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A feather! A very feather upon the face!

Amit Chaudhuri: India before Kipling, 6 January 2000

The Unforgiving Minute 
by Harry Ricketts.
Chatto, 434 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 7011 3744 4
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... of the British scholarly and administrative classes. William Jones, whose researches at the Fort William College in Calcutta were largely responsible for inaugurating Orientalist scholarship and the reconstruction of Indian history, wore native clothes made of muslin in the heat – the solar hat and khaki uniform that Beerbohm has Kipling wear in one ...

The Most Corrupt Idea of Modern Times

Tom Stevenson: Inspecting the Troops, 1 July 2021

The Changing of the Guard: The British Army since 9/11 
by Simon Akam.
Scribe, 704 pp., £25, March, 978 1 913348 48 9
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... Security Assistance Force. If the two main forms of colonial war are urban occupation and rural fort-soldiering, Basra exemplified the first and Helmand the second. British officers knew that they had too few troops in Helmand. The armed forces often claim that the civilian state asks them to do too much with too little, but in this case the military ...

Field of Bones

Charles Nicholl: The last journey of Thomas Coryate, the English fakir and legstretcher, 2 September 1999

... of genuine local pride and because the name accorded so well with his own celebrated oddity: ‘Tom of Odcombe, that odd jovial author,’ Jonson calls him. After schooling at Winchester he went up to Oxford, where he ‘attained to admirable fluency in the Greek tongue’ but left without taking a degree. What we know of the Elizabethan Coryate is ...

Fugitive Crusoe

Tom Paulin: Daniel Defoe, 19 July 2001

Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions 
by Maximilian Novak.
Oxford, 756 pp., £30, April 2001, 0 19 812686 7
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Political and Economic Writings of Daniel Defoe 
edited by W.R. Owens and P.N. Furbank.
Pickering & Chatto, £595, December 2000, 1 85196 465 7
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... in Freeman’s-yard, in Corn hill, and now is owner of the brick and pantile works near Tilbury-fort in Essex. He may have gone to Holland, but remained for the most part in London, aided by the radical Whig underground of tradesmen and craftsmen. His pamphlet was burned by the common hangman in New Palace Yard, and after several months on the run he was ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... he starred in Howard Howks’s cattle-drive film, Red River, and in John Ford’s cavalry trilogy, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande. As Roberts and Olson point out, the trilogy shifted the Western conventions of a film like Stagecoach (1939) in an imperial direction by celebrating, as in war films, military traditions among the bonded male ...


Thomas Lynch, 3 October 1996

... storefront, Mr Sweeney can be observed to quicken his pace and heard to whistle the fragments of a Tom Waits tune. Only the loss, in 1991, of Bernard Stone’s Turret Bookshop, which housed the city’s most comprehensive selection of contemporary poetry, along with Bernard Stone himself, diminished the hospitable cityscape outside the Sweeneys’ door. One ...

Downsize, Your Majesty

David Cannadine, 16 October 1997

The Royals 
by Kitty Kelley.
Warner, 547 pp., $27, September 1997, 0 446 51712 7
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... it has been interspersed with very different modes of morality at Brighton Pavilion, Sandringham, Fort Belvedere and Highgrove. Thus understood, the behaviour of British royalty has swung back and forth across the generations, and it is only by chance that the happy family model has usually predominated over the dysfunctional. Consider these alternative ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone, 18 March 2004

Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... He was friends with Ken Kesey and served as a Merry Prankster, earning a walk-on part in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (‘Stone, still hypersensitive, seeing the FBI and Federales behind every cocoa palm – or else scorpions’). He also did some reporting in Vietnam. But although he has conceded that his interest in religion was ...

I shall be read

Denis Feeney: Ovid’s Revenge, 17 August 2006

Ovid: The Poems of Exile: ‘Tristia’ and the ‘Black Sea Letters’ 
translated by Peter Green.
California, 451 pp., £12.95, March 2005, 0 520 24260 2
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Ovid: Epistulae ex Ponto, Book I 
translated and edited by Jan Felix Gaertner.
Oxford, 606 pp., £90, October 2005, 0 19 927721 4
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... Here she chopped up her brother to make her pursuing father slow down to gather up the bits: the tom in Tomis could look like the Greek word for ‘cut’ (tome, as in ‘appendectomy’). Let Ovid stew in the city he had glibly etymologised and mull over the cleverness of his literary heroine. Tomis is the modern-day Romanian Black Sea summer resort of ...

Once a Syrian, always a Syrian

Maria Margaronis: Joseph O’Neill, 8 March 2001

Blood-Dark Track: A Family History 
by Joseph O'Neill.
Granta, 338 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 1 86207 288 4
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... were stashed by Republican fighters; here is the monument to the Kilmichael ambush, where Tom Barry’s IRA Cork No. 3 Brigade killed 18 British auxiliaries in November 1920. The world of Jim O’Neill and his wife Eileen was shaped by the sense of being permanently at war. This was felt at every level, from the murder of two first cousins and the ...

The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

Daniel Soar, 30 March 2017

... defence minister, sitting in the cockpit of an F-35 during a visit last summer to Lockheed’s Fort Worth facility: he’s grinning like a little boy. Israel is now down to purchase fifty F-35s, at a total cost of $7 billion. Last September, Obama and Netanyahu signed a new Memorandum of Understanding, according to which Israel is promised $38 billion of ...
... regarded as his political son and heir, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Buthelezi had been expelled front Fort Hare University for his ANC activities and had come to work at the Durban Commissioner’s Court, the administrative experience being thought useful to the future chief. Rowley and Buthelezi became close friends, and Buthelezi had decided to become one of ...

Gotcha, Pat!

Terry Castle: Highsmith in My Head, 4 March 2021

Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Richard Bradford.
Bloomsbury, 258 pp., £20, January, 978 1 4482 1790 8
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... used by her murderous anti-heroes to kill the clueless people they are in love with: witness Tom Ripley’s brain-splatter of an assault – with an oar – on the pate of pretty Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr Ripley. In Jill Dawson’s vastly entertaining novelistic riff on Highsmith, The Crime Writer (2016), set in the early 1960s, when Highsmith ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... Feldene I had to be put on the acid-suppressant pills that I’ve been on ever since. 14 January. Tom Stoppard rings my agent Rosalind Chatto to tell her that when in last year’s LRB diary I quote an old lady in New York as saying ‘I zigged when I should have zagged’ the original remark came from the American sports reporter Red Butler, who reported it ...


Richard Poirier, 24 January 1985

Slow Learner 
by Thomas Pynchon.
Cape, 204 pp., £8.50, January 1985, 0 224 02283 0
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... There he introduces army specialist third class Nathan ‘Lardass’ Levine lying in his bunk in Fort Roach, Louisiana. Like Callisto in ‘Entropy’, Levine is ‘drowsy’, ‘motionless’, ‘inert’. He is then moved as part of his unit to a college campus, the staging area for an operation in a nearby town all of whose inhabitants have been killed in ...

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