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Jingo Joe

Paul Addison, 2 July 1981

Joseph Chamberlain: A Political Study 
by Richard Jay.
Oxford, 383 pp., £16.95, March 1981, 0 19 822623 3
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... embodied the restless, forward movements of his era, ‘the spirit of the age’. In his new book Richard Jay has explained how and why this happened. There have been several biographies and studies of Chamberlain, but this is the best analysis of the public man, finely wrought and exact, and undoubtedly demanding of the reader. Old politics can be very ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Evolution versus Metamorphosis, 1 September 2005

... of knowing for sure what’s an adaptation and what’s a by-product, or ‘spandrel’ (to use Richard Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould’s architectural analogy). In their introduction to The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative (Northwestern, $29.95), a collection of essays which will be published later ...


David Marquand, 22 January 1981

Change and Fortune 
by Douglas Jay.
Hutchinson, 515 pp., £16, June 1980, 0 09 139530 5
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Life and Labour 
by Michael Stewart.
Sidgwick, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 283 98686 7
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... throw a good deal of unintentional light on the reasons for its fall. Michael Stewart and Douglas Jay were both awarded Firsts at Oxford in the Twenties, entered Labour politics in the Thirties, held junior office in the Attlee Government in the Forties, supported Gaitskell in the battles of the Fifties and were appointed to Wilson’s Cabinet in the ...

Magnificent Pratfalls

Mike Jay: Ballooning’s Golden Age, 8 August 2013

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air 
by Richard Holmes.
William Collins, 404 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 00 738692 5
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... Hits Iceberg’, the balloon is still an object of inexhaustible rhetorical possibility. As Richard Holmes observes early in Falling Upwards, ‘all balloon flights are naturally three-act dramas’: the launch, the flight and the landing replicate the stages of every journey or human relationship – a set of parallels most recently and memorably ...

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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... it should be providing ways of going beyond them. Against thinkers such as Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty, he refuses to celebrate the literary as a way to avoid or perpetually defer addressing hard epistemological questions as to how we can know a real world whose solidity cannot be dissolved even by the most imaginative exercise in self-fashioning. He ...


Jay Griffiths: Protesting at Fairmile, 8 May 1997

... Fréa gave up a job in publishing to protest at Fairmile. Dale gave up nursing and Richard gave up managing a mental health phone-line. Many sign on, but many others choose not to. Going against the grain of consumerism, these renunciants have discovered that there can be power in poverty. At the Rio Earth Summit, a US delegate warned that ...

Mendacious Flowers

Martin Jay: Clinton Baiting, 29 July 1999

All too Human: A Political Education 
by George Stephanopoulos.
Hutchinson, 456 pp., £17.99, March 1999, 0 09 180063 3
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No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 122 pp., £12, May 1999, 1 85984 736 6
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... country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’ – but the exposed whoppers of Richard ‘I am not a crook’ Nixon, George ‘Read my lips: no new taxes’ Bush, and Bill ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ Clinton. David Schippers, the majority counsel of the House Judiciary Committee, hammered home the point in the ...


John Barrell: Dr Beddoes, 19 November 2009

The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and His Sons of Genius 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 294 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 0 300 12439 2
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... had wanted the commission himself, but would probably never have completed it). Mike Jay’s new book on Beddoes is fascinating, exciting, entertaining, where Stock’s is dull, dull, dull. And yet the more I enjoyed it, the more I began to revise my opinion of what Stock achieved, though perhaps not to the point where I will feel obliged to read ...

Informed Sources

Antony Jay: The literature behind ‘Yes, Minister’, 22 May 1980

... out above all the others for candour, authority, and sheer volume of precisely recorded detail: Richard Crossman’s The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister, especially volumes one and three which cover the years when he was at the head of two major spending departments, Housing and Health. I am in any case a sucker for diaries, and not just because they so often ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... House editor who created the trade paperback series Vintage Contemporaries, the springboard for Jay McInerney’s breakthrough novel, Bright Lights, Big City, and Morgan Entrekin, the editor at Simon and Schuster who acquired Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero. Lish had the cult cred, but their properties shone the brightest. Gary and Morgan, Morgan and ...

Shock Lobsters

Richard Fortey: The Burgess Shale, 1 October 1998

The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals 
by Simon Conway Morris.
Oxford, 242 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 19 850256 7
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... and the insight its fossils provided into the early history of life, was made famous by Stephen Jay Gould in Wonderful Life (1989). Not that Gould himself first described any of these vanished animals: rather, he promulgated their importance to a world outside the hermetic palaeontological community – the Burgess Shale and its mysterious, extinct ...


Jay McInerney: The Great American Novelists, 23 April 1987

... The judge also asked the jurors if any of them were reading any book. Only one said he was – Richard Wright’s Native Son. When it came down to cutting the jurors to eight, the one person who said he was a book reader was discharged. Perhaps this is why some of our writers, given the chance, become performing seals. John Malcolm Brinnin met Capote ...

Everything bar the Chopsticks

T.H. Barrett, 30 October 1997

The City of Light 
by Jacob d’Ancona, translated and edited by David Selbourne.
Little, Brown, 392 pp., £22.50, October 1997, 0 316 63968 0
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... to this mode of thinking, and the grounds for their perplexity have recently been explored by Richard Davis, Jennifer Jay and other experts in the United States. They have found that, far from having sunk into amoral pleasure-seeking, surprisingly large numbers of Chinese of all ages continued to resist the ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... It would be interesting to place Jay McInerney and David Holbrook as neighbours at E.M. Forster’s imaginary table. Both novelists are fascinated by decadence – that much they have in common. But their diagnoses and anatomies of the decadent condition are quite different; worlds apart, to use Holbrook’s dominant image ...

Like Cooking a Dumpling

Mike Jay: Victorian Science Writing, 20 November 2014

Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age 
by James Secord.
Oxford, 306 pp., £18.99, March 2014, 978 0 19 967526 5
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... with atheism, libertinism and violent revolution. Openly atheistic tracts by such agitators as Richard Carlile were sold under the counter and were often written from prison. As Secord observes, such works ‘had long been available to the wealthy and discreet, and were sold in much the same way (and sometimes through the same channels) as ...

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