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Bloody

Michael Church

9 October 1986
The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... The Shallow Grave meshes closely with Voices, since its author fought in the same battalion, but this piece of oral history has been turned by skilful editing into an immensely readable memoir. WalterGregory’s tale is in many ways archetypal. ‘Setting off for Spain ... I was like a holidaymaker going abroad for the first time.’ He had moved through trade-union activism inexorably leftward ...
13 November 1997
The Origins of English Nonsense 
by Noel Malcolm.
HarperCollins, 329 pp., £18, May 1997, 0 00 255827 0
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... distinction of being England’s first professional manufacturer of nonsense. Taylor’s subsequent work includes, along with mock-eulogies and mock-epitaphs on both Hoskyns and Coryate, the epic Sir Gregory Nonsence His Newes from No Place, the more comprehensibly satirical Mercurius Nonsensicus and the virtually endless The Essence of Nonsence upon Sence (included here with only the comparatively lucid ...

Trevelogue

E.S. Turner

25 June 1987
The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... he was my publisher (a very helpful and tolerant one – interest duly declared). He was born in the Andaman Islands, the penal settlement run by the Raj off the coast of Burma, where his father, Walter Raleigh Trevelyan, was an Army captain. There may have been chain-gangs clanking away on the roads, and predatory savages on the neighbouring isles, but gracious living was not excluded: Government ...

Against Consciousness

Richard Gregory

24 January 1980
Pavlov 
by Jeffrey Gray.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.25, September 1980, 9780006343042
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J.B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism 
by David Cohen.
Routledge, 297 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7100 0054 5
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... about one topic while reading aloud on another – which, as it turns out, is possible. No doubt the work on electrical brain activity (EEG), initiated by Adrian and Matthews and developed by Grey Walter, forced psychologists’ attention away from the easily observed muscles towards the brain and nervous system, where it now lies firmly, with a growing interest in subtle chemical changes which are ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... Thus the characters in the poem behave like 15th-century knights and often the background is more Edinburgh and the grey North Sea than the colourful panoply of the Mediterranean ... ’ Saint Gregory ‘forbiddis ws to translate word efter word,’ said Douglas. Who were these ‘many other translators of his day’? Douglas’s vernacular translation was pioneering, his language courtly and ...

Dr Vlad

Terry Eagleton: Edna O’Brien

21 October 2015
The Little Red Chairs 
by Edna O’Brien.
Faber, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 0 571 31628 1
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... has leapt from being a largely agricultural society to one of high-tech finance capitalism, information technology and the service industries. Rural drama has given way to Riverdance, and Lady Gregory to Martin McDonagh. The passage from the premodern to the postmodern, partly eclipsing modernity proper, was smoothed by the fact that Ireland had no industrial infrastructure to dismantle. You can ...

A Man It Would Be Unwise to Cross

Stephen Alford: Thomas Cromwell

8 November 2018
Thomas Cromwell: A Life 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 752 pp., £30, September 2018, 978 1 84614 429 5
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... Putney, a few miles upriver from London, where he was born and from where he escaped probably as soon as he was able. Born around 1485, he was a teenager at the turn of the new century. His father, Walter Cromwell alias Smith, was a more or less successful businessman whose brushes with manorial justice were practically routine. His mother’s name may have been Katherine, and her origins can be ...
4 September 1997
Modern British Utopias 1700-1850 
by Gregory​ Claeys.
Pickering & Chatto, 4128 pp., £550, March 1997, 1 85196 319 7
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... to the fact that we can never attain it. The most mindbending of literary genres provide evidence of our incurable straightness. Utopias from the 18th and early 19th-centuries, of the kind which Gregory Claeys has assembled in this handsome set of volumes, are outlandish precisely because of their ordinariness. What seems ‘utopian’, in the sense of extravagantly unreal, about them is precisely ...

How to Twist a Knife

Colin Burrow: Wolf Hall

30 April 2009
Wolf Hall 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 653 pp., April 2009, 978 0 00 723018 1
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... wooing almost, as he urges her to accept that Anne Boleyn is now queen. He is the only person who appreciates the importance of this particular little woman. He even prompts his disappointing son Gregory to wonder what would happen if the king and Anne Boleyn died, and to recognise that Mary might one day be queen. Cromwell’s sensitivity here is a beautifully worked falsehood. His only surviving ...

Must poets write?

Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language

10 May 2012
Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 232 pp., £11.50, April 2012, 978 0 226 66061 5
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Columbia, 272 pp., £15.95, September 2011, 978 0 231 14991 4
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Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Northwestern, 593 pp., £40.50, December 2010, 978 0 8101 2711 1
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Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: [Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
Wesleyan, 224 pp., £20.50, May 2010, 978 0 8195 6929 5
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... writer Yoko Tawada and the French Norwegian (based in London) Caroline Bergvall alongside that earlier, more self-confident polyglottist, Ezra Pound. Perloff finds a precursor for all this in Walter Benjamin, who during the 1930s collected thousands of quotations (mostly in French) about Paris, its glass and iron shopping arcades, its street fights, its shopgirls, its effects on Baudelaire and ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg

18 November 2004
The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... On a winter’s evening in 1803, James Hogg turned up for dinner at the home of Walter Scott. The man his host liked to call ‘the honest grunter’ was shown into the drawing-room, where a pregnant Mrs Scott was resting on a sofa. Unsure of the protocol in these toney surroundings ...

A Country Emptied

Ian Jack: The Highland Clearances

7 March 2019
The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 30410 5
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... successes about the Tay Bridge disaster and Culloden to become the biggest-selling Scottish history book of all time. Prebble, born in England and raised in Canada, did for the clearances what Walter Lord did for the Titanic in A Night to Remember, and in the same way. Through vivid narrative history, told like a novel, he revived public interest in a historic disaster: the story of how, to quote ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X

4 February 1999
Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... a quarter of the district’s residents were of Caribbean origin, while half of New York’s black businesses were owned by West Indians. In 1952, however, when Congress passed the McCarran Walter Act restricting migration, prospective migrants to the US were obliged to reconsider. The United Kingdom, where some of their kin had already settled, was an obvious choice. Officially, 492 West ...

Formication

Daniel Soar: Harry Mathews

21 July 2005
My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 
by Harry Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 203 pp., £8.99, July 2005, 1 56478 392 8
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... can penetrate the arcana of Parisian society. At gatherings of film-makers, artists and writers (the great names trip off the tongue: Jean-Noël Vuarnet, Sylviane Agacinski, Jim West, Mary McCarthy, Gregory Mazurovsky, Richard Foreman, Kate Manheim, Louis and Zuka Mittelberg, Bruno Marcenac, Michel Loriod, Maurice Roche), he now can see that all the high-flown references he had barely understood – to ...

Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’

23 October 2003
Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... magnate, Lord Grondale, and the grasping Church of England clergyman, Dr Blick. Without forsaking the facetious humour of his earlier fiction – represented most obviously by his Shandean narrator, Gregory Glen – Bage involves his characters in some of the most commonly debated political and philosophical issues of the day. Hermsprong is the idealised product of a childhood passed among Native ...

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