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The Vulgarity of Success

Murray Sayle: Everest and Empire, 7 May 1998

Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond 
by Peter Steele.
Constable, 290 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 09 478300 4
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... a human link between the two adventurers, and rather more to the story. Another old Himalaya hand, Peter Steele, now tells it well, and puts right a longstanding injustice. Toiling up mountains for sport is, beyond any doubt, a British invention. People who live among mountains – the Sherpas of Nepal, for instance – can see no sense in it. Mountain ...

Wanted but Not Welcome

Jonathan Steele, 19 March 2020

The Unsettling of Europe: The Great Migration, 1945 to the Present 
by Peter Gatrell.
Allen Lane, 548 pp., £30, August 2019, 978 0 241 29045 3
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... was either downplayed or seen as a justifiable punishment. Ten million Germans suffered in what Peter Gatrell describes as ‘a reckoning on a grand and terrible scale’: 2.7 million were expelled from the Sudetenland and other parts of Czechoslovakia; six million were driven out of Poland and hundreds of thousands from Yugoslavia, Hungary and ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... of images of great men. But many early art photographs do recall paintings. Country people in Peter Henry Emerson’s pictures from the 1880s and 1890s of rural life in East Anglia have a Millet-like quietness. Alvin Langdon Coburn’s photogravures of London at night taken in the early 1900s emulate the inky fogs and soft highlights of contemporary ...

The Right to Murder

Gaby Wood: ‘In a Lonely Place’, 22 March 2018

In a Lonely Place 
by Dorothy B. Hughes.
NYRB, 224 pp., $14.95, August 2017, 978 1 68137 147 4
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In a Lonely Place 
directed by Nicholas Ray.
Criterion Collection, £14.99
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... in 1947 by Dorothy B. Hughes – is told from the point of view of a serial strangler named Dixon Steele. We know from the outset that he is guilty; what we don’t know is whether he’ll be caught, and, if he is, how many women he will have killed in the meantime. Hughes, one of very few female crime writers in the noir canon, made it clear that she ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... are Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, Family and Kinship in East London by Michael Young and Peter Willmott and Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy. Young was to question the policy of slum clearance, which moved people from the friendly East End to high-rise development. High-rise is debated here with attention to its proponents (who took to saying ...
by Jerry Hopkins.
Elm Tree, 275 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11548 5
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Alias David Bowie 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Hodder, 511 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 340 36806 3
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... quite as strong as our sense of jubilation, of ‘a giant step for mankind’. Further, as Peter and Leni Gillman suggest (prosaically or poetically), ‘Space Oddity’ sounds like an experience of shooting heroin, and they sternly quote another Bowie lyric: Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, We know Major Tom’s a junkie. Anyway, Major Tom helped to ...

Forms and Inspirations

Vikram Seth, 29 September 1988

... inspiration work to search each other out. One of these poets was Donald Davie, the other Timothy Steele. Let me talk about Donald first. In the middle of my studies in Economics at Stanford University, I was given the chance to spend a year in the Creative Writing Program in the English Department. I was not at all convinced that creative writing could be ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... but from Habermas, Lawrence Klein, Howard Caygill, Terry Eagleton and Bakhtin, as restated by Peter Stallybrass and Allon White. The result is both fashionably cultural-materialist and safely old art-historical, supposing paintings to be socially determined primarily by discursive texts of the sort art historians require to explain an artist’s ...

Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 4 August 1988

Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... of Sporting Ladies (c. 1770) is typical of many entries from whores’ directories included by Peter Wagner in Eros Revived. Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, published regularly between 1760 and the early 1790s, prided itself on providing up-to-date information for the sporting gentlemen of London, including full details of starting prices and hot ...


Donald Davie, 21 March 1991

The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... and effective bridge-builders were Lamb and Hazlitt. Before them, to be sure, were Addison and Steele: but those serious wits under Queen Anne were building bridges, very successfully too, not between the ephemeral and the enduring, but between relatively solid social entities. Their essays in the Spectator and the Guardian performed a socio-political ...

Which Face?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Emigrés on the Make, 6 February 2020

Cold War Exiles and the CIA: Plotting to Free Russia 
by Benjamin Tromly.
Oxford, 329 pp., £75, September 2019, 978 0 19 884040 4
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The Dissidents: A Memoir of Working with the Resistance in Russia, 1960-90 
by Peter Reddaway.
Brookings, 337 pp., £25.50, February, 978 0 8157 3773 5
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... in the Cold War … is hard to imagine.’There​ are other ways of telling the story. To turn to Peter Reddaway’s memoir of his work with the dissidents is to move not only in time – his story starts in the 1960s and runs through to 1991 – but also to another emotional register, one of high idealism on the part of altruistic Westerners. To be sure, the ...

Defoe or the Devil

Pat Rogers, 2 March 1989

The Canonisation of Daniel Defoe 
by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Yale, 210 pp., £20, February 1988, 0 300 04119 5
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The ‘Tatler’: Vols I-III 
edited by Donald Bond.
Oxford, 590 pp., £60, July 1987, 0 19 818614 2
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The ‘Spectator’: Vols I-V 
edited by Donald Bond.
Oxford, 512 pp., £55, October 1987, 9780198186106
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... nothing can break a chain which limits itself to that mode of sequentially. Of course, Addison and Steele have been victims of their own success. We cannot see their influence, because it is everywhere. We look for a world we have lost, and find that in essentials we are in our own vaguely tolerant, more or less humane, unpushily civilised and comfortably ...

Field of Bones

Charles Nicholl: The last journey of Thomas Coryate, the English fakir and legstretcher, 2 September 1999

... playing a kind of burlesque version of themselves. These are men like the braggadocio Peter Shakerly; the railer Charles Chester, who was the model for Carlo Buffone in Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour; Humfrey King, the poetic tobacconist; the barber-surgeons Tom Tooley and Richard Lichfield; the tavern joker John Stone. These loquacious ...

David Nokes on the duality of Defoe

David Nokes, 19 April 1990

Daniel Defoe: His Life 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 671 pp., £20.50, November 1989, 0 8018 3785 5
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... and his extensive espionage work on behalf of Robert Harley, Defoe was an indefatigable writer. Peter Earle, in the introduction to The World of Defoe (1976), confesses the alarm he experienced when ‘with the contract signed, I began to realise just what I had let myself in for ... To my horror I discovered that Defoe was probably the most prolific writer ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... reminiscences over the teacups. The story that Mai Zetterling told of her encounter with Peter Sellers and Kingsley Amis, at the time of the filming of Only Two Can Play, moves easily enough from life to fiction. ‘Want to see my Aertexes?’ asks the disgraceful Rex Martin, the Amis offprint. What happens is that world fits within world like a ...

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