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Rancorous Luminaries

R.W. Davies, 28 April 1994

Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives 
edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta Manning.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £35, September 1993, 0 521 44125 0
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Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant 
by Amy Knight.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, January 1994, 0 691 03257 2
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This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow 
by Anna Larina.
Hutchinson, 385 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 09 178141 8
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Stalin i Ordzhonikidze: Konflikty v Politbyuro v 30-e gody 
by O.V. Khlevnyuk.
Rossiya Molodaya, 144 pp., December 1993, 5 86646 047 5
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... famine of 1932-3. The estimates made as long ago as 1946 by Lorimer, and in the Seventies by Stephen Wheatcroft and myself, proved to be too low, but many estimates by Western historians were too high. The present state of our knowledge about these grim consequences of Stalinism is succinctly summarised in Alec Nove’s 14-page chapter in Stalinist ...

Manners maketh books

E.S. Turner, 20 August 1981

Debrett’s Etiquette and Modern Manners 
edited by Elsie Burch Donald.
Debrett, 400 pp., £8.95, June 1981, 0 905649 43 5
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... If the Knight of Glin, the MacKinnon of MacKinnon and the McGillicuddy of the Reeks did not exist, there might be less need of books of etiquette. These veterans of Debrett’s Correct Form (where they rubbed shoulders with Midshipman the Duke of Loamshire, a difficult guest to place at table, especially with admirals present) are back trailing their dignities in Debrett’s Etiquette and Modern Manners ...

Rodinsky’s Place

Patrick Wright, 29 October 1987

White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings 
by Iain Sinclair.
Goldmark, 210 pp., £12.50, October 1987, 1 870507 00 2
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... A true scavenger, Sinclair is happy to raise the tacky speculations of a Ripperologist like Stephen Knight into his prose, but he then reverses the conventions of this sort of writing. Instead of unravelling its given crime, following the threads through to unmask the perpetrator who was there all along, White Chappell ‘starts ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... a menu of ‘Primary Colors Specials’, including Lasagne di Paul Begalanese and Pork Chop George Stephen-applesauce. There’s a copy prominently displayed in the new books section of the White House library, and 742,000 have been shipped to bookstores to meet the demand. It’s number one on the New York Times bestseller list; North American paperback ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Mr Stephen is editing a little dictionary,’ a friend explained to a clergyman foolhardy enough to ask whether Leslie ‘did any writing’. The enterprise in question was the DNB, one of those grandiosely-conceived and indefatigably-executed works of late 19th-century self-regard, comparable to the Victoria County Histories and the Survey of London ...

Lacan’s Mirrors

Edmund Leach, 2 July 1981

The Talking Cure: Essays in Psychoanalysis and Language 
edited by Colin MacCabe.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 333 23560 6
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... But all that has nothing whatever to do with this book.Although it appears in a series (edited by Stephen Heath and Colin MacCabe himself) in which the titles suggest all the latest Marxist, Feminist and Structuralist Paris fashions, the actual contents of this exercise, where they are comprehensible, seem to me to be distinctly old hat. Most of the essays ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake, 20 August 1981

The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... Aspinall’s notable work Politics and the Press (1949) does it for the period 1780 to 1850, and Stephen Koss pays full tribute to his predecessor. Professor Koss is one of the few American historians of the top rank writing about modern British political history (as opposed to pre-revolution English history). He is producing a work which, to judge from ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1982

The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... ever condemned to our discourses. And so, says Foucault, with the ‘sexual revolution’ itself. Stephen Heath never mentions Foucault. Yet his point in exposing the ‘Sexual Fix’ is almost exactly the same. It is to show that when we believe ourselves at last to be able to express our real selves in sex, when we claim our Right to Sex Happiness, go to ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 6 September 2017

... of an austerely boyish Vernon Lee, and Alvaro Guevara’s Dame Edith Sitwell from 1916. Laura Knight, three years earlier, had been condemned by the Telegraph for a self-portrait with a nude model that lacked ‘the higher charm of the “eternal feminine”’. A few such notable nudes aside, there is a tendency to allegorise lesbian desire in objects ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: On the Bus, 28 April 2011

... 2.6 per cent of those who live in Brighton – replied that they were ‘Jedi’ or ‘Jedi Knight’, which is not a religion in the strictest sense. But you have to admire the instinct. Britain might have become an altogether gentler place if the Monster Raving Loony Party had enjoyed a landslide in the general election of 1979. Filling in the ...

White Peril

E.S. Turner: H. Rider Haggard, 20 September 2001

Diary of an African Journey (1914) 
by H. Rider Haggard.
Hurst, 345 pp., £20, August 2001, 1 85065 468 9
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... own epitaph, which was carved in black marble. It read: Here lie the Ashes of Henry Rider Haggard Knight Bachelor Knight of the British Empire Who with a Humble Heart Strove to Serve his Country Nothing there about his ripping yarns, the first of which had been hyped, in 1885, as ‘The Most Amazing Story Ever ...

Victorian Piles

David Cannadine, 18 March 1982

The Albert Memorial: The Monument in its Social and Architectural Context 
by Stephen Bayley.
Scholar Press, 160 pp., £18.50, September 1981, 0 85967 594 7
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Victorian and Edwardian Town Halls 
by Colin Cunningham.
Routledge, 315 pp., £25, July 1981, 9780710007230
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... he be seated, standing or on horseback? Should he be dressed as a prince of peace, a Christian knight, or a field-marshal? The sculptured podium frieze, commemorating the eternal geniuses of poetry, music, art, painting and sculpture, also caused difficulties. Scott did not wish to be included, but Victoria insisted – so in he went. Four sculptured ...

Mahu on the Beach

Greg Dening, 22 May 1997

Gauguin’s Skirt 
by Stephen Eisenman.
Thames and Hudson, 232 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 500 01766 2
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... Degas position the animals in Racehorses at Longchamps. He had reproductions of Dürer’s etching Knight, Death and the Devil and a copy of a frieze from the Parthenon back in the studio of his House of Pleasure. They are present in Riders on the Beach as well. Two hooded riders – death on horseback – lead the other horsemen to an endless horizon. There ...

Operation Backfire

Francis Spufford: Britain’s space programme, 28 October 1999

... what happened to an object as it accelerated back into the atmosphere. This vehicle was Black Knight, a slender tube of a rocket designed to rise more or less straight up from the test range at Woomera, flip over once out of the atmosphere, and slam back to earth with every instrument on the range tracking it. It had been rushed into existence by 1958 so ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... Lost, but at least this was an ocean well-stocked with monsters:No wonder, if these did the knight appall;For all that here on earth we dreadful hold,Be but as bugs to fearen babes withall,Compared to the creatures in the seas entrall.After Spenser a little Hakluyt, the obligatory Psalm 107, some Chapman, Donne, Dryden and so to Addison, whose ...

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