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Globalisation before Globalisation

Philippe Marlière: The Paris Commune, 2 July 2015

Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune of 1871 
by John Merriman.
Yale, 324 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17452 6
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Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune 
by Kristin Ross.
Verso, 148 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 1 78168 839 7
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... equipped with 2000 cannons and 450,000 firearms. Thiers’s new government embodied a conservative brand of republicanism. He had been prime minister under Louis-Philippe’s July Monarchy in 1836, 1840 and 1848, and was later a fierce opponent of Napoleon III. He was far from being the kind of leader the Parisian militants wanted in power. Thiers had promised ...

Mercenary Knights and Princess Brides

Barbara Newman: Medieval Travel, 17 August 2017

The Medieval Invention of Travel 
by Shayne Aaron Legassie.
Chicago, 287 pp., £22, April 2017, 978 0 226 44662 2
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... owed a debt in turn to Marco Polo. Less famous, but no less fascinating, is the Franciscan William of Rubruck’s Itinerarium, written about forty years before Polo’s work. A reluctant messenger for Louis IX, later St Louis, William carried a letter from the French monarch to Kublai’s predecessor, Möngke ...

Grunge Futurism

Julian Loose, 4 November 1993

Virtual Light 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 670 84081 5
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Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Post-Modern Science Fiction 
by Scott Bukatman.
Duke, 416 pp., £15.95, August 1993, 0 8223 1340 5
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... The future isn’t what it used to be. In one of William Gibson’s first published stories, ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, a photographer is assigned to capture examples of ‘futuristic’ American design from the Thirties, the kind of dream architecture that graced the covers of pulp science fiction magazines like Amazing Stories ...

Paraphernalia

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Tudor Spin, 19 November 2009

Selling the Tudor Monarchy: Authority and Image in 16th-Century England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 588 pp., £30, April 2009, 978 0 300 14098 9
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... only to have their achievement hijacked by a shrewd representative of Scandinavian carpet-baggers, William of Normandy. William’s Angevin successors then created a power of continent-wide importance, an Anglo-French polity that represented these islands’ best effort yet at European integration; but it had fallen apart ...

Would we be any happier?

Thomas Jones: William Gibson, 20 February 2020

Agency 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 402 pp., £18.99, January, 978 0 241 23721 2
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... adviser wrote. The best he could do was to reach for a fictional comparison: ‘weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand “diviner” who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger’. ‘That girl’ is Cayce Pollard, the 32-year-old protagonist of Pattern Recognition (2003). She ...

Suffering Souls

Marina Warner: Ghosts in the Middle Ages, 18 June 1998

Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society 
by Jean-Claude Schmitt, translated by Theresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 290 pp., £26.50, May 1998, 0 226 73887 6
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... reins froze his hand. Fifteen years after his experience, the scars remained, the authenticating brand from the other world: Walchelin showed them to the chronicler. He watched several thousand of these dead go and recognised many he knew: murderers, wantons, renegades, but also many he was surprised to find in this tormented parade, for they had seemed to ...

No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair, 2 November 2006

A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... evidence by a drumhead tribunal presided over by a 26-year-old naval subaltern, Lieutenant Brand, who, far from being an innocent, turned out to be a bloodthirsty bully who had sent 189 Jamaicans to the scaffold. Newspapers and periodicals that had initially supported Eyre changed sides. The Jamaica Royal Commission produced an honest, albeit not ...

This Condensery

August Kleinzahler: In Praise of Lorine Niedecker, 5 June 2003

Collected Works 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
California, 471 pp., £29.95, May 2002, 0 520 22433 7
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Collected Studies in the Use of English 
by Kenneth Cox.
Agenda, 270 pp., £12, September 2001, 9780902400696
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New Goose 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
Listening Chamber, 98 pp., $10, January 2002, 0 9639321 6 0
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... edited by Louis Zukofsky I’d never have developed as a poet – I literally went to school to William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky and have had the good fortune to call the latter friend and mentor. Well – there was an influence (from transition and the surrealistes that has always seemed to want to ride right along with the ...

Downward Mobility

Linda Colley, 4 May 1989

The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians 
edited by John Cannon, R.H.C. Davis, William Doyle and Jack Greene.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £39.95, September 1988, 9780631147084
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Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian, 1772-1794 
by Patricia Craddock.
Johns Hopkins, 432 pp., £19, February 1989, 0 8018 3720 0
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Gibbon: Making History 
by Roy Porter.
Palgrave, 187 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 312 02728 1
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Macaulay 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 9780297794684
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Acton 
by Hugh Tulloch.
Trafalgar Square, 144 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 297 79470 1
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... families of the Holy Roman Empire, before becoming an Irish MP, a baron, and the confidant of William Gladstone. Possessing social credentials of this kind helped to make these men the historians they were. They did not only write about power: they also directly experienced it. They not only visited the archives and libraries of the great: they were ...

Make mine a Worcester Sauce

John Bayley, 23 June 1994

Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... know,’ as if mention of the Buchan title was the best he could do to suggest a highly elusive brand of sensibility. His view seemed to be that of most of the Continental jurors, who awarded the prize, quite a prestigious one in those days, to the Italian novelist Gadda for A Horrible Mess on Via Merulana. I am sure they were right, but The Fox in the ...

In the Golfo Placido

P.N. Furbank, 9 October 1986

The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. II: 1898-1902 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 483 pp., £27.50, August 1986, 0 521 25748 4
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... ami, I did not write because I was beastly seedy – nerve trouble – a taste of hell.’ To William Blackwood, 12 April 1900: ‘A dog’s life! this writing out, this endlessness of effort and this endless discontent; with remorse, thrown in, for the massacre of so many good intentions.’ To Edward Garnett, 29 March 1898: ‘I assure you – speaking ...

The Thought of Ruislip

E.S. Turner: The Metropolitan Line, 2 December 2004

Metro-Land: British Empire Exhibition Number 
by Oliver Green.
Southbank, 144 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 1 904915 00 0
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... boroughs into the Chiltern Hundreds and the Vale of Aylesbury. The originators of successful brand names deserve to be remembered. According to Alan Jackson’s London’s Metropolitan Railway (1986), the name Metroland was the inspiration of James Garland, a copywriter in the company’s publicity department, who was laid up with flu but leapt out of ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill, 20 August 1981

Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... which equally prepared the way for the Industrial Revolution. This was largely brought about by William finance his wars against F near of the ‘rationalism and human he 1640s and 1 how the ‘revolutionary deca checke belief in witchcraft. We do not hear of Matthew Hopkins, the witchfinder-general (d. 1647), whose activities in the rational and humane ...

At Camden Arts Centre

Marina Warner: Kara Walker , 5 December 2013

... the plantation into the present, even though the cast of characters look unchangingly antebellum. (William Kentridge, the South African artist and filmmaker who also alludes to magic-lantern shows, has staged similarly ironic festivities and pageants – though with a more raucous sense of drama – as he too explores the changing tensions around race in ...

The Reality Effect

Jon Day: 'Did I think this, or was it Lucy Ellmann?', 5 December 2019

Ducks, Newburyport 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Galley Beggar, 1030 pp., £13.99, September 2019, 978 1 913111 98 4
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... awakening of consciousness, a sentence strewn with commas but in no place cut by a period’. William James preferred the image of a stream: consciousness, he wrote, ‘does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as “chain” or “train” do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it ...

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