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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 
edited by T.F. Hoad.
Oxford, 552 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780198611820
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Dictionary of Changes in Meaning 
by Adrian Room.
Routledge, 292 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7102 0341 1
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The Story of English 
by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert McNeil.
Faber/BBC, 384 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 563 20247 5
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Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. I: Introduction and A-C 
edited by Frederic Cassidy.
Harvard, 903 pp., $60, July 1985, 0 674 20511 1
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... Thomas Hardy once told Robert Graves how he had gone to the Oxford English Dictionary to confirm the existence of a dialect word he proposed to use in a poem, and came to a standstill because the only authority quoted for it was his own Under the Greenwood Tree. This is an acute case of our dependence on dictionaries, and illustrates the commonest reason for resorting to them ...

Out of the closet

Tom Paulin, 29 October 1987

Emily Dickinson 
by Helen McNeil.
Virago, 208 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 0 86068 619 1
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Emily Dickinson: Looking to Canaan 
by John Robinson.
Faber, 191 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13943 4
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Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar 
by Christanne Miller.
Harvard, 212 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 674 25035 4
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Emily Dickinson: The Poet on the Second Story 
by Jerome Loving.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £20, April 1987, 0 521 32781 4
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... were used freely as value-judgments in critical discourse. As Helen McNeil points out in her centenary study, Emily Dickinson entered the 20th century seeming to have written a series of ‘over-sensitive, coy, rather ill-disciplined poems’. Feminist critics have challenged this sexist view of her writing, and argued that she ...

Bohemian in Vitebsk

J. Hoberman: Red Chagall, 9 April 2009

Chagall: Love and Exile 
by Jackie Wullschlager.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, October 2008, 978 0 7139 9652 4
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... and the other artists who could be considered Yiddish modernists – the painters Nathan Altman, Robert Falk and, for a time, El Lissitzky, the composers Lev Pulver and Moshe Milner, the writer who called himself Der Nister – were defined by the struggle to integrate these two tendencies. ‘Our first imprimatur is our modernism, our leftism and our ...

The way out of a room is not through the door

Christian Lorentzen: Charles Manson, 7 November 2013

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson 
by Jeff Guinn.
Simon and Schuster, 495 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 0 85720 893 4
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... their son, Charles Luther.) He got a ten-year sentence. In 1961, he entered the federal prison on McNeil Island in Puget Sound, where he discovered Scientology, read Robert Heinlein’s science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and first heard the Beatles. From Scientology, he took ideas that he would combine with ...

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