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You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate 
by Paul Lay.
Head of Zeus, 352 pp., £30, January 2020, 978 1 78185 256 9
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... enjoyable new history of the Protectorate, which collapsed nine months after Cromwell’s death, Paul Lay is bracing and undeceived in his judgments. He is the editor of History Today, and he writes in the best tradition of that magazine, accessible but sound in detail, with an alert eye for the significant details academic historians sometimes slide ...

The Buddha of Suburbia

Hanif Kureishi, 19 February 1987

... up.’ ‘With your father’s wonderful wit too, I see!’ she said. I looked up and saw that Paul, her son, who was at my school but a year older, was sitting at the top of the stairs, behind the bannisters. He was smiling at me. On the way to Cheryl’s I’d deliberately excluded him from my mind. I hadn’t believed that he would be in, that he would ...


Alan Hollinghurst, 19 November 1981

by Michel Tournier, translated by Anne Carter.
Collins, 452 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 00 221448 2
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The Death of Men 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 249 pp., £6.50, October 1981, 0 370 30339 3
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Tar Baby 
by Toni Morrison.
Chatto, 309 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7011 2596 9
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... really, does it mean?’ The novel’s meaning emerges from its study of twinship. Jean and Paul Surin are twins so identical that even their father cannot tell them apart: their physical similarity is coupled with an emotional and psychological identification, not of sympathetic reactions but of a shared geminate intuition – a phrase always ...

Two Poems

Paul Batchelor: Two Poems, 18 November 2021

... your wordsmay release us into gesture –or so I tell myselfas I scribble these rough numbersand lay my little wreath:I got to meet you, once,and gave my name for silenceand ‘best wishes, Derek Mahon’.My Life on Earth remembers.The WellSo what. He told a lie. So what.It explained a thing or two about a thing or two.It wasn’t anything that somebody else ...

War within wars

Paul Addison, 5 November 1992

War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honour of Sir Michael Howard 
edited by Lawrence Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O’Neill.
Oxford, 322 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 822292 0
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... But Michael Howard belongs to the old school of public historians who sought both to interest a lay audience and instruct them in the ‘lessons of history’. If this takes him into a realm where the arts of rhetoric cut across the kind of analysis expected in the seminar room, and history is employed as a parable to point a contemporary message, he is ...

Paul de Man’s Past

Christopher Norris, 4 February 1988

... title ‘Yale Scholar’s Articles Found in Nazi Paper’. The scholar in question was the late Paul de Man, who had written these pieces during the early Forties before leaving Belgium for America. They were published in Le Soir, a newspaper of pro-Nazi sympathies, and contain many passages that can be read as endorsing what amounts to a collaborationist ...

Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan

Lawrence Norfolk: The Ways of the Boar, 6 January 2011

... the tale of the hunter who, having caught and decapitated his boar, hung the head in a tree and lay down to rest in its shade. The head fell down and killed him while he slept. The boar is formidable even when dead. Allied to his armament is the boar’s bulk. Sus scrofa, as Linnaeus dubbed him, favours all terrain south of the 57th parallel. Wild boars are ...

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 ...

The Faster the Better

Paul Driver: Anatomising Mendelssohn, 3 February 2005

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music 
by Larry Todd.
Oxford, 683 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 19 511043 9
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... works – the Songs without Words for piano, the symphonies, above all the choral spectaculars St Paul and Elijah – through which that world could know itself. He was, if reluctantly, an adornment to the Prussian court of Frederick William IV, and a willing favourite of Queen Victoria. Innumerable biographies of all sizes have been published since his ...


Paul Foot, 19 April 1990

War without Honour 
by Fred Holroyd and Nick Bainbridge.
Medium, 184 pp., £6.95, November 1989, 1 872398 00 6
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... as an active intelligence officer had been passed. No one had rumbled him or questioned him. He lay back on his bunk in relief. Suddenly the tannoy blared out a message: ‘Will Captain Fred Holroyd please report to the Purser’s Office as he has been chosen to be the military families’ officer for the journey.’ ‘So much for undercover work!’ he ...


Paul Foot: The Labour Party’s vacillation over rail privatisation, 28 October 1999

... runs from heart to head, ruptured. Almost all such ruptures end in death, and for many weeks I lay in a coma. When I came round, expertly patched up but still without much prospect of recovery, I was plagued by hallucinations. Chief among these was the heroic speech I had made not about Kosovo but to the massed ranks of the women’s liberation movement in ...

At the Coppermill

Paul Myerscough: Simply Botiful, 14 December 2006

... this the only difference between the two – the door was unlocked. It was a coal hole, and in it lay a filthy infant's mattress. Die Familie Schneider was a clever, deeply nasty piece of work. Its theatricalisation of a terrible memory, frozen in time to be inspected, even inhabited, was also, in its uncanny repetitions, a provocation to whatever memories ...

Sitting it out

Paul Sieghart, 2 August 1984

Two men were aquitted 
by Percy Hoskins.
Secker, 221 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 436 20161 5
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... by Geoffrey Lawrence QC, one of the most skilful advocates of his day, whose normal practice lay in the civil rather than the criminal courts. Not for him the faded Rumpole clichés of ‘I am bound to put it to you, Mr Snooks, that what you are telling My Lord and the jury on your sacred oath in this court is a tissue of lies’: his ...

Up the Levellers

Paul Foot, 8 December 1994

The New Model Army in England, Ireland and Scotland, 1645-53 
by Ian Gentles.
Blackwell, 590 pp., £14.99, January 1994, 0 631 19347 2
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... College, to which he bequeathed his huge library. His father’s record of the Putney Debates lay buried, unseen and apparently unnoticed, in the bowels of the college library for the whole of the 18th and almost all the 19th centuries. During that time, historians of the English Revolution had to make do with state papers and memoirs. When, in old ...

Faking the Canon

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Forging the Bible, 6 February 2014

Forgery and Counter-Forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics 
by Bart Ehrman.
Oxford, 628 pp., £27.50, January 2013, 978 0 19 992803 3
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... Epistles set out to do just that. Taking their cue from a nucleus of genuine letters written by Paul of Tarsus, they call themselves Paul when they are not Paul, Peter when they are not Peter, James when they are not James, Jude when they are not Jude. Sometimes they put in ...

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