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Welfare in America

William Plowden

11 July 1991
American Social Welfare Policy: A Structural Approach 
by Howard Karger and David Stoesz.
Longman, 371 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 8013 0193 9
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America’s Misunderstood Welfare State 
by Theodore Marmor, Jerry Mashaw and Philip Harvey.
Basic Books, 268 pp., $22.95, October 1990, 9780465001224
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The American Prospect 
edited by Paul Starr and Robert Kuttner.
New Prospect, 168 pp., $31
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... to US social welfare policy for the rest of the century. Two other recent publications, confronting the same facts, reflect and may reinforce the change of mood described above. Marmor, Mashaw and Harvey’s excellent book begins with the statement: ‘This book has a simple message: America’s social welfare efforts are taking a bum rap.’ They continue: ‘The vision of social welfare policy ...

Being splendid

Stephen Wall

3 March 1988
Civil to Strangers 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 333 39128 4
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The Pleasure of Miss Pym 
by Charles Burkhart.
Texas, 120 pp., $17.95, July 1987, 0 292 76496 0
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The World of Barbara Pym 
by Janice Rossen.
Macmillan, 193 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 333 42372 0
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The Life and Work of Barbara Pym 
edited by Dale Salwak.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 333 40831 4
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... wait for Hazel Holt’s biography for authoritative evidence, but the main outlines seem clear from the diaries and letters already available. The early novels reflect Barbara Pym’s love for Henry Harvey, whom she met at Oxford; her alternately anguished and wry but unrewarded pursuit of him is affectingly revealed in the pre-war section of A Very Private Life, and it is touching to find that he ...

Dry-Cleaned

Tom Vanderbilt: ‘The Manchurian Candidate’

21 August 2003
The Manchurian Candidate: BFI Film Classics 
by Greil Marcus.
BFI, 75 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 85170 931 1
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... There is no evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald saw The Manchurian Candidate, which was released in 1962, a year before Kennedy’s assassination. A more plausible cinematic influence on him is Suddenly (1954), in which Frank Sinatra plays ...

Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson

30 March 2000
Philip​ Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... off for Poland, which was without a king at the time. Later, a story was invented that he had been offered the Polish crown: absurd, but can there be smoke without any fire whatsoever? In May 1575, Philip Sidney returned to Little England. If England was small beer, so was he, no baron but plain Mr Sidney. He was 20 years of age. Sidney’s career makes a bizarre episode in that endless saga which is ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee

17 November 1983
Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... street where a group of Civil Rights demonstrators is standing. A girl in Professor Adorno’s classroom in Frankfurt takes off all her clothes as he discourses on the dangers of spontaneity. Lee Harvey Oswald is photographed holding up two guns, together with the Daily Worker and the Trotskyite Militant: ‘There he stands in the midst of his iconography.’ It is the job of the ‘defining ...

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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... celebrated writers to contribute to his magazine. His afterlife came later as afterlives do, and is missing from the book. So are Muriel Spark, V.S. Naipaul, and the explosive William Golding. Philip Larkin is present. Not really for his poems as for the tirelessly sardonic and sarcastic bulletins on national life sent in letters to his friend Monica Jones. Larkin’s offendedness was soothed ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen

11 October 2018
... But perhaps they keep a file on Toni Morrison, who – as a photo that recently went viral made clear – hung out with Angela Davis in the early 1970s, and surely Don DeLillo’s speculations on Lee Harvey Oswald in Libra merited attention. There is at least one known case. In 2013 William Vollmann wrote about getting hold of his own FBI file and discovering that during the 1990s, following an ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Irishman’

25 November 2019
... no, very old actors – to become the age the time of the action requires. The 76-year-old Robert De Niro gets to play the 40-year-old Sheeran, as well as the same man at 55 and 83. For the record, Harvey Keitel (b. 1939), Al Pacino (b. 1940) and Joe Pesci (b. 1943) also get to inhabit different times, though Pacino, as Jimmy Hoffa, doesn’t live so long. All of these performances are amazing, but I ...

Post-Paranoid

Michael Wood: Underworld by Don Delillo

5 February 1998
Underworld 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 832 pp., £10, February 1998, 0 330 36995 4
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... There is a world inside the world,’ Lee Harvey Oswald repeats in Don DeLillo’s novel Libra (1988). The phrase suggests wheels within wheels, partly because Oswald is obsessively riding the New York subway when we first hear it. ‘There’s ...
18 September 1997
Rare Spirit: A Life of William De Morgan 1839-1917 
by Mark Hamilton.
Constable, 236 pp., £22.50, September 1997, 0 09 474670 2
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... a peacock’s tail fans out around a bowl with the same modest completeness as an angel’s wing filling a Gothic spandrel. De Morgan’s strong unassertive style adapted well. It was cool enough for Philip Webb, but it could be robust. Norman Shaw used the tiles in the ‘Old English’ interior of the Tabard Inn at Bedford Park, the artistic suburb, built from the late 1870s, where the inhabitants ...
1 December 1983
Collected Essays: Vols I and II 
by Frances Yates.
Routledge, 279 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 7100 0952 6
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... poets are painters and philosophers; and painters are philosophers and poets.’ It is no surprise, therefore, to find him composing a verbal emblem book, Gli Eroici Furori. This was dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney in 1585 and exercised a profound influence upon Elizabethan poetry. In devising and explaining his visual conceits, Bruno aimed to transform the increasingly stale conventions of Petrarchan ...

The Positions He Takes

John Barrell: Hitchens on Paine

30 November 2006
Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’: A Biography 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2006, 1 84354 513 6
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... If the rights of man are to be upheld in a dark time, we shall require an age of reason,’ wrote Christopher Hitchens last year on the dust jacket of Harvey Kaye’s recent book on Paine.* And as if to reinforce that message, he has now himself published a little book on Paine, a ‘biography’ of Rights of Man. It begins with a dedication, ‘by ...

Bang, Bang, Smash, Smash

Rosemary Hill: Beatrix Potter

22 February 2007
Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 584 pp., £25, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9560 2
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... down so that she and Bertie could draw the skeletons. This was still the age of popular amateur science and, despite Darwin, the natural world could be studied safely by the pious with the aid of Philip Gosse’s Evenings at the Microscope. Potter, with her brother’s microscope and the encouragement of her father, developed into an accomplished naturalist and botanical artist. It was the ideal ...
19 May 2011
Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... to thank Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, who provided the mean-street-walking existential characters we willingly confused with the actors who played them. The new retro cool I wallowed in had Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade as its source: the hard men with soft, democratic centres, American Romantics tinged with the Founding Fathers and Melville’s melancholic sense of humanity, the people’s ...

Diary

David Thomson: ‘Vertigo’ after Weinstein

21 June 2018
... who went mad and killed herself. He fears that Madeleine is becoming Carlotta. He wants to hire Scottie to watch over her. It is a familiar scheme in the movies, akin to General Sternwood enlisting Philip Marlowe to take care of his wild daughter in The Big Sleep. And we learned to trust the immaculate Marlowe and to love Bogart playing him, because no matter the fix he’s in, the private eye has a ...

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