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Little Nips

Penelope Fitzgerald, 26 May 1994

The Moment between the Past and the Future 
by Grigorij Baklanov, translated by Catherine Porter.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 16444 7
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The Soul of a Patriot 
by Evgeny Popov, translated by Robert Porter.
Harvill, 194 pp., £8.99, April 1994, 0 00 271124 9
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... most of these details from the helpful introduction to The Soul of a Patriot by its translator, Robert Porter. The manuscript had to wait ‘in the desk-drawer’ until 1989 before it was published in Russia, and it is the first of Popov’s novels to be published in English. Porter tells us that in an interview ...

Fashville

Robert Tashman, 9 March 1995

Prêt-à-Porter 
directed by Robert Altman.
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... a big business, but not, as it is now, a corporate power that crosses national and class borders. Robert Altman’s new film, Prêt-à-Porter, is like La Dolce Vita grafted onto Funny Face. The unaffected and trusting Hepburn and Astaire would be marginalised or crushed in the fashion world portrayed here. Altman has never ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter, 6 October 2011

The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... end in marriage. It did not. She married instead a 30-year-old advertising copywriter called Peter Porter. He was an Australian immigrant in London, and had written a lot of poems, but published relatively few; she was a nurse who seemed ‘very English’ in accent and tastes, and was admired for having a figure like a ballet dancer. They set up home together ...

At the Connaught

Robert Morley, 5 May 1983

An Orderly Man 
by Dirk Bogarde.
Chatto, 291 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 7011 2659 0
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... madness. It is a lesson many actors never learn. Of whom was he thinking do you suppose? Possibly Robert Mitchum. Certainly his own concentration is remarkable. In An Orderly Man there are no less than five colour photographs of his home in Provence. Once a shepherd’s cottage and now the sort of property you find advertised for sale in the back pages of ...

Something an academic might experience

Michael Neve, 26 September 1991

The Faber Book of Madness 
edited by Roy Porter.
Faber, 572 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 14387 3
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... shared by the social services who now look after him. It is a tribute to the social historian Roy Porter that he has devoted three books, and any number of articles, to the history of the John Sylvesters of this world. A prodigious historian, Porter has done the work that French historians can only theorise about. He has ...

Highway to Modernity

Colin Kidd: The British Enlightenment, 8 March 2001

Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World 
by Roy Porter.
Allen Lane, 728 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7139 9152 6
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... the Augustan age by a variegated cast of libertine rakes, deists and heterodox theologians. Roy Porter detects in Redwood’s book ‘a decidedly rum case: incapable of mounting a truly rational critique of Throne and Altar, rationalist enemies of the Establishment had, rather caddishly, stooped to raillery and ridicule.’ However, Redwood’s book had its ...

Britain takes the biscuit

Gordon Brown and Geoff Mulgan, 25 October 1990

The Competitive Advantage of Nations 
by Michael Porter.
Macmillan, 855 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 333 51804 7
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... Yugoslav and why the average Scot earns less than the average English man or woman. Michael Porter’s The Competitive Advantage of Nations is audacious (or foolhardy) enough to offer an answer. Its aim is nothing less than a systematic explanation of the wealth of nations, with 52 pages of policy recommendations added on for good measure. ...

Lumpers v. Splitters

Ferdinand Mount: How to Build an Empire, 31 March 2016

British Imperial: What the Empire Wasn’t 
by Bernard Porter.
I.B. Tauris, 216 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78453 445 5
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Heroic Failure and the British 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Yale, 267 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 300 18006 0
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... to the diversity of the facts soon shades into an accusation of wilful distortion. Bernard Porter is a lifelong splitter. His studies in the history of the British Empire are designed to unpack the bundles of accepted theory and to point out, in a manner which usually manages to be both pugnacious and good-humoured, what the actual facts were. As he ...

