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Doris Lessing’s Space Fiction

Robert Taubman, 20 December 1979

Shikasta 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 365 pp., £5.95
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Fergus Lamont 
by Robin Jenkins.
Canongate, 293 pp., £7.95
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A Married Man 
by Piers Paul Read.
Alison Press/Secker, 264 pp., £5.25
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And Again? 
by Sean O’Faolain.
Constable, 267 pp., £5.95
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... from indulgent and exploitative connotations. Or at least to re-examine, at first hand. Robin Jenkins writes with a lively talent about a town he calls Gantock, on the Clyde, in the first forty years of this century, and yet it’s disappointing that his particular successes in Fergus Lamont are clearly within the old tradition. This is the ...

I am a false alarm

Robert Irwin: Khalil Gibran, 3 September 1998

Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet 
by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins.
One World, 372 pp., £18.99, August 1998, 1 85168 177 9
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Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran 
by Robin Waterfield.
Allen Lane, 366 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 7139 9209 3
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... and managed to be soupily soulful and vaguely prophetic in both languages. He also painted – Robin Waterfield’s biography is good on the recurring features of his art, including its ‘vague ectoplasmic figures, often female’ and the ‘veil of mist as a symbol for the dim access the normal human mind has to higher worlds’. Most of Gibran’s ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... his teacup in a very refined way, though his partly averted face is aggressively tense. Clive Jenkins is a smiling serpent, Muggeridge has an accusing face and defensive hands. Betjeman, looking amusingly miserable, is on his knees. Among the bull’s-eyes are Robin Day, Ian Paisley, David Owen, Douglas Hurd, Kenneth ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Wonder Woman’, 12 July 2017

Wonder Woman 
directed by Patty Jenkins.
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... she doesn’t really belong in the movie at all: she’s a living trailer for her own film, Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, which is now breaking all kinds of box office records. Batman does look her up on a database of metahumans, though. Not quite the right category, since she is not human at all, she was moulded by her mother from clay fertilised by the ...

On the State of the Left

W.G. Runciman, 17 December 1981

The Forward March of Labour Halted? 
by Eric Hobsbawm, Ken Gill and Tony Benn.
Verso, 182 pp., £8.50, November 1981, 0 86091 041 5
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... votes being cast for Margaret Thatcher but might, even now, lead to their being switched to Roy Jenkins instead of Tony Benn. It is true that the record of an internal debate among the committed is not to be read as a prospectus for potential converts. But the cries of disappointment and betrayal, the denunciations of the media, Harold Wilson and the ...

Born Again

Phillip Whitehead, 19 February 1981

Face the future 
by David Owen.
Cape, 552 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 224 01956 2
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... up again and again in this book. It was quite clear from their recent television discussion, with Robin Day trying to play the parson and Frances Morell as a disdainful bridesmaid, that any marriage between David Owen and David Steel is a long way off. For one thing, Steel is in danger of being rumbled for the social democratic infiltrator which he is in a ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?, 20 August 2014

Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... up the now familiar and haunting spectre of urban alienation’. Alison and Peter Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar is a ‘particularly depressing place to live in’, with an ‘almost manic system of walls and moats’, mainly an ‘example of the late modernist avant-garde determination to realise a theoretical position at all costs’. Even ...

What Blair Threw Away

Ross McKibbin: Feckless, Irresponsible and Back in Power, 19 May 2005

... just as he cannot contemplate Britain without a nuclear ‘deterrent’. Thus he commissioned Roy Jenkins to propose electoral reforms and then ignored the proposals. He set about reforming the Lords, but only mutilated it, and left its membership to the whims of the prime minister of the day. If Blair is worried about his reputation, a reform of the ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: You had better look out, 10 December 1998

... Ltd by Blair & Co. Nor did I expect to be reproved, however gently, for indiscretion by Simon Jenkins on the op-ed page of the Times – as if I hadn’t cleared what I proposed to print with anyone quoted directly who might have suffered in consequence, or would have dreamed of disclosing to LRB readers without Simon’s express permission what he had ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... front, chins thrust forward, as if on their way to a Royal Marine assault course. Next appears Robin Cook, who is led aside by Alastair Campbell and rehearsed in conspiratorial whispers about what he is to say to the reptiles waiting across the road. Cook, whom I’ve never met, gives me a quick, suspicious look. Alastair, whom I have, carefully ignores ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where was I in 1987?, 10 December 1987

... it had reached 50p and £1. To some extent he shaped his price to the customer, though not in a Robin Hood sort of way, the poorer customers often getting charged more, and any attempt to bargain having the same effect. I have two American clocks, both in working order, that were five shillings apiece and an early Mason’s Ironstone soup dish that cost ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... of 1940 and premier intelligencer thereafter (... and Science), Norman Rose (and Zionism) and Roy Jenkins (the Government of 1951-55) are predictably good. The uneven John Keegan (... ’s Strategy), though seemingly disqualified by his recent published confession that he cannot understand Clausewitz, nevertheless succeeds here, correctly citing the one ...

What is Labour for?

John Lanchester: Five More Years of This?, 31 March 2005

David Blunkett 
by Stephen Pollard.
Hodder, 359 pp., £20, December 2004, 0 340 82534 0
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... the bill [hanging all sorts of unrelated measures onto a central spine], as Robin Cook used to call it.’ He could hardly be more candid than that. The last time the securocrats got so far with their assault on liberty was the introduction of internment in Northern Ireland in 1971. This was a disaster, for two reasons: a. it radicalised ...

Back to Runnymede

Ferdinand Mount: Magna Carta, 23 April 2015

Magna Carta 
by David Carpenter.
Penguin, 594 pp., £10.99, January 2015, 978 0 241 95337 2
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Magna Carta Uncovered 
by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge.
Hart, 222 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 1 84946 556 4
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Magna Carta 
by J.C. Holt.
Cambridge, 488 pp., £21.99, May 2015, 978 1 107 47157 3
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Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015 
by Nicholas Vincent.
Third Millennium, 192 pp., £44.95, January 2015, 978 1 908990 28 0
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Magna Carta: The Making and Legacy of the Great Charter 
by Dan Jones.
Head of Zeus, 192 pp., £14.99, December 2014, 978 1 78185 885 1
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... remained law well into the 19th century. Nine clauses survived the Victorian tidying up, until Roy Jenkins in 1965 set up the Law Commission, which carried out a further winnowing. Even today we still have Clause 40 about not selling, denying or delaying justice, and Clause 39, that no free man is to be imprisoned or dispossessed ‘save by the lawful judgment ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... every issue raised by the action group, but it was never enough; they bombarded us with round-robin emails and to my knowledge we tried to keep on top of them. It’s not easy when the TMO had 6500 other social tenants and 2500 leaseholders to help in the borough. But this Grenfell group was political. They hated everything the council and the TMO did, no ...

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