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Junk Mail

Jeremy Harding, 23 September 1993

The Letters of William Burroughs, 1949-1959 
edited by Oliver Harris.
Picador, 472 pp., £17.50, August 1993, 0 330 33074 8
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... If a certain stoicism was required to get through William Burroughs’s disgusting novel, Naked Lunch, there are fewer problems with his mail. Indeed, the only danger is over-indulgence, for this stuff slides easily off the end of the fork. The letters here were written between 1945 and 1959. They begin with Burroughs at his family home in St Louis, from which he moves smartly through a series of addresses in the US ...

Ironed Corpses Clattering in the Wind

Mark Kishlansky: The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, 17 August 2006

Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms 
by Tim Harris.
Penguin, 506 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 14 026465 5
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Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720 
by Tim Harris.
Allen Lane, 622 pp., £30, January 2006, 0 7139 9759 1
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... a reversion to normality or simply one more volatile experiment. The period following the death of Oliver Cromwell had been one of governments a-go-go, with at least nine separate constitutional configurations in the year prior to Restoration, some of them also greeted with bonfires and bells. Charles II’s great challenge was to turn momentary sentiment into ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... and saying, ‘You ’ate me doant yer? ’Cos I’ve not bin to uni – i – ver – sity.’ Harris’s portrait of the bulldog-visaged, anti-intellectual, aggressive, insecure, class-conscious reactionary tyke reminds me powerfully of old Braine and his blatherings. It’s no surprise to find that Bernard Ingham, who failed to get to university and ...


David Haglund: Mormons, 22 May 2003

... affixed to a breastplate. Using these, Joseph dictated 116 pages to a farmer called Martin Harris (they were subsequently lost, and never retranslated). A year later, Smith dictated the entire book – apart from the lost section – to a student called Oliver Cowdery, in a matter of weeks. This time, according to ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... the disciplines of the market, what was known, after all, as ‘classical liberalism’. Oliver Smedley, who would eventually leave the Liberal Party in the early 1960s as a result of its support for European integration, promoted free-market views through organisations such as the Council for the Reduction of Taxation, the Society of Individualists ...

Inexhaustible Engines

Michael Holroyd, 1 March 1984

Bernard Shaw: A Bibliography, Vols I and II 
by Dan Laurence.
Oxford, 1058 pp., £80, December 1983, 0 19 818179 5
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Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: 1856-1907 
by Margery Morgan.
Profile, 45 pp., £1.50, July 1982, 0 85383 518 7
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The Art and Mind of Shaw: Essays in Criticism 
by A.M. Gibbs.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 28679 0
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... suggestions here. Included among ‘Works edited by Shaw’ are the biographies of him by Frank Harris and Hesketh Pearson in which GBS was a major collaborator. Mr Laurence endorses Shaw’s statement that he destroyed the evidence of his collaboration in Harris’s book (and wished to do so with Pearson’s) because of ...

Dreadful Apprehensions

Clare Bucknell: Collier and Fielding, 25 October 2018

The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable 
by Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier, edited by Carolyn Woodward.
Kentucky, 406 pp., £86.50, November 2017, 978 0 8131 7410 5
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... is the point of language too. For Collier and Fielding – influenced by their close friend James Harris, author of a 1751 treatise on ‘language and universal grammar’ – words possess revelatory powers, elucidating ideas which would otherwise remain dark. Words aren’t abstractions from or mystifications of the external world but intimately tied to ...

Nora Barnacle: Pictor Ignotus

Sean O’Faolain, 2 August 1984

... Hunt, a journalist from the Irish Times.’ At the word her eyelids clicked open. Sheep smell of Harris, breath smell of Hine, a mouthful of Harrods brogue, she could be his stepmother, the same bloody chic-Irish voice, the same speckled, braceleted wrist, jewellery jangling him forward under a battery of lights into ‘My sacred rrroom! My adorable ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... To this day, the Iraqis have not forgotten Churchill’s insistence on ordering not-yet-Bomber Harris to machine-gun defenceless women and children from the air in 1921, an episode Churchill then hushed up for fear of public outrage. Nor have the Iranians forgotten the coup fomented by the CIA and MI6 – and approved at a distance by Churchill – which ...

Racist Litter

Randall Kennedy: The Lessons of Reconstruction, 30 July 2020

The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 288 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 0 393 65257 4
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... racial justice was the Supreme Court’s early treatment of the Fifteenth Amendment. In Giles v. Harris (1903), plaintiffs claimed that the state of Alabama had participated in a conspiracy to disenfranchise African Americans. In an opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, the court concluded that even if the ...

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