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Within the Pale

Naomi Shepherd

8 February 1990
Memoirs of a Jewish Revolutionary 
by Hersh Mendel, translated by Robert Michaels.
Pluto, 367 pp., £19.50, February 1989, 0 7453 0264 5
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by Shlomo Avineri.
Peter Halban, 126 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 1 870015 23 1
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Golda Meir: The Romantic Years 
by Ralph Martin.
Piatkus, 416 pp., £15, April 1989, 0 86188 864 2
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... With the virtual disappearance of the Jewish working class in the Diaspora, and the decline of the Labour movement in Israel, Jewish socialism is beginning to look historically limited, rather than an intrinsic part of a cultural heritage. The idea that the Jews are somehow natural radicals by virtue of their internationalism, messianism and inherited ethic of social justice does not stand up to scrutiny ...

Speaking Azza

Martin​ Jay: Where are you coming from?

28 November 2002
Situatedness; Or, Why We Keep Saying Where We’re Coming From 
by David Simpson.
Duke, 290 pp., £14.50, March 2002, 0 8223 2839 9
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... American, a Catholic, a breast cancer survivor, upper-middle class, a college drop-out, twice divorced, a fashion victim or second in birth order in her family in understanding why she campaigned for Ralph Nader in the last American Presidential election? Which of these characteristics defines her identity? Is it, moreover, really possible to embed opinions and prejudices squarely in a specific ...


Elaine Showalter: On the Phi Beta Kappa Tour

10 March 1994
... my fortune anymore, but on the bottom it said: ‘The management is not responsible for the opinions of this chicken.’ In another shed, I watched an aquacade about the sinking of Atlantis starring Ralph the Pig. After two students in togas talked about the wrath of the volcano god, Ralph, a large but shapely pig, emerged nude and dived gracefully into the lagoon. Over dinner with the English ...

Ripping Yarns

John Sutherland

8 April 1993
by Michael Thorn.
Little, Brown, 566 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90299 3
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by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 370 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 333 52205 2
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... of sensitive nature.’ Happily in later life, the poet was able gradually ‘to free himself from the doubts and agonies of his adolescence’ and mature into a figurehead of Victorian normality. Ralph Rader’s Maud: The Biographical Genesis (1963) began by acknowledging the ‘curiosity aroused in me by Tennyson’s Maud and Locksley Hall, ostensibly dramatic poems which were strangely flawed, I ...

At Driscoll Babcock

Christopher Benfey: The Shock of the Old

15 June 2016
... between the buildings a few hundred yards from the walkway. Some of the most interesting paintings on view in The Shock of the Old bring historical grit to the seemingly timeless natural world. Ralph Blakelock is best known for his mysteriously atmospheric paintings of American Indian encampments, and for his later descent into madness. He is represented here by the early, brilliant A Sawmill in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Hail, Caesar!’

17 March 2016
Hail, Caesar! 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... fends off two gossip columnists, both played by Tilda Swinton, arranges for a couple of young stars to look as if they might be an item, and has several interrupted meetings with a man from Lockheed Martin who is offering him a high-level job, another relation to the heavens. Oh, and then there is the ostensible main business of the film. In the Roman film Clooney is a tribune called Autolycus. He has ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Skyfall’

22 November 2012
directed by Sam Mendes.
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... actors had done. He was correcting the record. He was James Bond, the others were impostors, Algernons or Benedicts or something from a quite different branch of the family. The film (directed by Martin Campbell) was well paced, and organised the old tropes elegantly around the new engine. But by the end it was already beginning to feel tired – with how many more Bond movies to come. It looked ...

