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Too Glorious for Words

Bernard Porter: Lawrence in Arabia

2 April 2014
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East 
by Scott Anderson.
Atlantic, 592 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 1 78239 199 9
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... imperialist: against the Ottoman Empire originally; very much against French settler imperialism; and acting deliberately against the interests and wishes of his British imperial superiors, even – ScottAnderson suggests – to the point of treason. (When George V tried to decorate him after the war, he handed all the medals back on the spot.) He was also very much against European cultural ...

The View from the Top

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Upland Anarchists

2 December 2010
The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland South-East Asia 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 442 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 300 16917 1
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... over the last 50 years major interventions in the social sciences have begun life there. Three quite different figures in the Western academy can claim the credit for this: Clifford Geertz, Benedict Anderson and James C. Scott. Geertz, one of whose many talents was for the writing of superbly perfidious book reviews, was the master of the catchy phrase: he gave us ‘theatre state’, ‘agricultural ...
21 January 1988
The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... curriculum during the early 20th century. The debaters include the St Andrews Classicist John Burnet (whose work on early Greek philosophy made an impact on Lawrence, Eliot, Pound and others); John Anderson, a Glasgow philosophy graduate of 1917 who emigrated to take up a Chair at Sydney University in 1927 and whose writings (fuelled, Davie argues, by the Scottish educational debate) are attracting ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel

28 July 2011
... Historical Novel, written in Russian exile in the 1930s. Any reflection on the strange career of this form has to begin there, however far it may then wander from him. Built around the work of Walter Scott, Lukács’s theory makes five principal claims. The classical form of the historical novel is an epic depicting a transformation of popular life through a set of representative human types whose ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’

6 August 2009
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 
directed by Tony Scott.
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... to mind, but this one makes us want to rethink Grease entirely, and maybe the whole genre of the musical. This is a heist movie, but the caper itself gets a little blurred, because the director, Tony Scott, is not very interested in the planning or execution of crime, only in the psychodrama of criminality, and its counterpointing with the travails of the good man, in this case Denzel Washington ...


Christian Lorentzen: Homo Trumpiens

3 November 2016
... The rally was a fundraiser – I had purchased a ticket for the minimum donation of $30 – and one woman, who had paid to see Trump, wanted her $500 back. The loudest of the hecklers was Paul Anderson, a red-headed young man in sunglasses, shorts and a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN baseball cap. He was holding a TRUMP/PENCE sign with HILLARY IS A CRIMINAL written on the reverse. He was surrounded by ...

Bad Shepherd

Robert Crawford: James Hogg

5 April 2001
The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. VIII: The ‘Spy’ 
edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 641 pp., £60, March 2000, 9780748613656
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... tropics to Verona, Burns’s internationalism makes all the world an Ayrshire. ‘Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,/Who never to himself hath said,/This is my own, my native land!’ Scott presented this as an exclamation, not a question. Scotland is Scotland’s greatest theme. Some of Hogg’s poems in the Spy, as Scottish poems like to do, trumpet a rather self-satisfied nationalism ...

The Myth of 1940

Angus Calder

16 October 1980
Collar the lot! How Britain Interned and Expelled its Wartime Refugees 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Quartet, 334 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2244 7
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A Bespattered Page? The Internment of ‘His Majesty’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens’ 
by Ronald Stent.
Deutsch, 282 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 233 97246 3
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... over £850,000 in the first 11 months of 1940 towards the support of those who stayed outside. No politician stands out as a villain in the Gillmans’ interesting series of revelations. Sir John Anderson, blamed over this and much else at the time, in fact fought hard to keep internment to a minimum (and no one denied that some people had to be ‘collared’). If Churchill was a hard-liner in the ...


Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark

5 August 1993
... was looking for a compromise candidate, Clark came up with a grand idea: Tom King. The impotence of office is full of such ridiculous shifts in personal loyalties. When Clark first mentions Bruce Anderson, the corpulent former editorial executive on the Telegraph, he describes him as a ‘fat creep’. This assessment was not unrelated to something unflattering Anderson had written about Clark’s ...
4 November 1993
The Green Knight 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 472 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 6030 6
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... take them at all) is raised, even before we get to know them, by their names. In The Green Knight we have to contend with Lucas and Clement Graffe, Harvey Blacket, Bellamy James and his dog Anax, the Anderson women – Louise and her daughters Alethea (Aleph), Sophia (Sefton) and Moira (Moy) – Emil and Clive and the Adwardens. A reader alert to social differences will find such names far from neutral ...
1 September 1988
The Duel in European History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Oxford, 360 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 822566 0
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History, Classes and Nation-States: Selected Writings of Victor Kiernan 
edited by Harvey Kaye.
Blackwell, 284 pp., £27.50, June 1988, 0 7456 0424 2
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... romantic and so unserious. Our view of them is coloured and distorted by creative literature: by the fate of artist-victims like Lermontov and Pushkin, by the Gothic and acrobatic fantasies of Walter Scott and Anthony Hope, and by the ludicrous posturing of Sir Lucius O’Trigger. We do not think, because writers rarely tell us, of the thousands of mediocre casualties, the mutilation, bullying ...
12 May 1994
John Steinbeck: A Biography 
by Jay Parini.
Heinemann, 605 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 434 57492 9
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... write well, but ‘Like Tolstoy, who also had little regard for style per se, he preferred literature that took a firm moral line and conveyed a message.’ Dyslexia is similarly indulged; ‘Like Scott Fitzgerald, his contemporary, Steinbeck could neither spell nor punctuate.’ When Steinbeck drops out of Stanford, Parini observes that ‘Like so many gifted writers – F. Scott Fitzgerald, W. H ...

In the Waiting-Room of History

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘First in Europe, then elsewhere’

24 June 2004
Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Princeton, 320 pp., £42.95, October 2000, 0 691 04908 4
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... in culture, and of cultural figures; and educated Bengalis followed the example of the Orientalist scholars. Thus Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, India’s first major novelist, became the ‘Walter Scott of Bengal’. Both Scott and Chatterjee wrote historical novels, but when the comparison was first made, on the publication of Chatterjee’s first novel, Chatterjee claimed he’d never read Scott ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell

19 June 2003
George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott​ Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... accounts, the new biographies by Gordon Bowker and D.J. Taylor confirm what the law of averages might have led one to suspect: some of this is true, some of it questionable and the rest of it false. (Scott Lucas, by contrast, thinks almost all of it true.) Orwell was indeed unsociable, anti-feminist and homophobic, but only ambiguously anti-semitic, and by no means such a dewy-eyed idealiser of the ...
19 December 1985
‘The Good War’: An Oral History of World War Two 
by Studs Terkel.
Hamish Hamilton, 589 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 241 11493 4
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Truth, Dare or Promise: Girls Growing up in the Fifties 
edited by Liz Heron.
Virago, 248 pp., £4.95, June 1985, 0 86068 596 9
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... and used to envy the peace and quiet of the corpses she saw pass by in funerals. There were plenty of funerals. The Isle of Dogs was bombed day in, day out. At the back of the house there was an Anderson shelter, a tinny prefab half-sunk into the ground and covered with earth. (The first citation in the Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary is from the New Statesman, 3 June 1939: ‘Goats ...

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