Keepers

Andrew Scull, 29 September 1988

Mind Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency 
by Roy Porter.
Athlone, 412 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 485 11324 4
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The Past and the Present Revisited 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 440 pp., £19.95, October 1987, 0 7102 1253 4
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Sufferers and Healers: The Experience of Illness in 17th-Century England 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Routledge, 314 pp., £30, December 1987, 0 7102 1053 1
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Illness and Self in Society 
by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret, translated by Elborg Forster.
Johns Hopkins, 271 pp., £20.25, January 1988, 0 8018 3228 4
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Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 
by Hilary Marland.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £40, September 1987, 0 521 32575 7
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A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane 
by Roy Porter.
Weidenfeld, 261 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 297 79223 7
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... consensus of reformers and Whigs, Foucauldians and Anglo-Saxon revisionists, which Roy Porter’s dazzlingly written Mind Forg’d Manacles aims to upset. Examining the ‘long 18th century’ from the Restoration to the Regency, he attempts to provide the first systematic account of the evolution of attitudes to-wards insanity; of the emergence of ...

Living on Apple Crumble

August Kleinzahler: James Schuyler, 17 November 2005

Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-91 
edited by William Corbett.
Turtle Point, 470 pp., £13.99, May 2005, 1 885586 30 2
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... Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan, Alfred Leslie, Larry Rivers, Norman Bluhm and Fairfield Porter. It all made for a vigorous little scene, a fair bit of it played out at the Cedar Bar, then on 9th St in Greenwich Village, where, as O’Hara would later write, ‘we often wrote poems while listening to the painters argue and gossip.’ It’s a world ...

Before Foucault

Roy Porter, 25 January 1990

The Normal and the Pathological 
by Georges Canguilhem, translated by Carolyn Fawcett and Robert Cohen.
Zone, 327 pp., £21.95, June 1989, 0 942299 58 2
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... When is a disease not a disease? No quibbling academic riddle this, but a problem increasingly pressing upon medical practice and ethics alike. So many questions crowd in. Is it valid to talk of a person being ill without a disease, or having a disease without being sick? When and how do we draw dividing-lines between conditions, disabilities and abnormalities, on the one hand, and diseases, on the other? This can be a crucial issue when it comes to final authority in deciding the fate of severely-malformed babies ...

Subjects

Craig Raine, 6 October 1983

Peter PorterCollected Poems 
Oxford, 335 pp., £12.50, March 1983, 0 19 211948 6Show More
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... than others, however much we may protest that they are merely different? For instance, does Robert Lowell’s Life Studies intrigue us more than, say, Tony Harrison’s family reminiscences in Continuous? If so, is it because Lowell’s technique is more sophisticated and fluid than Harrison’s vigorously clanking sonnet sequence in which the rhymes ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd, 10 August 2000

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... revenge on Edmund Wilson; the witches of Eastwick (lacking only their Hardwick) have vented about Robert Lowell. To interview all the exes of Philip Rahv would be an undertaking from which the most committed Boswellian might recoil. (Though it’s fascinating to speculate what might have happened if Rahv and Mary McCarthy had made a go of it; a marriage ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Van Dyck’s Portraits, 12 March 2009

... painted in Rome in 1622. The daughter of a Christian Circassian chieftain, she had married Robert Shirley in Persia and is shown draped in a kind of tent of gold fabric – the effect of her clothes is splendidly exotic. Her thin-lipped, quizzical half-smile is less contrived than those of many of the court beauties. Clothes like hers offer a break ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania, 29 July 1999

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... No one should take comfort from the title of Roy Porter’s shaggy masterpiece of a history of medicine. ‘The Greatest Benefit to Mankind’ – the phrase is Dr Johnson’s – begs for a question-mark, a rising inflection of incredulity, if not outright disbelief. Porter is too ebullient, too much of an optimist, too little of a polemicist to supply the Rousseauian rejoinder: ‘An art more pernicious to men than all the ills it pretends to cure ...

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