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Jonathan Coe, 11 May 1995

The Riders 
by Tim Winton.
Picador, 377 pp., £14.99, February 1995, 0 330 33941 9
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... The ground was mired and trodden. Shit stood in vaporous cakes between hoofs. The castle keep rose as a cudgel before them. He felt himself craning, waiting, almost failing to breathe. At the end of the book, the reappearance of this vision provides a measure of the emotional distance Scully has travelled by the time he returns from Europe: he realises ...

Bovril and Biscuits

Jonathan Parry: Mid-Victorian Britain, 13 May 1999

The Mid-Victorian Generation, 1846-86 
by Theodore Hoppen.
Oxford, 787 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 822834 1
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... Bovril and biscuits), in medicinal practice (the pill-seller Holloway’s expenditure on publicity rose tenfold between 1842 and 1883), in clothes (the Jaeger Company was founded in 1883 to capitalise on demand for ‘sanitary woollen underwear’) and in household management. Mrs Beeton and her like ministered to the needs of families which could ...

Between Jesus and Napoleon

Jonathan Haslam: The Paris Conference of 1919, 15 November 2001

Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War 
by Margaret MacMillan.
Murray, 574 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5939 1
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... brought the mills of Lancashire to a halt for the best part of two years. As monumental New Delhi rose in Lutyens’s imperial splendour, Anglo-Indians anxiously decamped to the suburbs of London. The fate of the Empire mirrored the fate of the treaties. Despite the impressive appearance of permanence, every one of the major buttresses of that high-vaulted ...

Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... as imagined by the Distributists, was a verdant quilt of small farms, artists’ and writers’ rose-trellised cottages, shops, workshops, churches and pubs (‘When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England,’ Belloc wrote in The Four Men). Everyone would be the mortgage-free owner of his ...

Half a Revolution

Jonathan Steele: In Tunisia, 17 March 2011

... hailed by one speaker as mothers of men still in prison or ex-prisoners themselves. The crowd rose to salute them. ‘We have completed half the revolution. Now we must complete the rest of it,’ announced Mohammed Nouri, president of Liberty and Equity, the organisation that had arranged the meeting. There were frequent shouts of ‘Thawra ...

Wanted but Not Welcome

Jonathan Steele, 19 March 2020

The Unsettling of Europe: The Great Migration, 1945 to the Present 
by Peter Gatrell.
Allen Lane, 548 pp., £30, August 2019, 978 0 241 29045 3
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... element’ whose German blood had been contaminated by centuries in Eastern Europe. Resentment rose in proportion to the size of this new population. In 1950 they accounted for 17 per cent of West Germany’s population and 24 per cent of East Germany’s. They were expected to move to rural areas where there was less war damage, and communities were split ...

Cover Stories

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1985

Lives of the Poets: A Novella and Six Stories 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 145 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 7181 2529 0
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The Pork Butcher 
by David Hughes.
Constable, 123 pp., £5.95, April 1984, 0 09 465510 3
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Out of the Blue 
by John Milne.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11489 6
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... of men trying to escape from the institution of marriage. (Every middle-aged man his own Houdini?) Jonathan, the narrator of ‘Lives of the Poets’, has gone to earth in a pied-à-terre in Greenwich Village, leaving his wife stranded in upstate New York. Jonathan’s solitude is supposedly for writing in, though what he ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... cusped ogees led to spiralling steps; and indoors, springing from the leafy capitals of polygonal rose-coloured marble pillars, beautiful late gothic vaults closed over the Hall of the Knights. Has he really remembered those diapers, those cusped ogees – he doesn’t say he had a camera and a hundred rolls of film – or has he conjured the details on the ...

Two Sharp Teeth

Philip Ball: Dracula Studies, 25 October 2018

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ 
by David J. Skal.
Norton, 672 pp., £15.99, October 2017, 978 1 63149 386 7
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The Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ 
edited by Roger Luckhurst.
Cambridge, 219 pp., £17.99, November 2017, 978 1 316 60708 4
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The Vampire: A New History 
by Nick Groom.
Yale, 287 pp., £16.99, October 2018, 978 0 300 23223 3
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... match’. Something for everyone, in other words. In particular, there was sex. This is from Jonathan Harker’s Transylvanian journal: The fair girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an ...

Strong Meat

John Lanchester, 11 January 1990

The Bellarosa Connection 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 102 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 436 19988 2
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The War Zone 
by Alexander Stuart.
Hamish Hamilton, 207 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 241 12342 9
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A Touch of Love 
by Jonathan Coe.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2277 3
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Do it again 
by Martyn Harris.
Viking, 220 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82858 0
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... saved from a Fascist prison and smuggled to America by Mafia types acting at the behest of Billy Rose, the famous Jewish showbiz figure (‘Damon Runyon’s pal’) whom he had never met. This is Harry: Fonstein’s type was edel – well-bred – but he also was a tough Jew. Sometimes his look was that of a man holding the lead in the 100-metre ...


Jacqueline Rose: ‘Specimen Days’, 22 September 2005

Specimen Days 
by Michael Cunningham.
Fourth Estate, 308 pp., £14.99, August 2005, 0 00 715605 7
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... needed all three points of the triangle,’ Bobby reflects apropos his domestic arrangements with Jonathan and Clare in A Home at the End of the World (1990), which begins with their alternating voices and includes more or less every possible sexual permutation. At moments, Cunningham seems bent on a progressive rewriting of the classical Oedipal narrative ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Evolution versus Metamorphosis, 1 September 2005

... what you might call a no-brainer. As Ian Hacking said in the last issue of the LRB, quoting Steven Rose quoting Theodosius Dobzhansky, ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.’ Since we use our brains to make up stories, and to make sense of the stories of others, it’s hard to disagree with the idea that the capacity for ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘Niche’, 3 March 2011

... of mainstream/middlebrow/middle-of-the-road culture still around, and doing dismayingly well: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, for example, or Facebook, or The King’s Speech, or Coldplay. They could be the exceptions that prove the rule: without any hard data, and Harkin doesn’t provide any, it’s impossible to say for sure. So much for the ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... Post’, a cross between ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and ‘Wendy Cussons’, from the National Rose Society’s Annual) and of rather dull canapés (from Good Housekeeping Colour Cookery of 1967). Nothing, it seemed, was so distant, hidden or commonplace that its appearance would be unrecorded for long. Bert Hardy, who was present at the D-Day landings and ...

No Gentleman

Jonathan Parry, 23 June 1994

Joseph Chamberlain: Entrepreneur in Politics 
by Peter Marsh.
Yale, 725 pp., £30, May 1994, 0 300 05801 2
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... in order to help keep trade routes open, were snubbed at home and abroad. Once again, the bile rose within Chamberlain. Sharing, in intensified form, the general post-war concern for Imperial security and economic competitiveness, and angered by the continuing complacency at the top of the Conservative Party, he launched ‘one last battle for a united ...

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