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Dialectical Satire

Paul Edwards, 18 September 1986

The Madhouse 
by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Michael Kirkwood.
Gollancz, 411 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 9780575037304
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Judith 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 298 pp., £11.95, August 1986, 0 436 28853 2
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Missing Persons 
by David Cook.
Alison Press/Secker, 184 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 436 10675 2
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Only by Mistake 
by P.J. Kavanagh.
Calder, 158 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 7145 4084 6
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... If I had been Lenin I would have introduced the concept “shit” instead of “matter”. Shit is primary. How does that sound?! But it’s not only primary. It’s secondary, as well. And that puts paid to all philosophical argument.’ So much for dialectical materialism, a philosophy for which Alexander Zinoviev feels a professional scorn. Zinoviev’s academic speciality is logic, and his main work in that field (popularised in a forbidding volume called Logical Physics) is an analysis of the cogency and implications of the language of science ...

The Education of Gideon Chase

Paul Edwards, 5 June 1986

An Insular Possession 
by Timothy Mo.
Chatto, 593 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 7011 3078 4
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The Story of Zahra 
by Hanan al-Shaykh.
Quartet, 184 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 7043 2546 2
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The Lightning of August 
by Jorge Ibarguengoitia.
Chatto, 117 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 7011 3950 1
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... Mastah Eastman just now come chop-chop say you plomise give him sketch-y lesson, you no lemember bime-by?’ It is shocking to find such dialogue – so squarely within the racist convention of the comic ‘Chinaman’ – seven pages into Timothy Mo’s novel about the first Opium War. Is this shameful convention, with its ‘all rightees’ and ‘yes Missees’, being endorsed as mimetically accurate by a writer at home in both English and Chinese cultures? If he does endorse it, he does so only to the extent of using it to show how small the point of contact between two cultures can be ...

Apoplectic Gristle

David Trotter: Wyndham Lewis, 25 January 2001

Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis 
by Paul O'Keeffe.
Cape, 697 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 224 03102 3
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Wyndham Lewis: Painter and Writer 
by Paul Edwards.
Yale, 583 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 300 08209 6
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... are the hallmark of Lewis’s writing at its best. They also got him into a lot of trouble. Paul O’Keeffe’s new Life of Lewis does not hold back on the toe-jam. Some Sort of Genius is, among other things, a compendium of the many reasons people found to dislike its subject. Lewis became, sometimes by circumstance, sometimes by design, the ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Wyndham Lewis, 11 September 2008

... their status and reputation, rather than of how they looked at a particular time. In the catalogue Paul Edwards compares one of Lewis’s self-portraits to Droeshout’s engraving of Shakespeare. The juxtaposition is telling. In both in the engraving and Lewis’s portraits cheeks, nose, chin and eyelids read as sculpted volumes rather than soft, mobile ...

Enabler’s Revenge

David Runciman: John Edwards, 25 March 2010

The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down 
by Andrew Young.
Thomas Dunne, 301 pp., $24.99, January 2010, 978 0 312 64065 1
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Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House 
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
Viking, 448 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 670 91802 7
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... and then covering up on behalf of the Democratic politician and presidential hopeful John Edwards takes the genre of enabler’s revenge to a whole new level. ‘Covering up’ doesn’t really do justice to Young’s role, which by the end included going on the run with Edwards’s mistress Rielle Hunter and their ...

At the Hop

Sukhdev Sandhu, 20 February 1997

Black England: Life before Emancipation 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 244 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 7195 5251 6
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Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 
by Norma Myers.
Cass, 162 pp., £27.50, July 1996, 0 7146 4576 1
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... that academics started taking an interest in the history of blacks in Britain. In the Sixties, Paul Edwards, originally a specialist in Old Icelandic, produced editions of the two most important African-British writers of the 18th century, Ignatius Sancho and Olaudah Equiano. In the Seventies, the Black Power movement’s insistence on the need for ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: A west-country Man U supporter speaks, 22 June 2006

... players died, including my father’s hero from radio commentaries and newspaper reports, Duncan Edwards, the left-half still often claimed to be England’s best-ever player. At 18, he was the youngest ever to be picked for the full national team – until Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott. Frank Taylor, who covered the Belgrade match for the News ...

