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Good Things

Colin McGinn, 5 September 1996

Virtues and Reasons: Philippa Foot and Moral Theory 
edited by Rosalind Hursthouse, Gavin Lawrence and Warren Quinn.
Oxford, 350 pp., £35, July 1996, 0 19 824046 5
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... If she does not, she is not being irrational in reasoning by invalid rules of inference. We may hope that people will desire to reason as logic says they should, but we can’t accuse them of unreason if they fail to. Such a view of logical reasoning will strike most people as radical and bizarre: they will incline to the view that logic supplies us with a ...

Getting to Tombstone

Dinah Birch, 17 October 1996

‘People for Lunch’ and ‘Spoilt’ 
by Georgina Hammick.
Vintage, 408 pp., £6.99, August 1996, 0 09 946381 4
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The Arizona Game 
by Georgina Hammick.
Chatto, 285 pp., £14.99, August 1996, 0 7011 6214 7
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... are as conspicuous here as in the stories. Hannah, 36 years old, has been brought up by her Aunt Hope. Her mother is in a long-term psychiatric institution, her father ran off years ago, her brother Ivo was killed in a road accident at the age of four. There has been, the novel begins by telling us, ‘a lot of sadness and madness’ in Hannah’s ...

Sydney’s Inferno

Jonathan Coe, 24 September 1992

The Last Magician 
by Janette Turner Hospital et al.
Virago, 352 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85381 325 7
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Vinland 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 232 pp., £14.95, July 1992, 0 7195 5149 8
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... manicured lawn and quarry so wafer thin?’ The ‘quarry’ referred to here is a nightmarish warren into which Sydney’s underclass has been driven: Hospital likes to describe it in terms of Dante’s hellish circles, its outer regions consisting of seedy pubs and bars, its innermost recesses taking the form of hideaways beneath railway tunnels and tube ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Windsor Girls School on 22 June, 4 July 1985

... analysis of the treatment of India and the Orient by the Romantic poets. In the 1780s, she said, Warren Hastings had hoped to rule India through Indians, without imposing a British civil service or a British army. For this purpose, he needed to sow a gentle, rather radical view of the Hindu people and their customs and art in the minds of cultured ...

Magic Zones

Marina Warner, 8 December 1994

Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilisation 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 413 pp., £25, October 1994, 9780571173907
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... of a film like Theorem, he was making common cause with the vulgar imagination and placing his hope in its vigour, in what he perceived to be its unabashed appetites and its laughter. The Arabian Nights, which sadly seems to have survived in this country only in a mutilated and dubbed print, is a period piece of Seventies hedonism. It opens with a jostling ...

The Art of Stealth

Bruce Ackerman: The Supreme Court under Threat, 17 February 2005

... Nobody on the bench is interested in reviving the strong egalitarianism of the 1960s, when the Warren Court was in its heyday. The present judicial spectrum ranges from moderate liberals to radical rightists, and Bush will be aiming to nominate candidates who will push the court’s centre of gravity further to the right. There are two very different kinds ...

Long March

Martin Pugh, 2 June 1983

Renewal: Labour’s Britain in the 1980s 
by Shadow Cabinet, edited by Gerald Kaufman.
Penguin, 201 pp., £2.50, April 1983, 0 14 052351 0
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Socialism in a Cold Climate 
edited by John Griffith.
Allen and Unwin, 230 pp., £2.95, April 1983, 9780043350508
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Liberal Party Politics 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Oxford, 302 pp., £17.50, April 1983, 0 19 827465 3
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... fears of voters alarmed by the Right. Now Mrs Thatcher is as reassuring as a lively ferret in a warren full of rabbits, but Labour’s escape route attracts little traffic. Many of the contributors seem primarily to be reassuring themselves, for they look back to 1945-51 as if hoping to recapture glad confident morning again. As always, they find no ...