The Red and the Green

Raymond Williams

3 February 1983
Socialism and Survival 
by Rudolf Bahro, translated by David Fernbach.
Heretic Books, 160 pp., £6.95, December 1982, 9780946097029
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Capitalist Democracy in Britain 
by Ralph​ Miliband.
Oxford, 76 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 19 827445 9
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Socialist Register 1982 
edited by Martin​ Eve and David Musson.
Merlin, 314 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 9780850362923
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... of policies, are looking primarily to convert the Labour Party. It is again too early to say, but this may prove at least as difficult as Bahro’s policy of a more general public conversion. Ralph Miliband’s incisive essay on capitalist democracy in Britain will be read as a challenge to more orthodox arguments. ‘Capitalist’ is still a term which only the hard Right can live with, as ...


Jenny Diski: Alastair Campbell’s Dodgy Novel

6 November 2008
All in the Mind 
by Alastair Campbell.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 0 09 192578 9
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... it and then it goes away to be written.’ Her publisher defends her as the ‘author’ of a ghost-written book. There is no doubt that Campbell has written his own book. It begins: ‘Professor Martin Sturrock was feeling stressed enough already, even before the phone call from Simon telling him Aunt Jessica had died.’ But can he really expect reviewers to forget his former role in the New ...


Jackson Lears: Ralph​ Nader’s novel

8 April 2010
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 
by Ralph​ Nader.
Seven Stories, 733 pp., $27.50, September 2009, 978 1 58322 903 3
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... In certain precincts of American political culture, the mere mention of the name Ralph Nader still provokes scowls. Many Democrats remain convinced that Nader’s presidential campaign in 2000 cost Al Gore the White House and ushered in the calamitous reign of George W. Bush. The ...

Tired of Giving in

Eric Foner: Rosa Parks

10 May 2001
Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Life of Rosa Parks 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.99, January 2001, 0 297 60708 1
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... feet’ (she was a tailor’s assistant), an international symbol of ordinary blacks’ determination to resist the daily injustices and indignities of the Jim Crow South. Today, with the birthday of Martin Luther King a national holiday and Alabama cities like Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery competing to attract tourists by highlighting their role in the struggle for racial justice, Rosa Parks has ...


Rosemary Hill: Unhappy Ever After

21 June 2018
In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter 
by Miranda Seymour.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 1 4711 3857 7
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Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist 
by Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice.
Bodleian, 128 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 1 85124 488 1
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... in Miranda Seymour’s deft and compelling account of the whole horrible saga. Anne Isabella, as she was christened, was the late and much loved only child of ageing parents who doted on her. Sir Ralph and Lady Milbanke were justified in admiring their daughter’s intelligence and high spirits, if less sensible in giving in to them. In due course she was brought from the family home in County ...

Abolish everything!

Andrew Hussey: Situationist International

2 September 1999
The Situationist City 
by Simon Sadler.
MIT, 248 pp., £24.95, March 1998, 0 262 19392 2
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... the only true revolutionary value. The third ‘group’ at Cosio was the London Psychogeographical Committee, a rather notional affair represented by its only known member, the Newcastle-born artist Ralph Rumney. Rumney was a close friend of Debord and the Lettrists. Moving between Paris and London, he provided a crucial link with the avant-garde circles associated with the ICA, then at its Dover ...
25 March 1993
Malcolm X 
directed by Spike Lee.
May 1993
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By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of ‘Malcolm X’ 
by Spike Lee and Ralph​ Wiley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 09 928531 2
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Malcolm X: The Great Photographs 
compiled by Thulani Davis and Howard Chapnick.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 168 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 1 55670 317 1
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... Mandela’s difficulty with the famous words as technical and local rather than ethical, a matter of South African politics. Lee says only whites ask him about the meaning of the two quotations, from Martin Luther King and Malcolm, at the end of Do the Right Thing, and only whites need to ask, he claims, why the uncommitted character played by Lee himself chooses to start a riot by hurling a rubbishbin ...


Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman

15 July 2015
... Riverside Church last Saturday, at the funeral of the alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman. No one mentioned the atrocity in Charleston explicitly; no one had to. We were in the church where Martin Luther King declared his opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967. We were honouring the life of America’s leading free jazz musician in a dramatic week for freedom in America. The Supreme Court had ...

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