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Sean Wilsey: Rats!, 17 March 2005

Rats: A Year with New York’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants 
by Robert Sullivan.
Granta, 242 pp., £12.99, January 2005, 1 86207 761 4
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... Baby rats. Thrashy rats. Ugly, dirty scratchy rats. Funny, jumpy cute rats.’ And then there is Robert Sullivan’s delightful and revolting Rats, the most exhaustive, nauseating and pleasurable compendium of rat facts ever set down. Facts such as: wherever there are human beings, there are rats. China is where the rat originated, and where you can ...

A Kind of Integrity

Jonathan Barnes, 6 November 1986

Philosophical Apprenticeships 
by Hans-Georg Gadamer, translated by Robert Sullivan.
MIT, 198 pp., £13.95, October 1985, 0 262 07092 8
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The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy 
by Hans-Georg Gadamer, translated by Christopher Smith.
Yale, 182 pp., £18, June 1986, 0 300 03463 6
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... Hans-Georg Gadamer ranks as one of Germany’s foremost philosophers. He occupied a chair at Heidelberg for quarter of a century, during which time his lecturing skills and a steady flow of publications brought him a reputation and a following second to none. Since his retirement he has divided his time between Germany and North America. Many of his writings have been translated, and the English version of his major work on Truth and Method has helped to extend his fame ...

Snarly Glitters

August Kleinzahler: Roy Fisher, 20 April 2006

The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 
by Roy Fisher.
Bloodaxe, 400 pp., £12, June 2005, 1 85224 701 0
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... In a 1979 review of Roy Fisher’s collection of poems The Thing about Joe Sullivan, probably the most likeable collection by a not always likeable poet, John Ash wrote: ‘In a better world, he would be as widely known and highly praised as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.’ This would be a very strange world, and not necessarily a better one ...

What a Woman!

J.L. Nelson: Joan of Arc, 19 October 2000

Joan of Arc 
by Mary Gordon.
Weidenfeld, 168 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 297 64568 4
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Joan of Arc: A Military Leader 
by Kelly DeVries.
Sutton, 242 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7509 1805 5
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The Interrogation of Joan of Arc 
by Karen Sullivan.
Minnesota, 208 pp., £30, November 1999, 0 8166 3267 7
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... necessary for her to come into France . . . to raise the siege of Orléans . . . and to go to Robert de Beaudricourt in the town of Vaucouleurs, the captain of that place, that he would give her people to go with her.’ DeVries assigns priority to Joan’s experience of the ‘voice’, and suggests that ‘Burgundian troops’ burned the church at ...

Upstaging

Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... of The Magic Flute (all of this under the auspices of the American director Peter Sellars). Robert Lowell meant to write a libretto and duly boned up with intensive attendance at the New York Met, but never delivered. John Ashbery has not, so far as I know, produced a libretto – only the poem, ‘Syringa’, specially composed for a setting by Elliott ...

The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969, 15 August 2019

Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... site. Performers included Miley Cyrus and Jay-Z. A few wrinkly legends, including the Zombies and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin famously turned down the offer to play fifty years ago) were also billed, alongside veterans from the founding festival: Santana, David Crosby, Country Joe McDonald, the remains of the Grateful Dead, Canned Heat and others. But ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Like a Prep School, 10 January 1991

... had introduced Cannadine and Cannadine had given us an encouragingly comical puff for his book, Robert Rhodes James reminded us that Lloyd George, despite doing so much to reduce the Upper House to impotence and discredit, had ended his days as Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, and then led us off down miles of corridors to a cellar under St Stephen’s Hall ...

After the Woolwich

Frank Kermode, 7 February 1991

Spanner and Pen: Post-War Memoirs 
by Roy Fuller.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 190 pp., £16.95, February 1991, 1 85619 040 4
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... not be easy to name more recent comedians likely to win his approval. He quotes a letter from Robert Graves which, although it is about the poetry, gives an accurate representation of the way Fuller often sees his personality: ‘oppressed, stoical, humorous’, and not given to ‘chancing his arm’. There are various asides in which he speaks of a ...

