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Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Hungarians and Falklanders, 17 February 1983

... people, though maybe living a little more modestly. The main streets are as congested during the rush hours as they are in London. The suburban roads are lined with parked cars at night. The only difference from England is that nearly all the cars are on the small side – say, Escort-type. As I drive a Fiesta, I applaud the common sense of the ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: Reagan and Rambo, 3 October 1985

... drift to the right, the rediscovery of patriotism, the gruesome maturity of the once iconoclastic Norman Podhoretz, okay, okay! I have one question which Atlas in his much-ballyhooed article did not even discuss. The old gang may have had regrettable flirtations. Their political compromises, endlessly reviewed, may have exhibited naivety or self-regard. But ...

Coldbath Fields

Simon Bradley: In Praise of Peabody, 21 June 2007

London in the 19th Century: ‘A Human Awful Wonder of God’ 
by Jerry White.
Cape, 624 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 224 06272 5
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... or made things at home. Then there were London’s new schools, built or rebuilt in a great rush after the Elementary Education Act of 1870: the triple-decked brick board schools are still prominent on the skylines of the inner boroughs. The London School Board itself, which had women on it as well as men and was elected by ratepayers of both ...

Living and Dying in Ireland

Sean O’Faolain, 6 August 1981

... both in Dublin, 12th and 13th-century, the one founded by Christianised Danes, the other by Norman-Irish. Ruins abound, mostly of Norman castles, shelters now for wandering cattle and what we used to call wandering tinkers but must now politely call itinerants; though here and there we come on small, endearing ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... between rich and poor is replaced, or complicated, by the roughly parallel opposition between Norman and Saxon. All the texts of the Esquire period assume that Robin is ‘quintessentially, racially, English’, largely because of his hostility to the Norman French, but it was Scott who traced Robin back to the Saxons ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful about the difficulty of getting a ...

Winners and Wasters

Tom Shippey, 2 April 1987

The French Peasantry 1450-1660 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Scolar, 447 pp., £42.50, March 1987, 0 85967 685 4
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The Superstitious Mind: French Peasants and the Supernatural in the 19th Century 
by Judith Devlin.
Yale, 316 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03710 4
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... In fact, it seems that under Malthusian pressure all the customs led to much the same result. The Norman peasant might declare with proud independence, C’est mon dréit et mé j’y tiens, the Occitanian peasant might console himself with fantasies of the ‘love square’, but anyone with less than about an acre and a half to grow grain on was going to ...

Rapture in Southend

Stefan Collini: H.G. Wells’s​ Egotism, 27 January 2022

The Young H.G. Wells: Changing the World 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 256 pp., £20, November 2021, 978 0 241 23997 1
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... in 1895 and had two sons. This marriage lasted until her death in 1927 and it seems wise not to rush to judgment about it. When Jane died, Wells was distraught and worked out some of his grief by writing a loving extended portrait of her. This wasn’t just piety engendered by loss: he had always appreciated her qualities and had remained committed to her ...

Discovering America

Tatyana Tolstaya, 1 June 1989

... one knew what happened in the Twenties because no one living today was alive then. And the famous Norman Mailer, who had a hammock suspended under the roof of his New York apartment so that when, as he put it, ‘things got boring,’ the whole family could rush from the gallery on the second floor and jump into it. And ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... Aeneid. Writing this review in Douglas’s old university five centuries later I feel an emotional rush when I look out of my window at the North Sea, ‘In this congelit sesson scharp and chill, / The callour ayr, penetratyve and puyr’. I also perceive in medieval Scottish poetry a sense of linguistic pluralism, of occasional relationships across languages ...

All in the Family

Sylvia Lawson, 3 December 1992

Letters to Sartre 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Quintin Hoare.
Radius, 531 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 09 174774 0
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Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvior, 1926-1939 
edited by Simone de Beauvior, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee.
Hamish Hamilton, 448 pp., £20, November 1992, 9780241133361
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... also necessary to insist that the author’s works, once afloat, are ours, not hers or his. The rush to discredit Woody Allen (mostly by reducing the stunning cinematic oeuvre to a feature story notion of his life) reminds me irresistibly of the way Beauvoir’s enemies, in several camps, seized on Lettres à Sartre when they emerged from Gallimard in ...

The Mantle of Jehovah

Francis Spufford, 25 June 1987

Sugar 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 224 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 7011 3169 1
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... seem silly. You could, of course, draw a contrast simply in terms of range of Bad Moments covered: Norman Mailer has preferred to steer clear of the peculiar pains of childbirth, and Andrea Dworkin has chosen not to dwell on the distinctive horror an uneasy Christmas dinner can become, while Byatt can and has handled both as elements in her continuing series ...

Diary

M.F. Perutz: Memories of J.D.Bernal, 6 July 2000

... he would suddenly look at his watch, remember that he had something more important to do and rush off. His lectures were spontaneous, fluent, wide-ranging, inspiring for the cognoscenti but difficult for undergraduates. When one of them left his notebook behind, we found it empty, with the single heading: ‘Bernal’s Bloody Business’. Now, 28 years ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... the free-market excesses that were to follow. Punk auditioned the dark night of Keith Joseph and Norman Tebbit. It turns out that none of the punk parasites much liked the sounds or the bands who produced them. They were career anarchists, varnishing their leather armour while they waited for an offer from the Daily Mail. Essentially, NME ‘new ...

Pure TNT

James Francken: Thom Jones, 18 February 1999

Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 312 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 9780571196562
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... of adult life that remain to be learned; the photo and the friendship are shuffled into the past. Norman Mailer reported on the Liston-Patterson fight for Esquire in dispatches that were uncharacteristically equivocal. In his account, victory is Liston’s because Patterson fought like a man down with jaundice, but that does not prevent Liston from being ...

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