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Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver, 19 June 1986

All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... more studied kind, has now returned to our food culture with the index ciborum prohibitorum which Victor Gordon prints in his ‘unashamedly racist’ English Cookbook. Chillies, ginger and sardines figure on the list if consumed fresh, cod if eaten salted; apricots are ‘borderline’. The French gentry have many faults, but at least they do not employ ...

Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... a set of memoirs in burlesque form? The glamorous world is conjured up in tottering hyperbole (‘Victor’s bed was like a raised tennis court covered in velvet the colour of a Raphael pope’s cassock. The whole Borgia family could have climbed into it and still left room for a last-minute reconciliation with the Orsini’) and pitted against various ...

A Bit of Ginger

Theo Tait: Gordon Burn, 5 June 2008

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel 
by Gordon Burn.
Faber, 214 pp., £15.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 19729 3
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... Gordon Burn’s work takes place at a point where fact and fiction, public events and private lives, fame and death all meet. He began his career as a proponent of the non-fiction novel pioneered by Truman Capote and Norman Mailer; his first book, Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son (1984), was a painstaking re-creation of the life of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper ...

Bridges

Edmund Leach, 15 July 1982

Myth, Religion and Society: Structuralist Essays 
by M. Detienne, L. Gernet, J-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, edited by R.L. Gordon.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 306 pp., £20, January 1982, 0 521 22780 1
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The Anthropological Circle: Symbol, Function, History 
by Marc Augé.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 131 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 521 23236 8
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... these two books have in common, so my comments will be seriatim. The earliest of the essays in the Gordon collection, which is by Gernet, who died in 1962 at the age of 80, first appeared as long ago as 1948; the remainder at various dates since 1968. Of the latter, three are by Vernant, five by Vidal-Naquet, three by Detienne. The fact that the Gernet item ...

Down among the press lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

The Life and Death of the Press Barons 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 288 pp., £12.50, December 1982, 0 436 06811 7
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... around. And while Rupert’s still around (and Sir James, and Robert, and Tiny – and maybe even Victor: ‘I have the papers in which to give my views, but I think the House of Lords will be better’), reports of the ‘death of the press barons’ are somewhat exaggerated. The British certainly like to give the impression that the breed is still with ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... Minister. But that was only the start of such dalliance. The Express proprietor at the time was Victor Matthews, a builder and property-developer. Matthews was apparently desperate for an honour, and not best pleased when Junor got one first. But he didn’t have to wait too long. For the editor went selflessly to work among his cronies. The Prime ...

Test Case

Robert Taubman, 3 September 1981

July’s People 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Cape, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 0 224 01932 5
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The Company of Women 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 291 pp., £6.50, July 1981, 0 224 01955 4
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Zuckerman Unbound 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 225 pp., £5.95, August 1981, 0 224 01974 0
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... is kind on this morning, and Maureen’s children have begun to pick up African manners: ‘Victor is seen to clap his hands, sticky with mealie-pap, softly, gravely together and bob obeisance, receiving the gift with cupped palms.’ Only, this has all been arranged ironically: its purpose is to set the scene for Maureen’s abdication and flight to ...

The Politics of Good Intentions

David Runciman: Blair’s Masochism, 8 May 2003

... he is of ‘lesser worth’. The same kinds of thing, Weber suggests, happen after a war: The victor will of course assert, with ignoble self-righteousness: ‘I won because I was in the right’ . . . When the horrors of war cause a man to suffer a psychological breakdown, instead of simply saying, ‘It was all just too much for me,’ he now feels the ...

Controversy abating and credulity curbed?

Ronald Syme, 4 September 1980

... Red Sea. Surviving only in copies, the text has been held genuine by a Semitic philologist (Cyrus Gordon). Superior literacy has rendered North America more prolific in pre-Columbian testimonies. About ninety years ago, a runic inscription was dislodged from the roots of a tree in rural Minnesota: a party of Norsemen (both male and female) had got that far in ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... such statistics all too vivid. Eight months after D Day, one company of the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders had just three men left out of the 115 who had landed in Normandy. But desertion and ‘combat exhaustion’ were rare as British troops in this sector moved through the Reichswald on Germany’s border with Holland. This was perhaps because ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... and colleagues seem to have treated him as a guru, compelled by his ‘holiness’. Yet Lyndall Gordon suggests that later in life, visited by moods in which evil seemed everywhere, T.S. Eliot sometimes suspected the man he too had once thought holy was in fact diabolic. Reading Williams, you can sometimes see what Eliot meant. Williams seems to believe in ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce, 22 October 1992

Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... units of accountancy constituting the present. All the successors, the amiable if cack-handed Victor Matthews, his feverish mayor of the palace, Jocelyn Stevens, and subsequent persons deepening the descent, still aspired to Beaverbrook’s peremptory ways, his habit of punting enthusiasms and nominating heroes. All that was missing was the ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell, 19 June 2003

George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... novelist. As judicious (though not hopelessly balanced) accounts, the new biographies by Gordon Bowker and D.J. Taylor confirm what the law of averages might have led one to suspect: some of this is true, some of it questionable and the rest of it false. (Scott Lucas, by contrast, thinks almost all of it true.) Orwell was indeed ...

Undesirable

Tom Paulin, 9 May 1996

T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and Literary Form 
by Anthony Julius.
Cambridge, 308 pp., £30, September 1995, 0 521 47063 3
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... new, and in a sense it replicates the treatment Eliot accorded to a book published in 1936 by Victor Gollancz called The Yellow Spot: the outlawing of half a million human beings. The title-page reads:                        a collection    of facts and documents relating to three       years’ persecution of German ...

Jungle Joys

Alfred Appel Jr: Wa-Wa-Wa with the Duke, 5 September 2002

... Tan Fantasy’, can be interpreted as an inspiring racial statement (the best recording is the RCA Victor version, made on 26 October 1927; three other similar versions were recorded on different labels in the same month). The ‘Tan’ of the title refers to light complexions, long deemed a social advantage to African-Americans, starting with candidates for ...

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