Summer Simmer

Tom Vanderbilt: Chicago heatwaves, 22 August 2002

Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago 
by Eric Klinenberg.
Chicago, 305 pp., £19.50, August 2002, 0 226 44321 3
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... summer, we have the heat index, first proposed in 1979 by the Australian environmental scientist Robert Steadman in an article in the Journal of Applied Meteorology entitled ‘The Assessment of Sultriness Part I: A Temperature-Humidity Index Based on Human Physiology and Clothing Science’. Steadman’s index depends on two variables – temperature and ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... great-grandsons,’ Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe write without a trace of irony. One of these was Robert Hanson, the great James’s father, through whose veins the entrepreneurial spirit pulsed so fiercely that he stored other people’s furniture in a warehouse next to a garage packed with petrol. One day, the whole thing went up in smoke, which was ...
From Bauhaus to Our House 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 143 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 02030 7
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... it comes at the weary end of a line that stretches through books by Peter Blake, Brent Brolin, Robert Venturi and others right back to Jane Jacobs’s epoch-breaking attack on Le Corbusier in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, over twenty years ago. Of course, all this has guaranteed Wolfe a readership whose anti-modern reflexes had been well ...

Identity Parade

Linda Colley, 25 February 1993

People and Places: Country House Donors and the National Trust 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 232 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 7195 5145 5
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The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 
by Michael Dobson.
Oxford, 266 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 19 811233 5
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Myths of the English 
edited by Roy Porter.
Polity, 280 pp., £39.50, October 1992, 0 7456 0844 2
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Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States 
by Stephen Daniels.
Polity, 257 pp., £39.50, November 1992, 0 7456 0450 1
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... contributed to the undermining of Britishness. One reason for this, as the Party’s historian Robert Blake comments, is that Tories have always tended towards English nationalism, enjoying electoral paramountcy in the Southern counties, but possessed of far less secure roots in the North or in Wales or in Scotland. Predictably, therefore, the recent ...

In the Teeth of the Gale

A.D. Nuttall, 16 November 1995

The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation 
edited by Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule.
Oxford, 606 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 19 214209 7
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... to do with Pindar. Elsewhere, when a certain grossness is needed, the chance is missed. Both Sir Robert Stapylton (1647) and Henry Fielding (1743) have a go at translating Juvenal’s ferocious account of the profligate Empress Messalina working as a prostitute in a Roman brothel and both suppress Juvenal’s reference to gilded nipples (‘papillis ...

The Man Who Never Glared

John Pemble: Disraeli, 5 December 2013

Disraeli: or, The Two Lives 
by Douglas Hurd and Edward Young.
Orion, 320 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86097 6
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The Great Rivalry: Gladstone and Disraeli 
by Dick Leonard.
I.B. Tauris, 226 pp., £22.50, June 2013, 978 1 84885 925 8
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Disraeli: The Romance of Politics 
by Robert O’Kell.
Toronto, 595 pp., £66.99, February 2013, 978 1 4426 4459 5
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... reinvents himself as a Tory: the Tories are now led by his contemporary and old school friend, Robert Peel. At Harrow, Peel was a model pupil; Byron was a madcap, and he still thinks a lot more of Peel than Peel thinks of him. Peel is committed to transforming the Tory Party. He’s out of sympathy with horsey aristocrats, rustic squires, dissolute ...

Riches to riches

John Brooks, 20 November 1986

Bend’Or, Duke of Westminster: A Personal Memoir 
by George Ridley.
Robin Clark, 213 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 86072 096 9
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Getty: The Richest Man in the World 
by Robert Lenzner.
Hutchinson, 283 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 09 162840 7
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... The plutocracy in a democratic state,’ wrote Mencken in a passage Robert Lenzner has chosen as epigraph for his book, ‘tends to take the place of the missing aristocracy ... It is, of course, something quite different. It lacks all the essential character of a true aristocracy: a clean tradition, culture, public spirit, honesty, courage ...

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