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After-Meditation

Thomas Keymer: The Girondin Wordsworth, 18 June 2020

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet who Changed the World 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 608 pp., £25, April, 978 0 00 816742 4
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William Wordsworth: A Life 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, new edition, 688 pp., £25, April, 978 0 19 881711 6
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... and ‘servile court-tool’ who ‘goes the whole length of despotism’. Then there was Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom John Thelwall – a 1790s firebrand who did stick to his guns – remembered as being, in the heyday of Robespierre and Saint-Just, ‘a down right zealous leveller & indeed in one of the worst senses of the word … a Jacobin, a man of ...

Social Poetry

Anthony Pagden, 15 October 1987

Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times 
by Krishan Kumar.
Blackwell, 506 pp., £24.50, January 1987, 0 631 14873 6
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Lectures on Ideology and Utopia 
by Paul Ricoeur, edited by George Taylor.
Columbia, 353 pp., £21.90, December 1986, 0 231 06048 3
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Visions of Harmony: A Study in 19th-Century Millenarianism 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 285 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 211793 9
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... articulate beneficiaries of this were the two greatest social fantasts of the 19th century: Saint-Simon and Fourier, the subjects of Ricoeur’s last two lectures. Their visions of humane, but technocratic societies seemed clearly realisable, and Fourier, at least, did his not very effective best to see his realised. Both sought to transform the social worlds ...

Surviving the Sixties

Hilary Mantel, 18 May 1989

Shoe: The Odyssey of a Sixties Survivor 
by Jonathan Guinness.
Century Hutchinson, 233 pp., £14.95, March 1989, 0 09 173857 1
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Lilly: Reminiscences of Lillian Hellman 
by Peter Feibleman.
Chatto, 364 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 7011 3441 0
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... way Shoe might tell it, if she could write. From now on,’ he asserts, ‘I am Susan Mary Taylor, born in Oldham, Lancashire, on 26 July 1944.’ While the author has explained, in his foreword, what he means to do, nothing quite prepares one for the shock of the switch into the first person and it is only when the switch occurs that one becomes ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... gives all but the medical details. The poet and his lady, I like to believe, were the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton of the day, if not the Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, with knobs on. Centuries pass. La maison is up for rent. Appears out of nowhere, circa 1909, exactly as in the central London of our own day, an American Amazon, chequebook in ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... and thus a member of Magdalen senior common room. It was a daunting community, with A.J.P. Taylor, Gilbert Ryle and C.S. Lewis regularly met with on high table. I didn’t have much small talk but what was the point as one seldom got a word in with Taylor and had I had anything to chat to Ryle about it would have ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... occupies. Merely irritating is the authors’ repeated citation of the pronouncements of Mr A.J.P. Taylor – not so much, one fears, because they regard the historian as infallible (which he nearly is), but because they hope to keep on the sunniest side of the kindly critic. During the First World War there had been a divide between what were, as ...

Clean Clothes

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 March 1988

Scottish Lifestyle 300 Years Ago 
by Helen Kelsall and Keith Kelsall.
John Donald, 224 pp., £10, September 1986, 0 85976 167 3
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Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 
by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall.
Hutchinson, 576 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 09 164700 2
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... and activity were not to be seen in the outside world of business, travel or employment. As St Simon Stylites probably found, standing on a pillar revered for piety means a loss of control of more earthly affairs. The most extraordinary episode produced by the belief that nature had formed women only for activities within the home was the famous ...

Condy’s Fluid

P.N. Furbank, 25 October 1990

A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture 
by Samuel Hynes.
Bodley Head, 514 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 370 30451 9
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Killing in Verse and Prose, and Other Essays 
by Paul Fussell.
Bellew, 294 pp., £9.95, October 1990, 0 947792 55 4
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... plot. A writer telling it according to the calendar, in Hynes’s manner, must desperately envy Simon Schama, in his Citizens, where irreversible changes in the national consciousness seem to be happening almost every other week. There are of course other plot-elements in Hynes’s narrative, less directly measured by the calendar: for instance, a story ...

Skimming along

Ross McKibbin, 20 October 1994

The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... because ministers routinely blame the agencies or their legal advisers or their civil servants. As Simon Lee points out in his excellent essay on ‘Law and the Constitution’, one of the reasons ministers ‘seemed to flounder’ when asked by the Scott enquiry why they signed public immunity certificates was ‘that they themselves have become conditioned ...

Little More than an Extension of France

Hugo Young: The British Isles, 6 January 2000

The Isles: A History 
by Norman Davies.
Macmillan, 1222 pp., £30, November 1999, 9780333763704
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... to be found, for example, in the brilliant work of Norman Davies’s own tutor at Oxford, A.J.P. Taylor, or give the reader the same tiresome sense that he is being got at in ways he cannot contest. Instead, the record of two millennia and more is bound together by an important and forgotten thesis. Celtic history, together with the sometimes over-copious ...

Perfect Companions

C.K. Stead, 8 June 1995

Christina Stead: A Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... literary support: Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Saul Bellow, Theodore Roethke, Lillian Hellman, Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Hardwick in America; Patrick White in Australia. Books previously declined were now published. There were reprints. There was an interest, and it would grow. It was all good, but it had come too late. In 1968 Bill Blake died and Stead was ...

After the May Day Flood

Seumas Milne, 5 June 1997

... prominent businessmen had been appointed or approached to join or advise the Government: Sir David Simon, chairman of BP, to become European competition minister, Martin Taylor, chief executive of Barclays Bank, to lead a Whitehall task force on tax and benefits, Lord Hollick, chairman of United News and Media, to advise on ...

I’m being a singer

Andrew O’Hagan: Dandy Highwaymen, 8 October 2020

Sweet Dreams: The Story of the New Romantics 
by Dylan Jones.
Faber, 663 pp., £20, October, 978 0 571 35343 9
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... a hideous yacht. The romance went out of New Romanticism the minute the band’s bass player, John Taylor, in the video for the single ‘Rio’, crawled up the beach with a rifle to help a lady who was being splashed with champagne, followed quickly by their singer, Simon Le Bon, diving into the blue Antiguan waters wearing ...

Terror on the Vineyard

Terry Castle: Boss Ladies, Watch Out!, 15 April 1999

A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman 
by Rosemary Mahoney.
Doubleday, 273 pp., $23.95, November 1998, 9780385479318
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... book is high. Hellman is not the only snotty famous person to fall under her jaded eye. James Taylor and Carly Simon, Hellman’s guests one sunny afternoon, ‘smile stiffly’ at Mahoney when she brings coffee in on a serving tray, but otherwise ignore her. Mike Nichols and John Hersey win grudging approval – the ...

The History Boy

Alan Bennett: Exam-taking, 3 June 2004

... it. A stock vision of undergraduates then (gleaned from movies like A Yank at Oxford with Robert Taylor) was of a young man in dressing-gown and slippers, a towel round his neck en route for the distant baths. I didn’t run to a dressing-gown and slippers either: ‘Nobody’ll mind if you just wear your raincoat,’ my mother reassuringly said. I wasn’t ...

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