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Ian Sansom: Iain Banks, 5 December 2013

The Quarry 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 326 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 1 4087 0394 6
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... coherence. It’s possibly true of, say, Philip Roth, from Goodbye, Columbus to Nemesis, but Anthony Burgess? If you like A Clockwork Orange you’ll love Inside Mr Enderby? Or Margaret Atwood? If you like The Handmaid’s Tale you’ll love Alias Grace? With Banks, you knew what you were getting (and the excellent old Abacus black and white book jackets ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... who ‘marched in battle-gear’ – and her political and dynastic connections. Her father, Sir Anthony Cooke, had been tutor to Edward VI; her eldest sister, Mildred, was married to the all-powerful Lord Treasurer, Burghley; another sister, Anne, was the wife of Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper. Elizabeth was thus aunt to two of Shakespeare’s most ...

Lights On and Away We Go

Keith Thomas: Happy Thoughts, 20 May 2021

The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790 
by Ritchie Robertson.
Allen Lane, 984 pp., £40, November 2020, 978 0 241 00482 1
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... superstition and intolerance.In March 1706, in the midst of the War of the Spanish Succession, Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury, wrote excitedly to the Swiss biblical scholar Jean Le Clerc. ‘There is,’ he declared, ‘a mighty light which spreads itself over the world, especially in those two free nations of England and Holland, upon ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... did you choose your members?’ Of the first cited, Nolan at once replies: ‘He was in my chambers.’ Good to dine out on, but as somebody fairly points out, Nolan was by definition choosing his members pre-Nolanisation. 12 November 1997. To Quentin Skinner’s inaugural lecture as Regius Professor of History at Cambridge. Any method of appointment ...

The Great Unleashing

Jeremy Harding: The End of Jihad, 25 July 2002

Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam 
by Gilles Kepel, translated by Anthony F. Roberts.
Tauris, 454 pp., £25, June 2002, 1 86064 685 9
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... and tightening his grip on the press. Before long, the mosques had become the only real debating chambers in the country. The Saudis were relieved to see the back of Nasser. They had tried to shore up their own conservative worldview against his charismatic vision of an Islam firmly in harness to socialism, pan-Arabism, Third-Worldism and other uncongenial ...


Ruth Bernard Yeazell: A.S. Byatt, 28 November 2002

A Whistling Woman 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 422 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 7011 7380 7
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... in A Whistling Woman’s own symbolic repertoire. (As she did in Babel Tower, where she brought on Anthony Burgess as a witness for the defence in her fictional obscenity trial, Byatt enjoys mixing real people with her imaginary ones, even as she accords some of the latter the extended life of characters in Balzac: another episode of Through the Looking-Glass ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... Joseph Sturge, William Morgan and John Angell James); major cultural figures such as Anthony Trollope, Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill, all of whom took part in the public debate about the events in Jamaica; as well as officers, scribes, landowners, creolised whites, metropolitan intellectuals. Like her Baptist missionaries, they all became ...

Which play was performed at the Globe Theatre on 7 February 1601?

Blair Worden: A Play for Plotters, 10 July 2003

... says so. The first person to assemble (almost all) the evidence – invaluably – was E.K. Chambers in 1930. He cannot be said to have analysed it. There could, he was content to observe, be ‘little doubt’ that the play was Shakespeare’s Richard II; from which oracular ruling a hardening tradition has developed. A number of recent ...

Good Day, Comrade Shtrum

John Lanchester: Vasily Grossman’s Masterpiece, 18 October 2007

Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Vintage, 864 pp., £9.99, October 2006, 0 09 950616 5
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... British novelists who went off to the war in mid-career in their mid-thirties, Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell, both wrote books about what they had seen at first hand, Waugh’s war being more overtly interesting (the Commandos, Crete, parachute training, Yugoslavia) but Powell’s more typical (garrison duties, staff work, office politics). In ...

The Colossus of Maroussi

Iain Sinclair: In Athens, 27 May 2010

... of Never on Sunday and Psycho, in which, occupying a long floaty number, she prowls up to Anthony Perkins, perching beside him to croon. ‘What’s it about?’ he asks. ‘Like all Greek songs, about love and death,’ she replies. ‘I give you milk and honey and in return you give me poison.’ The museum was deserted. The entrance fee had ...


Adam Phillips: Christopher Ricks, 22 July 2010

True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht and Robert Lowell under the Sign of Eliot and Pound 
by Christopher Ricks.
Yale, 258 pp., £16.99, February 2010, 978 0 300 13429 2
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... and in a way that not drawing attention to them would not. They make you think about poems as echo chambers, and of reading poetry as a way of hearing things; and about the fact that in the reading of poetry associations cross one’s mind that one is inclined to dismiss. If the ‘shake’ example seems peculiarly ill-judged when everywhere else in the book ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... of John, and it is John who dies, shot by the Communists, but not before he records a Whittaker Chambers-like confession on a tape that is played as the commencement address at his alma mater. The salient combination in this elixir is anti-intellectualism and Catholicism. The genuine oddness of the insistence on Catholicism may be hard to recover in a year ...


Tariq Ali: Richard Sorge’s Fate, 21 November 2019

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent 
by Owen Matthews.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 4088 5778 6
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... to all that. Fouché died peacefully in his bed in 1820. Thurloe had similarly passed away in his chambers at Lincoln’s Inn in 1667, a pattern that would, alas, not be repeated in the Soviet Union.Jan Karlovich Berzin (born Pēteris Ķuzis in 1889) recruited the first generation of Soviet spies. From a Latvian peasant family, he participated in the 1905 ...

Who Cares?

Jean McNicol, 9 February 1995

The Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis 
by Jean Ritchie, Donald Dick and Richard Lingham.
HMSO, 146 pp., £9.50, February 1994, 0 11 701798 1
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Creating Community Care: Report of the Mental Health Foundation into Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness 
by William Utting.
Mental Health Foundation, 76 pp., £9.50, September 1994, 0 901944 17 3
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Finding a Place: A Review of Mental Health Services for Adults 
HMSO, 94 pp., £11, November 1994, 0 11 886143 3Show More
The Falling Shadow: One Patient’s Mental Health Care. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Events Leading up to and Surrounding the Fatal Incident at the Edith Morgan Centre, Torbay, on 1 September 1993 
by Louis Blom-Cooper, Helen Hally and Elaine Murphy.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 7156 2662 0
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... by Jenny Norville, a special needs housing officer from Lambeth Social Services, at Manor Court Chambers, a bed and breakfast in Notting Hill described by his sister as ‘just terrible’. In May, Norville and her colleague Hugh Murray, from Lambeth’s Homeless Single Persons’ Team, were told that Clunis was becoming violent and that other tenants were ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... these are cells of the wrong sort. I once heard a child at Chatsworth ask where the torture chambers were. Another thought occurs apropos the monastic life: what is it about music that encourages the non-performance of its duties? Musicians are notoriously unreliable and think nothing of sending someone else along to take their place. And so it has ...

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