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Works of Love in Nebraska

Wayne Booth, 22 May 1980

Plains Song: For Female Voices 
by Wright Morris.
Harper and Row, 229 pp., $9.95, January 1980, 0 06 013047 4
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... American plains does not exactly put one into the mainstream of American letters. But the pun in Morris’s title is profoundly right: there is, after all, a ‘mainstream’ more enduring than fashions, and this plainsong laments and celebrates lives which in their frequent losses and occasional joys are far less provincial – well, than whatever novel is ...


Adam Lively, 10 March 1994

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness 
by Paul Gilroy.
Verso, 261 pp., £11.95, November 1993, 0 86091 675 8
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Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture 
by Paul Gilroy.
Serpent’s Tail, 257 pp., £12.99, October 1993, 9781852422981
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... In The Morris Book (1907), a work that did much to foster the 20th-century revival of interest in English folk dancing, Cecil Sharp both acknowledges and attempts to repress the hybrid, extra-national origins of the morris dance: The weight of the testimony must be held to show Morocco as the fount and origin, no matter if the genius of our own folk – so far removed from anything native to Africa – has, in the process of the centuries, altered it until it bears, in spirit, little resemblance to the parent stock ...

Getting on

Paul Addison, 9 October 1986

On Living in an Old Country 
by Patrick Wright.
Verso, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1985, 0 86091 833 5
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Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England. Vol. II: Assaults 
by Maurice Cowling.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 25959 2
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... Here are two books about the relationship of the English to their past. According to Patrick Wright, England is a reactionary society burdened by a false mystique of national identity. To dissolve that mystique must be one of the first priorities of democratic socialists in establishing an alternative society with a renewed faith in its capacity for progress ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist, 5 June 2003

... the operation. Eventually de Menil’s family intervened, Friedrich resigned in 1985 and Charles Wright, a young lawyer from Seattle, was hired as director. Wright continued the focus on single-artist projects and long-term exhibitions, but he also opened Dia to the art community through new shows, adventurous symposia and ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Patrick Keiller, 7 June 2012

... an academic collaboration with the geographer Doreen Massey and the cultural historian Patrick Wright – and it’s altogether more sober, less playfully immersed in the faintly mad worldview of Robinson, who has anyway vanished, presumed dead. But he has left behind his notes and the footage from which the film has notionally been constructed. Robinson ...

Fog has no memory

Jonathan Meades: Postwar Colour(lessness), 19 July 2018

The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain 
by Lynda Nead.
Yale, 416 pp., £35, October 2017, 978 0 300 21460 4
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... hoardings and the Great Exhibition. Its gaudy vulgarity appalled such aesthetes as William Morris and, retrospectively, Nikolaus Pevsner, who wrote of Victorian manufacture’s ‘rank growth’. Dickens was true neither to life nor to his age. He was a cartoonist rather than a documentarist – not that the veracity of documentarists is to be trusted ...

Porringers and Pitkins

Keith Thomas: The Early Modern Household, 5 July 2018

A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 
by Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson.
Yale, 311 pp., £40, October 2017, 978 0 300 19501 9
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... which the opera singer Jenny Lind made wildly popular. Ten years later the great antiquary Thomas Wright published his History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in England during the Middle Ages. Reissued in 1871 as The Homes of Other Days, it contained more than three hundred illustrations drawn from medieval manuscripts by the brilliant engraver ...


Keith Thomas, 20 April 1995

Theatres of Memory. Vol. I: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture 
by Raphael Samuel.
Verso, 479 pp., £18.95, February 1995, 0 86091 209 4
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... British heritage industry is a loathsome collection of theme parks and dead values.’ For Patrick Wright, it is ‘part of the self-fulfilling culture of national decline’. As their country’s importance in the world diminishes, the British turn to their past for emotional compensation. How long, asks Robert Hewison, will it be before the whole country is ...


Michael Irwin, 19 February 1981

by John Banville.
Secker, 192 pp., £5.95, January 1981, 0 436 03264 3
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The Daughter 
by Judith Chernaik.
London Magazine Editions, 216 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 9780060107574
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We always treat women too well 
by Raymond Queneau, translated by Barbara Wright.
Calder, 174 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 7145 3687 3
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... and social ideals to their personal lives. The misadventures of Schreiner and Ellis, of May Morris and of Dolly Maitland, though very much in the background, provide a context within which we can better understand Eleanor’s tragedy. The novel begins with the inquest that follows her suicide in the spring of 1898. It then goes back to trace the ...

Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... during the Boer War. Influenced by the very Englishly expressed Victorian socialism of William Morris, H.M. Hyndman and Robert Blatchford, the cause had been taken up and redirected by G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc in the first decade of the 20th century. It had been resumed in the 1920s by various other figures, including H.J. Massingham, a former ...

Two Wheels Good

Graham Robb: The history of the bicycle, 6 July 2006

Bicycle: The History 
by David Herlihy.
Yale, 480 pp., £15.99, August 2006, 0 300 12047 8
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... of wings. Eighty-two years later, two bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio – Wilbur and Orville Wright – attached a wing to a bicycle, raced it through a wind tunnel, measuring the lift and drag, and proved that a mechanical Pegasus was not fundamentally implausible. However, it would take a very optimistic view of human endeavour to see the Velocimano as ...

Come and Stay

Arnold Rattenbury, 27 November 1997

England and the Octopus 
by Clough Williams-Ellis.
CPRE, 220 pp., £10.95, December 1996, 0 946044 50 3
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Clough Williams-Ellis: RIBA Drawings Monograph No 2 
by Richard Haslam.
Academy, 112 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 1 85490 430 2
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Clough Williams-Ellis: The Architect of Portmeirion 
by Jonah Jones.
Seren, 204 pp., £9.95, December 1996, 1 85411 166 3
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... the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust, William Morris’s old Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and elsewhere, with the old ‘Amenity Brigade’, as he was to call it. There can hardly have been a conservation or planning society in his lifetime in which he was not active, if not among the ...
... the cottage I had thought but a sizeable house with an extensive garden tended largely by Helena Wright, the pioneer of birth control with whom he shared the house, who was often knelt there working, planting out the beds, with her radio (a source of irritation to Bruce) always beside her. Brudenell House at Quainton, to which he subsequently moved, was more ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... it was (English) national rather than merely metropolitan – imbued with the spirit of William Morris, enthusiastic for the new idea of a decentralising, anti-statist, bottom-up Guild Socialism. Ironically, various New Age luminaries, notably G.D.H. Cole, became some of the Statesman’s most prolific and influential contributors. Indeed the New Age, with ...

Is it Art?

John Lanchester: Video games, 1 January 2009

... of video games, of course it’s very much in question – it would be like having a genius morris dancer. Suffice it to say that in the video-game world, including the many tens of millions of people who play his games, he’s an unquestioned genius.) Miyamoto has, throughout his career, engaged with the question of arbitrariness by making his games ...

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