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Did they even hang bears?

Tom Shippey: What made the Vikings tick?, 13 August 2020

The Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings 
by Neil Price.
Allen Lane, 599 pp., £30, August, 978 0 241 28398 1
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... King Haraldr Harðráði, ‘Hard-Counsel Harald’, died at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. As Neil Price points out, all this should be seen as protohistory rather than history. The Vikings themselves couldn’t write, except for short runic inscriptions carved in wood or stone, and had no dating system beyond ‘the fourth year of King Olaf’ and ...

Neil Corcoran confronts the new recklessness

Neil Corcoran, 28 September 1989

Manila Envelope 
by James Fenton.
28 Kayumanggi St, West Triangle Homes, Quezon City, Phillipines, 48 pp., £12, May 1989, 971 8647 01 5
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New Selected Poems 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 190 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15482 4
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The Mirror Wall 
by Richard Murphy.
Bloodaxe, 61 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9781852240929
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Selected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 85635 741 3
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The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 47 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3455 0
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... if one critic’s ‘appeased self-knowledge’ might not be another’s ‘complacency’. In The Price of Stone (1985), for instance, given in its entirety in New Selected Poems, Murphy has several poems about the building of houses for himself. This is not, frankly, a very stimulating topic and Murphy’s shuffling semi-apologias are hard to take. ‘Stone ...

The Way of the Warrior

Tom Shippey: Vikings, 3 April 2014

Vikings: Life and Legend 
edited by Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz and Matthias Wernhoff.
British Museum, 288 pp., £25, February 2014, 978 0 7141 2337 0
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The Northmen’s Fury 
by Philip Parker.
Cape, 450 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 0 224 09080 3
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... the not very saintly Saint Olaf. We hear nothing of them from the British Museum, and in the book Neil Price has only two pages on ‘The Way of the Warrior’, one of them devoted to challenging ‘the idea that “proper” Vikings were necessarily male’. It’s true that the literary evidence provides examples of female heroism, and of noble female ...


William Rodgers: Party Conference Jamboree, 25 October 1990

... around which the jamboree revolves. As Lord Callaghan took his place on the platform to hear Neil Kinnock, he will have recalled with a shudder the 51st Annual Conference of the Labour Party, held just up the coast at Morecambe in 1952. The young Jim Callaghan spoke twice on that occasion, first against the denationalisation of road haulage by Mr ...

Just Two Clicks

Jonathan Raban: The Virtual Life of Neil Entwistle, 14 August 2008

... America is a country where ‘ordinary people can do extraordinary things.’ In January 2006, Neil Entwistle, a seemingly ordinary 27-year-old Englishman with an honours degree from the University of York, who had been living in the US for barely four months, shot dead his American wife, Rachel, and their baby daughter, Lillian, with a long-barrelled Colt ...


Terry Eagleton, 6 January 1994

Safe in the Kitchen 
by Aisling Foster.
Hamish Hamilton, 347 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 0 241 13426 9
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... In Neil Jordan’s film The Crying Game, a renegade IRA man ends up in the arms of a male cross-dresser. It is a typical Post-Modern drift – from politics to perversity, revolution to transgression, the transformation of society to the reinvention of the self. Revolutions are made in the name of wealth, freedom, fullness of life; but those who make them are the worst possible image of the world they hope to fashion ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

... of the people who work there, or the politics of the journalists involved: the fact that Andrew Neil, the presenter of Daily Politics and This Week, was the editor of the Sunday Times in the Thatcher period; or that Evan Davis, the presenter of Newsnight, was part of the team at the Institute of Fiscal Studies that devised the poll tax; or that the policy ...


Sean French: Fortress Wapping, 6 March 1986

... retrospect, boring and pointless: all that matters is that the management and our editor, Andrew Neil, told us nothing of their true intentions. By contrast, the crisis itself was simple. Rupert Murdoch demanded a level of compulsory redundancies of his Sogat 82 and NGA employees that he knew they would not accept. The two unions took the bait and on ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... so obviously just and overdue, the sacrifice of such resonances and continuities was a small price to pay.’ The thing is very deftly, but not evasively done: Davie will not maintain as much himself, since that would be, possibly, to argue less for poetry than poetry deserves: but he dialogically leaves open the possibility of such a thing being ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... to make its bitter critique of Murdoch convincingly feelingful. Perhaps the most useful book is Neil Chenoweth’s Virtual Murdoch (2001), now revised and republished as Rupert Murdoch, which is jauntily written and has a great deal of financial information that must surely have been discomfiting for its subject. Nothing ever written about ...


Paul Addison, 23 January 1986

The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... Inflation and industrial unrest were the agents of change. The Yom Kippur War quadrupled the price of oil and the energy crisis played into the hands of the miners. Heath took them on in the General Election of March 1974 and lost. Labour rejoiced, but prematurely: in retrospect, the fall of Heath should be ringed as a black day in the calendar. In 1975 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... You could, for example, sell arms on one side of the world – with luck at a vastly inflated price to people you have little sympathy for – and use the profits to provide paramilitaries on the other side of the world whom you like rather better with free guns. If such behaviour goes against your pacifist sensibilities, you could always use your ...

It all gets worse

Ross McKibbin, 22 September 1994

The New Industrial Relations? 
by Neil Millward.
Policy Studies Institute, 170 pp., £15, February 1994, 0 85374 590 0
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... some kind of consultative committee has in fact fallen: from 24 per cent to 18 per cent. As Neil Millward, the author of the Survey, points out, single-union workforces are almost everywhere associated with union weakness. They are common in firms with low union density and highly segmented workforces – where the unions only represent, for ...

Play hard

Dave Haslam, 20 October 1994

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-93 
by Nick Kent.
Penguin, 338 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 0 14 023046 7
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... coming back to their drug-taking. For his heroes, drug use is adventurous, and its downside the price they pay for their genius. For those he does not respect – Sid Vicious (‘the exploding dim-wit’), for instance, and Happy Mondays – a drug-addled self-destructiveness is well deserved. It could be said that The Dark Stuff is a book about drugs ...

Into Apathy

Neil McKendrick, 21 August 1980

The Wedgwood Circle, 1730-1897 
by Barbara Wedgwood and Hensleigh Wedgwood.
Studio Vista, 386 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 289 70892 3
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... to whom debt-collecting was part of a thought-out economic rationale (an integral part of his high-price, high-profit policy), it would have been horrifying to learn that, a short time after his death, the accounts outstanding amounted to £41,477 – a sum greater than the total assets of the factory. Even more shocking, the attempt to collect them, even to ...

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