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Orwellspeak

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 ...

Aberdeen rocks

Jenny Turner: Stewart Home, 9 May 2002

69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess 
by Stewart Home.
Canongate, 182 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 9781841951829
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... discussion include Michael Bracewell, Dick Hebdige, Lynne Tillman, Kathy Acker, Jean Baudrillard, Paul Johnson, W.G. Sebald. The eateries and supermarkets of Aberdeen are visited, and rendered, as far as I can see, entirely accurately. (I come from Aberdeen, which is how I’d know.) Ditto the hills walked and the stone circles visited. Ditto the ...

Part of the Fun of being an English Protestant

Patrick Collinson: Recovering the Reformation, 22 July 2004

Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7139 9370 7
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... objected to the breadth of his canvas. Give us back the tidy Reformation we used to know about, Paul Johnson complained, something which began in 1517 and ended with the Council of Trent in 1563. This misses the point by several miles. Only by taking the story far into the 17th century can MacCulloch plot the line and plumb the depth of the greatest ...

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 ...

Glooms

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 ...

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 ...

Diary

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 ...

Entanglements

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 ...

Serial Evangelists

Peter Clarke, 23 June 1994

Thinking the Unthinkable: Think-Tanks and the Economic Counter-Revolution, 1931-83 
by Richard Cockett.
HarperCollins, 390 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 00 223672 9
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... with psychological implications which the author might well have pressed further. As it is, Paul Johnson, still hot (at any rate under the collar) from his editorship of the New Statesman, receives a comment so bland – ‘To Johnson and others, the prophecy of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom was rapidly coming to ...

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 ...

Diary

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Papers

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 ...

Reader, he married her

Christopher Hitchens, 10 May 1990

Tom Driberg: His Life and Indiscretions 
by Francis Wheen.
Chatto, 452 pp., £18, May 1990, 0 7011 3143 8
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... didn’t even bother with the sub-Freudian niceties of an Abse, preferring to sink straight to Paul Johnson’s level and to say that there is an axiomatic, Forsterian connection between homosexual and traitorous deportment. To clear Tom on this charge, then, is a matter of journalistic and political hygiene. But it still leaves the matter of misogyny ...

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