Leave off saying I want you to be savages

Sandra Gilbert: D.H. Lawrence, 19 March 1998

D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-30 
by David Ellis.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £25, January 1998, 0 521 25421 3
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... his still oddly scandalous paintings at which, David Ellis reports, 13,000 visitors to London’s Warren Gallery gawked in the early summer of 1929, he was a figure of extraordinary fascination, even during his lifetime. Paradoxically, then, to contemplate works by the author of that famous critical maxim ‘Never trust the artist. Trust the tale’ is more ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... he saw the reporter had no respect for truth. The desire to report experience truly, and the hope that his readers will respond to, and respect, the cost of this truth, has characterised Wolff’s work since Ugly Rumours. Typically, his protagonists face an acute moral dilemma, unable to reconcile what they know to be true with what they feel to be ...

Reasons for thinking that war is a good thing

Eric Foner: The death of Liberalism, 27 June 2002

The Strange Death of American Liberalism 
by H.W. Brands.
Yale, 200 pp., £16, January 2002, 0 300 09021 8
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... industry and labour and suppressed dissent. But in 1920, Americans elected a President – Warren Harding – who promised a return to ‘normalcy’, defined as individualism free from public intervention. World War Two witnessed an even more striking expansion of government power. It would quickly have been followed by another era of political ...

‘Mmmmm’ not ‘Hmmm’

Michael Wood: Katharine Hepburn, 11 September 2003

Kate Remembered 
by A. Scott Berg.
Simon and Schuster, 318 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 7432 0676 2
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... pleasure he has in watching his pet boa constrictor eat small rodents. And there is the saga of Warren Beatty, with Berg’s help, recruiting Hepburn for Love Affair, a remake of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr’s weepie An Affair to Remember. ‘Poor girl,’ Hepburn murmurs, thinking of Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening. Berg wonders what she means, remarking ...

Every Slightest Pebble

Clarence Brown, 25 May 1995

The Akhmatova Journals. Vol. I: 1938-1941 
by Lydia Chukovskaya, translated by Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova.
Harvill, 310 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 00 216391 8
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Remembering Anna Akhmatova 
by Anatoly Nayman, translated by Wendy Rosslyn.
Halban, 240 pp., £18, June 1991, 9781870015417
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Anna Akhmatova and Her Circle 
edited by Konstantin Polivanov, translated by Patricia Beriozkina.
Arkansas, 281 pp., $32, January 1994, 1 55728 308 7
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Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet 
by Roberta Reeder.
Allison and Busby, 592 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 85031 998 6
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Women’s Works in Stalin’s Time: On Lidia Chukovskaia and Nadezhda Mandelstam 
by Beth Holmgren.
Indiana, 225 pp., £25, September 1993, 0 253 33860 3
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... In the late Fifties, in the dusty warren of a Manhattan apartment, the composer Artur Sergeevich Lourié answered my questions about his friend Osip Mandelstam, whom he plausibly deemed to have been by that time irretrievably forgotten. I had turned up at his door out of the blue, led there by an article he had published in an émigré journal ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... States Congress, to determine just how those dreams had been deferred. Yet tonight the cemetery of hope and idealism is empty. Jack Kennedy is alive. Martin Luther King is alive. Bobby Kennedy is alive. James Baldwin is alive. Janis Joplin is alive. Jack Kerouac is alive. Jimi Hendrix is alive. Lyndon Johnson is alive. James Jones is alive. Jim Morrison and ...

Scarlet Woman

Michael Young, 1 September 1988

East End 1888: A Year in a London Borough among the Labouring Poor 
by William Fishman.
Duckworth, 343 pp., £18.95, June 1988, 0 7156 2174 2
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... are not what they should be.’ After that, the number of streetlamps is increased and Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner, forced to resign. The extra streetlamps do nothing for the insides of the buildings, where people are even more on top of each other than they are outside in the streets. This is not what Victorian family life is supposed to ...
The Shorter Strachey 
selected and introduced by Michael Holroyd and Paul Levy.
Oxford, 288 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 19 212211 8
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Lytton Strachey 
by Michael Holroyd.
Penguin, 1143 pp., £4.95, December 1979, 0 14 003198 7
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... purpose there was to record the events of a single day, abjuring ‘selected realisms’ in the hope of capturing ‘its minuteness and its multiplicity and its intensity, vivid and complete!’ The project was, of course, unrealisable, and the vividness which Strachey succeeded in giving to his Monday was the result of a subtle shaping of his materials. An ...

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