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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Eastern Promises’, 15 November 2007

Eastern Promises 
directed by David Cronenberg.
October 2007
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... safely (if painfully and disastrously) in the mind. No director realises this more clearly than David Cronenberg. He is best known no doubt for The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988) and his much vilified Crash (1996), but some of us have a soft spot, if that’s the term, for his early work The Brood (1979), a classic instance of the acting-out theory. A ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Dangerous Method’, 8 March 2012

A Dangerous Method 
directed by David Cronenberg.
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... patient is Jung’s, a disturbed woman not at all underplayed by Keira Knightley. The movie – David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, with a screenplay by Christopher Hampton – opens with a view of her struggling against her captors in a horse-drawn coach (the date is 1904) and being delivered to a posh sanatorium in Switzerland. She goes rigid when ...

Masses and Classes

Ferdinand Mount: Gladstone, 17 February 2005

The Mind of Gladstone: Religion, Homer and Politics 
by David Bebbington.
Oxford, 331 pp., £55, March 2004, 0 19 926765 0
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... shuffle away from the vapid tax-and-spend policies they had drifted into. Their new spokesmen – Vincent Cable, David Laws and Mark Oaten – are the first prominent Liberals since Jo Grimond who could seriously claim to be heirs of the Grand Old Man. Political commentators point out that parties make such shifts because ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: Fact-checking, 5 April 2012

... 2007 book, Regret the Error, Craig Silverman says Ross was humiliated after a profile of Edna St Vincent Millay implied the poet’s father might be dead and said ‘her mother appears to remember little of her own biography.’ Millay’s mother wrote a letter: ‘both of these parents,’ she said, ‘are living, and in full possession of their ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery, 3 November 2016

... attitude in general and his mother in particular. It is no accident that, as Taylor quotes John Vincent saying, Margaret Thatcher was ‘the point at which all snobberies meet’, for she represented the compacted prejudices of the nation. The dislike she aroused was couched in terms of condescension that had nothing to do with policy. Mary Warnock objected ...

Twilight Approaches

David A. Bell: Salon Life in France, 11 May 2006

The Age of Conversation 
by Benedetta Craveri, translated by Teresa Waugh.
NYRB, 488 pp., £17.99, October 2005, 1 59017 141 1
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... directly influenced the literature that emerged from their homes, whether the playful poetry of Vincent Voiture, the tart maxims of La Rochefoucauld, or Diderot’s philosophical speculations. Beyond making these points, Craveri has an eye for some delightful stories. A nine-year-old Mlle Montmorency was chided by her tutor, Mme de Richelieu, for a small ...
George Macaulay Trevelyan: A Memoir 
by Mary Moorman.
Hamish Hamilton, 253 pp., £9.95, April 1980, 0 241 10358 4
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Public and Private 
by Humphrey Trevelyan.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 241 10357 6
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... that property was a crime, but sponging and bad landlordship were not. G.M. Trevelyan had a David and Saul relationship of some intensity with his brother Charles, the wenching socialist baronet, who suffered from depression and aristocratic bad temper and wilfulness. If anything could have cured him of progressivism, it would have been the sight of his ...

Just a Way of Having Fun

Eleanor Birne: John Piper, 30 March 2017

The Art of John Piper 
by David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright.
Unicorn, 472 pp., £45, June 2016, 978 1 910787 05 2
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... no such thing, and it is still hard to work out the rationale, even when you look for it in David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright’s The Art of John Piper, a nearly exhaustive survey of his career in all its phases. Fraser Jenkins, who curated the Tate’s 1983 retrospective on the occasion of Piper’s 80th birthday, knows the career well, and ...


Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... idealists. What do these ancient arguments have to do with the world of Ruling Performance, with David Pannick’s reflections on the English judiciary, or with Vernon Bogdanor’s Encyclopedia of Political Institutions? For one thing, they cast light on the hopes and fears most of us entertain in the face of government activity of all sorts. Realists who ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... and rather badly’; that Joe Orton ‘aspired to corrupt an audience with pleasure’; and that Vincent Massey ‘could stroke even a cliché until it purred like an epigram’. Lord Annan notes that E.M. Forster’s works ‘were full of aphorisms’, something on which he is rather an authority himself. Sir John Hicks sums up the issues between Keynes and ...

Who mended Pierre’s leg?

David A. Bell: Lourdes, 11 November 1999

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age 
by Ruth Harris.
Allen Lane, 473 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7139 9186 0
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... but of Protestants, Freemasons and Jews. Le Pèlerin, edited by the Assumptionist priest Vincent de Paul Bailly, regularly printed caricatures of Jews and accounts of Jewish ritual murder of Christians. The Assumptionists helped lead the campaign against Drefyus, strongly supported the anti-Semitic, monarchist Action Française, and in 1898 even ...

Unrenounceable Core

David Nirenberg: Who were the Marranos?, 23 July 2009

The Other Within The Marranos: Split Identity and Emerging Modernity 
by Yirmiyahu Yovel.
Princeton, 490 pp., £24.95, February 2009, 978 0 691 13571 7
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... for example, was converted as a child around 1412, during the great preaching campaigns of St Vincent Ferrer, whose strategy of isolating Jews in ghettoes and forcing them to listen to preachers created a wave of conversions as great as that of 1391. Arias eventually became Castile’s most important financial official and his son became a bishop. He died ...

Shameless, Lucifer and Pug-Nose

David A. Bell: Louis Mandrin, 8 January 2015

Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground 
by Michael Kwass.
Harvard, 457 pp., £35, April 2014, 978 0 674 72683 3
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... square and began to hawk their merchandise. Their tobacco, a Euro-American blend called Saint-Vincent, could not in theory compare to the Chesapeake leaf offered by the General Farm – although, as Kwass points out, Farm agents themselves often adulterated their product with wood shavings, ashes, pulverised brick or even plain dirt. But Mandrin was ...

Merely an Empire

David Thomson: Eighteen Hours in Vietnam, 21 September 2017

The Vietnam War 
directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
PBS, ten episodes
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... must be seventy now; the veterans who bear witness in The Vietnam War are about the same age. Vincent Okamoto grew up in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona. In Vietnam he saw horrors unfit for words: it was not an honourable war. Later he became a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles. Others still buzz with the adrenaline of the late 1960s and early ...

Abishag’s Revenge

Steven Shapin: Who wants to live for ever?, 26 March 2009

Mortal Coil: A Short History of Living Longer 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Yale, 308 pp., £18.99, June 2008, 978 0 300 11778 3
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... Now King David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat ...

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