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Literature and the Left

Marilyn Butler, 18 August 1983

English Literature in History: 1730-80: An Equal, Wide Survey 
edited by Raymond Williams, by John Barrell.
Hutchinson, 228 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149820 1
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English Literature in History: 1350-1400: Medieval Readers and Writers 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Janet Coleman.
Hutchinson, 337 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 09 144100 5
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English Literature in History: 1780-1830: Pastoral and Politics 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Roger Sales.
Hutchinson, 247 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149830 9
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The Cambridge Guide to English Literature 
by Michael Stapleton.
Cambridge/Newnes Books, 992 pp., £15, April 1983, 9780521256476
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... took his editorial role to be. The need for editorial intervention was far more clearcut with Roger Sales’s book on the Romantic period. It’s hard to envisage what went on in Williams’s mind when he let this one through. True, Sales obeys the editorial brief in one respect better than Coleman does: he writes ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: Fox News President, 5 November 2020

... a feint?In his new introduction to The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country, Gabriel Sherman suggests that I wouldn’t have been quite so stupid if I’d been watching Fox News (or if I’d read his book when it first came out in 2014). Before Trump announced that he was running for ...

Mozart’s Rascal

Roger Parker, 23 May 1991

Mozart in Vienna 1781-1791 
by Volkmar Braunbehrens.
Deutsch, 481 pp., £17.95, June 1990, 9780233985596
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The Mozart Compendium 
edited by H.C. Robbins Landon.
Thames and Hudson, 452 pp., £24.95, September 1990, 0 500 01481 7
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Mozart and Vienna 
by H.C. Robbins Landon.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £16.95, February 1991, 0 500 01506 6
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Mozart’s Thematic Catalogue: A Facsimile 
introduced and transcribed by Albi Rosenthal and Alan Tyson.
British Library, 57 pp., £25, November 1990, 0 7123 0202 6
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The Compleat Mozart: A Guide to the Musical Works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 
edited by Neal Zaslaw and William Cowdery.
Norton, 351 pp., £19.95, April 1991, 0 393 02886 0
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... considerable sums, and although he netted a modest court appointment and continued to profit from sales to publishers, his income decreased, perhaps sharply: he was obliged to move into less luxurious accommodation and, increasingly, to borrow from friends. However, by 1791 he was again in the ascendant: the success of The Magic Flute was impressive, he was ...

Could it have been different?

Roger Southall: R.W. Johnson’s South Africa, 8 October 2009

South Africa’s Brave New World: The Beloved Country since the End of Apartheid 
by R.W. Johnson.
Allen Lane, 701 pp., £25, April 2009, 978 0 7139 9538 1
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... Democratic Alliance member of parliament had broken the law by disclosing the details of arms sales to countries with dubious human rights records; the electricity supplier, Eskom, had been forced to suspend a 24 billion rand agreement to receive power from Botswana because it had run out of money; and a new cabinet member had praised the efficacy of ...

Unplug the car and let’s go!

John Sutherland, 21 August 1997

The Car that Could: The Inside Story of GM’s Revolutionary Electric Vehicle 
by Michael Shnayerson.
Random House, 295 pp., $25, November 1996, 9780679421054
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... The future seemed bright. In 1900 electrical vehicles accounted for 38 per cent of all new vehicle sales in America; noisy (and lethal) steam-powered machines accounted for 40 per cent and smelly gasoline-powered automobiles had a minority 22 per cent share of the market. When, in 1901, President McKinley sustained his mortal gunshot wounds, he was wafted ...

Juiced

David Runciman: Winners Do Drugs, 3 August 2006

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports 
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Gotham, 332 pp., $26, March 2006, 1 59240 199 6
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... Inside a shopping mall in Fargo, North Dakota there is a museum dedicated to the memory of Roger Maris, one-time star of the New York Yankees and home run champion of baseball. When I visited in the mid-1990s I thought it was the saddest museum I had ever seen. The reason it lurks in the entrance to a mall – just a few glass-fronted displays of old shirts, balls and assorted memorabilia for people to glance at on their way to spend money on something else – is that Maris made it clear before his death from lymphoma at the age of 51 that he didn’t want anyone to make a fuss ...

At Turner Contemporary

Eleanor Birne: ‘Curiosity’, 18 July 2013

... the 1850s and 1890s, to a collection of agates, alabaster, quartz and jasper put together by Roger Caillois, a collaborator of Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris, to a vitrine displaying tiny artworks made from split lengths of human hair, collected by the artist Susan Hiller, to Richard Wentworth’s snapshots of traffic cones or abandoned gloves or old ...

