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All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union, 19 October 2000

British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... up to’, browbeating, placating and schmoozing with union leaders than with any other group. Robert Taylor’s close account of the TUC has in it some wonderfully revealing passages on these (and other) periods: none so rich as the gathering of 1 June 1969 at Chequers which brought together Wilson, his First (and Employment) Secretary Barbara ...

Angry ’Un

Terry Eagleton, 8 July 1993

The Hand of the Arch-Sinner: Two Angrian Chronicles of Branwell Brontë 
edited by Robert Collins.
Oxford, 300 pp., £30, April 1993, 0 19 812258 6
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... child’ who speaks a kind of ‘gibberish’, and who will later be variously labelled beast, savage, demon and lunatic. It’s clear that this little Caliban has a nature on which nurture will never stick; and that’s merely an English way of saying that he’s quite possibly Irish. Later in the novel, Heathcliff will stage a mysterious disappearance ...

Gap-osis

E.S. Turner, 6 April 1995

Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty 
by Robert Friedel.
Norton, 288 pp., £16.95, February 1995, 0 393 03599 9
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... poppers, hooks, studs, laces, toggles, drawstrings, safety-pins and even old-time fibulae? But, as Robert Friedel shows, the passion for novelty has become the real mother of invention; necessity rarely enters into it. Today the greatness of a nation is measured by the aggregated lengths of zipper to be found in its people’s wardrobes. The zipper has ceased ...

Time of the Red-Man

Mark Ford: James Fenimore Cooper, 25 September 2008

James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years 
by Wayne Franklin.
Yale, 708 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 0 300 10805 7
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... for instance, Natty rescues one of the twice-captured maidens from the grip of an especially savage, cunning and evil Indian by dressing up in a conjurer’s bear costume and imitating the animal’s loping waddle so skilfully that he goes undetected, while Chingachgook fools the warriors of an enemy tribe by donning a furry mask and pretending to be a ...

It ain’t him, babe

Danny Karlin, 5 February 1987

No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan 
by Robert Shelton.
New English Library, 573 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 450 04843 8
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... time.’ (Dave Van Ronk said that.) That must be how every interviewer feels – except, it seems, Robert Shelton. It’s 1966: Dylan is talking to Shelton, whose book about him he has agreed to countenance, if not to ‘authorise’. He says something about his relationship with Joan Baez, and then asks: ‘Can you write this in your book? If you ...

Porcupined

John Bayley, 22 June 1989

The Essential Wyndham Lewis 
edited by Julian Symons.
Deutsch, 380 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 0 233 98376 7
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... surprising judgment. Yeats is more plausible when he hailed Jarry’s Ubu Roi as evangelist of the Savage God who was to come. But in retrospect the prophecies of apocalyptic brutality, the day when all civilised pretence shall have its end, seem, where the writers who made them are concerned, to have gone off rather at half-cock. Nietzsche is the first in ...

With the wind in our shrouds

Mary Beard, 26 July 1990

The Making of ‘The Golden Bough’: The Origin and Growth of an Argument 
by Robert Fraser.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £35, July 1990, 0 333 49631 0
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... went on to reassure their readers that Sir James ‘is fond of saying that he has never seen a savage in his life; his books are the outcome of research into original scientific work.’ This was, in fact, exactly what Frazer did say to the gossip columnist of the Sunday Chronicle in conversation at a literary lunch in August 1937. The ignorant columnist ...

Doctors’ Orders

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 18 February 1982

‘All that summer she was mad’: Virginia Woolf and Her Doctors 
by Stephen Trombley.
Junction, 338 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 9780862450397
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... to a friend when the crisis had passed. And yet that tyrannical, and as I think, shortsighted Savage insists upon another two ... really a doctor is worse than a husband! Oh how thankful I shall be to be my own mistress and throw their silly medicines down the slop pail! I never shall believe, or have believed, in anything any doctor says – I learnt ...

Intimate Strangers

Thomas Jones: A.L. Kennedy’s new novel, 7 October 2004

Paradise 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 344 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 0 224 06258 1
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... that she would only produce under pressure, then ‘but now she has moved on’ is layered with a savage faith and tenderness and is none of Mrs Anderson’s business. The relationship at the heart of Paradise, the love story that gives the novel what shape it has (drink has a tendency to make things lose their shape), is between Hannah and ...

I wish she’d been a dog

Elaine Showalter, 7 February 1991

Jean Stafford: The Savage Heart 
by Charlotte Margolis Goodman.
Texas, 394 pp., $24.95, May 1990, 0 292 74022 0
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... Boulder, Colorado, agreed to go for a ride in his father’s Packard with her 21-year-old suitor Robert Lowell. They had met the year before at a Colorado Writers’ Conference, and Lowell had been courting her intensely through the mails. When she refused to marry him, however, Lowell went into a rage and crashed the car into an embankment. He was unhurt ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... and behaviour in these matters greatly offended the susceptibilities of the chivalrous young Robert Bridges, who from then on avoided him. And yet there is a curious resemblance between the pattern of Butler’s behaviour and that of the exponents of courtly love in the Middle Ages: the same rigid separation between sex, on the one hand, and ...

Porky-Talky

Frank Cioffi, 22 September 1994

A Pack of Lies: Towards a Sociology of Lying 
by J.A. Barnes.
Cambridge, 200 pp., £35, June 1994, 0 521 45376 3
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... tomorrow, tomorrow we will devise other stratagems.’ According to Samuel Johnson, his friend Savage manifested a comparable ingenuity in distorted ratiocination: ‘Savage ... did not suffer his esteem of himself to depend upon others ... he contented himself with the applause of men of judgment; and was somewhat ...

Where mine is at

Gordon Burn, 28 May 1992

Outerbridge Reach 
by Robert Stone.
Deutsch, 409 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 223 98774 3
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... When Robert Stone’s best-known novel, Dog Soldiers, was published in 1974, there was a small but significant overlap of material with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s souped-up, superheated journalistic account of the beginnings of the counterculture, published six years earlier. The coincidence of material was in many ways inevitable ...

Why Mr Fax got it wrong

Roy Porter: Population history, 5 March 1998

English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Davies.
Cambridge, 657 pp., £60, July 1997, 0 521 59015 9
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The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 427 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 631 18117 2
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... two hundred years ago this year, An Essay on the Principle of Population made the Rev. Thomas Robert malthus into the man of the moment. Malthus’s principle – that population inevitably outruns food resources – was heralded by some as the decisive scientific refutation of the mad perfectibilist schemes of the French Revolutionaries and their English ...

Aunt Twackie’s Bazaar

Andy Beckett: Seventies Style, 19 August 2010

70s Style and Design 
by Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.90, November 2009, 978 0 500 51483 2
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... the main ways Britons have chewed over their postwar history. In 1988, the cultural historian Jon Savage, who had spent the 1970s as a young rock journalist writing doomy but excited pieces about punk and urban decay, published a cover feature about the decade for the style magazine the Face. It was headlined ‘The Decade that Taste Forgot’. The ...

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