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Straight to the Multiplex

Tom McCarthy: Steven Hall’s ‘The Raw Shark Texts’, 1 November 2007

The Raw Shark Texts 
by Steven Hall.
Canongate, 368 pp., £12.99, March 2007, 978 1 84195 902 3
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... abandons on Naxos on his way home, leaving her to while away her time by orgying with Bacchus. Steven Hall, who went to art school and would therefore fit right in with a semi-conceptual ‘organisation’ such as ours, seems to have plugged into a very similar network of associations in his first novel, The Raw Shark Texts. The book has a girlfriend ...

The Fame Game

Alan Brien, 6 September 1984

by Steven Aronson.
Hutchinson, 198 pp., £5.95, May 1984, 0 09 156251 1
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Automatic Vaudeville 
by John Lahr.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 434 40188 9
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Broadway Babies: The People who made the American Musical 
by Ethan Mordden.
Oxford, 244 pp., £19, August 1984, 0 19 503345 0
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... Steven Aronson’s Hype, a guide to the latest techniques of mass manipulation, may have less impact on British readers than it has had on American. The word is a recent coinage, but since the days of Dickens’s American Notes or, even earlier, of Fanny Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans, we have been accustomed to associate the practice of hype with what many Brits still call the Yank ...

Many Causes, Many Cases

Peter Hall, 28 June 1990

Confessions of a Reluctant Theorist 
by W.G. Runciman.
Harvester, 253 pp., £30, April 1990, 0 7450 0484 9
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... been prodigious. The works of Perry Anderson, Ernest Gellner, Anthony Giddens, Geoffrey Hawthorn, Steven Lukes, Michael Mann and Runciman himself, not to mention many others, take up the challenge of the classical sociologists, often on the terrain of world history. Runciman’s own response to the question of what sociology must do is similar in scope to ...


Norma Kitson, 7 March 1985

... young policeman who was acting as a doorman. I went home to my kids. Amandla was 18 months old and Steven seven. I had a morning job as a secretary at National Dairy Equipment. Before me stretched six months of rushing off to work, almost daily visits to Colonel Klindt’s office, preparing Dave’s meals, delivering them, taking ...


Peter Burke, 21 May 1987

The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline 
by J.H. Elliott.
Yale, 733 pp., £19.95, August 1986, 0 300 03390 7
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Philip IV and the Decoration of the Alcazar of Madrid 
by Steven Orso.
Princeton, 227 pp., £36.70, July 1986, 0 691 04036 2
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... to the programme of the paintings by Velazquez, Zurbaran and others in the throne room, the Hall of Realms. Brown and Elliott suggested that the Buen Retiro was ‘a projection in three dimensions of the personality and policies of the Count-Duke’, and drew attention to many iconographic details which support their case. ...

Jours de Fête

Mark Thornton Burnett, 9 January 1992

Shakespeare’s Festive World: Elizabethan Seasonal Entertainment and the Professional Stage 
by François Laroque, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge, 423 pp., £45, September 1991, 0 521 37549 5
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... of New Historicist interpretations of the period by Stephen Greenblatt, Louis Montrose, Steven Mullancy and Peter Stallybrass (among others) and a chapter on Othello. This is less a translation than a new study in its own right. One of the great virtues of Shakespeare’s Festive World is the scrupulous care with which its investigations are ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Jeffrey Epstein’s Little Black Book, 15 August 2019

... by warders and barbed wire, and a life-sized doll hanging from a chandelier. In the entrance hall, rows of prosthetic eyeballs are fixed to the wall. The agents opened the door with a crowbar and, according to federal prosecutors who spoke to the New York Times, ‘seized photographs of nude underage girls’. Evidence has been piling up that Epstein was ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1990, 24 January 1991

... complaining that the history you’re making falls between every possible stool, or some Prague Steven Berkoff snarling that it’s not the kind of history that’s worth making anyway. I wonder whether Havel has lots of uncompleted dissident plays. To put them on now would he somehow inappropriate. Still, he could write a play about it.Though I like the ...

Interesting Fellows

Walter Nash, 4 May 1989

The Book of Evidence 
by John Banville.
Secker, 220 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 436 03267 8
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by Patrick McCabe.
Aidan Ellis, 252 pp., £11.50, March 1989, 0 85628 180 8
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The Tryst 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 168 pp., £10.99, April 1989, 0 571 15450 6
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by James Hamilton-Paterson.
Macmillan, 264 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 333 45194 5
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... to his native place in the Fifties, to revive its fortunes with a meat-processing plant, a dance hall and a select tavern-cum-roadhouse. Thereafter Carn has done well enough. The lawn-mowers whirr regularly like gossips, the regular gossips loiter in the streets and shop doorways, Republican sentiments are regularly voiced, the church clock chimes ...

False Brought up of Nought

Thomas Penn: Henry VII’s Men on the Make, 27 July 2017

Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 393 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 19 965983 8
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... glad to be in his favour.’ This will all seem familiar to aficionados of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall: in the following reign, Thomas Cromwell was the apotheosis (or nadir) of these ‘new men’. As Steven Gunn argues in his new book, a work of characteristic meticulousness, not only did these men encapsulate the ...

Warrior, Lover, Villain, Spiv

Tom Crewe: Dance Halls, 7 January 2016

Going to the Palais: A Social and Cultural History of Dancing and Dance Halls in Britain, 1918-60 
by James Nott.
Oxford, 327 pp., £65, September 2015, 978 0 19 960519 4
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... Maureen​ met Keith at a dance in Middlesbrough Town Hall, sometime in 1955. They were both in their early twenties; she was a nurse and he was in the merchant navy. The week before – she went dancing every week, if she didn’t have a shift – Maureen had been followed off the bus by a man who then stalked her all the way to her front door, lingering outside even as she slipped off her shoes in the hallway ...

What did you expect?

Steven Shapin: The banality of moon-talk, 1 September 2005

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth 
by Andrew Smith.
Bloomsbury, 308 pp., £17.99, April 2005, 0 7475 6368 3
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... In Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers, Dorothy Moore – a retired music-hall chanteuse and the wife of a moral philosopher called George Moore – is going dotty in her bedroom. The precipitating cause is a televised fight between the first two astronauts to land on the Moon about who gets to go back home on a damaged lunar ascent module that can carry only one ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘De Palma’, 20 October 2016

... fall to his death. De Palma’s voice says: ‘I saw Vertigo in 1958. I saw it at Radio City Music Hall. I will never forget it.’ As he speaks the last sentence his image appears on screen. He is sitting in front of a fireplace, as he will be for the rest of the movie, but the camera gets closer to him later and stays closer. Here he is not smiling yet, but ...

Rough Trade

Steven Shapin: Robert Hooke, 6 March 2003

The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 
by Stephen Inwood.
Macmillan, 497 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 333 78286 0
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... Street Hill Monument to the Fire, the Haberdashers’ School, Montagu House in Bloomsbury, Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire, the Fleet Ditch, the reconstructed Tangier Mole, and possibly several more of the rebuilt City churches than the three (St Benet Paul’s Wharf, St Edmund the King and St Martin within Ludgate) that are now ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... Wray in King Kong, Miss Piggy as the Forces’ sweetheart and, brilliantly, Miss Piggy as Annie Hall, with Kermit as Woody. The calendar idea led to books, including Miss Piggy’s Art Masterpieces from the Kermitage Collection, in which Miss Piggy modelled for reinterpretations both of the Old Masters and the Moderns: Degas’s The La Danseur, Vermeer’s ...

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