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14 May 1992
Modernity and Identity 
edited by Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman.
Blackwell, 448 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 631 17585 7
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Fundamentalisms Observed 
edited by Martin Marty and Scott Appleby.
Chicago, 872 pp., $40, November 1991, 0 226 50877 3
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The Post-Modern and the Post-Industrial 
by Margaret Rose.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 521 40131 3
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Under God: Religion and American Politics 
by Garry Wills.
Simon and Schuster, 445 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 671 65705 4
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... Although the modern has been with us since the end of antiquity, it has, at least until recently, always avoided becoming antique. As early as the 17th century, some were arguing that by virtue of longevity, the moderns must already be more ancient than the ancients themselves; but unlike the true ancients, who remained trapped in undying senility, the moderns seemed to have the secret of eternal youth, and for another three centuries they grew younger as their predecessors aged ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... Illusions Perdues would serve for the Gare du Nord; Great Expectations would whet the appetites of Scottish tyros arriving at King’s Cross. Edinburgh is a literary city. Its architecture and atmosphere are still rich in hints of the life savoured by its great authors, from Dunbar to Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch. The heyday of its literary, cultural and ...
10 February 1994
Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... Iraq. Machon is an important witness, but only a small cog in the conspiracy, which, as the Scott Inquiry hearings are beginning tentatively to reveal, was just as ‘wide-ranging’ and ‘sophisticated’ as the US operation from which it took its lead. Saddam sought to build up his links with Britain, which had so many historical associations with ...


Richard Usborne

24 January 1980
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 
Oxford, 908 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780192115607Show More
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... those: In his chamber, weak and dying, Was a Norman baron lying … I couldn’t find this in Scott (school prize), nor in Kipling’s Collected Verse. I have had it offered to the best brains at the Savage Club bar, without success. Could it be Macaulay? I do not possess Macaulay’s verse other than the Lays of Ancient Rome. Can the ODQ, 1935 or ...

Take your pick

James C. Scott: Cataclysm v. Capitalism

18 October 2017
The Great Leveller: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the 21st Century 
by Walter Scheidel.
Princeton, 504 pp., £27.95, February 2017, 978 0 691 16502 8
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... over time of the top 20 per cent and the bottom 20 per cent. Scheidel has chosen not only to lash himself to the mast of the Gini coefficient, but also largely to restrict himself to the data gathered by record-keeping societies – i.e. states and empires. Absent from consideration, therefore, are the thinly scattered but huge populations that existed ...

From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies

3 September 1981
Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... it happened to Papa like this was in Billings Montana (1930) when they used kangaroo tendons to lash the bones. You get used to it. Don’t mention this accident to anybody, Pos. It will start all the professors off on that ‘Hemingstein was a clumsy drunk who couldn’t hit a typewriter unless it hit him first’ kind of shit. I hate that stuff. The ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland

17 July 1997
Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... the cow-puncher (‘the last romantic figure upon our soil’, as he called him) is a version of Scott’s medieval knight. Like Wister, Grey would use his novels to endorse what he called ‘the great virtues’: manliness, chivalry, bravery. Grey also took over from Wister what was to be the main liability of the Western as a literary form, its ingrained ...

Tragedy in Tights

Rosemary Hill: Poor Queen Caroline

22 June 2006
Rebel Queen: The Trial of Caroline 
by Jane Robins.
Simon and Schuster, 370 pp., £20, June 2006, 0 7432 4862 7
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... and an almost total lack of self-control. From the moment they met until what Walter Scott called the ‘brutal insanity’ of the queen’s trial for adultery in 1820, the relationship was a catastrophe acted out in public with little regard for decency, let alone dignity. Ever since, this riveting spectacle of royals behaving badly has offered ...

How to Shoe a Flea

James Meek: Nikolai Leskov

25 April 2013
‘The Enchanted Wanderer’ and Other Stories 
by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Vintage, 608 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 09 957735 5
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The Enchanted Wanderer 
by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Ian Dreiblatt.
Melville House, 256 pp., £8.99, August 2012, 978 1 61219 103 4
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... slaves of contemporary British Australia and America, one class had the power of the noose and the lash over another, and could use it on a whim, at a word, for a trifle. Against this, there is the rain of happy endings, usually involving forgiveness by a religious or secular authority figure. It is as if, in a Dickensian way, Leskov wants to enjoy the ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels

19 August 1999
Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... and the ‘autographic sequel’, which is not an imitation but a prolongation – like Walter Scott’s or James Fenimore Cooper’s novel cycles, or Balzac’s Human Comedy. Both types are tied to market forces. Collections like To Be Continued: An Annotated Guide to Sequels (1995) and The Whole Story: 3000 Years of Sequels and Sequences (1996) attest to ...
19 February 2004
John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... Northamptonshire. In the early 1760s, she had a relationship with John Donald Parker, an itinerant Scottish fiddler and teacher who was working in the village school. On discovering she was pregnant, he disappeared and was never heard of again. Her son was christened for the absent father, and became a talented traditional singer, a gift he passed on to his ...

Skating Charm

James Wolcott: Kenneth Tynan

13 December 2001
The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan 
edited by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 439 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 7475 5418 8
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... rock-’em, sock-’em first marriage to the novelist Elaine Dundy, their drunken rows rivalling Scott and Zelda’s. His snap conversion to Marxism after seeing Mother Courage. His hero-worship of Castro and his defence of the Cuban revolution, which led to his being summoned before the United States Senate Internal Security Subcommittee to explain himself ...

Tit for Tat

Margaret Anne Doody

21 December 1989
Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology 
edited by Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford, 555 pp., £20, September 1989, 0 19 811769 8
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... because women and poor men are alike ‘unlettered’ – Defoe and Haywood alike come under the lash in the Dunciad. To think of either group as ‘lettered’ is to think of the other group as ‘lettered’ also, and to pose a threat to the social edifice. Yet the Lockean project demands discovering and imagining the experiences of others, experiences ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative

8 August 2002
The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... regarded by me with loathing and disgust. Then to be driven in to the fields beneath the eye and lash of the brutal overseer, and those miserable huts, with their promiscuous crowds of dirty, obscene and degraded objects, for my home I could not, would not bear it. A day picking cotton makes her fingers bleed. This is Hannah, who can not only read, but play ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester: A Memoir

5 July 2001
... end to come to terms with him. When he was on his deathbed, he somehow managed to provoke me to lash out at him so that he landed on the floor, poor sod.The first nanny I remember at Teignmouth Road, after the one in the nurse’s cap, was a German girl called Ada. I liked her and so did my sister. On long walks to Gladstone Park she’d tell me the story ...

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