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19 August 1982
... A little over four years ago I joined the Labour Party. I was recruited on my doorstep by a member of the local branch, a quick, wiry, energetic man in his fifties who appeared just at the right moment. After a nomadic wandering across London from bedsit to bedsit, flatshare to flatshare, my cardboard boxes and suitcases eventually necessitating some form of transportation larger than a taxi, my wife and I had finally come to rest next door to a pub in North Southwark ...

O brambles, chain me too

Tom Paulin: Life and Vowels of Andrew Marvell

25 November 1999
World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 294 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 316 64863 9
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Marvell and Liberty 
edited by Warren Chernaik and Martin Dzelzainis.
Macmillan, 365 pp., £47.50, July 1999, 0 333 72585 9
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Andrew Marvell 
edited by Thomas Healy.
Longman, 212 pp., £12.99, September 1998, 0 582 21910 8
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... Though he was soon to change his views, the best readings of his poetry are sensitive, as Nicholas Murray points out, to the ‘strangeness of his genius’, and avoid tidy ideological categories. We need to attend to the ‘uncanny tremor of implication’ that makes the lucid surfaces of his poems ‘shimmer with a sense of something undefined ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley

11 July 2002
Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... Twentieth-century Huxleys have received less biography than one might have expected. Nicholas Murray usefully fills a gap between Sybille Bedford’s thirty-year-old life of Aldous and the awaited definitive biography by David Bradshaw. With the passing of time, Murray can tell us things prohibited to his predecessor by discretion and the libel laws ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby

9 February 1995
Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... had been founded as a haven by and for outsiders. In 1917 the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, dismissed several professors for protesting against America’s entry into World War One. This precipitated the resignations of two leading historians, Charles Beard and James Robinson, both of whom had long bridled at interference by ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt

6 June 2002
Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... making possible TR’s preferred location for the Canal, Morris calls attention to a request from Nicholas Murray Butler, the President of Columbia University, for a list of Roosevelt’s favourite books. Segments devoted to the tense drama unfolding in Washington and the Caribbean alternate with bibliographies that display TR’s extraordinary ...

Enisled

John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold

19 March 1998
A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... by Kenneth and Miriam Allott, were revised and reissued in 1979. A new edition is on the way from Nicholas Shrimpton. Cecil Lang is up to the second instalment of the Letters (despite fierce crossfire from rival scholars in the letters pages of the TLS). Following the line opened by Lionel Trilling’s ‘biography of a mind’ in America and by Raymond ...

Dun and Gum

Nicholas Jose: Murray Bail

16 July 1998
Eucalyptus 
by Murray Bail.
Harvill, 264 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 1 86046 494 7
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... To write but avoid becoming a “writer”. This feeling against is insistent and true,’ wrote Murray Bail in a diary in London in 1971. Usually it’s the other way round, the ambition being to become ‘a writer’ and no longer have to write. Bail’s spare output over 25 years might put him in the same category, were it not shaped by the contrary intention expressed in that early warning to himself ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements

5 April 2007
Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... been temporarily altered to ‘wholesome’ by the reactionary president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler.) Publishers who were ready to pay for both book and serial rights also expected a certain kind of product; and even as they sought to market Wharton as a ‘classic’, they worried that she was too grim or out of touch for their ...

Mental Arithmetic

Nicholas Wade

7 January 1993
Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics 
by James Gleick.
Little, Brown, 532 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90316 7
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... and he spent a great deal of time and energy generating anecdotes about himself,’ his colleague Murray Gell-Mann announced at Feynman’s memorial service, firmly flouting the nil nisi bonum convention. Feynman was also, among other things, a jerk. At his father’s funeral, he refused to recite the Kaddish, making his mother break down and cry. He seduced ...

Diary

Melanie McFadyean: In the Wrong Crowd

24 September 2014
... even if you didn’t share it. On the afternoon of 6 August 2013 Alex Henry, Janhelle Grant-Murray, Younis Tayyib and Cameron Ferguson, all aged 20 or 21, were involved in a fight in an Ealing street. The fight lasted around forty seconds and resulted in the death from a single stab wound of 21-year-old Taqui Khezihi; his brother Bourhane, aged 24, was ...

The Sword is Our Pope

Alexander Murray: Religion in Europe

15 October 1998
The Conversion of Europe: From Paganism to Christianity, 371-1386 AD 
by Richard Fletcher.
HarperCollins, 562 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 00 255203 5
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... Responsa, the latter being sets of answers to awkward questions, like the responsa given by Pope Nicholas I in 866 to missionaries in Bulgaria: ‘Are tournaments permitted in Lent?’ No. ‘Is judicial torture to continue?’ It is cruel and useless. And a hundred more. Were these conversions really conversions at all – apart from being conversions to a ...

How far shall I take this character?

Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography

2 November 2000
Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
Faber, 686 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 14356 3
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... thanks only to the direct intervention, which Atlas never mentions, of the university president Nicholas Murray Butler, who had read admiring reviews in England of Trilling’s first book, on Matthew Arnold. At that same time, Harry Levin, somewhat younger than Trilling, was teaching in the Harvard English Department, where he had been a famously ...

White Lie Number Ten

Nicholas Jose: Australia’s aboriginal sovereignty

19 February 1998
Race Matters: Indigenous Australians and ‘Our’ Society 
edited by Gillian Cowlishaw and Barry Morris.
Aboriginal Studies Press, 295 pp., AUS $29.95, March 1998, 0 85575 294 7
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Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation 
by Henry Reynolds.
Allen and Unwin, 221 pp., AUS $17.95, July 1996, 1 86373 969 6
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... come with connection to land. ‘Beyond choice, we see our loves/as indigenes see land,’ as Les Murray puts it in a recent poem. Lawyers contend that the extinction of a right pertaining to one particular racial group would contravene Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act. Other legal analysts are concerned by the uses to which history is being put in an ...
4 March 1982
Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... Street tremble), but the length – almost twelve hours. This was an attempt (as was the RSC’s Nicholas Nickleby) to dramatise the whole of a serious book and never mind how long it takes. The distillation and elision that have always been the main concern of adapters suddenly seem out-dated. Harold Pinter’s reduction of Remembrance of Things Past to 163 ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... the Hollywood CP, after the ‘fair seed-time’ of the Popular Front) are almost all unwatchable. Murray Kempton in Part of Our Time entertained himself by naming some of them: They Shall Have Music, I Stole a Million, Army Girl, The Kid from Kokomo, Mama Runs Wild, Tenth Avenue Kid. One can think of exceptions (Angels with Dirty Faces, for instance), but the ...

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