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The Vice President’s Men

Seymour M. Hersh, 24 January 2019

... next couple of years he oversaw a secret team – operating in part out of the office of Daniel Murphy, Bush’s chief of staff – which quietly conducted at least 35 covert operations against drug trafficking, terrorism and, most important, perceived Soviet expansionism in more than twenty countries, including ...

At the Met

David Hansen: Richard Serra, 30 June 2011

... fell neatly end to end. It was balletic; it was a card trick; it was industrial. It was totally Richard Serra. The artist wouldn’t thank me for the analogy. Analogy isn’t Serra’s thing. But as a foreigner, you can’t visit America and not see the forms and the textures and the dynamics of the Serraverse everywhere you look: in the serial squares of ...

They were less depressed in the Middle Ages

John Bossy: Suicide, 11 November 1999

Marx on Suicide 
edited by Eric Plaut and Kevin Anderson, translated by Gabrielle Edgcomb.
Northwestern, 152 pp., £11.20, May 1999, 0 8101 1632 4
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Suicide in the Middle Ages, Vol I: The Violent Against Themselves 
by Alexander Murray.
Oxford, 510 pp., £30, January 1999, 0 19 820539 2
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A History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Johns Hopkins, 420 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 8018 5919 0
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... restored Bourbons had become archivist of the police records of Paris and hence a benefactor of Richard Cobb and readers of his Death in Paris (1978). The records of suicide caught Peuchet’s eye, and he had a line on it. The line was to defend suicides against the customary condemnation by claiming, like Thomas Hood in ‘The Bridge of Sighs’, that ...

Diary

Richard Usborne: On Cutting P.G. Wodehouse, 4 October 1984

... topographical scholarship. In this context the names of two retired soldiers, Colonel Norman Murphy in Cumbria and Colonel Michael Cobb in Devon, spring to the lips. Marlborough is now on the metaphysical overlay map of Wodehouse’s Merry England. Back to your ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp, 11 August 2016

... These MPs had ‘declared war on the membership’ (‘Yes! Yes!’ shouted the woman next to me). Richard Burgon MP talked about the ‘parliamentary bullies’ who wanted to drive Labour members to ‘turn their backs on anti-austerity’ and warned that ‘socialists don’t give in to threats.’ At least twice, members of the audience shouted ...
Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition 
by James Joyce, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior.
Garland, 1919 pp., $200, May 1984, 0 8240 4375 8
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James Joyce 
by Richard Ellmann.
Oxford, 900 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 19 281465 6
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... where Stephen says: ‘Tell me the word, mother, if you know now. The word known to all men.’ Richard Ellmann virtually solved it in Ulysses on the Liffey (1972) with his chapter called ‘The Riddle of Scylla and Charybdis’, which argues that ‘the answer to the sphinx’s riddle was man, the answer to Scylla-Charybdis’s is the act of love.’ But ...

Short Cuts

Jonathan Meades: This Thing Called the Future, 8 September 2016

... any. The recondite wheezes, dystopian prophecies, soft-brained schemes and social essays Douglas Murphy scrutinises in Last Futures: Nature, Technology and the End of Architecture (Verso, £20) mostly led nowhere and spawned no progeny. Perhaps one should write ‘have’ mostly led nowhere, because there is still time, an infinity, for them to be exhumed in ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... May, ‘an eclectic blend of ulysses, kilroy, icarus, neptune, ishmael, noah, jonah, columbus, and richard halliburton! So you must, in all kindness, emphasise your mortal finitude when next we meet!’ He had leave in June, and it is through Gordon’s faithful eyes that we see Plath on the cover of the first volume of the letters: blonde hair, red lipstick ...

Diary

Nick Laird: Ulster Revisited, 28 July 2011

... by loyalist terrorists, one of the workers, Walter Chapman, whispered to the sole Catholic, Richard Hughes, that he should stay silent. But one of the gunmen recognised Hughes and ordered him to ‘clear off down the road’. He did so and the gunmen opened fire, with armalites, SLRs, a 9mm pistol and an M1 carbine, on the remaining men. In less than a ...

From Swindon to Swindon

Mary Beard, 17 February 2011

Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon and Schuster, 438 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84737 798 2
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... world and back again. Here, at the end, Mount is on the trail of one of the book’s heroes, Richard Jefferies, Victorian polymath, nature writer, campaigner against the exploitation of agricultural labourers, fantasist and (in Mount’s semi-serious conceit) a 19th-century avatar of James Lovelock and his Gaia hypothesis. One of Jefferies’s favourite ...

Irangate

Edward Said, 7 May 1987

The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey 
by Salman Rushdie.
Picador, 171 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 330 29990 5
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Turning the Tide: US Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace 
by Noam Chomsky.
Pluto, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1986, 0 7453 0184 3
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... of formal policy-maker have come to the fore. There are the passive functionaries – men like Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East; he travels here and there but because he is a career Arabist his influence is nil. More ominous are the ideological over-achievers, typified by ...

Hindsight Tickling

Christopher Tayler: Disappointing sequels, 21 October 2004

The Closed Circle 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 433 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 670 89254 8
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... of bourgeois morality, but The Accidental Woman is clearly the work of a young man who’s read Murphy, Watt and First Love. The allegiance to Beckett is chiefly signalled by a studied disdain for the conventions of realism (‘Here you are to imagine a short scene of family jubilation, I’m buggered if I can describe one’), along with some suitably ...

Short Cuts

Adam Shatz: The Four-Year Assault, 21 January 2021

... ends. Four years of rage and lies; four years of racism and xenophobia so coarse and inflammatory Richard Nixon might have blushed; four years of dismantling economic and environmental regulation, packaged as a populist revolution on behalf of the forgotten (white) American; four years of ‘law and order’ indistinguishable from moral and political ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... down in the light of broad day. His assassin was murdered on camera while in maximum security. Richard Nixon’s intimates fed high-denomination dollar bills into a shredder in order to disguise their provenance in the empire of – Howard Hughes? Marilyn Monroe fucked both Kennedy brothers before taking her own life, if she did indeed take it. Frank ...

Rubbing Shoulders with Unreason

Peter Barham: Foucault's History of Madness, 8 March 2007

History of Madness 
by Michel Foucault, edited by Jean Khalfa, translated by Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa.
Routledge, 725 pp., £35, April 2006, 0 415 27701 9
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... madman sent to Colney Hatch asylum (founded in 1851). Some of Foucault’s errors go uncorrected: Richard III still sits on the throne of England in 1342. Famously, the translation of a sentence describing the life of the mad in the Middle Ages – ‘les fous alors avaient une existence facilement errante’ – as ‘madmen then led an easy wandering ...

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