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27 February 1992
Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
by Greil Marcus.
Viking, 256 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 670 83846 2
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Rythm Oil: A Journey through the Music of the American South 
by Stanley​ Booth.
Cape, 254 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 224 02779 4
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... the prompting of Greil Marcus, call Dead Elvis. In any case, it all seems far longer than a decade and a half since he was around – generations earlier than other rock’n’roll deaths like Brian Jones or Janis Joplin. Greil Marcus does not seem to have met Uncle Vester. Indeed, on page 71 of his new book he admits that he has never even been inside Graceland. (‘There is a good deal in this book ...

Beltz’s Beaux

D.A.N. Jones

3 March 1983
by Sholom Aleichem, translated by Aliza Shevrin.
Weidenfeld, 222 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 297 78200 2
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A Coin in Nine Hands 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Dori Katz.
Aidan Ellis, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 85628 123 9
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Entry into Jerusalem 
by Stanley​ Middleton.
Hutchinson, 172 pp., £7.50, January 1983, 0 09 150950 5
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People Who Knock on the Door 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 306 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 434 33521 5
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A Visit from the Footbinder 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2675 2
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by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 125 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 9780436102967
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... knew it was being deceived.’ She turns to her lover – ‘an ordinary man, less real than Lord Southsea’ – and hears him speak ‘Movie English, one of the secret slangs of love’. With Stanley Middleton we must expect to be confined to a city in the English Midlands. A firm hand at the reins prevents his readers and himself from galloping away from this tranquil place. Entry into Jerusalem ...

Comprehending Gaddis

D.A.N. Jones

6 March 1986
The Recognitions 
by William Gaddis.
Penguin, 956 pp., £7.95, January 1986, 0 14 007768 5
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by William Gaddis.
Penguin, 726 pp., £7.95, January 1986, 0 14 008039 2
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Carpenter’s Gothic 
by William Gaddis.
Deutsch, 262 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 233 97932 8
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... called himself, the ‘mistake’ of the tourists is not tragical. But, for William Gaddis, this sort of ignorance leads up to the climax of The Recognitions, where his most admirable character – Stanley, the musician – meets his death playing a gigantic organ in an Italian church, all because he did not understand the Italian notice, warning that the instrument was too powerful for the edifice ...
22 February 1990
Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... his home telephone was tapped – but he, a senior Secretary of State in the Cabinet, could do nothing about it. When he complained to the general secretary of the telephone engineers’ union, Brian Stanley, Stanley said he thought his own phone was tapped too – by his own members. Jack Jones and Hugh Scanlon, the ‘terrible twins’ of the Trade Unions in the period which toppled the Heath ...

Journeys across Blankness

Jonathan Parry: Mapping the Middle East

18 October 2017
Dislocating the Orient: British Maps and the Making of the Middle East, 1854-1921 
by Daniel Foliard.
Chicago, 336 pp., £45, April 2017, 978 0 226 45133 6
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... the salty sea. This was more than a decade before the intrepid Thomas Cook organised the first package tour of the Holy Land, at a cost way beyond the means of any young teacher. Also in 1856, A.P. Stanley published a thoughtful study, Sinai and Palestine in Connection with Their History, making him the natural choice to accompany the Prince of Wales on his educational tour of Palestine in 1862. When ...

Favoured Irregulars

Andy Beckett: The Paras

24 January 2019
Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper 
by Helen Parr.
Allen Lane, 382 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 241 28894 8
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... energies. Her uncle’s battalion, 2 Para, sailed for the islands on 26 April 1982, a few weeks after the first units of the task force. Its commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones. The son of a rich American and a Welsh nurse, Jones had been educated at Eton, where he had ‘spent a lot of time alone’, Parr writes, ‘reading war books and developing strongly held notions of ...

