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The Mantle of Jehovah

Francis Spufford, 25 June 1987

Sugar 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 224 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 7011 3169 1
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... seem silly. You could, of course, draw a contrast simply in terms of range of Bad Moments covered: Norman Mailer has preferred to steer clear of the peculiar pains of childbirth, and Andrea Dworkin has chosen not to dwell on the distinctive horror an uneasy Christmas dinner can become, while Byatt can and has handled both as elements in her continuing series ...

Diary

Ian Sansom: I was a teenage evangelist, 8 July 2004

... my entire top shelf, or cupboard-top, of books: Ian McEwan’s First Love, Last Rites, Junkie, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Lolita, books which I had lovingly collected from jumble sales and Oxfam shops, and which I now had a strong sense were somehow ‘wrong’. We’d done ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ for O-level English, so that stayed. Nineteen ...

Europe, what Europe?

Colin Kidd: J.G.A. Pocock, 6 November 2008

The Discovery of Islands: Essays in British History 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £18.99, September 2005, 9780521616454
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Barbarism and Religion. Vol. III: The First Decline and Fall 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 527 pp., £19.99, October 2005, 0 521 67233 3
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Barbarism and Religion. Vol. IV: Barbarians, Savages and Empires 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £17.99, February 2008, 978 0 521 72101 1
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... with the question of whether the historic free constitution of the Anglo-Saxons had survived the Norman Conquest and feudalism. Did the ancient constitution persist into the present, as Whig antiquaries contended, or was there a feudal discontinuity in the course of English history, as argued by royalists and Tories? The debate that had most purchase on ...

On Trying to Be Portugal

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Zionist Terrorism, 6 August 2009

‘A Senseless, Squalid War’: Voices from Palestine 1945-48 
by Norman Rose.
Bodley Head, 278 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 224 07938 9
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Major Farran’s Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain’s War against Jewish Terrorism 1945-48 
by David Cesarani.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 434 01844 4
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... in the history of Zionism, including the period just before the birth of the state described in Norman Rose’s ‘A Senseless, Squalid War’ and David Cesarani’s Major Farran’s Hat. Both books deal with the last years of the Mandate, when the rightist nationalists of the Irgun and the Stern Gang waged a fierce campaign against British forces and the ...

I have no books to consult

Stephen Sedley: Lord Mansfield, 22 January 2015

Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason 
by Norman Poser.
McGill-Queen’s, 532 pp., £24.99, September 2013, 978 0 7735 4183 2
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... a mansion, designed by Robert Adam, and a park which remain a high point of British design. Norman Poser is not Mansfield’s first biographer, but he is arguably the best so far. The first, John Holliday, wrote his not always reliable memoir shortly after Mansfield’s death. Then came Lord Campbell, himself a chief justice, whose biographies of his ...

Dogface

Ian Hamilton, 28 September 1989

Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 330 pp., £15, September 1989, 0 19 503797 9
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War like a Wasp: The Lost Decade of the Forties 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 241 12531 6
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... in Fussell’s critical performances the ‘residual complaints’ of a foot-soldier who, to adapt Norman Mailer’s phrase, had broken his ass for nothing. While ‘affecting to be annoyed primarily by someone’s bad writing or slipshod logic or lazy editing’, Professor Fussell was actually fussing that ‘the Air Corps had beds to sleep in, that ...

Wholly Given Over to Thee

Anne Barton: Literary romance, 2 December 2004

The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare 
by Helen Cooper.
Oxford, 560 pp., £65, June 2004, 0 19 924886 9
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... of the period when, she points out, England and France formed a single cultural entity) in Anglo-Norman and French. What was going on during the same period in Italy, Germany or Spain falls outside the scope of Cooper’s inquiry. More puzzling is the omission of certain classical Greek and Latin texts influential in the romance tradition with which she is ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: New York Megacity, 16 August 2007

... exceptional remarks: gloom was everywhere. At the beginning of the 1960s, Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford, America’s most famous writers on urban issues, sensed a crisis on the horizon, but they didn’t foresee just how badly things would turn out. Nor did Robert Moses, who had been in charge of city planning since the 1920s, and whose mammoth ...

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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... The Archers on Radio 4, so I’m out of touch. I read in the papers that Phil Archer, or at least Norman Painting, who played him, died recently, but is Jill still around? Where’s Shula? What’s with Eddie Grundy? Old Walter Gabriel must be long gone, but what happened to his scapegrace son, Nelson? Are the village shop and post office still open, or does ...

A Thousand Slayn

Barbara Newman: Ars Moriendi, 5 November 2020

Arts of Dying: Literature and Finitude in Medieval England 
by D. Vance Smith.
Chicago, 309 pp., £24, April, 978 0 226 64099 0
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... examples and rejects the familiar theory that this poetic corpus, under the shadow of the Norman Conquest, mourns the impending death of the language itself. He concentrates instead on a set of posthumous laments, in which a Soul castigates its buried Body for the sins that led to its present misery. Body is silent now, its tongue decayed in the crypt ...

Persons Aggrieved

Stephen Sedley, 22 May 1997

... but more instructive. English law, which recognised and enforced slavery until well after the Norman Conquest, no longer did by the 16th century, when a lucrative slave trade developed between West Africa and the American and Caribbean colonies. The courts of England, however, gave their sanction to slave trading during the 17th century, in part by ...
... beautiful with honeysuckle, clematis and lupins. The church is particularly interesting. A Saxon-Norman central tower has become a west tower with the disappearance of the original nave. Now a small Norman nave runs east of the tower on the site of the first chancel. There is a fine fresco above the chancel arch – a ...

Sins of the Three Pashas

Edward Luttwak: The Armenian Genocide, 4 June 2015

‘They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else’: A History of the Armenian Genocide 
by Ronald Grigor Suny.
Princeton, 520 pp., £24.95, March 2015, 978 0 691 14730 7
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... scholars who deny that what took place was a genocide as legally defined include Bernard Lewis, Stanford Shaw, David Fromkin, Justin McCarthy, Guenther Lewy, Norman Stone, Michael Gunter, Andrew Mango, Roderic Davison, Edward Erickson and Steven Katz, and although all of them have had dealings with Turkish academic ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie, 21 February 1985

Chivalry 
by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... of symbolism in Medieval literature is refreshing. Nevertheless, the book’s tone (very C.S. Lewis) does now seem rather old-fashioned and bellelettrist and one’s understanding of Chrétien de Troyes is not increased by the parallels that Vinaver draws between him and John Steinbeck; nor does the long section on Flaubert serve to throw much light on ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... of nurture for the developing poet. Particularly acute is his demonstration of the importance of Lewis Spence to MacDiarmid. Bold argues convincingly that it was Spence’s attitude to nationalism and to the Scots language that encouraged Grieve to reverse his earlier condemnation of the attempt to write in that medium, and so stimulated the first Scots ...

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