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The Pain of History

Stephen Brook, 19 February 1981

The Star-Apple Kingdom 
by Derek Walcott.
Cape, 58 pp., £2.50, March 1980, 0 224 01780 2
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Selected Poems 1961-1978 
by David Holbrook.
Anvil, 143 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 85646 066 4
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Death Valley and Other Poems in America 
by Alan Ross.
London Magazine Editions, 92 pp., £3, June 1980, 0 904388 32 8
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Poems 1955-1980 
by Roy Fisher.
Oxford, 193 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 211935 4
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A.R.T.H.U.R. & M.A.R.T.H.A. 
by Laurence Lerner.
Secker, 69 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 436 24440 3
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... Derek Walcott is now 50 years old, but there is none of the placidity or mellowing of middle age in The Star-Apple Kingdom. If Naipaul is the great novelist of the colonial experience, Walcott has a claim to be considered the great poet of the same experience. They share an acute sense of belonging to more than one culture and hence to none. The reference in the title poem to the Caribbean’s ‘history-orphaned islands’ is a motto for many other poems in Walcott’s new collection ...

Sweet Dreams

Christopher Reid, 17 November 1983

The Oxford Book of Dreams 
by Stephen Brook.
Oxford, 268 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 19 214130 9
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... dreams, and one rather dogmatic passage laying down the law on dream symbolism. It is a measure of Stephen Brook’s easy-going editorial attitude that Freud and his detractors are given equal house-room. His anthology is, deliberately, a miscellaneous compilation, containing, in addition to passages of the finest writing – the work of ...
Intifada. The Palestinian Uprising: Israel’s Third Front 
by Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari.
Simon and Schuster, 352 pp., £14.95, May 1990, 0 671 67530 3
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Winner takes all: A Season in Israel 
by Stephen Brook.
Hamish Hamilton, 363 pp., £16.99, June 1990, 0 241 12635 5
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... for ‘strategic depth’ as an excuse for hanging onto the territories. Schiff and Ya’ari, like Stephen Brook in Winner takes all (a perceptive account of a recent visit to Israel), examine the plight of the Israeli Arabs and the problem posed for Israel by their divided loyalties and the radicalising, Palestinianising effect of the intifada. ‘My ...


David Cannadine, 27 July 1989

The Social Politics of Anglo-Jewry 1880-1920 
by Eugene Black.
Blackwell, 428 pp., £35, February 1989, 9780631164913
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The Persistence of Prejudice: Anti-Semitism in British Society during the Second World War 
by Tony Kushner.
Manchester, 257 pp., £29.95, March 1989, 0 7190 2896 5
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The Club: The Jews of Modern Britain 
by Stephen Brook.
Constable, 464 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 09 467340 3
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... Jews than any amount of Rothschild philanthropy or social engineering had ever been able to do. Brook’s volume brings the story up to date, with a readable, irreverent and pessimistic account of contemporary Anglo-Jewry, as seen by someone who belongs to it by birth but rejects many of its values by choice. He begins with an exploration of the religious ...

Fouling the nest

Anthony Julius, 8 April 1993

Modern British Jewry 
by Geoffrey Alderman.
Oxford, 397 pp., £40, September 1992, 0 19 820145 1
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... and contemporary Anglo-Jewry has been more shrewdly, as well as more comprehensively, described by Stephen Brook. There is a need for a book which draws together the separate threads represented by these other studies, but Modern British Jewry is not it. Alderman is unable to place Jews in the context of English society. This inability leads to dangerous ...