Like Frogs around a Pond

Nigel McGilchrist: The Mediterranean, 22 March 2012

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean 
by David Abulafia.
Allen Lane, 783 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 7139 9934 1
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... them attack the prosperous trading entrepot of Mahdia on the Tunisian coast. In response, Count Roger I – a handsome, forthright and pragmatic man – ‘lifted his thigh, made a great fart’ and complained about the trouble that would result: ‘Commerce in foodstuffs will pass into their hands from those of the Sicilians, and I shall lose to them what ...

At the Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh

Tom Crewe: Roger Fenton, 16 November 2017

... There are​ two portraits Roger Fenton took of himself, separated by only a year, one of them in the exhibition of his photographs of the Crimean War at the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh (until 26 November) and the other not. The first, from 1854, seems conventional: we see a Victorian gentleman – hair parted, beard trimmed to cover only the underside of his face, leaving the strong chin to fight its own battles – seated in a chair, his arm resting on a covered table ...

Monuments to Famine

Alex de Waal, 7 March 2019

... burning villages, ‘an aspect which may shock the humanitarian’. Half a century later, Colonel Roger Trinquier, adviser on French counterinsurgency in Indochina and Algeria, wrote that it was necessary to ‘make the ground unsuitable’ for the guerrilla: Anything that could facilitate the existence of guerrillas in any way, or which could conceivably be ...

The Case of Agatha Christie

John Lanchester, 20 December 2018

... to write about detective fiction, Edmund Wilson, in his 1945 essay-review, ‘Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?’ Her writing is of a mawkishness and banality that seem to me literally impossible to read. You cannot read such a book, you run through it to see the problem worked out; and you cannot become interested in the characters, because they never can ...

Top Dog

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 6 December 1990

Nippon, New Superpower: Japan since 1945 
by William Horsley and Roger Buckley.
BBC, 278 pp., £15, November 1990, 0 563 20875 9
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United Nations Human Development Report 1990 
by Mahbub al Haq.
Oxford, 189 pp., £9.95, May 1990, 9780195064810
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Nationalism and International Society 
by James Mayall.
Cambridge, 175 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 521 37312 3
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The International Relations of Japan 
edited by Kathleen Newland.
Macmillan, 232 pp., £40, November 1990, 0 333 53456 5
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... largest banks and the 21 largest financial institutions are also Japanese. As William Horsley and Roger Buckley observe in their vivid review of the past 45 years, it is not surprising that by 1983, the Japanese prime minister had come in from the edge of the photographs that are taken at the end of international summits and was seen beaming between Reagan ...

Starting up

Peter Clarke, 6 November 1986

The German Slump: Politics and Economics 1924-1936 
by Harold James.
Oxford, 469 pp., £30, March 1986, 0 19 821972 5
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The Making of Keynes’s General Theory 
by Richard Kahn.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £20, May 1984, 9780521253734
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Towards the Managed Economy: Keynes, the Treasury and the Fiscal Policy Debate of the 1930s 
by Roger Middleton.
Methuen, 244 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 416 35830 6
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Keynes and his Contemporaries 
edited by G.C. Harcourt.
Macmillan, 195 pp., £22.50, October 1985, 0 333 34687 4
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The Policy Consequences of John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Harold Wattel.
Macmillan, 157 pp., £29.50, April 1986, 0 333 41340 7
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... by several economic historians who have worked on the Treasury papers, and it is reiterated in Roger Middleton’s book on the debate over fiscal policy in the Thirties. He contends that ‘the opposition to large-scale public works was essentially a “Whitehall view”. Whilst the theoretical, or strictly economic, constituent of this view was publicly ...

Flowery Regions of Algebra

Simon Schaffer: Pierre Simon Laplace, 14 December 2006

Pierre Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Determined Scientist 
by Roger Hahn.
Harvard, 310 pp., £21.95, November 2005, 0 674 01892 3
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... the Bourbon restoration as a newly ennobled marquis and grand old man of the establishment. Roger Hahn has been studying this career for half a century. He has located letters and papers thought to be lost, written on the tough problems of Laplace’s religious beliefs and his relation with Newtonian cosmology, and at last written a new biography, first ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes, 26 January 2012

The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?’ snapped Edmund Wilson, writing in the New Yorker in 1945. He refused to find out who did, because he’d already discovered that Agatha Christie’s books were garbage and that he couldn’t put them down. This is what you’d expect. Wilson was a literary prude, and detective stories are literature’s oldest profession ...

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