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Plumping

J.I.M. Stewart, 19 March 1981

Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 246 pp., £8.95, March 1981, 0 19 502767 1
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... will get the point at once. And Lawrence is after the same thing, it seems, when he tells Betrand Russell that ‘the greatest living experience for every man is his adventure into the woman.’ A small but momentous journey has been achieved. Actual journeys abroad now required a passport. Once an optional privilege which could be enjoyed by important ...

Knife and Fork Question

Miles Taylor: The Chartist Movement, 29 November 2001

The Chartist Movement in Britain 1838-50 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, April 2001, 1 85196 330 8
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... Waterloo generation, as the opponents of Chartism all were – Napier and Wellington on horseback, Russell and Peel on the front bench – had seen how loyalism triumphed over revolution on a previous occasion. For the most part they slept more easily in 1848 than many historians of radicalism have suggested. What troubled many observers in the 1840s was that ...

Dictators on the Loose

Miles Taylor: Modelling Waterloo, 6 January 2005

Wellington’s Smallest Victory: The Duke, the Model Maker and the Secret of Waterloo 
by Peter Hofschröer.
Faber, 324 pp., £14.99, April 2004, 0 571 21768 0
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... arrival on the scene during the Crimean campaign of the Times’s correspondent, William Howard Russell, and the photographer Roger Fenton, the only alternative to accepting the official line was to go and see for yourself. Which is what many people did in 1815. As Hofschröer notes, by the time Siborne’s model went on show in 1838, most people already ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... piss smells so good I think about bottling it’; ‘We’re obsessed.’ If Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor, father and son, had read Rachel Cusk and Ian Sansom, they might not be so vexed by the question they pose in their title. A pop-sociological essay with autobiographical digressions, What Are Children ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... marriage he continued to philander,’ ‘he became her lodger and later her lover,’ ‘Bertrand Russell was among her lovers,’ ‘a curious relationship between two bisexual people’, ‘their association precluded neither of them from amorous adventures,’ ‘her reputation was not above reproach,’ ‘a curiously amicable ménage à trios’, ‘he ...

Down with Cosmopolitanism

Gillian Darley, 18 May 2000

Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman v. Pevsner 
by Timothy Mowl.
Murray, 182 pp., £14.99, March 2000, 9780719559099
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... It was only slightly softened by his employment as a fabric buyer for the furniture-maker Gordon Russell, whose firm was valiantly trying to blow the cobwebs out of the English home, through its ersatz latticed windows. With immense effort, Pevsner had mastered an increasingly idiomatic English by 1936, turned his early work for the department of commerce at ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... in the days of Addison you might have done well to begin by heading for Button’s coffeehouse in Russell Street where the great man held court, and be as submissively impressive as possible. Almost three hundred years later, though sadly not for very long, you could make your way to the Pillars of Hercules in Greek Street, where Ian Hamilton, editor of the ...

Much of a Scramble

Francesca Wade: Ray Strachey, 23 January 2020

A Working Woman: The Remarkable Life of Ray Strachey 
by Jennifer Holmes.
Troubador, 392 pp., £20, February 2019, 978 1 78901 654 3
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... she writes approvingly of egalitarian marriages, such as that of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, but is less interested in – perhaps even a little suspicious of – women who were sexually free or who publicly challenged gender roles. She skates over the divisions in the movement, and rather than predict possible futures for feminism, brings her ...

How did the slime mould cross the maze?

Adrian Woolfson: The Future of Emergence, 21 March 2002

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software 
by Steven Johnson.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 7139 9400 2
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The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture 
by Mark Taylor.
Chicago, 340 pp., £20.50, January 2002, 0 226 79117 3
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... in that they apply the mathematical logic of complex systems to cultural – and, in the case of Taylor, cognitive – phenomena. They do so in a metaphorical rather than explicitly mathematical manner, and focus on the transformative and generative power of self-organising principles in contexts as diverse as the World Wide Web, global ...

Self-Hugging

Andrew O’Hagan: A Paean to Boswell, 5 October 2000

Boswell's Presumptuous Task 
by Adam Sisman.
Hamish Hamilton, 352 pp., £17.99, November 2000, 0 241 13637 7
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: Research Edition: Vol. II 
edited by Bruce Redford and Elizabeth Goldring.
Edinburgh, 303 pp., £50, February 2000, 0 7486 0606 8
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Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author 
by Lawrence Lipking.
Harvard, 372 pp., £11.50, March 2000, 0 674 00198 2
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Dr Johnson's London 
by Liza Picard.
Weidenfeld, 362 pp., £20, July 2000, 0 297 84218 8
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... Novel without a Hero’ – when the single-minded Becky Sharp, high in a coach bound for Russell Square, flings a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary out of the window to land on the grass at the feet of her former teacher, a sworn disciple of the Great Lexicographer. ‘So much for the Dictionary,’ says Becky Sharp as the carriage pulls ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... The entire Vienna State Opera decamped to London at the Third’s behest in 1947. Bertrand Russell, Isaiah Berlin, Tippett, Betjeman and Fred Hoyle became familiar voices. Louis MacNeice and Dylan Thomas made a poet’s living in what Thomas called ‘the thin puce belfries’ of the Third. Guided by the producer Douglas Cleverdon, Under Milk Wood and ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... tall, elegant ‘professional women’ who were stars in their own right: Alexis Smith, Rosalind Russell, Eve Arnold – women who could perch casually on the edge of an editorial desk, toss one long silk-stockinged leg over the other while lighting a cigarette or consulting a powder compact. Graceful and expensive as racehorses, they were amused, ironic and ...

Erasures

Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine, 30 July 1998

... small holdings were neither practical nor sustainable. In 1848, Lord Palmerston wrote to Lord John Russell: ‘It is useless to disguise the truth that any great improvement in the social system of Ireland must be founded upon an extensive change in the present state of agrarian occupation, and that this change necessarily implies a long, continued and ...

New-Model History

Valerie Pearl, 7 February 1980

The City and the Court 1603-1643 
by Robert Ashton.
Cambridge, 247 pp., £10.50, September 1980, 0 521 22419 5
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... minds nowadays, are not touched upon. Take first the influences of war and peace. Conrad Russell has pointed out how the financial and administrative strains of Charles’s war policy exacerbated relations between King and Parliament during the first five years of his reign, thus demonstrating the disruptive effect of war on Early Modern society ...

Manly Love

John Bayley, 28 January 1993

Walt Whitman: From Moon to Starry Night 
by Philip Callow.
Allison and Busby, 394 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 85031 908 0
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The Double Life of Stephen Crane 
by Christopher Benfey.
Deutsch, 294 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 233 98820 3
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... and New York rowdyism’. At the same time, he missed the point, gravely assuring James Russell Lowell that ‘one cannot leave the book about for chance readers, and would be sorry to know that a woman had looked into it past the title page.’ One woman who did was Lady Wilde, Oscar’s mother, an early enthusiast for Leaves of Grass. Another was ...

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