Vibrating to the Chord of Queer

Elaine Showalter: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, 6 March 2003

Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity 
by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.
Duke, 216 pp., £14.95, March 2003, 0 8223 3015 6
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Regarding Sedgwick: Essays on Queer Culture and Critical Theory 
edited by Stephen Barber and David Clark.
Routledge, 285 pp., £55, September 2002, 0 415 92818 4
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... by Sedgwick, both called Floating Columns: In the Bardo, were exhibited at Suny Stony Brook and the Cuny Graduate Center. She uses the Tibetan Buddhist term bardo, or the ‘space between states of being’, to signify the ‘painful bardo of dying’, which occupies the ‘space between contracting a terminal illness and death itself’. I did ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... brothers. At the Cliveden swimming-pool Jack met, not for the first time, Astor’s osteopath, Stephen Ward, ‘the Doctor’ of the quadrilateral, and the exceptionally pretty Christine Keeler. Profumo, as he later put it, ‘was extremely taken by Christine, whom I thought was Ward’s girlfriend, but he did not seem to be particularly possessive about ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... his frequent collaborator, the designer Jocelyn Herbert. The nominal producer of The Old Crowd was Stephen Frears, but in real terms it was LWT and its then head of programmes, Michael Grade. Used as I was to the BBC and to my regular producer, Innes Lloyd, I found LWT entirely well-meaning but awkward to work with only because it wasn’t an organisation ...

Regrets, Vexations, Lassitudes

Seamus Perry: Wordsworth’s Trouble, 18 December 2008

William Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’: A Casebook 
edited by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, 406 pp., £19.99, September 2006, 0 19 518092 5
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... had himself entertained for a time thoughts of a similar long poem (his was to be called ‘The Brook’), which would have interwoven natural description and metaphysical reflections. Like many of Coleridge’s grandest schemes it came to nothing; but in Wordsworth, he clearly felt, he had found just the man to take over the testing commission. However ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans, 3 June 2004

The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... probably took place to the ridge’s south-west. The water shown here may well be the ‘sandy brook’ that would have given the field the name Senlac, taken by Freeman from the later but richly detailed account of the Anglo-Norman Orderic Vitalis. We may even glimpse the stakes of the defensive ‘palisade’ recorded in the yet later but even richer ...

‘I’m not racist, but …’

Daniel Trilling, 18 April 2019

Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities 
by Eric Kaufman.
Allen Lane, 617 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 31710 5
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National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy 
by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin.
Pelican, 384 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 0 241 31200 1
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... and sexuality – but race matters most, and anti-racism has become a ‘religion’ that will brook no questioning, shutting down all rational debate. This part of the argument relies more heavily on anecdote, and skips between countries: he repeats Orwell’s well-worn remark that ‘in left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... society whichever government we live under. 20 February, Yorkshire. Via Mallerstang to Kirkby Stephen and Barnard Castle, the tops still veined with snow and in the late afternoon bathed in a rich tawny light, the valleys in shadow with the hills still catching the sun. We have tea at Muker, where we look in the church which is dull and scraped, how dull ...

Homer Inc

Edward Luttwak, 23 February 2012

The Iliad by Homer 
translated by Stephen Mitchell.
Weidenfeld, 463 pp., £25, October 2011, 978 0 297 85973 4
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... rhythmic Richmond Lattimore with a lengthy new introduction;* and three hardback copies of the new Stephen Mitchell translation, with refulgent golden shields on the cover and several endorsements on the back, of which the most arresting is by Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget: ‘The poetry rocks and has a macho cast to it, like rap music.’ There ...

Falling in love with Lucian

Colm Tóibín: Lucian Freud’s Outer Being, 10 October 2019

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922-68 
by William Feaver.
Bloomsbury, 680 pp., £35, September 2019, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... writes. Once he was in his late teens, it became fashionable to fall in love with Freud. When Stephen Spender, according to himself, told T.S. Eliot that he had succumbed, Eliot said: ‘There’s nothing I understand more.’ Spender and Freud spent some time in a cottage in Wales when Freud was 18 and produced a little book of drawings and poems ...


Adam Mars-Jones: Not the Marrying Kind, 20 March 2014

... I needed to change the character of his performance by restricting its size, as if I was Peter Brook called on to direct Orson Welles or Donald Wolfit (if anyone remembers that name). The obvious priority was getting rid of any possibility of an audience. If it was just the two of us there would be more prospect of damping down his reactions. There was a ...

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