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29 September 1988
... of particular poets, they seemed to demand a certain minimal standard of respect: of accessible diction, clarity of argument, compression, and honesty of feeling. I couldn’t blather all over the page as I found I could and did when I attempted free verse. Pouring my spirit into a cup into which some poet I admired had poured his, I found I was seized with an energy that came from outside myself ...
31 July 1997
The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia 
by Tim​ Judah.
Yale, 368 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 07113 2
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... with the West and for being unlike Muslims elsewhere. Before long, Western newspapers and Balkan nationalists were using much the same language. With complete assurance, editorials, columns and op-ed page articles purported to locate characteristics that have supposedly been present for centuries in these little-known Balkan peoples. For many Western commentators talking about the Serbs was a way of ...
17 March 1988
Politics: A Work of Constructive Social Theory 
by Roberto Mangabeira Unger.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 32974 4
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The Critical Legal Studies Movement 
by Roberto Mangabeira Unger.
Harvard, 128 pp., £15.25, October 1986, 0 674 17735 5
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W.A. Mozart: ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ 
by Tim​ Carter.
Cambridge, 180 pp., £27.50, February 1988, 0 521 30267 6
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... of her sexual tastes. How odd not to prefer, as anyone else would do, the favours of a signor liberal, prudente e saggio to those of a giovinastro and a paggio (a callow adolescent and a mere page). The page Cherubino, despite his giddy youth and relatively menial role, is of course a lad of good family. The post in the Count’s regiment to which he is so unavailingly despatched carries the ...

Full of Words

Tim​ Parks: ‘Arturo’s Island’

15 August 2019
Arturo’s Island 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Pushkin, 370 pp., £9.99, May, 978 1 78227 495 7
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... he’ who first told the boy the meaning of his name. Goldstein also respects the paragraph breaks of the original, something Quigly frequently alters. This seems crucial on the novel’s first page where Morante sets up three short paragraphs, the first establishing the boast contained in the name, which is then dismissed with ‘unfortunately’, which opens the second paragraph. This second ...


Tim​ Parks: Hugging a fraud

19 February 1998
... questions at him, though I always feel a little uncertain myself in the face of irregular Italian subjunctives and past historics. He seemed confident enough. To impress my wife I said: ‘Take any page of this book, underline every verb you come across and explain the cases to me.’ Finding it open where I had left off, he studied this very page I am now translating. Then me phone rang, or there ...
8 May 1997
Promising The Earth 
by Robert Lamb.
Routledge, 204 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 415 14443 4
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... saying ‘Who Needs Sperm Oil?’; of a bus with a David Bowie poster on the front because FoE persuaded Ziggy Stardust himself to dedicate a performance to Save the Whale. FoE also took out quarter-page adverts in the Times, signed by famous people. One veteran recalls: ‘We got a call from Peter Scott to say: “Why haven’t you asked HRH to sign it?” That was a day! We knew we had arrived in ...

Behaving like Spiders

Tim​ Flannery: The Holocene summer of social evolution

24 June 2004
The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilisation 
by Brian Fagan.
Granta, 284 pp., £20, May 2004, 1 86207 644 8
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... population. Yet the capacity of such events to disrupt lives forms just one thread of Fagan’s argument, which is developed alongside two innovative hypotheses. ‘Climate,’ he writes on his final page, ‘has helped shape civilisation, but not by being benign.’ In many ways this is a climatic version of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’; but it also represents a novel approach ...
1 June 2000
Driving the Heart 
by Jason Brown.
Cape, 224 pp., £10, January 2000, 0 224 06053 8
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... sentences, often in the present tense: ‘I live in a so-so neighbourhood. The people there smell and never take out the trash. I look out my window at a funeral home.’ By the end of the second page – as is the case in so many American short stories – the long shadow of Raymond Carver has fallen unmistakably over the narrative. The narrator describes his unusual line of work and various ...

Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher

John Gray: The Tory Future

22 April 2010
The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim​ Bale.
Polity, 446 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 7456 4857 6
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Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection 
by Peter Snowdon.
Harper Press, 419 pp., £14.99, March 2010, 978 0 00 730725 8
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... Cameron might not have become leader. Yet he has been perceived as an unstoppable force, the author of an irreversible transformation in his party that has set it firmly back on the road to power. Tim Bale’s exhaustive and authoritative account is hedged throughout with academic caution, but it concludes in terms that treat the Conservatives’ return to office as a foregone conclusion: ‘just ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough

21 October 2015
... Corb snubs​ the queen,’ ran the headline on the front page of the Sun on 16 September, in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s tight-lipped participation in the singing of the national anthem at a commemoration of the Battle of Britain. The Times led with ...


Seamus Perry: Southey’s Genius for Repression

26 January 2006
Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793-1810 
edited by Lynda Pratt, Tim​ Fulford and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts.
Pickering & Chatto, 2624 pp., £450, May 2004, 1 85196 731 1
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... as the handsome and welcome new edition of the verse lets us see with new clarity. No one in the world knows more about Southey than Lynda Pratt, and she and her team of editors, principally Tim Fulford and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts, have done an exemplary job recording variants, printing early versions and manuscript fragments, and identifying sources. Southey’s ambitions were vast, and he ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves

6 June 2013
The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim​ Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... for over a century’ or that ‘the most commonly used word critics have employed to describe the collective art of the Redgraves is true.’ There is less reverence and more gossip to be had from Tim Adler’s The House of Redgrave, which describes Vanessa wrapping a napkin around her head and singing ‘Edelweiss’ at Natasha’s wedding, accompanied by Rupert Everett. On the other hand, Adler ...

Target Practice

Tim​ Whitmarsh: Lucian

25 February 2010
Lucian: A Selection 
edited by Neil Hopkinson.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.99, October 2008, 978 0 521 84200 6
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...  pretty much the image of their modern avatars. A contrary tendency, however, emphasises absolute difference (or ‘otherness’). From this vantage point, Greek culture exists not on the page, but in the alien world of rituals, sacrifices, scapegoats and goat-songs that lies behind it. But for how much longer will this compartmentalisation of ‘modernising’ and ‘primitivising ...

The Pills in the Fridge

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Christodora’

29 March 2017
by Tim​ Murphy.
Picador, 432 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 1 5098 1857 0
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... The Christodora​ of Tim Murphy’s novel is a New York apartment building, ‘handsomely simple’, built on the corner of Avenue B and 9th Street in the 1920s. By the 1980s the area had become known as the East Village ...

Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia

25 September 2003
The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim​ Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... Every grass eating mammal had two sets of sharp teeth to make a clean bite. No other land had been treated so gently.’ It would take only two hundred years for this earth to be pounded into dust. Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths are among Australia’s most creative historians. Griffiths’s Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia (1996) has become the most quoted work of ...

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