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Labour and the Bouncers

Paul Foot, 4 June 1987

Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... ever known’. There were also, in the team, ‘three remarkable economists’, including Gavyn Davies, the Policy Unit’s ‘brilliant adviser’; Kevin Stowe was a ‘very able’ Principal Private Secretary, Elizabeth Arnot a ‘bright young education specialist’, John Lyons a ‘very able’ general secretary, and Tom McNally an ‘excellent ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality, 7 February 2019

... the once colonised. If it’s never too late to learn, then there should be a rush to the works of Paul Gilroy on Britain’s ‘postcolonial melancholia’, just as there is now an embrace of Fintan O’Toole’s reflections on Britain’s sudden sense of victimhood. But even this will not bring us face to face with the sheer negativity of Brexit. In the ...

They Supped with the King

Bee Wilson: Mistresses, 6 January 2011

Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman 
by Elizabeth Abbott.
Duckworth, 510 pp., £20, 0 7156 3946 3
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... life. You’re unlikely to get public acknowledgment; your offspring are bastards; or, like Marion Davies, the blonde movie-star mistress of William Randolph Hearst, you have ‘to settle for dachshunds instead of children’. For 32 years, Davies, a former Ziegfeld Girl and a big star in silent pictures, was Hearst’s ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment, 20 November 2014

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... labelled himself. But he could have escaped the legend to which he had devoted such energies. As Paul Ferris’s excellent biography established some time back, while Thomas was certainly in a bad way, his death was down to a medical blunder. He wasn’t martyred by the barbarians of the Inland Revenue: by the time he died Thomas was on the verge of being ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan, 16 December 2004

Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... one day, he would preach the next. Towards the end of his sentence, the Bedfordshire justices sent Paul Cobb, a clerk of the peace, to obtain Bunyan’s submission. Had Bunyan been willing to sue for pardon and to admit that he had wrongfully convened the meeting at Lower Samsell, he would have been freed, but he refused. Bunyan told Cobb he was willing to ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... dialogue; or as Weight puts it in the first subheading of his introduction: ‘Amphetamines, Jean-Paul Sartre and John Lee Hooker’. Which is a nice phrase, even if it’s half-inched from an interviewee in a previous book, Jonathon Green’s flawless oral history of 1960s counterculture, Days in the Life. (In fact Green also used it as a subheading. This ...

Absolute Modernity

Paul Driver, 26 September 1991

Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life 
by Jean-Michel Nectoux, translated by Roger Nichols.
Cambridge, 646 pp., £45, April 1991, 0 521 23524 3
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Pierre Boulez 
by Dominique Jameux, translated by Susan Bradshaw.
Faber, 422 pp., £25, March 1991, 9780571137442
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Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship 
by Pierre Boulez, translated by Stephen Walsh.
Oxford, 316 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 19 311210 8
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... period) with direct or indirect consequences for composers from Frank Bridge to Peter Maxwell Davies and Alexander Goehr (both the last mentioned have matured into a style informed by a concept of modal tonality), and from Messiaen to Pierre Boulez – whose orchestral Rituel in memoriam Maderna (1974) rescinds ‘total serialism’ and plumps (as ...

Coming out top

Paul Driver, 8 September 1994

The Bartók Companion 
edited by Malcolm Gillies.
Faber, 586 pp., £35, February 1994, 0 571 15330 5
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... as vital to Britten as (appearances notwithstanding) to Boulez, shared by Messiaen and Maxwell Davies. This is not perhaps to say much; but it is clear that the French school, going back at least to Fauré’s teacher Louis Niedermeyer with his flexible, modal approach to modulation, was on the more ‘progressive’ track all along, not destined, like the ...

The Road to 1989

Paul Addison, 21 February 1991

The People’s Peace: British History 1945-1989 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 558 pp., £17.95, October 1990, 0 19 822764 7
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... One of the most triumphant television productions of the decade was ITV’s dramatisation of Paul Scott’s ‘Raj Quartet’ under the title The Jewel in the Crown, a testament to the uneasy. Forster-like imperial conscience of a pre-Thatcherite age. In foreign affairs, Mrs Thatcher’s experience was slight ... This is masterly. The introduction of ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... one-time producer, Alexander Goehr remembers – and as a medium for listening to. Peter Maxwell Davies recalls how, as a boy on a council estate in Swinton, he would listen ‘every evening, more or less from the moment it started till the moment it shut down, while I was doing my homework. And it was the best education I could ever have got.’ Fun was ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The internet, 4 August 2005

... Industry (Blackwell, £19.99). The technology that made the network possible had been devised by Paul Baran in the US and Donald Davies in the UK, working independently of each other – the Newton and Leibniz of the information age. ‘Packet switching’ allows data to be broken up into units (‘packets’) of a ...

Sisterhoods

Brian Harrison, 6 December 1984

Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839-1939 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 353 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 436 16113 3
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Stepping Stones to Women’s Liberty: Feminist Ideas in the Women’s Movement 1900-1918 
by Les Garner.
Gower, 142 pp., £15, July 1984, 0 435 32357 1
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Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 
by Sheila Fletcher.
Athlone, 194 pp., £18, July 1984, 0 485 11248 5
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A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women 1890-1940 
by Elizabeth Roberts.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13572 3
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... law reform, Elizabeth Blackwell to the medical profession, Florence Nightingale to nursing, Emily Davies to education, Josephine Butler to the attack on the double standard of morality, Margaret Sanger to birth control, and Emma Goldman to causes that anticipate the feminism of the 1970s. Forster offers no major reinterpretation, nor do all her biographies ...

Blue Suede Studies

Hugh Barnes, 19 December 1985

Elvis and Me 
by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Sandra Harman.
Century, 320 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1131 2
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Are you lonesome tonight? 
by Alan Bleasdale.
Faber, 95 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 571 13732 6
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Elvis and Gladys 
by Elaine Dundy.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 9780297782100
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The Johnny Cash Discography 
by John Smith.
Greenwood, 203 pp., £29.95, May 1985, 0 313 24654 8
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Horse’s Neck 
by Pete Townshend.
Faber, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1985, 9780571138739
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Like Punk Never Happened 
by Dave Rimmer.
Faber, 191 pp., £4.95, October 1985, 0 571 13739 3
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Starlust: The Secret Fantasies of Fans 
by Fred Vermorel and Judy Vermorel.
Comet, 253 pp., £4.95, August 1985, 0 86379 004 6
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The Beatles 
by Hunter Davies.
Cape, 498 pp., £12.95, December 1985, 0 224 02837 5
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... passions that have to consume. John Lennon’s death illustrates the dangers. According to Hunter Davies, whose 1968 biography of the Beatles is now updated and revamped (but not enriched by Paul McCartney’s carping account of his friend), it also illustrates Lennon’s ‘enormous contribution to popular music and to the ...

Flub-Dub

Thomas Powers: Stephen Crane, 16 July 2014

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire 
by Paul Sorrentino.
Harvard, 476 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 674 04953 6
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... think seriously about Red Badge. Crane’s life was so short – he didn’t reach thirty – that Paul Sorrentino, like the rest of Crane’s biographers, focuses on the episodes Crane barely had time to live: harum-scarum education; the writing of Red Badge; stints of war reporting first in Greece, then in Cuba; a couple of years in England, where he made a ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... Simpson said on Panorama. ‘It’s off the scale of everybody’s belief system,’ said the DJ Paul Gambaccini. But it is our belief system. And now it is part of the same system to blame Savile. He’s dead, anyway. Let’s blame him for all the things he obviously was, and blame him for a host of other things we don’t understand, such as how we love ...

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