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A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt

6 June 2002
Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... in two thick volumes (1991-98), although anyone who wants to know what lay beneath all the warts, scars and obscenities will have to wait for Caro to finish – if they live long enough. Well before Stephen Ambrose got blindsided a few months ago by the plagiarism police, he produced solid biographies of Eisenhower in two volumes (1983-84) and Nixon in three (1987-91). And though William McFeely won a ...

Strangers

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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... top box-office receipts on both sides of the Atlantic, have recently provided the material for works by artists as different from each other as P.D. James, DV8 Physical Dance Theatre and David Lynch. Stephen Egger, an American academic and former policeman who wrote the first doctoral dissertation on the phenomenon, gives a definition/description of serial murder in Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan

16 December 2004
Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... Catholic brother, James, the Duke of York. He would also have had certain recent martyrs to the Whig cause in mind: Algernon Sidney and William Russell, as well as the ‘protestant joiner’, Stephen College. Bunyan’s printer Francis Smith had published a ballad by College, ‘A Ra-ree Show’, which attacked the king and the duke. College, an apprentice of Smith’s, was brought to Oxford ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood

22 July 2004
Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen​ Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... whose masquerades inevitably bamboozle his foolish oppressors: he specialises in pretending to help people capture Robin Hood. He is the only figure in the DNB who is said never to have existed. Stephen Knight grants that ‘it seems highly improbable, or at least unprovable, that a Mr R. Hood ever existed,’ though, for some people, Robin Hood, King Arthur ‘and even God himself all existed ...

Success

Marilyn Butler

18 November 1982
The Trouble of an Index: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. XII 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 166 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 7195 3885 8
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Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 404 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 7195 3974 9
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Byron 
by Frederic Raphael.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 500 01278 4
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Byron’s Political and Cultural Influence in 19th-Century Europe: A Symposium 
edited by Paul Graham Trueblood.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 333 29389 4
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Byron and Joyce through Homer 
by Hermione de Almeida.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 333 30072 6
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Byron: A Poet Before His Public 
by Philip Martin.
Cambridge, 253 pp., £18.50, July 1982, 0 521 24186 3
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... in my esteem age is not estimable.’ Raphael writes of ‘a smart touch of heterodoxy, the most consistent of all Byron’s doxies’. He quotes Byron’s own reminiscence of his cousin, Margaret Parker, ‘one of the most beautiful of evanescent beings’, only to round off the paragraph by observing that Margaret Parker ‘took evanescence to the limit by dying’. Biographer and subject could ...
3 September 1987
... minded that it is probably seldom necessary for them to be told precisely what the Government would like. But it would be folly to think this could never happen. As both the recent books on the Stephen Ward case have shown, the trial was rigged from beginning to end. The Police threatened and blackmailed witnesses into lying on a grand scale; Lord Chief Justice Parker went through extraordinary ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis

1 July 1999
The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... and retriever. Professional players of my son’s generation (he’s now 27) won’t have any of this, partly because they never saw even the great postwar champions like Ted Schroeder, Frank Parker, Eric Sturgess, and there are no videos of what Wadie quaintly refers to as ‘vintage’ players, partly because today’s champions are focused so exclusively on tennis, with endless exercise and ...
6 September 2001
The Curse: Confronting the Last Taboo, Menstruation 
by Karen Houppert.
Profile, 261 pp., £6.99, April 2000, 1 86197 212 1
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... about Fallopian tubes, and they don’t want bland reassurance, either. They want to know what it feels like. Naturally, parents across the country have tried to ban the book from school libraries. Stephen King’s Carrie, devoured by high-school students of both sexes (four million copies sold), is at the other end of the spectrum. Carrie is a social misfit in every way: she’s so out of things that ...

Self-Extinction

Russell Davies

18 June 1981
Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... had jumped to his death seven years before. While in Mexico, Clift contracted amoebic dysentery.’ And so the catalogue continues. Hart Crane came to call his father ‘the chocolate maggot’. Stephen Crane’s died when he was nine. It’s not until the rather marginal figure of Harry Crosby that we meet a man whose father lasted long enough to threaten to ‘map out’ his son’s life, thus ...

Mortal Beauty

Paul Delany

21 May 1981
Feminine Beauty 
by Kenneth Clark.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 297 77677 0
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Of Women and their Elegance 
by Norman Mailer.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 340 23920 4
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Nude Photographs 1850-1980 
edited by Constance Sullivan.
Harper and Row, 204 pp., £19.95, September 1981, 0 06 012708 2
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... sexuality. Clark mistrusts desire because he wants beauty to be rather than do: to create a ‘luminous silent stasis of aesthetic pleasure’, if we may borrow a phrase from another arch-formalist, Stephen Dedalus. Such a view ignores the special status of feminine beauty in Western culture. There is no intrinsic reason why woman, naked or clothed, should be the supreme aesthetic subject of art: she ...

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, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... Later he explained that this was what started him off. ‘The image had to be substantiated,’ Feaver 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 ...
8 May 1997
... entertain a dispute about whether the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board had acted in accordance with the remit contained in the white paper which set it up. It is not the leading judgment of Lord Parker which today merits rereading bur the second one, in which Lord Justice Diplock observed that what was in dispute was the last unclaimed prize of the constitutional conflicts of the 17th century ...

Hare’s Blood

Peter Wollen: John Berger

4 April 2002
The Selected Essays of John Berger 
edited by Geoff Dyer.
Bloomsbury, 599 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 7475 5419 6
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... was, for example, less than welcoming to Gear, a painter who already enjoyed an international reputation. In 1948, Gear, then based in Paris, had exhibited with Réalités Nouvelles and, along with Stephen Gilbert, had also become one of only two British founding members of the CoBrA group, whose significance has been aptly characterised by Chris van der Heijden: ‘in the midst of the darkness of the ...

Middle Positions

John Hedley Brooke

21 July 1983
Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London 1850-1875 
by Adrian Desmond.
Blond and Briggs, 287 pp., £15.95, October 1982, 0 85634 121 5
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Evolution without Evidence: Charles Darwin and ‘The Origin Species’ 
by Barry Gale.
Harvester, 238 pp., £18.95, January 1983, 0 7108 0442 3
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The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography 
by Janet Browne.
Yale, 273 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 300 02460 6
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The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinsm 
by Brain Leith.
Collins, 174 pp., £7.95, December 1982, 0 00 219548 8
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... on the membership of the celebrated X-Club, which, despite its secular aims, enjoyed the backing of young Christian biologists such as William Carpenter, William Henry Flower and William Kitchen Parker. Never, he writes, was it simply a matter of Church-baiting rationalists triumphing over religious obscurantism: rather, a more subtle attempt ‘jointly undertaken by agnostics, deists and some ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993

16 December 1993
... Croats, or whoever it was shot him, think this was just a bit of a spanking too. 16 January. Now the papers are full of the latest scandal, the bugged phone call between the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles. I read none of it, as I didn’t read the earlier Diana tapes, not out of disapproval or moral superiority, just genuine lack of interest. I wish it would all go away. Sickened by the self ...

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