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Pale Ghosts

Jeremy Harding, 12 January 1995

The Electronic Elephant: A Southern African Journey 
by Dan Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 373 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 0 241 13355 6
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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela 
Little, Brown, 630 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 90965 3Show More
None to Accompany Me 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1994, 0 7475 1821 1
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The Rift: The Exile Experience of South Africans 
by Hilda Bernstein.
Cape, 516 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 224 03546 0
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... great resemblance between his own, open-ended journey and the intrusions of earlier strangers: of Robert Moffat, Livingstone and various envoys of the London Missionary Society, who thrived on scruples; of Cecil Rhodes, and an assortment of English and Boer traders, who did without them; of the Voortrekkers, who left the Cape in sombre spirits and travelled ...


Charles Townshend, 19 April 1984

Theobald Wolfe Tone: Colonial Outsider 
by Tom Dunne.
Tower Books, 77 pp., $1.90, December 1982, 0 902568 07 8
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Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France 
by Marianne Elliott.
Yale, 411 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 03 000270 2
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De Valera and the Ulster Question 1917-1973 
by John Bowman.
Oxford, 369 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 0 19 822681 0
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Sean Lemass and the Making of Modern Ireland 
by Paul Bew and Henry Patterson.
Gill, 224 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7171 1260 8
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... In the meantime, however, the United Irishmen were pushed back into self-reliance, manifested in Robert Emmet’s attempted insurrection of 1803. Elliott gives this as much space as Hoche’s expedition, though it had no concrete connection with France. Like the rest of her book, apart from broad-ranging introductory and concluding chapters, this account is ...

Missing the Vital Spark

Mark Ford: Tony Harrison, 13 May 1999

by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 86 pp., £8.99, November 1998, 0 571 19753 1
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... this attribution has been made with particular force in recent decades, most compellingly by M. Griffith in The Authenticity of ‘Prometheus Bound’ (1977). In a recent edition of the play in translation, Michael Ewans argues that ‘in dramatic style and technique, as well as language and poetic style, Prometheus is markedly different from, and inferior ...

No flourish was too much

Bridget Alsdorf: Out-Tissoted, 13 August 2020

James Tissot 
by Melissa Buron et al.
Prestel, 354 pp., £55, October 2019, 978 3 7913 5919 9
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... of Christ, Scorsese draws from several of Tissot’s crowded biblical scenes, just as D.W. Griffith (Intolerance) and Cecil B. DeMille (The King of Kings) did before him. The impact of these paintings on the history of cinema is hard to overstate. Valentine Robert calls them ‘protocinematic’ in their continuous ...

Motorised Youth Rebellion

Andy Beckett: Radical LA, 18 February 2021

Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties 
by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener.
Verso, 788 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78478 022 7
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... and hippies off Sunset Strip, regularly broke up peaceful ‘love-ins’ and rallies in Griffith and Elysian Parks … harassed kids selling the ‘underground’ LA Free Press, raided coffeehouses and folk clubs, and invoked ‘obscenity’ as an excuse to crack down on artists, poets and theatre groups. No other major city outside of the Deep ...

Above it all

Stephen Sedley, 7 April 1994

Suing Judges: A Study of Judicial Immunity 
by Abimbola Olowofoyeku.
Oxford, 234 pp., £27.50, December 1993, 0 19 825793 7
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The Independence of the Judiciary: The View from the Lord Chancellor’s Office 
by Robert Stevens.
Oxford, 221 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 19 825815 1
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... well-known fact that all a working man would ever do with a large award of damages was buy a pub. Robert Stevens in a footnote cites a nice antidote from a law lord in 1833: ‘Here is a contract made by a fishmonger and a carrier of fish who know their business, and whether it is just and reasonable is to be settled by me who am neither fishmonger nor ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair, 21 February 2013

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... he just couldn’t take it.’ The press, though, were being given a lead by the lawyers. Mervyn Griffith-Jones, in his closing address for the prosecution at Ward’s trial (a role he had also performed at the ‘Lady Chatterley’ trial three years earlier), told the jurors that ‘the evil goes very deep.’ Ward, they were repeatedly reminded, was a man ...


Gavin Millar, 13 September 1990

Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles 
by Frank Brady.
Hodder, 655 pp., £18.95, January 1990, 0 340 51389 6
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If this was happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 312 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79630 5
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Norma Shearer 
by Gavin Lambert.
Hodder, 381 pp., £17.95, August 1990, 0 340 52947 4
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Ava’s Men: The Private Life of Ava Gardner 
by Jane Ellen Wayne.
Robson, 268 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 86051 636 9
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Goldwyn: A Biography 
by Scott Berg.
Hamish Hamilton, 579 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 241 12832 3
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The Genius of the System: Hollywood Film-Making in the Studio Era 
by Thomas Schatz.
Simon and Schuster, 514 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 671 69708 0
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... pulled the piece in the second edition and admonished the journalist. Even Brady is persuaded that Robert Wise’s defensive protestations about the editing of The Magnificent Ambersons amount to a proven charge of obscurity and indecisiveness on Welles’s part. But the memo from Welles to Wise that he quotes from as evidence is perfectly ...

Ah, how miserable!

Emily Wilson: Three New Oresteias, 8 October 2020

The Oresteia 
by Aeschylus, translated by Oliver Taplin.
Liveright, 172 pp., £17.99, November 2018, 978 1 63149 466 6
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The Oresteia 
by Aeschylus, translated by Jeffrey Scott Bernstein.
Carcanet, 288 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 78410 873 1
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The Oresteia 
by Aeschylus, translated by David Mulroy.
Wisconsin, 234 pp., £17.50, April 2018, 978 0 299 31564 1
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... there is a serious risk of substituting crabbed obscurity for an enigmatic richness of expression. Robert Browning’s 1877 version of Agamemnon is arguably more difficult to understand than the Greek:Not gently-grieving, not just doling outThe drops of expiation – no, nor tears distilled –Shall he we know of bring the hard aboutTo soft – that intense ...

What are judges for?

Conor Gearty, 25 January 2001

... who have made the articulation of such an insight part of their project, writers such as John Griffith (The Politics of the Judiciary) and Patrick McAuslan (The Ideologies of Planning Law), have found themselves exposed on this account alone to partisan attack. Murray Hunt has perhaps explained it best, observing in a recent essay that ‘it is a defining ...

A Belated Encounter

Perry Anderson: My father’s career in the Chinese Customs Service, 30 July 1998

... these beginnings, an extraordinary financial and quasi-political realm was built. Its architect, Robert Hart, was just 28 when he became Inspector-General in 1863. Rapidly winning the confidence of the Chi’ng court, he went on to create the first modern administrative system in China. Its core was a fiscal bureaucracy that assured the late imperial state ...

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