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After-Meditation

Thomas Keymer: The Girondin Wordsworth, 18 June 2020

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet who Changed the World 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 608 pp., £25, April, 978 0 00 816742 4
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William Wordsworth: A Life 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, new edition, 688 pp., £25, April, 978 0 19 881711 6
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... now cheerfully knocking out loyal odes in his role as poet laureate. Southey was consistent, as William Hazlitt neatly observed, only in that he was always an extremist and always wrong: then, he had been an ‘Ultra-Jacobin’ and ‘frantic demagogue’ who ‘did not stop short of general anarchy’; now, he was an ‘Ultra-Royalist’ and ‘servile ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... at the antics of ‘Snow Snifters’. Much later, dining with pop stars in Cheyne Walk, Lady Diana Cooper would mention that, in her day, post-prandial cocaine was served in salt-cellars. Hoare’s wartime London is a stage across which a troupe of affluent, cosmopolitan hipsters parade their unorthodoxy: the artist, drug addict, bisexual and sometime boxer ...
Scientists in Whitehall 
by Philip Gummett.
Manchester, 245 pp., £14.50, July 1980, 0 7190 0791 7
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Development of Science Publishing in Europe 
edited by A.J. Meadows.
Elsevier, 269 pp., $48.75, October 1980, 0 444 41915 2
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... like Solly Zuckerman tell us how it was for them, and perceptive novelists such as Nigel Balchin, William Cooper and C.P. Snow expose much that is true in the guise of fiction. Drawing upon a variety of sources – reports of Royal Commissions, obiter dicta of scientific notables, newspaper editorials etc – Dr Gummett gives us the first ...

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell, 4 June 1981

The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... Time, are singular enough, and with plenty of surrounding idiosyncrasy. His mother was born Sybil Cooper, sister of Alfred Duff Cooper (created first Viscount Norwich), so that Lady Diana Cooper was to become his aunt, he Lady Diana’s publisher. On the maternal side, Sybil ...

Anxiety of Influx

Tony Tanner, 18 February 1982

Plotting the Golden West: American Literature and the Rhetoric of the California Trail 
by Stephen Fender.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £15, January 1982, 0 521 23924 9
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Witnesses to a Vanishing America: The 19th-Century Response 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Princeton, 320 pp., £10.70, July 1981, 9780691064611
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... others) as being at once too ‘plotless’ (or, as Washington Irving put it – before Cooper, Hawthorne, James and others – too lacking in ‘association’) and ‘stiflingly, even obsessively over-plotted’. There is a relationship, in Fender’s reading of American literature, between plotting and landscape which can be ...

A Useless Body

David Craig: The Highland Clearances, 18 May 2017

Set Adrift upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances 
by James Hunter.
Birlinn, 572 pp., £14.99, September 2016, 978 1 78027 354 9
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... thousand. Patrick Sellar, the estate manager before Suther, called them ‘barbarous hordes’. William Young, Sellar’s partner as estate factor, called them ‘a set of savages’. The tenants in the western district of Assynt were described by the Sutherlands’ under-manager, an ex-army man called Gunn, as ‘a useless body’, ‘unprincipled in their ...

America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... a week before his trip to Seattle, he was wearing a Malcolm X cap and carrying a well-worn copy of William Gaddis’s novel The Recognitions. On 8 July, after a breakfast with the Democratic presidential candidate and former basketball star Bill Bradley, Joe went to Mount Rainier to do some birdwatching. He never returned. The most likely explanation is that ...

And That Rug!

Michael Dobson: Images of Shakespeare, 6 November 2003

Shakespeare’s Face: The Story behind the Newly Discovered Portrait 
by Stephanie Nolen.
Piatkus, 365 pp., £18.99, March 2003, 0 7499 2391 1
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Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions 
by Stephen Orgel.
Palgrave, 172 pp., £25, August 2003, 1 4039 1177 0
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Shakespeare in Art 
by Jane Martineau et al.
Merrell, 256 pp., £29.95, September 2003, 1 85894 229 2
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In Search of Shakespeare 
by Michael Wood.
BBC, 352 pp., £20, May 2003, 9780563534778
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... claiming that a hitherto undocumented family tradition identified it as a likeness of William Shakespeare. Spielmann liked the picture, about which he wrote in the Connoisseur and later in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but was unimpressed by the claim that it depicted Shakespeare; he was particularly unimpressed by an ...

Brown and Friends

David Runciman, 3 January 2008

... Wendy was still hanging on as leader of the Labour Party in Scotland. Balls’s wife, Yvette Cooper, sits with him in cabinet. Miliband’s brother, David, is foreign secretary. Brothers and sisters, husbands and wives: the Brown government is a family affair, and it marks a shift to ever more intimate political relationships at the centre of power, even ...
... Thirties exhibition, an enterprise on the largest scale, put together by a committee chaired by William Feaver. Modernist white walls mask the emphatic textures and shapes of the interior of the shell, so that Fifties Brutalism encloses Thirties Modern. But what is displayed in the cases and on the walls is an attempt at total recall. A huge range of ...

Bandini to Hackmuth

Christopher Tayler: John Fante, 21 September 2000

Ask the Dust 
by John Fante.
Rebel Inc, 198 pp., £6.99, September 1999, 0 86241 987 5
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Full of Life: A Biography of John Fante 
by Stephen Cooper.
Rebel Inc, 406 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 9781841950228
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... in his lifetime. Two volumes of his letters had appeared by 1991, and the publication of Stephen Cooper’s biography more or less completes the picture, at least for the time being. Much of the credit for this must go to Fante’s indefatigable widow, whose stewardship of his reputation has played a very large part in the continuing campaign for his ...

‘We’re Not Jittery’

Bernard Porter: Monitoring Morale, 8 July 2010

Listening to Britain: Home Intelligence Reports on Britain’s Finest Hour May-September 1940 
edited by Paul Addison and Jeremy Crang.
Bodley Head, 492 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 1 84792 142 0
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... our lucky stars for that. The Conservative men often got things very wrong; her own boss, Duff Cooper, then minister of information, among them. How things might have turned out if MI5 – an obvious alternative candidate – had been given the job scarcely bears thinking about: it’s hard to imagine those stupid old reactionaries being anything like as ...

Third World

Frank Kermode, 2 March 1989

... as, in office hours, a defender of the faith and wise in the ways of Broadcasting House. It was William Haley, the Director-General of the time, who got the Cultural Programme going by persuading the governors to back it. Its original aim was to reach an audience of taste and intelligence: it ‘need not cultivate any other audience’. Thus it defied ...

Bloody Furious

William Davies: ‘Generation Left’, 20 February 2020

Generation Left 
by Keir Milburn.
Polity, 140 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 5095 3224 7
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... among the senior managerial class, also dominated by the over-fifties.Lisa Adkins, Melinda Cooper and Martijn Konings, political economists at the University of Sydney (the third least affordable city in the world), have developed a new model of class based on housing tenure and relationship to assets. They identify five different classes, with ...

Sam, Sam, Mythological Man

David Jones, 2 May 1985

Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon 
by Sam Shepard.
Faber, 188 pp., £3.95, February 1985, 0 571 13458 0
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Paris, Texas 
by Wim Wenders and Sam Shepard.
Ecco, 509 pp., £12.95, January 1985, 0 88001 077 0
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... of Shepard’s life-style, the subtleties of his sexual attractiveness, his resemblance to Gary Cooper: but only the occasional small paragraph to indicate that the man under discussion was America’s most innovative young dramatist since the late Sixties, had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 and certainly hadn’t said goodbye to writing yet. I would like ...

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