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Cool It

Jenny Diski, 18 July 1996

I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 356 pp., £15.99, June 1996, 9780571144877
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... but assures her that ‘it will be splendid ... to pass with such companions as I have.’ Dr Wilson, according to his obituary in the Times, ‘beautifully lit up the wastes’, and Scott, in his last message, found in the tent with the three bodies, declared: ‘We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake, I do not regret this journey, which ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012, 3 January 2013

... makes me remember when I was a boy and the series in, I think, the Hotspur or the Wizard about Wilson. Wilson was a tall sinewy man of indeterminate age, modest, taciturn, mysterious, who in a typical episode would bring off some amazing feat of endurance – running a vast distance in a seemingly impossible ...

Rolling Stone

Peter Burke, 20 August 1981

The Past and the Present 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 274 pp., £8.75, June 1981, 0 7100 0628 4
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... of Wadham. He was already a controversial figure who had, as we all knew, crossed swords with Hugh Trevor-Roper over the state of the Elizabethan aristocracy and with Geoffrey Elton over the question of Tudor despotism. Stone’s favourite theme at that time was ‘The Coming of the English Revolution’. Looking back from the later 17th century, Lord ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite, 18 May 1989

The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... with comedy as well as pathos. At times I was reminded of Compton-Burnett, and often of William Trevor. But the lines that kept on coming into my head were from another brooder on things that might have been, on wrong choices, on ruffled dignity:                      no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of ...

Possessed

A.N. Wilson, 14 May 1992

Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... that was a sort of martyrdom too. It would be unkind, in this context, to recall that when Hugh Trevor-Roper reviewed Waugh’s life of Campion, the headline was ‘Twice Martyred’, but, if there is a library in Purgatory, Stannard’s book, with its frequent grammatical solecisms, its plodding attempts at psychiatry and its crude view of the class ...

I and My Wife

Bee Wilson: Eva Braun, 5 January 2012

Eva Braun: Life with Hitler 
by Heike Görtemaker, translated by Damion Searls.
Allen Lane, 324 pp., £25, October 2011, 978 1 84614 489 9
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... figure. She was the middle daughter of a Munich schoolteacher and a former seamstress, Hugh Trevor-Roper called her ‘a historical disappointment’ on the grounds that she played ‘no role in the decisions that led to the worst crimes of the century’. Would a Lady Macbeth have been less ‘disappointing’? In contrast to Magda Goebbels and other ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... attitudes about elite culture, make the top-down instruction provided with such grumpy relish by Wilson problematic. But the chief reason is that the academy won: it was not writers who changed literary criticism, but academic criticism that changed literary criticism. It made it, precisely, more academic. Theory, metalled with its own unforgiving ...

Outbreak of Pleasure

Angus Calder, 23 January 1986

Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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Outposts 
by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... of traditional working-class culture to a summit of influence in the mid-20th century.’ Yet Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook don’t mention sport at all in A World Still to Win, their eloquent but also irritating and unconvincing tract on the ‘reconstruction of the post-war working class’. For them, it seems, the working class must be ...

What’s not to like?

Stefan Collini: Ernest Gellner, 2 June 2011

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography 
by John Hall.
Verso, 400 pp., £29.99, July 2010, 978 1 84467 602 6
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... 1979,’ though he would have seemed a likely Labour supporter before that, especially during the Wilson ‘white heat of technology’ years. As with some others of his generation, an early anti-Communism seems to have mutated into an enthusiasm for ‘liberalisation’ that could appear to neglect or downplay the systemic injustices inherent in market ...

The Writer and the Valet

Frances Stonor Saunders, 25 September 2014

... about the situation – & perhaps a little more than all,’ he murmured side-of-mouth to Edmund Wilson late in 1957. ‘There is a (secret) Russian text in Oxford, in the keeping of the sisters of the poet: they guard it like Cerberi … I have (secretly) got a microfilm of the Russian text to the Widener Library for safe-keeping, but they are not supposed ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?, 28 November 2002

Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... for the next significant attempt to fashion a more open and democratic national identity. The Wilson Administration’s liberalising legislation on race relations, gender equality and homosexuality takes pride of place in his account, alongside the Open University and the new wave of BBC comedy and drama (Dad’s Army, Monty Python, Dennis Potter). This ...

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