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Diary

Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... head west for about 40 kilometres into the Gaeltacht: we’re to have lunch with an old friend, Andrew, in the Beehive Bar near the coast. He’s there in the car-park having a smoke. I manage to refuse his offer of a Sweet Afton, and as I do so he notices my copy of Dean Godson’s biography of David Trimble, Himself Alone, lying in the back seat with ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... to grasp what was going on behind. But she’s certainly intelligent. We spoke about Hughes, Mary Robinson, and I remember her making the point that Billy Connolly, though normally speaking with a Glasgow accent, spoke with an Aberdonian one in the film Mrs Brown, about Queen Victoria’s lover.MILLER: I once availed myself of the Palace’s hospitality, I ...

The Old Corrector

Richard Altick, 4 November 1982

Fortune and Men’s Eyes: The Career of John Payne Collier 
by Dewey Ganzel.
Oxford, 454 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 212231 2
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... down the stream of good luck,’ he wrote in 1850 to his faithful friend, the diarist Crabb Robinson, ‘I am left high and dry on the sand-bank of disappointment.’ He complained of injustice, but his misfortunes were partly of his own making. He was temperamentally constituted to attract trouble: his frustrated expectations merely intensified his ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... seen in an examination of two sections dealing with overtly political writings. Nicholas Canny and Andrew Carpenter introduce ‘The Early Planters: Spenser and his Contemporaries’ by reaffirming Spenser’s status as a great poet in the English tradition, and then by redescribing him as an ‘apologist’ for English rule in Ireland, someone whose writing ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, 8 February 2018

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... who profited from the existing order and those on whom its burden chiefly fell’. His book on Andrew Jackson tried to explain why he was not simply the champion of white frontiersmen (one reason his portrait is back up in the Trump White House), but, more important, fought on behalf of downtrodden men in the eastern cities against a National Bank that had ...

Kipling the Reliable

David Trotter, 6 March 1986

Early Verse by Rudyard Kipling 1879-1889 
edited by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 497 pp., £19.50, March 1986, 9780198123231
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Kipling’s India: Uncollected Sketches 1884-88 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 301 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 38467 9
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Imperialism and Popular Culture 
edited by John MacKenzie.
Manchester, 264 pp., £25, February 1986, 9780719017704
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Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases 
edited by Henry Yule and A.C. Burnell.
Routledge, 1021 pp., £18.95, November 1985, 0 7100 2886 5
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... exclude technology, Patriotism Appeal and the royal sod. They have on the whole excluded Kipling. Andrew Rutherford’s 1971 Penguin selection tried to smuggle him in by putting the emphasis on the later, more psychologically and artistically complex stories. But as Angus Wilson (President of the Kipling Society) pointed out in his 1977 biography, this ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... hit a lung and the heart, causing massive internal bleeding. He had no chance of survival. Captain Andrew Cox dispatched a helicopter to pick up the injured man and bring him back to base. The helicopter carried him to camp Abu Naji where he was ventilated, but his pupils became fixed and at 00.50 hrs on 2 May 2005, surrounded by medical officers, Guardsman ...

Ghosting

Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... also be there. Before Caroline arrived, Jamie said he hoped the book could now become Assange by Andrew O’Hagan. He said he’d already begun to persuade Julian that this was not a book he could have a veto on, and that it would be the best chance of getting his message out. ‘He’s never going to be in this position again, with a writer he trusts, a ...

Subduing the jury

E.P. Thompson, 4 December 1986

... of guilty of preaching only. Mr Bushel was directly bullied by the whole bench: Alderman Sir J. Robinson: I tell you, you deserve to be indicted more than any man that hath been brought to the bar this day ... Mr Justice May: Sirrah, you are an impudent fellow ... The Recorder: You are a factious fellow: I will set a mark on you ... The Mayor: I will ...

800 Napkins, 47 Finger Bowls

Zachary Leader, 16 March 2000

Morgan: American Financier 
by Jean Strouse.
Harvill, 816 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781860463556
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... coolly, with little of the venom or relish of such fellow plutocrats as Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie or John D. Rockefeller. Most criticism he ignored, cultivating a forbidding taciturnity. ‘He left no record of his response’ is a familiar motif in the biography. What Morgan left instead – and what the biography exhaustively records and ...
Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 320 pp., $24.95, May 1996, 0 520 20407 7
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... He locates the origins of The Jazz Singer a century before the movie’s release, in the age of Andrew Jackson. As the frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Natty Bumppo emerged as national heroes for an increasingly urban America, so the blackface minstrel show developed as ‘the first and most pervasive form of American mass culture’, playing to audiences on ...

Mandelson’s Pleasure Dome

Iain Sinclair, 2 October 1997

... Rogers, Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Welcome, masters of spectacle: the designer Stephen Bayley and Ken Robinson (who Bayley glosses as ‘in charge of lavatories, parking, visitor flow’). Jobs for those who missed out on Channel 4, Arts Council panjandrums, reality benders. A seat on the board for Bob Ayling, Chief Executive of British Airways. For Ian ...

No Company, No Carpets

Tim Parks: Tolstoy v. Tolstaya, 26 April 2018

Tolstoy and Tolstaya: A Portrait of a Life in Letters 
by Andrew Donskov, translated by John Woodsworth, Arkadi Klioutchanski and Liudmila Gladkova.
Ottawa, 430 pp., £48, May 2017, 978 0 7766 2471 6
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... sake of your intellectual work, which I prize above everything else in life, but for some sort of Robinson Crusoe game. You … dismissed the cook, who would have been happy to do some work in exchange for a stipend, and from morning to night you engage in inappropriate physical labour … I can only say, ‘Enjoy!’ – and still be upset that such ...

In the Workshop

Tom Paulin: Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 22 January 1998

The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 672 pp., £23.50, December 1997, 0 674 63712 7
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Shakespeare's Sonnets 
edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones.
Arden, 503 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 1 903436 57 5
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... volumes and then reading the same poems in the unpunctuated original manuscript versions Eric Robinson and his fellow editors print in the big Oxford edition of Clare. A good example is sonnet 19: Deuouring time blunt thou the Lyons pawes, And make the earth deuoure her owne fweet brood, Plucke the keene teeth from the ficrce Tygers yawes, And burne the ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... The inconveniences of an insider/outsider, eavesdropping on his own sensibility. A Crabb Robinson without a Blake. A diarist reluctant to engage with himself as his true subject. Peter Ackroyd, Carolyn Cassady’s pin-up, was the man who had customised the art of biography so that it could fit seamlessly into an evolving project that included ...

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