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Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... kid with EkaSystems Inc, and earning at least half a million a year . . . Alas, much of Zadie Smith’s second novel reads like this. (It’s better written, but she had two years, and I had two minutes.) White Teeth, for all its many miracles, occasionally revealed a cartoonish energy that at times seemed to amount to a fear of silence, a perpetual ...

A British Bundesrat?

Colin Kidd: Scotland and the Constitution, 17 April 2014

... state is no more than a highly inconvenient and thus insignificant truth. The Scottish jurist T.B. Smith took the Union at face value and refused to accept the subaltern status of Scots law within what had become by default a Greater English state. Why, Smith asked, did Section 70 of the Army Act of 1955 incorporate the ...

A Pound a Glimpse

Daniel Smith: Epilepsy, 16 November 2017

A Smell of Burning: The Story of Epilepsy 
by Colin Grant.
Cape, 242 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 0 224 10182 0
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The End of Epilepsy? A History of the Modern Era of Epilepsy, 1860-2010 
by Dieter Schmidt and Simon Shorvon.
Oxford, 208 pp., £39.99, September 2016, 978 0 19 872590 9
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... No one has ever described motor neurone disease as a ‘very psychedelic experience’, as Neil Young (whose childhood nickname was ‘Shakey’) has described epilepsy. In a word, epilepsy is strange. It affects behaviour, sensation, belief and even personality. It changes people. It is also diagnostically indelible. Once someone has shown a ...

Here we go

Peter Clarke, 21 October 1993

... but why it was done and how it was done discloses its full significance. The leadership of John Smith was one crucial factor. Had the votes gone the other way, there would have been no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would have lost, and lost heavily, perhaps irretrievably. Conversely, it is his opponents in the Party who have lost and ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: RBG’s Big Mistake, 8 October 2020

... theory) women’s right to abortion.The gambit paid off. Trump filled Scalia’s seat with Justice Neil Gorsuch. Soon after, Justice Anthony Kennedy retired. At 81, Kennedy was older than a Supreme Court judge should be; but he wasn’t ill (and is still alive). Nevertheless, he decided that President Trump and the Republican Senate were the ones he wanted to ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... photographers – seemed to want to write for the Magazine, then under the editorship of Godfrey Smith. It was both a serious and a very glamorous publication, soon to be the apogee of photo-journalism; its style was a vital part of the machinery of ‘the Sixties’ – all hard to imagine now. The newspaper itself was perhaps the best in the world, well ...

Nanny knows best

Michael Stewart, 4 June 1987

Kinnock 
by Michael Leapman.
Unwin Hyman, 217 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 04 440006 3
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The Thatcher Years: A Decade of Revolution in British Politics 
by John Cole.
BBC, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 563 20572 5
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Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? 
by Dennis Kavanagh.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 827522 6
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The New Right: The Counter-Revolution in Political, Social and Economic Thought 
by David Green.
Wheatsheaf, 238 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 7450 0127 0
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... us begin with Kinnock, in order, so to speak, to get him out of the way. If one’s view is that Neil Kinnock is a good man in a position made impossible by historical developments, one will not find much in either Michael Leapman’s sympathetic and readable portrait, or John Cole’s lively and good-humoured canter over the events of the last decade, to ...

Where am I?

Greg Dening, 31 October 1996

Far-Fetched Facts: The Literature of Travel and the Idea of the South Seas 
by Neil Rennie.
Oxford, 330 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 19 811975 5
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... good and evil effects of missions. The ‘literature’ of this theatre is the preoccupation of Neil Rennie’s Far-Fetched Facts. It takes him down awell-worn and, as he seesit, narrow path. Bernard Smith showed the way in two magnificent books, European Vision and the South Pacific, 1768-1850 (1960) and Imagining the ...

At the National Gallery of Scotland

Peter Campbell: Joan Eardley, 13 December 2007

... of a leg, or the loop of a skipping rope add movement. English painters like John Bratby and Jack Smith were drawing on similar subjects with a not dissimilar, calculated clumsiness that trades crispness for directness, as though seeking to match the thing drawn in the accent of the drawing. ‘Catterline in Winter’, c.1963. Her seascapes and ...

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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... guns, thereby beginning the cycle of trade all over again. In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith ascribed the relative lack of African economic development to the ‘continual danger’ that supposedly confronted the continent’s inhabitants. In a sentence that defined the problem legitimate commerce sought to address, Thomas Malthus went ...

Double Tongued

Blair Worden: Worshipping Marvell, 18 November 2010

Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon 
by Nigel Smith.
Yale, 400 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 300 11221 4
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... from, if not a betrayal of, his poetic calling. Now his reputation is changing again. Nigel Smith’s biography belongs to a series of early 21st-century publications which, aided by other recent scholarship, have brought the verse-writer and the prose-writer together. In 2003 there appeared fresh versions of Marvell’s writings: ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy, 20 April 2017

... when he chaired the meeting of the Campaign Group that chose Benn as its candidate to challenge Neil Kinnock for the party leadership, despite the opposition of some members of the group, including Margaret Beckett and Chris Mullin. Benn describes himself as ‘peaceful in my own mind’ about this outcome because it had been a collective decision, not an ...

Hot Dogs

Malcolm Bull, 14 June 1990

Mine eyes have seen the glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America 
by Randall Balmer.
Oxford, 246 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 19 505117 3
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In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt, USA 
by Douglas Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 240 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 04 440423 9
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The Divine Supermarket 
by Malise Ruthven.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3151 9
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The Democratisation of American Christianity 
by Nathan Hatch.
Yale, 312 pp., £22.50, November 1989, 0 300 44470 2
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Religion and 20th-Century American Intellectual Life 
edited by Michael Lacey.
Cambridge/Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, 214 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 37560 6
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New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America 
by Mary Farrell Bednarowski.
Indiana, 175 pp., $25, November 1989, 0 253 31137 3
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... said to ‘illustrate’ the influence of dispensationalist millenialism, and Phoenix faith healer Neil Frisby is described as ‘not terribly exceptional’ in the context of earlier religious healers and health reformers. The danger inherent in Balmer’s approach is that it obscures the importance of novelty. It isn’t its long pedigree that has nourished ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... and Price Waterhouse. Over Atlantic Computers, Price Waterhouse sued Touche Ross. Over Wallace Smith, KPMG sued Coopers and Lybrand. Over London United Investments, Price Waterhouse sued KPMG. Over Polly Peck, Touche Ross sued Coopers and Lybrand. Poor Coopers and Lybrand was in the soup more than once over its not altogether distinguished accountancy of ...

All Curls and Pearls

Lorraine Daston: Why are we so curious?, 23 June 2005

The Uses of Curiosity in Early Modern France and Germany 
by Neil Kenny.
Oxford, 484 pp., £68, July 2004, 0 19 927136 4
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... learned and lay people alike. Curiosity became an object of intense, even obsessive attention. Neil Kenny is not the first to note the early modern preoccupation with curiosity, but his book, though restricted to France and Germany, is the most comprehensive and careful study of it to date. The book’s appearance is timely, now that once again curiosity ...

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