At the Imperial War Museum

Peter Campbell: Agitprop

3 January 2002
... entrance to The Spanish Civil War: Dreams + Nightmares (the exhibition runs until 28 April) is the Sargent Room. At the moment it contains three big World War One pictures: Sargent’s own Gassed, Stanley Spencer’s picture of wounded men on stretchers in Mesopotamia and Nevinson’s of troops crossing a desolate, shell-pocked battlefield. To the right of the entrance are galleries with pictures from ...

Hong Pong

Thomas Jones: John Lanchester

25 July 2002
Fragrant Harbour 
by John Lanchester.
Faber, 299 pp., £16.99, July 2002, 0 571 20176 8
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... the British resistance to Japanese occupation. This requires a degree of collaboration with the Triads, as well as pretending to be a employee of the Hong Kong Bank (to be spared incarceration in Stanley internment camp) and making clandestine roof-top rendezvous in the middle of the night. The minor acts of heroism he performs are realistically modest: he’s an intermediary, a messenger, not a ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones

4 April 1985
The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... day Stalin died – and the same was true, oddly enough, of the publishers of the Football Association Yearbook, a periodical which Wharton edited for a while, under the authority of the titanic Sir Stanley Rous, President of the Football Association. Regular readers of the ‘Peter Simple’ column will have recognised in this account many pointers to the sources of the fictional characters (if such ...

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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... as god is my witless. Besides, Baker knows nothing about the fight game. In his notes he has invented a character called Steve Ketehell who I guess he thinks fought Jack Johnson, but we know that was Stanley Ketchell, if not Ketchel, don’t we Pos? The poor sap was knocked out by Johnson and murdered in 1910 before I had the chance to teach him to see it coming. We have some swell fights up here. Guys ...


Peter Campbell

18 March 1982
The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... sort – is clear enough. The results evoke responses which are nothing like as simple. From the first the Pre-Raphaelites were able to rouse both anger and admiration; a Soho sex shop with Burne-Jones posters as its sole window decoration suggests that whatever it was about their work that made people uneasy still tells. Pre-Raphaelite pictures can be memorable even when they are unlikeable ...

Like Cutting a Cow

Adam Kuper: Ritual killings in southern Africa

6 July 2006
Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho: The Anatomy of a Moral Crisis 
by Colin Murray and Peter Sanders.
Edinburgh, 493 pp., £50, May 2006, 0 7486 2284 5
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... whether as witness, victim or accessory, that they are extremely reluctant to go about at night and lock themselves in after sunset.’ The administration recruited a Cambridge anthropologist, G.I. Jones, to conduct an official enquiry. (‘Sherlock Jones Fights Voodoo’, the Daily Mail reported.) He arrived in Basutoland shortly before the execution of Bereng and Gabashane, and visited the two men ...

Arctic Habits

Tony Tanner

25 May 1995
Emerson: The Mind on Fire 
by Robert Richardson.
California, 668 pp., £27, June 1995, 0 520 08808 5
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... books Emerson considered the best thing since Plato in Plato’s line); Bronson Alcott (whom Emerson admired as a great prophet, and whose work is quite unreadable today); the ‘manifestly insane’ Jones Very (who considered himself the ‘new born bard of the Holy Ghost’, and who went around baptising people until he made the ‘tactical error’ of trying to baptise several Salem ministers who ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson

7 September 2016
Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... George, a radical tribune sprung from provincial nonconformity to drive the nation before him with wit and moral exhortation. After leaving office for the last time, he was more widely compared to Stanley Baldwin, a national conciliator and broker of industrial peace. In 1957 his chief ally in the Labour Party, Richard Crossman, complained in his diary that Wilson ‘grows fatter, more complacent and ...


Gabriele Annan

24 May 1990
A Young Girl’s Diary 
edited by Daniel Gunn and Patrick Guyomard.
189 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 04 440273 2
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... swiftly becoming virtually uncontrollable, which led people to see falsification of names and outright deception in place of simple anonymity?’ A different set of passions was sparked off when Stanley Unwin published the Diary in an English translation in 1921. ‘Filth, my dear sir, filth,’ pronounced Sir Archibald Bodkin, the Director of Public Prosecutions; and he insisted on the excision of ...

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