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Be grateful for drizzle

Donald MacKenzie: High-Frequency Trading, 11 September 2014

... and the combination of so many computers and all that air conditioning makes for a lot of noise. Andrew Blum, author of a fine book on the physical reality of the internet, describes visiting a data centre as ‘like stepping into a machine … as loud as a rushing highway’.2 There are four main share-trading data centres in the US. The New York Stock ...

Tarot Triumph

Edmund Leach, 4 September 1980

The Game of Tarot: from Ferrara to Salt Lake City 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £45, August 1980, 0 7156 1014 7
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Twelve Tarot Games 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 242 pp., £5.95, August 1980, 0 7156 1488 6
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... denomination. It seems to have been sparked off partly by the fact that when Dummett’s son Andrew came across a book of rules relating to a French version of Tarot, father and son had together learned how to play the game and found that it was a very good one, and partly by the fact that his present collaborator, Sylvia Mann, who is the foremost ...


Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... days’. This was too much, even for Wilson’s friends among the Edinburgh literati. Henry Mackenzie, who, as author of The Man of Feeling (1771), knew a thing or two about lachrymose tat, dismissed Wilson’s book as a ‘syrupy dish for young sentimentalists’. Wilson had the review suppressed and a puff inserted in its place. What is most ...

Clashes and Collaborations

Linda Colley, 18 July 1996

Empire: The British Imperial Experience, from 1765 to the Present 
by Denis Judd.
HarperCollins, 517 pp., £25, March 1996, 9780002552370
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Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire 
edited by P.J. Marshall.
Cambridge, 400 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 0 521 43211 1
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Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c.1500-c.1800 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 244 pp., £19.95, August 1995, 0 300 06415 2
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... or under-development. Ged Martin and Benjamin Kline discuss emigration and identities. John MacKenzie supplies a piece on imperial art. Finally, Marshall, followed by an Australian, an African and an Indian, offer their own, inevitably different, verdicts on Empire’s legacy. Throughout, we are reminded that British power to control events was ...

Malvolio’s Story

Marilyn Butler, 8 February 1996

Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 461 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 00 215964 3
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... generosity of spirit are attributes not confined to the polite classes. (It was Henry Mackenzie who captured Burns’s significance for the age of revolutions, with his adjective ‘Heaven-taught’.) There were, all the same, limitations the ploughman-poet would have to transcend – which in effect required him to write other kinds of ...

‘Where’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’

Michael Dobson: 17th-century literary culture, 11 September 2008

Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 599 pp., March 2008, 978 0 19 818384 6
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... foray out of town – critics have tended to make it only as far as George Herbert’s Bemerton or Andrew Marvell’s Hull in any case – this study largely avoids the English capital, or at least as far as is compatible with still discussing Cymbeline and some minor bits of Milton. For the most part it shifts its formidably knowledgable attention to other ...

Madness and Method

Mark Philp, 3 April 1986

The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry Vol. I: People and Ideas, Vol. II: Institutions and Society 
edited by W.F. Bynum, Roy Porter and Michael Shepherd.
Tavistock, 316 pp., £19.95, November 1985, 0 422 79430 9
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Madness, Morality and Medicine: A Study of the York Retreat 1796-1914 
by Anne Digby.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £27.50, October 1985, 0 521 26067 1
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... of Foucault, Erving Goffman, Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing, and more recently the contributions of Andrew Scull and a new generation of historians, have made it impossible to accept the Whig view of psychiatry’s history. Yet, if these writers have managed to convince historians that work in the subject must take account both of the wider social and political ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns, 25 July 2002

Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... Hae’ or ‘A Red, Red Rose’. While Paterson’s non-bard is wee enough to fit in a matchbox, Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg offer a bard of Victorian amplitude. The Canongate Burns runs to over a thousand pages, many of them by Noble and Hogg. A lot less stylish, their introduction alone is almost as long as Paterson’s whole book. They feel ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 23 October 2014

... did adopt him. His talents took him to the Royal High School, where William Drummond, Henry Mackenzie and Walter Scott had been before him. There Karl became favourite pupil and close friend of Hector MacIver, that incomparable teacher of literature, who recognised his gifts and took him with his other clever boys down the Calton Hill to Rose Street. In ...

Make for the Boondocks

Tom Nairn: Hardt and Negri, 5 May 2005

by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £20, January 2005, 0 241 14240 7
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... now less of a universal threat than it was between the 1950s and the 1980s. Some years back Donald MacKenzie argued in the LRB that – contrary to so many earlier previsions – nuclear weapons had been in effect ‘disinvented’ by the closure of the Cold War, and the colossal, escalating investment in both material and human resources needed to make them ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... simply it caused nearly all of the 72 deaths. ‘There’s a moment,’ the fire expert Stephen Mackenzie told me, ‘when the tactics have to move from “remain in place” to “assisted evacuation”.’ It had been obvious from very early on, even to spectators on the ground, that the fire at Grenfell Tower was not going to be put out, that it was ...

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