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Building an Empire

J. Hoberman: Oscar Micheaux, 19 July 2001

Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences 
by Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence.
Rutgers, 280 pp., £38.95, August 2000, 0 8135 2803 8
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Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux 
by J. Ronald Green.
Indiana, 368 pp., £21.95, August 2000, 0 253 33753 4
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... eight reels, it was the longest race film to date. Thus began the career of the director whom J. Ronald Green provocatively introduces as Griffith’s great adversary and antithesis. As a follower of Booker T. Washington, Micheaux preached a gospel of self-help and individual responsibility. Between 1919 and 1940 (with one last epic, The Betrayal, in ...

The Seine at Asnières

Ronald Gaskell, 18 September 1986

... The trees this summer are so beautiful, the poplars dipping and effacing their long forms of green and gold. The Countess is delighted. After weeks of fashionable chatter, of polite receptions, after all the dust and heat and hurry of the boulevards, to be drifting with this charming girl who neither speaks nor smiles, except when smiled to! On the bank ...

Home Place

Guy Vanderhaeghe, 12 November 1987

... days. A hundred yards behind him one window burned yellow in the dark house. That was his son Ronald, asleep under the bare light bulb and the airplanes. Whenever Ronald fled Darlene, the woman Gil MacLean referred to as the ‘backpages wife’, he slunk back to his father’s house in the dead of night to sleep in a ...


Jonathan Bate, 27 July 1989

Train, Train 
by Graham Coster.
Bloomsbury, 225 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780747503941
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The Philosophers 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780715625118
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The King of the Fields 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Cape, 256 pp., £10.95, July 1989, 0 224 02663 1
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Sister Hollywood 
by C.K. Stead.
Collins, 224 pp., £11.95, June 1989, 0 00 223479 3
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Penelope’s Hat 
by Ronald Frame.
Hodder, 440 pp., £12.95, July 1989, 0 340 49397 6
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... revolution has had the curious result that they communicate not with other human beings but with green screens, fax machines and modems. Graham Coster and Alex Comfort have each written a Condition-of-England novel for the Yuppie age, but they have handled the task in diametrically opposite ways. Coster’s protagonist, Greg, forsakes his computer terminal ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... John Wayne was in one of them. Orange County is in Southern California, home of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, of Hollywood, Disneyland and John Wayne. Nixon would have lost his home state and the White House in 1968 without his Southern California support. At the 1984 Republican Convention, Reagan, our second Southern California President, was the subject ...

Lord Fitzcricket

P.N. Furbank: The composer’s life, 21 May 1998

Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric 
by Mark Amory.
Chatto, 274 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 234 2
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... to do, but at last the ideal answer was found: diplomacy – of the unstrenuous kind evoked in Ronald Firbank’s The Flower beneath the Foot. As an honorary attaché, he was in demand to advise on tableaux vivants, and had time at his disposal to cover the embassy registers with facetious drawings. The war found him in the Rome Chancellery. He was already ...
Selected Poems 
by Patricia Beer.
Hutchinson, 152 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 09 138450 8
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The Venetian Vespers 
by Anthony Hecht.
Oxford, 91 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 19 211933 8
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Nostalgia for the Present 
by Andrei Voznesensky.
Oxford, 150 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 19 211900 1
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Reflections on the Nile 
by Ronald Bottrall.
London Magazine Editions, 56 pp., £3.50, May 1980, 0 904388 33 6
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Summer Palaces 
by Peter Scupham.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3, March 1980, 9780192119322
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... are those quoted from the American buttons themselves: ‘Men are the ancestors of apes,’ ‘Ronald Reagan is a lesbian,’ ‘If it moves, fondle it.’ Lastly, to return to the issue of nationalism, there is a long poem here, too, ‘Story Under Full Sail’, a group of lyrics about a swashbuckling sea-captain Rezanov who, by marrying the daughter of ...

Miss Fleur gave me the most awful restyle

Elaine Showalter: Joe Orton, 10 December 1998

Between Us Girls 
by Joe Orton.
Hern, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 1 85459 374 9
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‘Fred & Madge’ and ‘The Visitors’ 
by Joe Orton.
Hern, 224 pp., £12.99, October 1998, 1 85459 354 4
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... and their early novels are all profoundly influenced by the style of Halliwell’s literary idol, Ronald Firbank.’ They co-authored five ponderously Firbankian novels, camply titled Lord Cucumber, The Silver Bucket, The Mechanical Womb, The Last Days of Sodom and The Boy Hairdresser. None ever made it into print. Between Us Girls, however, is a funny and ...


Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade, 17 August 2006

... in winter, looks down on an open-air chess arena which, in season, is assaulted by morris dancers, green fools, bikers, tame Goths, blueskins with nothing left to tattoo except their eyeballs. Kötting has set himself up, inside this sail-making loft, with a garden shed. A hut with a heater. Here, twice sealed from the world, he reminisces about the journey he ...

Cry Treedom

Jonathan Bate, 4 November 1993

Forests: The shadow of Civilisation 
by Robert Pogue Harrison.
Chicago, 288 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 226 31806 0
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... the trees go to make, not ships but space for cattle which will be slaughtered at the shrine of Ronald McDonald. However anti-imperial, Forests is not uncomplicatedly left-leaning in the manner of nearly all today’s politically-conscious literary criticism. In a highly original analysis of John Manwood’s 1592 treatise on forest law, Harrison shows that ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities, 11 September 2003

Searching for John Ford: A Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... home to tidy the porch, and Nixon was every part in The Godfather rolled into one. But it took Ronald Reagan to drive the matter past the point of absurdity: president of the Screen Actors’ Guild as well as star of Bedtime for Bonzo. The person who today seems most like a real President is Martin Sheen, who plays one in The West Wing.1 George W. Bush ...


Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... When I first met Ronald Hutton, at a conference in Montana ten years ago, he remarked that if you looked at a modern book on druids, what you were likely to find was a number of chapters about ancient druids – about whom we know very little – followed by a perfunctory coda on modern druids, about whom we know a great deal ...

The other side have got one

Ian Gilmour: Lady Thatcher’s Latest, 6 June 2002

Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the 20th Century 
by E.H.H. Green.
Oxford, 309 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 19 820593 7
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Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 486 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 00 710752 8
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... but a disposition’. But all these distinguished people, it now appears, were mistaken. E.H.H. Green, who is a don at Magdalen College, Oxford, with some highly regarded books to his credit and who is not the first academic to take such a position, tells us in Ideologies of Conservatism that the ‘conception of Conservatism as a form of “non ...

A slower kind of bang

Steve Jones, 22 April 1993

The Diversity of Life 
by Edward O. Wilson.
Allen Lane, 424 pp., £22.50, February 1993, 0 7139 9094 5
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... stay at home. By so doing they would preserve nature more effectively than could any conceivable Green initiative. My own contribution to saving the world is to turn off television programmes about burning rainforests as soon as they begin. Twenty years of lamenting the coming ecological disaster has led many to do the same. There is a Leninist feeling that ...

Lighting-Up Time

Wendy Doniger, 6 March 1997

The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 542 pp., £19.99, June 1996, 0 19 820570 8
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... because they struck a blow against ‘the three most obvious privations of the season: the lack of green leaves, light and warmth’. Guy Fawkes remains ‘a comfort to gathering darkness ... a potent symbol of excitement, heat, light and celebration ... at precisely the moment when the onset of cold, darkness and decay are most apparent’. So, too, Christmas ...

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