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What nations are for

Tom Nairn, 8 September 1994

The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination, 1969-1994 
by Edward Said.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, July 1994, 0 7011 6135 3
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Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures 
by Edward Said.
Vintage, 90 pp., £4.99, July 1994, 0 09 942451 7
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... individual critics have rarely resisted the temptation to mock his identity-pangs. Paul Johnson wrote of him recently in the Sunday Times as ‘a fashionable figure’ with ‘modish problems of identity ... It is not clear to me,’ Johnson continued, ‘who, or what, the real Edward Said is.’ The ...

Death of a Poet

Karl Miller, 22 January 1981

... masturbation’. This was in a letter of 1964 to the New Statesman, the people’s friend, where Paul Johnson had proclaimed that the Beatles were common, and a ‘menace’, and that, at their age, he himself had been into Beethoven and good books. He described his feelings at the sight of their wretched fans on television: ‘What a bottomless chasm ...

Protocols of Sèvres

Keith Kyle, 21 January 1988

The Failure of the Eden Government 
by Richard Lamb.
Sidgwick, 340 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 283 99534 3
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... has made. The answer is that while it has not greatly changed the outlines of the story as told by Paul Johnson, Hugh Thomas and a succession of memoirists, it begins to make possible a different type of account. It is only a beginning because the parallel French, Israeli, Egyptian and even, with very considerable exceptions, American papers are either ...


Julian Symons, 9 November 1989

The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St George’ Orwell 
by John Rodden.
Oxford, 478 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 19 503954 8
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... He was used to opponents like Williams, but might have been disconcerted by such friends as Paul Johnson, who believes he would now be a strong Thatcherite, John Wain, who invokes Orwell as an opponent of Arthur Scargill, or in America Norman Podhoretz, who feels sure he would be taking his stand with the ‘neo-conservatives against the ...

Off-Screen Drama

Richard Mayne, 5 March 1981

European Elections and British Politics 
by David Butler.
Longman, 208 pp., £9.95, February 1981, 0 582 29528 9
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Political Change in Europe: The Left and the Future of the Atlantic Alliance 
edited by Douglas Eden.
Blackwell, 163 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 631 12525 6
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... witness. So, undoubtedly, will Hugh Thomas, who contributes a rather slapdash opening chapter, and Paul Johnson, who writes far more cogently on ‘The British Left, Trade Unions and Democracy’. But their findings, like those of Butler and Marquand, have been overtaken and confirmed by subsequent events. The Labour Party’s Black-pool and Wembley ...


Dave Haslam, 20 July 1995

The Black Album 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1995, 0 571 15086 1
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The Faber Book of Pop 
edited by Hanif Kureishi and Jon Savage.
Faber, 813 pp., £16.99, May 1995, 0 571 16992 9
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... as from more outré authorities on pop music (such as Joe Orton) and a few anti-pop pieces (by Paul Johnson and Richard Hoggart, among others). Liveliest and most useful are the contemporary reports documenting specific occasions: Elvis Presley recording ‘Hound Dog’, Decca turning down the Beatles, the Rolling Stones at Altamont, the Osmonds at ...


Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne, 4 November 1993

... ethos of the joint) about halfway through it. Here is where he had chummed up with Henry Fairlie, Paul Johnson, George Gale, Kingsley Amis and many of his other life-long boon companions, whose tales of debauch and dun and infidelity are the salt of the book. He had nice manners, and a generous style which he probably didn’t think of as democratic. He ...


E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... book – ‘a joyous interpretation’ – in the Daily Telegraph. In the Sunday Telegraph Paul Johnson asked the ‘why, oh why’ question: why another life of Lear? He seemed stumped for an answer. Levi says his book springs in part from an under-researched lecture on Lear he gave as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Lear did not, as many ...

Against it

Ross McKibbin, 24 February 1994

For the Sake of Argument 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 353 pp., £19.95, May 1993, 0 86091 435 6
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... often very funny. There are hilarious set-pieces at the expense of, for example, John Braine and Paul Johnson. For the Sake of Argument is not an easy book to précis. There are eight parts and 72 essays, the allocation of which is somewhat random. Most of the pieces in ‘Rogues’ Gallery’, for instance, could go equally well into ‘Studies in ...


Mary-Kay Wilmers: Karl Miller Remembered, 9 October 2014

... think he was sacked from the Statesman but it’s true that he didn’t get on with the editor, Paul Johnson, and some months after his dinner with Pritchett he left. Either then or a few months later he was offered the editorship of the Listener. Not long afterwards I saw him at a Faber party; he mentioned the Listener and said that there might be a ...


Paul Driver, 9 October 1986

The Beethoven Sketchbook: History, Reconstruction, Inventory 
by Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson and Robert Winter, edited by Douglas Johnson.
Oxford, 611 pp., £60, January 1986, 0 19 315313 0
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... passed into the hands of early collectors (Dominic Artaria, Ludwig Landsberg, Friedrich Grasnick, Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Anton Schindler), before being scattered to the European winds, serious students are in possession of the bibliographical information they need. Our authors supply the fullest description of each book, going deep into matters of ...


James Wood: John Carey, 8 March 2001

Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books 
by John Carey.
Faber, 173 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 571 20448 1
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... the Sunday Times and the Spectator. Carey’s cousins in populism sometimes include Simon Jenkins, Paul Johnson, A.N. Wilson and the late Auberon Waugh. An easy moralism animates this worldview. Picasso was a pig; Edmund Gosse was ‘a bore’; D.H. Lawrence hit Frieda and wanted to exterm-inate whole races; Virginia Woolf was a pretentious snob who said ...


V.G. Kiernan, 4 August 1983

The Working Class in Modern British History: Essays in Honour of Henry Pelling 
edited by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 315 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 521 23444 1
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The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working-Class Radicalism and Culture, 1830-60 
edited by James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £16, November 1982, 0 333 32971 6
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Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of 19th-Century Working Class Autobiography 
by David Vincent.
Methuen, 221 pp., £4.95, December 1982, 0 416 34670 7
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... with the paper’s backers, and recent research seems to show him in no very creditable light. Paul Addison begins a commentary on Churchill’s career before 1914 by noting that it ‘depended in many respects on his relations with the urban working class’. His first constituency was Oldham. He was capable in those days, as Clarke reminds us, of ...

Child of Evangelism

James Wood, 3 October 1996

The Quest for God: A Personal Pilgrimage 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £14.99, March 1996, 0 297 81764 7
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Is There a God? 
by Richard Swinburne.
Oxford, 144 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 19 823544 5
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God in Us: A Case for Christian Humanism 
by Anthony Freeman.
SCM, 87 pp., £5.95, September 1993, 0 344 02538 1
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Robert Runcie: The Reluctant Archbishop 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Hodder, 401 pp., £20, October 1996, 0 340 57107 1
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... church felt itself to have been visited by the Holy Spirit, and to be making fresh use of what St Paul called ‘spiritual gifts’ or ‘the manifestation of the Spirit’: speaking in tongues, dancing in the spirit, ecstatic worship, healing, miracles, prophecies. This movement had its roots in American worship. It blew through many parts of the Church of ...

Is this successful management?

R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989

One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... as if sensing the strain, was in both cases able to hound them out of office. (We have just seen Paul Channon, the Transport Minister, brazen out the constant run of transport disasters, thanks to solid backbench support. Would it have been the same if he’d been Jewish?) One Tory backbencher greeted Thatcher’s sacrifice of Brittan with the furious demand ...

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