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Big Stick Swagger

Colin Kidd: Republican Conspiracism, 6 January 2022

A Conspiratorial Life: Robert Welch, the John Birch Society and the Revolution of American Conservatism 
by Edward H. Miller.
Chicago, 456 pp., £24, January, 978 0 226 44886 2
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... tapes evidence of the ‘paranoid style’ in the Oval Office itself.Despite all this, Edward Miller thinks things have got measurably worse. Conspiratorial ideas that once belonged on the eccentric margins of American conservatism have become part of the mainstream. Miller’s study of Robert Welch, the founder of the ...

Off Narragansett

Karl Miller, 28 September 1989

Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn 
by Paul Watkins.
Century Hutchinson, 269 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 09 173914 4
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Blood and Water 
by Patrick McGrath.
Penguin Originals, 183 pp., £4.99, February 1989, 0 14 011005 4
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The Grotesque 
by Patrick McGrath.
Viking, 186 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82987 0
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... leave hardly any room, if experienced in the flesh, for a satisfaction of the wish to write books. James Pfeiffer tells how he wishes to be a fisherman, and to have a boat of his own one day, an inshore lobster boat. Meanwhile, for the duration of the novel, he goes quite far out to sea on board the Grey Ghost, a trawler whose crew meets with a succession of ...

Roman Fever

Sarah Perry, 26 September 2019

Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire 
by Jessica Howell.
Cambridge, 238 pp., £75, October 2018, 978 1 108 48468 8
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... moving a plot briskly on. Howell examines the presence of malaria in the work of Dickens and Henry James, concentrating on Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) and Daisy Miller (1878). Both books were written before Ronald Ross proved, in 1897, that the malaria parasite was transmitted by the female mosquito’s bite rather than by ...

Being two is half the fun

John Bayley, 4 July 1985

Multiple Personality and the Disintegration of Literary Character 
by Jeremy Hawthorn.
Edward Arnold, 146 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 7131 6398 4
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Doubles: Studies in Literary History 
by Karl Miller.
Oxford, 488 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 9780198128410
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The Doubleman 
by C.J. Koch.
Chatto, 326 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780701129453
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... the ways in which consciousness multiplies itself. Normal and indeed fascinating. Both Karl Miller and Jeremy Hawthorn consider as one of their classic texts Conrad’s short story ‘The Secret Sharer’. Suggested by the concealment of a fugitive which actually took place on board the clipper ship Cutty Sark, the tale is of a young mate accused of ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: American Girls, 8 March 2007

... pushy and ungrateful, of being grouped with those whom the ever correct Mrs Costello, in ‘Daisy Miller’, calls the ‘sort of Americans that one does one’s duty by not – not accepting’. And then there’s the edifying fate of Daisy Miller herself. When the American girl, in her ‘indestructible innocence, her ...

At Free Love Corner

Jenny Diski, 30 March 2000

Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers 
by Frances Wilson.
Faber, 258 pp., £12.99, October 1999, 0 571 19288 2
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... Shelley shadow the literary love of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, Robert Graves and Laura Riding, Nadezhda and Osip Mandelstam, W.B. and Georgie Yeats all get chapters to themselves. Since some of her cases come close to the pathological, and most are ineffably silly, there is nothing instructive about reading or ...

Shite

Karl Miller, 2 March 1989

A Disaffection 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 344 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 436 23284 7
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The Book of Sandy Stewart 
edited by Roger Leitch.
Scottish Academic Press, 168 pp., £15, December 1988, 0 7073 0560 8
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... said to have remarked, not long ago, that the people there didn’t seem to have much of a life. James Kelman’s stories make clear what life is like in Glasgow,* and what James Kelman’s life is like. They are not going to change the royal mind. This is the queen who was greeted, on a visit to a Scottish university, by ...

Inside the Barrel

Brent Hayes Edwards: The French Slave Trade, 10 September 2009

Memoires des esclavages: la fondation d’un centre national pour la memoire des esclavages et de leurs abolitions 
by Edouard Glissant.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €14.90, May 2007, 978 2 07 078554 4
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The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade 
by Christopher Miller.
Duke, 571 pp., £20.99, March 2008, 978 0 8223 4151 2
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... in schools. At the same time, planning began for a Centre national pour la mémoire des esclavages et de leurs abolitions, conceived as a research centre, an archive and a memorial. The rhetoric of the debates around the Loi Taubira has at times been absurdly parochial, a combination of French obstinacy, pomposity and self-flagellation. In 2006, after the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Have you seen their sandals?, 3 July 2014

... We might compare it to witchcraft.’ According to Bespoke: The Men’s Style of Savile Row by James Sherwood, even Queen Victoria got in on the act, writing to her son Bertie that ‘dress is a trifling matter,’ before adding: ‘we do not wish to control your own tastes and fancies … but we do expect that you will never wear anything extravagant or ...

Always Smiling

Paul Mendez: ‘Real Life’, 19 November 2020

Real Life 
by Brandon Taylor.
Daunt, 327 pp., £9.99, July, 978 1 911547 74 7
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... remind Wallace of his ruined plates in the lab, and keep him from looking directly at his friend Miller, whose growing attachment to Wallace governs the weekend’s action.We learn right away, almost offhand, that Wallace’s estranged father has recently died from cancer, and that Wallace didn’t feel able, or couldn’t be bothered, to travel back south ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal, 3 February 2000

Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... of Gore Vidal. Kaplan, a professor of English in New York whose taxidermies include Henry James, Dickens and Carlyle (they hardly get deader than Carlyle), understands that it’s much easier to get the paperwork done if you don’t have the living-breathing item second-guessing you at every turn or trying to use you as a ventriloquist’s ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... from the editor as part-payment. Perhaps contributors to the LRB could work the same trick on Karl Miller, who for this anthology hands over to Nicholas Spice, who in turn sensibly makes sure that Karl Miller’s long essay about the LRB heads the list of contents. This essay is to be relished, not least when it is most ...

Waiting for the Dawn to Come

Rachel Bowlby: Reading George Eliot, 11 April 2013

Reading for Our Time: ‘Adam Bede’ and ‘Middlemarch’ Revisited 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Edinburgh, 191 pp., £19.99, March 2012, 978 0 7486 4728 6
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... still moment, away from the concerns of its particular milieu. In Reading for Our Time, J. Hillis Miller is moved to comment more than once on this passage about a spectator alone with a view. To readers familiar with Miller, it will come as no surprise. In a literary journey that has now reached its seventh decade (his ...

A Very Modern Man

Edmund Gordon: William Boyd, 8 March 2012

Waiting for Sunrise 
by William Boyd.
Bloomsbury, 368 pp., £18.99, February 2012, 978 1 4088 1774 2
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... and momentous events is a familiar move in Boyd’s fiction. In The New Confessions (1987), John James Todd, a Scottish filmmaker, fights in the trenches, is pauperised by the Wall Street crash, witnesses the rise of Nazism in Berlin (where he attends parties with Fritz Lang and Thomas Mann), and arrives in Hollywood just in time to fall foul of ...

Northern Laughter

Karl Miller: Macrone on Scott, 10 October 2013

The Life of Sir Walter Scott 
by John Macrone, edited by Daniel Grader.
Edinburgh, 156 pp., £65, February 2013, 978 0 7486 6991 2
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... Students of the life and works of Walter Scott and James Hogg may have glimpsed the shadowy, not to say meteoric, not to say dubious presence of the publisher John Macrone, and learned of his prompt desire, after Scott’s death in September 1832, to write his Life, basing it to a large extent on rural informants ...

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