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Bristling with Diligence

James Wood: A.S. Byatt, 8 October 2009

The Children’s Book 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 617 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 7011 8389 9
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... to journalism), and Olive is a famous children’s writer. Lucky Wellwood children, Tom, Dorothy, Phyllis and Hedda, are making paper lanterns. Philip reflects that, in his former life, he had to beg for scraps of paper to draw on; but these generous people throw away paper with unconcern. Byatt comments: ‘He looked up and had the disconcerting sense that ...

Napoleon was wrong

Ian Gilmour, 24 June 1993

Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... Mathias) or that there was a ‘transformation of the British economy to an industry state’ (Phyllis Deane). The evidence he relies on comes from income-tax returns: ‘The totals for London and the Home Counties may be taken as convenient shorthand or metaphors for commercial and financial-based incomes generated by the British middle classes, while the ...

His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... Fifth String Quartet, Byzantium – a setting of W.B. Yeats for soprano and orchestra – and The Rose Lake (a fifth symphony for orchestra in all but name) flew off the page with improvisational abandon.Oliver Soden​ was born in 1990, and his Life of Tippett is refreshingly free of old prejudices and stale arguments. (The previous standard text, Ian ...

Don’t be a Kerensky!

David Runciman: Kissinger looks for his prince, 3 December 2020

The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World 
by Barry Gewen.
Norton, 452 pp., £22.99, April 2020, 978 1 324 00405 9
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Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography 
by Thomas Schwartz.
Hill and Wang, 548 pp., £27.99, September 2020, 978 0 8090 9537 7
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... aged 15, became Henry on the family’s arrival in New York – never forgot the lesson. Kissinger rose by his own efforts, working in a shaving brush factory during the day, studying accountancy by night at the City College of New York. The army was the making of him: recruited to military intelligence, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was the chief ...

A Traveller in Residence

Mary Hawthorne, 13 November 1997

... Answer: Not in early adulthood, and apparently many never come around to that realisation. Dr Phyllis Greenacre, New York City psychoanalyst, teacher and tutor, in her studies of Swift, Carroll and Thomas Mann, became aware of the tendency of many creative people to feel bewildered in possessing mental gifts beyond those of others. She believes that many ...

Biscuits. Oh good!

Anna Vaux: Antonia White, 27 May 1999

Antonia White 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 484 pp., £20, November 1998, 9780224036191
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... to record an experience truthfully’); and so in fact did her friends: ‘She sits talking, as Phyllis said, in a social way, to such a point that you can’t believe the things she says are real. But they are real.’ And they were. At the apparently fashionable ‘boasting’ parties White went to, she had no trouble producing the true and absolutely ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... blow-dried ladies come and go in their festive plumage, their glasses empty and their talons red. Phyllis Schlafly, 80, Republican matriarch, doyenne of the Christian right, has been hating feminists and opposing gay rights since the Goldwater campaign, in praise of which she wrote a little book. The woman whom Betty Friedan once told she would like to see ...


Sherry Turkle: Lacan and Co, 6 December 1990

Jacques Lacan and Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Free Association, 816 pp., £25, December 1990, 9781853431630
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... of a century, were all absent. In the end, the Lacanian journey was a family affair. When Lacan rose to pre-eminence in the Sixties, French intellectual life was divided into politicised factions, mobilised by true believers. And his work became itself a system that competed on these ideological grounds. ‘Lacanianism served as an ideological alternative ...

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