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Cricket’s Superpowers

David Runciman: Beyond the Ashes, 22 September 2005

... Which is not to say that the current England team is not a diverse one. It contains a Welshman (Simon Jones), an Australian (Geraint Jones), a South African (Kevin Pietersen), even a genuine public schoolboy (Andrew Strauss), all coached by a white Zimbabwean (Duncan Fletcher), many having previously been schooled by an Australian (Rodney Marsh). No wonder ...


Mary Ann Caws: Roland Penrose’s notebooks, 19 October 2006

Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose 
by Elizabeth Cowling.
Thames and Hudson, 408 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 500 51293 0
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... of his notebooks and letters claims, the ideal commentator on Picasso’s goings-on, a Saint-Simon at the court of Picasso. Penrose set off in 1922 on Roger Fry’s advice, to study art with André Lhote, and fell in love with Paris, with French art and with the poet Valentine Boué, whom he met in Cassis. He had a villa there from 1923, set up a studio ...

Dear God

Theo Tait: Patrick McGrath’s Gothic, 19 August 2004

Port Mungo 
by Patrick McGrath.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £16.99, May 2004, 0 7475 7019 1
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... sound like one. She sounds like a hammy male actor in late middle age – perhaps Christopher Lee in his prime, or Simon Callow. She is Gin Rathbone, and she introduces herself with these fine words: ‘I am a tall, thin, untidy Englishwoman, I drink too much and yes, I suppose I am rather – oh, detached ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... Stephen noted), but with the help of his indefatigable assistant and eventual successor, Sidney Lee, the ship was put back on an even keel. Curiously, although the Grosart debacle, fully documented in John Bicknell’s edition of Stephen’s letters, is briefly mentioned in Alan Bell’s exemplary entry on Stephen in the ODNB, these misdemeanours make no ...

The Trouble with Nowhere

Martin Jay, 1 June 2000

The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy 
by Russell Jacoby.
Basic Books, 256 pp., £17.95, April 1999, 0 465 02000 3
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Utopias: Russian Modernist Texts 1905-40 
edited by Catriona Kelly.
Penguin, 378 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 14 118081 1
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The Faber Book of Utopias 
edited by John Carey.
Faber, 560 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780571197859
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The Nazi War on Cancer 
by Robert Proctor.
Princeton, 390 pp., £18.95, May 1999, 0 691 00196 0
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... one sort or another, ending with a 1998 projection of the consequences of genetic engineering by Lee Silver called Remaking Eden. In addition to all of the usual suspects – More, Campanella, Bacon, Rousseau, Mercier, Saint-Simon, Cabet, Owen, Fourier, Morris, Bellamy, Wells, Skinner – and some unexpected alternatives ...

‘I intend to support white rule’

Ian Hamilton: Allen Tate, 24 May 2001

Allen Tate: Orphan of the South 
by Thomas Underwood.
Princeton, 447 pp., £21.95, December 2000, 0 691 06950 6
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... When Allen Tate died in 1979, Simon and Schuster speedily commissioned a biography, to be written, they announced, by Ned O’Gorman, a poet of some reputation and a friend of two of Tate’s three wives. O’Gorman, it would seem, got going in the usual way, writing to all the obvious Tate contacts and attempting to interview key intimates ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... boats from nostalgic black and white photographs. It was an unoptioned metaphor with its own poet, Simon Armitage, hired to knock up a thousand-line tribute. Time drifted. The 12 minutes of the virtual reality journey in the brochures was actually the time between trains, the time spent enjoying the strange termini in which potential travellers are ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard, 6 February 2014

All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... small room they’d had last year. The day nursery, which was large, could just about take Teddy, Simon, Henry and Tom.’ There’s even more of this in All Change than in previous instalments. How can Polly (Hugh’s daughter) and her husband, Gerald, make the ugly old house he’s inherited into a viable business? What will everyone buy for everyone ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... political calamities on the pampering of minorities. ‘Trump and his supporters,’ Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian after the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, ‘thrive on the venom of their liberal tormentors.’ Perhaps such back to front conclusions are inevitable if the centrist establishment stays silent about its own ...


Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... to his excellent Victorian predecessor, just compare their all-but-identical dealings with Vernon Lee’s book as a whole. And to register some of the odd consequences of a 1990 book which battens on an 1887 one, consider the ironical dedication by Byron to the renegade Southey. It made cultural sense for Wheatley, in a Victorian world endemically hostile to ...

What the Public Most Wants to See

Christopher Tayler: Rick Moody, 23 February 2006

The Diviners 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 567 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 571 22946 8
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... developed in Purple America, published five years later. The Ice Storm, which was filmed by Ang Lee in 1997, widens the generational canvas to include the sorrows of hard-drinking, unhappily married couples in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and their adolescent children. Set in 1973, with Watergate looming large in the TV schedules, it mixes a story of ...


John Lanchester, 11 July 1991

Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... The horrifying nature of these statistics is compounded by the case-histories they conceal. Henry Lee Lucas, subject of the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, is currently on death row in Texas. He claims to have murdered 360 people across a range of states in the American South; the Police claim to have verified 160 of these killings: both claims have ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons, 20 April 2017

A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... product of King Edward’s School in Birmingham, and of the headmastership of James Prince Lee, a future bishop of Manchester and a disciple of Thomas Arnold, whose educational ideals – the strenuous pursuit of knowledge and the cultivation of elevated tone and Christian character – Edward was to perpetuate in his own career. When he was still a ...

Dialling for Dollars

Deborah Friedell: Corruption in America, 19 March 2015

Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United 
by Zephyr Teachout.
Harvard, 376 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 05040 2
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... Creation Act (despite its name, really just a corporate tax cut), researchers from Washington and Lee University and the University of Kansas calculated that ‘the return on investment to lobbying’ was 22,000 per cent. Here’s an example of the way political spending affects a marginal, not remotely sexy issue, which nevertheless ends up costing Americans ...

More a Voyeur

Colm Tóibín: Elton Took Me Hostage, 19 December 2019

by Elton John.
Macmillan, 376 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 5098 5331 1
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... of Music, and eventually started playing in a bar, becoming fascinated by Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. He got a Saturday job to fund his record-buying habit. As he became more involved with what was happening in music, he was aware that the older generation was not amused. ‘People fucking hated it. And no one hated it more than my father … he ...

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