Reading with No Clothes on

Michael Hofmann: Guernsey’s Bard, 24 January 2008

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by G.B. Edwards.
NYRB, 400 pp., £10.99, July 2007, 978 1 59017 233 9
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... With the slush pile now going the way of the ice-cap, G.B. Edwards’s miraculous novel The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is one more instance – beyond the usually trotted out Lord of the Flies by William Golding, who was an admirer – of why that might be a pity, and why, ice-caps permitting, we might come to regret it ...

The Vision Thing

Eyal Press: Paul Krugman, 19 June 2008

The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming America from the Right 
by Paul Krugman.
Allen Lane, 296 pp., £20, March 2008, 978 1 84614 107 2
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... In 1997, the Princeton economist Paul Krugman wrote an article entitled ‘In Praise of Cheap Labour’ in the online magazine Slate, suggesting that those concerned about conditions in Third World sweatshops ought to save their tears for a worthier cause. The greatest beneficiaries of free trade, Krugman declared, ‘are, yes, Third World workers ...

State of the Art

John Lanchester, 1 June 1989

Manchester United: The Betrayal of a Legend 
by Michael Crick and David Smith.
Pelham, 246 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7207 1783 3
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Football in its Place: An Environmental Psychology of Football Grounds 
by David Canter, Miriam Comber and David Uzzell.
Routledge, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 415 01240 6
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... and his epigones with another story, a story with a villain – a whole family of villains. Louis Edwards was a corrupt Manchester butcher who became a director of Manchester United on the day after the Munich crash and who thereafter took control of the club, over a period of years, by buying a majority of its four thousand shares. This involved ...

Accidents

Paul Foot, 4 August 1988

Britain’s Nuclear Nightmare 
by James Cutler and Rob Edwards.
Sphere, 200 pp., £3.99, April 1988, 0 7221 2759 6
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... Debbie Ladley. She was 18, a nanny, and she had given some help to LAND. James Cutler and Robert Edwards record: ‘On 29 September 1986, she was hanging out her washing in her garden at Stragglethorpe near Fulbeck. A man grabbed her from behind by the throat and banged her head against the wall. She suffered a fractured wrist, a cracked rib and injuries to ...

Lying abroad

Fred Halliday, 21 July 1994

Diplomacy 
by Henry Kissinger.
Simon and Schuster, 912 pp., £25, May 1994, 9780671659912
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True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
BBC, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 563 36955 8
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Mandarin: The Diaries of Nicholas Henderson 
by Nicholas Henderson.
Weidenfeld, 517 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 297 81433 8
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... it is not surprising that these three books should strike a rather apologetic note. Ruth Dudley Edwards begins her portrait of life in the Diplomatic Corps with the words: ‘Of all British Civil Service departments, the Foreign Office has the most negative public image.’ Her task is both to show how useful the Foreign Office is to British interests, and ...

Tea-Leafing

Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... Farm on 8 August 1963, with Tony Bennett singing ‘The Good Life’ on the radio. When Buster Edwards hanged himself last year and I rang Bruce Reynolds for a comment (an explanation, if there can ever be such a thing) he referred me to Alvarez and The Savage God. Reynolds was always the most interesting of the train robbers and in a way it’s a pity ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: Paul Krugman, 19 July 2012

... Americans who have anything to do with politics to be mild-mannered and level-headed, so when Paul Krugman came to London in May to promote his book End This Depression Now! (Norton, £14.99), even my landlord was impressed. Becoming a political pundit was never Krugman’s aspiration. You can tell he considers it slumming. His technocratic style suits ...

Report from Sirius B

Jeremy Harding: ‘Phantom Africa’, 22 March 2018

Phantom Africa 
by Michel Leiris, translated by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Seagull, 711 pp., £42, January 2017, 978 0 85742 377 1
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... journal is now available in an elegant translation with notes and an introduction by Brent Hayes Edwards, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia. It is a magnificent book. Edwards has kept the apparatus of the key French editions, including Leiris’s own footnotes – many, as ...

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