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Van Diemonians

Inga Clendinnen: Convict Culture in Tasmania, 4 December 2008

Van Diemen’s Land: A History 
by James Boyce.
Black, 388 pp., £20.75, February 2008, 978 1 86395 413 6
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... I first came across James Boyce five years ago, when he wrote the lead essay in a collection called Whitewash, intended to argue against the ruthlessly revisionist ‘frontier history’ of Keith Windschuttle. In The Fabrication of Aboriginal History (2002), Windschuttle had argued that, contrary to the claims of various ideologically driven left-leaning historians, very few Tasmanian Aborigines had died in conflict with whites ...

The Sense of the Self

Galen Strawson, 18 April 1996

... within a given culture. The cultural relativism of Emile Durkheim and others, elegantly renewed by Clifford Geertz and orthodox in large parts of the academic community is based on a serious underestimation of the genetic determinants of human nature, and a false view of mental development. It’s partly for this reason, and partly because I have a Kantian ...

Nothing in a Really Big Way

James Wood: Adam Mars-Jones, 24 April 2008

by Adam Mars-Jones.
Faber, 525 pp., £18.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 21703 8
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... calculated strike against the old novelistic tendency to connect moral and physical impotence (Sir Clifford Chatterley and his wheelchair, Rochester’s blindness). It is also, I think, a long joke at the expense of a punitive tradition that has linked homosexuality with illness or deformity of one kind or another; Denton Welch, the patiently analytical ...

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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... The scholarly version of these explorations is called anthropology, as in Claude Lévi-Strauss, Clifford Geertz, Margaret Mead, and many American scholars in receipt of sabbatical leave and Guggenheim fellowships. If you have a sufficiently resourceful mind, and a persuasive style, of course, you can stimulate them by going for a walk along the local beach ...

Solomon Tuesday

Rosemary Ashton, 8 January 1987

R.H. Hutton: Critic and Theologian 
by Malcolm Woodfield.
Oxford, 227 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 19 818564 2
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... Carlyle, Dickens, Trollope, Clough, Hawthorne, Browning, George Eliot, Hardy, Arnold and Henry James. In many cases, the editors have singled out Hutton in their introductions as outstandingly shrewd and appreciative among contemporary critics. We clearly need to have a new selection of his best essays. Hutton’s concern was always to see how far, and how ...

Homage to Rhubarb

David Allen, 8 October 1992

Rhubarb: The Wondrous Drug 
by Clifford Foust.
Princeton, 317 pp., £27.50, April 1992, 0 691 08747 4
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... his subject that it is something of a small triumph to be able to point out an error: it was not James Sherard who was the Consul at Smyrna but his even more avidly botanical brother William. Curiously, the author has conflated the two and consequently misidentified the person whose name is commemorated in the Oxford ...

What do we mean by it?

J.G.A. Pocock, 7 January 1993

The Cambridge History of Political Thought: 1450-1700 
edited by J.H. Burns and Mark Goldie.
Cambridge, 798 pp., £60, August 1991, 0 521 24716 0
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... redefinitions of its meaning. Yet it might be asserted as a general rule that other cultures (say, Clifford Geertz’s Bali) possess political structures and means of debating them. The present volume takes us to Italy and Spain, France and England, the Netherlands and Germany, but not to Catholic, let alone Orthodox, Eastern ‘Europe’, or into the vigorous ...


Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... go through these doors in a weekend, many may dimly remember that it was the owner of this club, James Palumbo, who gave a car, a Rover, to Peter Mandelson MP, to help the cause. It is here, at the suitably messianic Ministry of Sound, that the Use Your Vote campaign is organised. Much of the music inside will come from Creation Records, the label which ...

The Kiss

Gaby Wood, 9 February 1995

Jean Renoir: Letters 
edited by Lorraine LoBianco and David Thompson, translated by Craig Carlson, Natasha Arnoldi and Michael Wells.
Faber, 605 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 571 17298 9
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... sustained correspondence, but which gives a good indication of his social or professional circle: James Mason, Charlie Chaplin, Pablo Picasso. There are letters related to and surrounding the making of particular films: The River, Le Carrosse d’ or, Elena et les hommes. These really do provide detailed information on how the screenplays are put ...

Fear the fairies

John Gallagher: Early Modern Sleepe, 18 May 2017

Sleep in Early Modern England 
by Sasha Handley.
Yale, 280 pp., £25, August 2016, 978 0 300 22039 1
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... could provide the constant supply of fresh air desired by many sleepers: the Norfolk clergyman James Woodforde took thermometer readings every night to ensure his bedchamber was suitably cool. Fires – like bedwarmers – ensured a warm bed but could give off noxious smoke, as well as posing more significant risks. Scents and soporifics could make ...

From Swindon to Swindon

Mary Beard, 17 February 2011

Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon and Schuster, 438 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84737 798 2
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... agricultural labourers, fantasist and (in Mount’s semi-serious conceit) a 19th-century avatar of James Lovelock and his Gaia hypothesis. One of Jefferies’s favourite haunts was Liddington Hill (now within the official town boundary of Swindon), with its remains of an Iron Age hill-fort and famous clump of beech trees, Liddington Clump. Visiting ...

Keeping up the fight

Paul Delany, 24 January 1991

D.H. Lawrence: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 446 pp., £19.95, August 1990, 0 333 49247 1
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D.H. Lawrence 
by Tony Pinkney.
Harvester, 180 pp., £30, June 1990, 0 7108 1347 3
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England, My England, and Other Stories 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £37.50, March 1990, 0 521 35267 3
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The ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ Trial (Regina v. Penguin Books Limited) 
edited by H. Montgomery Hyde.
Bodley Head, 333 pp., £18, June 1990, 0 370 31105 1
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by James Hanley.
Deutsch, 191 pp., £11.99, August 1990, 0 233 98578 6
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D.H. Lawrence: A Literary Life 
by John Worthen.
Macmillan, 196 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 333 43352 1
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... hero of the same novel? What of Frieda’s remark that Lawrence identified with both Mellors and Clifford in Lady Chatterley’s Lover? Even with the life alone, the massive accumulation of evidence, together with Lawrence’s complex and unstable emotional history, makes it progressively harder for a modern biographer to make concise judgments. Early ...

My word, Miss Perkins

Jenny Diski: In the Typing Pool, 4 August 2005

Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture 
edited by Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell.
Ashgate, 168 pp., £40, January 2005, 0 7546 3804 9
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... the printers) the distinction can’t be quite so clear. There’s talk in these essays of Henry James dictating to Mary Weld (she records that it took 194 days to dictate The Wings of the Dove but makes no mention of content or quality) and of Erle Stanley Gardner’s fiction factory, with his suite of Della Streets banging out the latest Perry Mason ...

Frameworks of Comparison

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 2016

... context of Java and Indonesia. Not long before there had been a heated debate in Encounter between Clifford Geertz and the Swiss journalist Herbert Lüthy. It took place between late 1965 and early 1966, when communists and their sympathisers were being massacred in Indonesia after the attempted coup of 1965. Lüthy had started it by writing an essay on the ...

Tied to the Mast

Adam Mars-Jones: Alan Hollinghurst, 19 October 2017

The Sparsholt Affair 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 454 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 1 4472 0821 1
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... have opted for third-person narration, fertile territory for Jamesian negotiations of perspective (James being the writer whose effects he most admires). A stronger sense of a social web, and of the claims of belonging, has been evident, particularly in The Spell (1998), where domestic intimacy as well as pleasure-seeking was part of what the characters wanted ...

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