicable, the invisible man, dampening any speculation. Open House Rawlplugs and polyfilla ...

What a Ghost Wants

Michael Newton: Laurent Binet, 8 November 2012

HHhH 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 336 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 479 7
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... of rebellion is depicted in many novels and films, from Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin to Michael Verhoeven’s The White Rose. Stauffenberg and the other conspirators of July 1944 understood that their plan to murder Hitler and stage a coup was unlikely to come off. Instead of success, there would be the recorded ...

Three Poems

Michael Longley, 27 June 2002

... arrived in your room? We all know what the butterfly represents. I granted my own mother a cabbage-white. On the Dooaghtry cairn which commemorates God knows whom a tortoiseshell alighted To sun itself. It had been wintering In memory’s outhouse and escaped the wren. Petalwort For Michael Viney You want your ashes to swirl ...

Days of 1985

Michael Hofmann, 19 December 1985

... things considered’ from the kerb. A man came down the street with the meth-pink eyes of a white rat, his gait a mortal shuffle. A British bulldog bowler hat clung to his melting skull. ... Game spirits, tat and service industries, an economy stripped to the skin trade, sex and security: Arsenal boot boys, ...

La Nuit Américaine

Michael Hofmann, 22 May 1980

... and not yet twenty. A shimmering girl with polished nails and a soft creamy face, who washed her white blonde hair with pink strawberry shampoo. When she was little, her hair caught fire and her older sister poured water over her. After that it was short for a while. There is a photo of her with my sister, both in pyjamas with powdered faces long past ...

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