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Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... It’s unlikely that Sidney Webb features in Tony Blair’s pantheon of political heroes. It would, in fact, be difficult to think of a less likely match for Tony and Cherie than Sidney and Beatrice. Yet, after almost a century, the Webbs’ thinking about local government – their disdain for civic initiative and zeal for state uniformity – still appears to influence Labour Party policy. Their ...

Town Planner?

Miles Taylor: Engels

17 December 2009
The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels 
by Tristram Hunt.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9852 8
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The Condition of the Working Class in England 
by Friedrich Engels.
Penguin, 307 pp., £10.99, May 2009, 978 0 14 119110 2
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... realised he was taking them in as well. Today, as capitalism stumbles, Marx is back as a prophet for our troubled times. Engels, however, has remained on the shelf. Is the moment ripe for a reunion? TristramHunt clearly thinks so. He has restored colour, lights and action to Engels’s life much as Francis Wheen did in his makeover of Marx ten years ago. The Frock-Coated Communist is highly readable and ...

Swiping at Suburbs

Andrew Saint: The course of British urbanism

31 March 2005
Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City 
by Tristram Hunt.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £25, June 2004, 0 297 60767 7
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... of his vision of Jerusalem helps to make it the handiest of slogans. Officially appropriated as the New Labour anthem to replace the robust ‘Red Flag’, here we have it dusted down again by TristramHunt to front a passionate, kaleidoscopic but wilful defence of the Victorian city. Building Jerusalem is a book with a plain political line; yet where it leaves us is little clearer than in Blake ...

Free Schools

Dawn Foster

6 May 2015
... and academies sprang up. David Cameron has pledged to open five hundred new free schools by 2020 if he is re-elected: that’s 270,000 new places in new schools. The shadow education secretary, TristramHunt, remarked that this would mean more schools in places where they aren’t needed. He is missing the point: schools will lose out, but they won’t be free schools ...

Shandying It

John Mullan: Sterne’s Foibles

6 June 2002
Laurence Sterne: A Life 
by Ian Campbell Ross.
Oxford, 512 pp., £25, March 2001, 0 19 212235 5
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... Tristram is the fashion,’ Laurence Sterne boasted, having just arrived in London in 1760 to taste the success of the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy. His glee seems understandable. This obscure Yorkshire clergyman, known as a wit only to a small circle of eccentric friends, had reached his mid-forties without achieving any kind of fame or ...
15 May 1980
‘A heart for every fate’: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. 10, 1822-1823 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 239 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7195 3670 7
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... fair copies of Don Juan. (Byron’s convenience is our loss, because he made many further revisions and improvements in the early cantos, in copying them himself.) With Mary Shelley was staying Leigh Hunt, obsequious, resentful of Byron’s patronage, and, Skimpole-like, borrowing and squandering his money. Hunt was a terrible legacy from Shelley. His nagging wife hated Byron, would not speak Italian ...
22 May 1980
Unreliable Memoirs 
by Clive James.
Cape, 171 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 224 01825 6
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... which is easy enough to identify: ‘I had an absurdly carefree upbringing.’ On the contrary, the book is full of grief and fear, as well as fun. Australia’s insects, to a mandible, are on the hunt for Clive James. Each chapter is a chapter of accidents. ‘Death, & Poverty, & Shame, & Pain’ – the list is that of the philosopher Hume – are all here. And so are some other ‘Calamities of ...


Robert Bernard Martin

4 April 1985
The Collected Letters of William Morris. Vol. I: 1848-1880 
edited by Norman Kelvin.
Princeton, 626 pp., £50.30, April 1984, 0 691 06501 2
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... so important that even their untenanted landscapes finally seem symbolic states of mind, paysages moralisés. Queen Guenevere perhaps sprang initially from some of the same impulses that made Holman Hunt paint The Awakening Conscience, for the Queen’s face has a pensive look that may be remorse, and in the background is a second figure – seated, male, and so diminished that the viewer might ...
6 September 1984
A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Letters and Diaries 
by Barbara Pym, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £12.95, July 1984, 0 333 34995 4
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... novels are surely in the same way romantic anti-romances. An entry in her journal during 1943 shows her taking interested notice of the English Quixotic tradition. Friends one day lent her Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, which she found (though she never read it through, and was honest enough to say so) ‘a nice, inconsequential sort of book – the sort of book one would like to have written – or might ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland

13 October 1988
Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... tragically unable to integrate his peasant heritage with his London authorial self. Lavish stretches of Westlake verse are invented to adorn the narrative – another Nabokovian touch. Clement’s hunt for Joseph coincides and precipitates a series of crises. He realises that he has powerful antagonisms – and that these were fully reciprocated by his dead brother. Clement’s wife Sheila is a ...

Abishag’s Revenge

Steven Shapin: Who wants to live for ever?

26 March 2009
Mortal Coil: A Short History of Living Longer 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Yale, 308 pp., £18.99, June 2008, 978 0 300 11778 3
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... knowledge of good and evil; and the price paid for dietary indiscretion was expulsion from paradise and, therefore, from access to the Tree of Life. No more low-hanging fruit: from then on we had to hunt, farm and cook. The Earth itself was injured by original sin: it became less fertile and its produce less nourishing, taking a toll on human longevity. The patriarchs were not immortal, but they were ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick

31 October 2002
Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... the thunderous concussion resounds for miles. This evocation of a gambolling gigantism, which has its counterpart in Ishmael’s ludic prose ramblings and all-but-free associations (Melville read Tristram Shandy shortly before he got down to Moby-Dick), reaches its height in the stunning set-piece that pulls the white whale forward from first sighting (‘a hump like a snow-hill’) into a ...

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