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The Only True Throne

John Pemble: ‘Muckraker’, 19 July 2012

Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W.T. Stead 
by W. Sydney Robinson.
Robson, 281 pp., £20, May 2012, 978 1 84954 294 4
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... of the inquiry. The paper’s support was now a liability to opponents of Home Rule. As Sydney Robinson makes clear in his lively and laconic biography, Stead was a pioneer of what Arnold called the ‘New Journalism’. Under its first editors, the PMG had lived up to its fictional namesake: the paper ‘written by gentlemen for gentlemen’ that features ...

Poor Rose

Christian Lorentzen: Against Alice Munro, 6 June 2013

Dear Life 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 319 pp., £18.99, November 2012, 978 0 7011 8784 2
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... turn out to live in a rural corner of Ontario between Toronto and Lake Huron, and to be white, Christian, prudish and dangling on a class rung somewhere between genteel poverty and middle-class comfort. Occasionally they move to the vicinity of Vancouver, only to go back to Ontario again. If this patch of the North Country sounds like a provincial ...

What’s next?

James Wood: Afterlives, 14 April 2011

After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory 
by John Casey.
Oxford, 468 pp., £22.50, January 2010, 978 0 19 509295 0
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... hell. No one believes in eternal punishment any more (except for Islamic fundamentalists and those Christian evangelicals who think Christopher Hitchens will go to hell), but the concept of an afterlife is still hard to throw over. The other day, my parents told me of an ageing friend who had recently abandoned his lifelong atheism and become a ...

Metaphysical Parenting

James Wood: Edward P. Jones, 21 June 2007

All Aunt Hagar’s Children 
by Edward P. Jones.
Harper Perennial, 399 pp., £7.99, March 2007, 978 0 00 724083 8
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... narrative on one character and then let memory and consciousness have their wayward reign. ‘Adam Robinson Acquires Grandparents and a Little Sister’ begins like this: ‘After the cab turned off East Capitol onto 8th Street, Noah Robinson saw further evidence that trees were disappearing from Washington.’ The next two ...

New Guardians of Education

Gillian Avery, 17 July 1980

Racism and Sexism in Children’s Books 
edited by Judith Stinton.
Writers and Readers, 147 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 906495 19 9
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Babies need books 
by Dorothy Butler.
Bodley Head, 190 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 9780370301518
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... his rank, in a ridiculous situation, and provokes a laugh at the expense of conjugal affection’. Robinson Crusoe led to an early taste for a rambling life (she had known some little boys who had run away to sea because of it); Primrose Prettyface would suggest to girls of the lower orders that they might aspire to marry gentlemen (who would likewise think ...

Tired of Giving in

Eric Foner: Rosa Parks, 10 May 2001

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Life of Rosa Parks 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.99, January 2001, 0 297 60708 1
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... read the Bible daily, and while imbibing the principle of turning the other cheek, coupled Christian forgiveness with a determination to stand up for her rights. From her grandfather, an admirer of Marcus Garvey, she heard the message of racial pride and self-discipline, lessons reinforced at the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. For a few ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... writer such as Hume had no right to such marks of ‘politeness and respect’ from Christian gentlemen. This story, which opens Sher’s learned account of the 18th-century trade in Scottish literature, illustrates his belief that the form in which the Scottish Enlightenment was communicated to the world has been neglected and that the physical ...

Five Feet Tall in His Socks

Patrick Collinson: Farewell to the Muggletonians, 5 June 2008

Last Witnesses: The Muggletonian History, 1652-1979 
by William Lamont.
Ashgate, 267 pp., £55, August 2006, 0 7546 5532 6
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... later in the century the sect was ruled ‘by force of intellect’ rather than wealth by Thomas Robinson, a mostly unemployed shoemaker and recipient of the sect’s charity. Most members belonged to the lower levels of artisanship and trade, neither poor nor rich. They included, as one would expect, many women, whose role in transmitting the faith must not ...

Robinson’s Footprints

Richard Gott: Hugo Chávez and the Venezuelan Revolution, 17 February 2000

... had the hegemonic role, but to keep up the pretence that Venezuela was a democracy, an alternative Christian Democrat party, Copei, was allowed on occasion to win elections, though it had no real power. This cynical agreement was reached in the so-called Pact of Punto Fijo, signed in 1958, which effectively ensured that other parties, of left or right, would ...

Double Doctrine

Colin Kidd: The Enlightenment, 5 December 2013

The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters 
by Anthony Pagden.
Oxford, 436 pp., £20, May 2013, 978 0 19 966093 3
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... right’ and associated ideas – advanced during the Enlightenment by the abbé de St Pierre, Christian Wolff, Jeremy Bentham and others – about how a global society, a civitas maxima, might be established and maintained. The construction of a perpetual peace on this scale would not be possible without treating the coarse timber of an all too tribal ...

Warm Drops in Baghdad

John Simpson, 22 November 1990

... faded. We were left with a still photograph of date palms at sunset. ‘Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson’ was played by violins. It was time for the News. President Saddam Hussein would feature heavily in that, too. This is landscape I have explored before. Romanian Television used to call Nicolae Ceausescu ‘our bright morning star’ and ‘our ...

Silly Willy

Jonathan Bate, 25 April 1991

William Blake: His Life 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £25, March 1991, 0 297 81160 6
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... whose intense, unique vision led him to create his own philosophy and mythology. He was a Christian who despised Christianity. He was an extremely private person who retreated from society. But he was tortured by his rejection of the world: he wanted fame – and yet he did not want to be tainted with success. This is James King, who despite having ...

Carers or Consumers?

Barbara Taylor: 18th-Century Women, 4 November 2010

Women and Enlightenment in 18th-Century Britain 
by Karen O’Brien.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £17.99, March 2009, 978 0 521 77427 7
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... womanly, suffused with the traditional female vices of profligacy and sensuality. If Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was Economic Man in the heroic mode, he was shadowed by Economic Woman: Moll Flanders, the emblem of an age of passions run rampant. Not everyone shared this pessimism. A very different mood could also be found in Enlightenment Britain, as ...

At Turner Contemporary

Anne Enright: Dorothy Cross, Connemara , 19 December 2013

... school of Letterfrack, with its unmarked grave for delinquent boys, who were abused by the Christian Brothers in a town that turns its back to the sea. As I drive along this road, the weatherman on the radio promises a day ‘bog agus gaolach’: soft and windy, or, as translated half an hour later, in the English language forecast, ‘blustery, with ...

Europe or America?

Ian Gilmour, 7 November 2019

... apart from Roy Jenkins, the other heroes are the usually unsung civil servants: Lee, O’Neill, Robinson, Butler, Palliser etc, who shepherded us into the Community with a skill and persistence which almost made up for the visionless complacency of their predecessors of the 1930s and 1940s. Young is impressed by Heath’s ability at their crucial meeting in ...

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