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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 ...

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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... decades of British politics. In 1660, it was not at all clear whether the return of the king was 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 ...

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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... with only Kingers and Conkers present on one dismal day, and Braine turning all chippy on them 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 ...
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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... Labour’s Hugh Gaitskell to a central role for the state in a mixed economy – leading Liberals championed 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 ...


David Haglund: Mormons

22 May 2003
... visits, the angel directed Joseph to unearth the plates, and with them a set of divine spectacles 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 ...
2 August 1984
... enlaced in mutual grief and compassion. ‘This,’ he wheezed, still octopussed, ‘is young Mister 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 ...
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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... have noticed a couple of misprints, and it will save postage to make one or two observations and 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 ...

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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... no more than THE PERCEPTION OF TRUTH, which way soever it is offered to our view.’ Getting at truth 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 ...

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