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What he meant by happiness

Patricia Beer, 11 June 1992

The Wreck of the Deutschland 
by Sean Street.
Souvenir, 208 pp., £15.99, March 1992, 0 285 63051 2
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Hopkins: A Literary Biography 
by Norman White.
Oxford, 531 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 19 812099 0
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... Martin’s book, published last year, summarises the information in two competent pages. In Norman White’s Hopkins: A Literary Biography his comments on what happened, scattered passim through the relevant chapter, are even more cursory. Obviously neither of them is of the school which thinks, say, that a knowledge of what Maud Gonne put into the ...

Were I a cloud

Patricia Beer, 28 January 1993

Robert Bridges: A Biography 
by Catherine Phillips.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 212251 7
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... and, of course, the two recent books on Gerard Manley Hopkins, one by Robert Martin and one by Norman White, but there has been nothing comprehensive. There is now. In Robert Bridges Catherine Phillips tells us everything we could reasonably wish to know about his life. About his poetry there is more still to be said, but one of the merits of this ...

Cheese and Late Modernity

Steven Shapin: The changing rind of Camembert, 20 November 2003

Camembert: A National Myth 
by Pierre Boisard, translated by Richard Miller.
California, 254 pp., £19.95, June 2003, 0 520 22550 3
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... The current founding myth received an enormous boost in 1926, when an American devotee visited Normandy, having heard a story that Camembert was created in 1791 by a Norman woman named Mme Marie Harel, who got the secret from the Abbé Gobert – in other versions, the Abbé Bonvoust – a recusant priest from the area ...

Coats of Every Cut

Michael Mason, 9 June 1994

Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... about the capacity of fiction to report on the world is still very fashionable, and in that sense Norman Gash’s book on Robert Surtees goes against the grain of present-day literary analysis. It does not go against the traditional grain of writing about Surtees, a novelist who has almost always been praised simply as a reporter of the English scene in the ...

The Pilot in Winter

Tobias Hill, 13 November 1997

... In a remote coastal town to the south-west of Corinth is the grave-site of Norman MacKay. In accordance with Greek Christian Orthodoxy, his bones have been dug up, washed with wine and laid in a box the length of his thigh-bone. The townspeople believe MacKay dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima from the B29 ‘Enola Gay’ on the morning of 6 August 1945 ...

Iran’s Bomb: A Revision

Norman Dombey: Iran’s Bomb: A Revision, 24 January 2008

... with Iran without preconditions. Iran can afford to wait until there is a new occupant of the White House. So can the US: Iran will not have the option to start building a weapon until he or she is in ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... feature of the ‘American exceptionalism’ celebrated in the introduction. He identifies white supremacy as another constitutive feature of the United States, one that became ever more pervasive after the Emancipation Proclamation, and one which, according to Evans, white Americans have had more difficulty coming ...

Blowing It

Ian Hamilton, 6 March 1980

Breaking Ranks 
by Norman Podhoretz.
Weidenfeld, 385 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 0 297 77733 5
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... be seeing Y’ (‘Oh good, give my regards to Y’). ‘And on Friday, I’m having lunch with Norman Podhoretz.’ At this, the table froze. ‘You’re doing what? I repeated it, gently but with resolution, and the freeze froze even deeper. ‘But, but’ – and this with genuinely aghast reproach – ‘but, Ian, really, why? This little scene, or ...

Womanism

Dinah Birch, 21 December 1989

The Temple of my Familiar 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 405 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5041 6
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The Fog Line 
by Carol Birch.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0453 9
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Home Life Four 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 169 pp., £9.95, November 1989, 0 7156 2297 8
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TheFly in the Ointment 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 9780715622964
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Words of Love 
by Philip Norman.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 241 12586 3
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... history, the stuff he taught, to forever be the centre of everyone’s attention. What a few white men thought, and did.’ The changing mind of Suwelo, as he painfully learns to place the definitions of academic history in a different context, is one of the threads that draw together this complicated book. His wife is caught up in another story, for she ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans, 3 June 2004

The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... counterpart. The ruling class of England, and much of the rest of Britain, was re-created by the Norman Conquest. Most of the nobly born have at one time or another sought to find progenitors among the Companions of the Conqueror, and the words ‘noble’, ‘gentle’ and ‘aristocrat’ themselves come from French. Within two decades, the Conquest had ...

Seeing Curt Lemon blown up

James Wood, 26 July 1990

The things they carried 
by Tim O’Brien.
Collins, 255 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 00 223603 6
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... airlifted out, or Kiowa, who is grenaded, and drowns in a field of Vietnamese excrement, or poor Norman Bowker, who goes back to America after his one year of combat, but can’t find work, can’t adjust, and kills himself. O’Brien told his own story – compellingly, wrenchingly – in his memoir If I die. He grew up in the rural quarantine of ...

Mummies

Ian Hamilton, 16 June 1983

Ancient Evenings 
by Norman Mailer.
Macmillan, 709 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 333 34025 6
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... His bushy hair is white and cropped more conservatively than in the past ... his eyes are clear and surprisingly blue. He moves with the grace of the boxer he has sometimes pretended to be ... his ample waist looks solid rather than soft ... He is remarkably fit for a man of 60, which is what he became last Jan 31 ...

What is Trident for?

Norman Dombey: America’s Poodle, 5 April 2007

The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: The White Paper, Cm. 6994 
Stationery Office, 140 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 10 169942 5Show More
The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: The White Paper. Ninth Report, House of Commons Defence Committee, HC 225-I 
Stationery Office, 88 pp., £14.50, March 2007, 978 0 215 03281 2Show More
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... independent nuclear deterrent’, as Tony Blair described it in his foreword to the December 2006 White Paper on the renewal of Polaris’s replacement, Trident. The Nassau statement goes into some detail about the use of the Polaris force ‘for the purposes of international defence’: it would be ‘part of a Nato nuclear force and targeted in accordance ...

Four Poems

Hugo Williams, 2 November 2006

... a window in its polished surface. I would set my foot on that slick of black ice, its luminous white line would lead me before long over the horizon of my father’s head. The Mouthful Flights of steel-tipped arrows pass across my father’s face as he looks around the table. His widow’s peak is pulled down like a ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J. Michael Lennon’s ‘double life’ of Norman Mailer and offer that doubleness back as subjective criticism. Mailer, after all, gave us the non-fiction novel, Lennon gives us the pseudo-objective biography, so why can’t I offer the confessional review? On the afternoon of 10 April 2007 I was on a ...

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