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Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... of early labourism at its most mediocre and conservative, the former railwaymen’s leader Jimmy Thomas (dubbed the Rt Hon. Dress Suit by the cartoonist Low). Smith is surely right to suggest that, at least until the second half of the Twenties, almost no Labour MPs actually read the magazine. When large numbers did start to do so, its influence does not ...


Peter Wollen, 19 October 1995

Sex and Suits 
by Anne Hollander.
Knopf, 212 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 43096 2
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... sphere and women were relegated to home and the private sphere. Hollander makes powerful use of Thomas Laqueur’s recent book, Making Sex, to support her arguments here. She draws on his proposition that an original one-sex model, in which women were seen as fundamentally the same as men was replaced by the end of the 18th century by a two-sex model, which ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... They sneer at ‘fellows with ideas’ or tell funny stories about Americans or admire Jimmy Thomas. It is all very painful and explains why so many of the young scientists here turn communist. Postan was astonished to find that the medievalists ignored the work of Marc Bloch and none of the lectures on political thought mentioned Marx. Brooke explains ...

Top of the World

Jenny Turner: Douglas Coupland, 22 June 2000

Miss Wyoming 
by Douglas Coupland.
Flamingo, 311 pp., £9.99, February 2000, 0 00 225983 4
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... and utter meretriciousness, young-man-type showing-off stuff and genuine wisdom, is a bit like Paul ThomasAnderson’s recent film, Magnolia, which shares Coupland’s interest in coincidence and catastrophe and carpe diem. Do we really need or want to be told about life’s beauties and terrors by a couple of ...
Rationalism in Politics, and Other Essays 
by Michael Oakeshott, edited by Timothy Fuller.
Liberty, 556 pp., $24, October 1991, 0 86597 094 7
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... social directives, in its origins actually signified the opposite: and that none other than Thomas Hobbes had been the first to make this clear. ‘Seeing therefore the Introduction of Property is an effect of Commonwealth ... it is the act only of the Sovereign; and consisteth in the Laws, which none can make which have not the Sovereign Power. And ...

Partnership of Loss

Roy Foster: Ireland since 1789, 13 December 2007

Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 
by Paul Bew.
Oxford, 613 pp., £35, August 2007, 978 0 19 820555 5
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... pioneering work, Newspapers and Nationalism, in tracing how immediately the insights of Benedict Anderson can be mapped onto the growth and form of Irish nationalist consciousness in imagining a community. But his overall preoccupation is with disunion rather than Union. Though he opens by unearthing D.P. Moran’s 1904 parody of A Midsummer Night’s Dream ...

The Habit of War

Jeremy Harding: Eritrea, 20 July 2006

I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation 
by Michela Wrong.
Harper Perennial, 432 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 0 00 715095 4
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Unfinished Business: Ethiopia and Eritrea at War 
edited by Dominique Jacquin-Berdal and Martin Plaut.
Red Sea, 320 pp., $29.95, April 2005, 1 56902 217 8
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Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa 
edited by Robert Rotberg.
Brookings, 210 pp., £11.99, December 2005, 0 8157 7571 7
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... audience is a daunting prospect and few people have tried; the most successful, until now, was Thomas Keneally, whose novel Towards Asmara (1989), set in the guerrilla-held areas at the time of the liberation war, was a picaresque homage to the Eritrean people. Michela Wrong has attempted something different: an idiosyncratic, free-ranging history of ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice, 7 February 2008

Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... Defence of Vulgarity’. Impurities like these were worth getting into poetry as a kick against St Paul. MacNeice says in Modern Poetry that ‘words like “gold” and “roses” tend to strike me as if written in block capitals.’ The bold, glamorous command of such words in ‘Snow’ is enhanced by judicious contrast with phrases like ‘incorrigibly ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... from London in my hands, I spent a long time pondering the implications. For almost fifteen years Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson had insisted they were innocent and had been framed by the police. I recalled that Sir Michael Havers, who led for the Crown in the 1975 trial, had reasoned to the jury that if the Four were ...

On Not Going Home

James Wood, 20 February 2014

... like a pious fish – and then we were up on our feet, and were singing ‘O Nata Lux’ by Thomas Tallis1. I knew the piece but hadn’t really listened to it. Now I was struck – assaulted, thrown – by its utter beauty: the soft equanimity of its articulation, like the voice of justice; the sweet dissonance, welcome as pain. That dissonance, with ...

Making It Up

Raphael Samuel, 4 July 1996

Raymond Williams 
by Fred Inglis.
Routledge, 333 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 415 08960 3
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... when it was embarking on its theoretical turn in 1962, the ‘virtuoso eloquence’ of Perry Anderson was backed by Robin Blackburn, ‘a beautiful, big, shock-headed youngster’ who had read Sartre and de Beauvoir in the French. Chubby, chummy and balding, imperturbably good-humoured and everybody’s pal, Inglis has a distinct resemblance to Bob ...

Find the Method

Timothy Shenk: Loyalty to Marx, 29 June 2017

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion 
by Gareth Stedman Jones.
Penguin, 768 pp., £14.99, May 2017, 978 0 14 102480 6
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... Marxism​ is still very young, almost in its infancy,’ Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in 1957, more than seventy years after Karl Marx’s death. Sartre had first read Marx three decades earlier when he, too, was still very young. At the time, the author of Capital had seemed a figure of merely historical interest. ‘Here are the conceptions of a German intellectual who lived in London in the middle of the last century,’ Sartre remembered thinking ...


Fredric Jameson: Kenzaburo Oe, 20 November 2003

by Kenzaburo Oe, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Atlantic, 570 pp., £16.99, July 2003, 1 84354 080 0
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... of this kind is not uncommon in the history of religious movements: Moses and Aaron, Jesus and St Paul, Sabbatai Sevi and Nathan of Gaza, are only a few of the joint religious leaderships that come to mind. (In an article in these pages, Perry Anderson has suggested that, at least in Latin American politics, the reverse is ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... British Vogue’s official history begins not with Todd, or her temporary replacement, Miss Anderson, but with the wonderfully named Elspeth Champcommunal, who took over in time for the 1916 Christmas edition, informing readers that ‘the Parisienne’s day is not complete unless she wears the colour of spring.’ Champcommunal was more ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010, 16 December 2010

... proud when they have a Piper window, the latest (and no more pleasing than the rest) glimpsed at Paul Scofield’s memorial service in St Margaret’s, Westminster. For all that, though, the book is immensely readable, drawing together so many strands of the artistic life in the 1930s and 1940s – K. Clark, Ben Nicholson, Betjeman and all the stuff to do ...

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