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Textual Intercourse

Claude Rawson, 6 February 1986

The Name of Action: Critical Essays 
by John Fraser.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, December 1984, 0 521 25876 6
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... The title of John Fraser’s book comes from Hamlet’s most famous speech. ‘The name of action’ is what ‘enterprises of great pitch and moment’ lose when ‘the native hue of resolution’ is ‘sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought’: not, on the evidence of this volume, too much of a problem for Mr Fraser himself ...

It’s a riot

Michael Ignatieff, 20 August 1981

‘Civil Disturbances’: Hansard, Vol. 8, Nos 143-144, 16 July 1981 – 17 July 1981 
HMSO, £80Show More
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... transcended party politics. Of course there were exceptions. No Tory MP joined Stuart Holland and John Fraser in their criticism of the Police in Brixton, and no Labour MP supported Winston Churchill’s call for an end to immigration. Between these poles, however, there was agreement that the British Police should not arm themselves like the French ...

A Tall Stranger in Hoxton

John Bossy, 3 July 1997

The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... settled that, they swore an oath of secrecy, and received communion at a Mass said by the Jesuit John Gerard, who was in the next room: they presumably understood this as turning their undertaking into a religious vow and conjoining them in sacred solidarity. The first part of the scheme went with absurd facility. The conspirators rented some lodgings which ...

Love’s Labours

Valerie Pearl, 8 November 1979

King Charles II 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 524 pp., £8.95
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... In her first line, Antonia Fraser describes her book as ‘a labour of love’. Given her somewhat romantic view of Charles II’s many affairs of the heart and her warm sympathy for the King, it is a doubly apt admission. The book is much more, however, than an account written around the royal harem. It is a portrait drawn from the absorption of many sources ...

Bob Hawke’s Australia

Michael Davie, 6 October 1983

... power did not cause any capitalists to leap out of windows. The previous government, led by Malcom Fraser, had been showing distinct signs of loss of grip. Ability is not as common a trait as it might be in Australian politics, and kicking the other fellow’s head in for the sheer pleasure of it is the oldest of all Australian political principles. The Labor ...

Sexual Whiggery

Blair Worden, 7 June 1984

The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in 17th-Century England 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 544 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 297 78381 5
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Family Life in the 17th Century: The Verneys of Claydon House 
by Miriam Slater.
Routledge, 209 pp., £10.50, March 1984, 0 7100 9477 9
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... of social opportunity and experience in the Stuart age indicate the difficulties posed by Antonia Fraser’s subtitle, ‘Woman’s Lot in 17th-Century England’. A better choice might have been ‘Meetings with Remarkable Women’, for her book has little place for the ordinary or for the silent. In some ways, it is true, 17th-century women did have a ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... culture. An authorised biography has now appeared of an English dealer of recent memory, Robert Fraser, 1937-86. His chequered career, terminated by Aids, lasted as long as it did only because of subsidies from his parents and getting away with not paying his debts, while the world at large remembers him for pictures showing him in a police van handcuffed ...

Ambifacts

Gary Taylor, 7 January 1993

Shakespeare: The Later Years 
by Russell Fraser.
Columbia, 380 pp., $35, April 1992, 0 231 06766 6
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Shakespeare: His Life, Work and Era 
by Dennis Kay.
Sidgwick, 368 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 283 99878 4
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William Shakespeare: The Anatomy of an Enigma 
by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 188 pp., May 1992, 1 85066 010 7
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Politics, Plague and Shakespeare’s Theatre: The Stuart Years 
by Leeds Barroll.
Cornell, 249 pp., £20.80, January 1992, 0 8014 2479 8
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Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus 
by Margreta de Grazia.
Oxford, 244 pp., £30, February 1991, 0 19 811778 7
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... or deepen my grasp of human possibility, as in their different ways the history of Thomas More or John Milton does. The extant marks of Shakespeare’s mortal passage don’t tell us anything we don’t already know about the world or the human. The works – various and ambiguous as they are – tell us something about both; the life doesn’t. Instead, far ...

Diary

C.K. Stead: Truth and autobiographies, 27 April 2000

... the bill in restaurants and so on.) The other guests are Julian Jebb (unkindly caricatured), Hugh Fraser (‘tall’, ‘lopsided’, with an ‘aura of helpless authority’) and his wife Antonia, whose charms and ‘sexiness’ are unstintingly acknowledged. Then a couple from New Zealand arrive: Malcolm, an academic who looked after Naipaul on a recent ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... however, by a quite different readership – the ‘student generation in revolt’ of Ronald Fraser’s title – and I was made to surrender my editorship to Tariq Ali. Before my dismissal, I appeared on television to defend the paper against A.J. Ayer, John Gross and Colin Welch – with a chairman who accused me of ...

El Casino Macabre

James Morone: Rebellion of the Rich, 21 June 2007

Wall Street: A Cultural History 
by Steve Fraser.
Faber, 656 pp., £12.99, April 2006, 0 571 21829 6
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Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors 
by Charles S. Maier.
Harvard, 373 pp., £18.95, May 2006, 0 674 02189 4
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... of material desire, of consumption, of get rich now. You might call it an empire of greed. Steve Fraser is a fine New Deal historian whose biography of the union leader Sidney Hillman, wistfully entitled Labour Will Rule, chronicled labour’s ascent into the top ranks of the Democratic Party in the 1930s and 1940s. He flatly admires the egalitarian ...

Whapper

Norman Page, 8 January 1987

Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton 
by Flora Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 410 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78895 7
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Loving Emma 
by Nigel Foxell.
Harvester, 201 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7108 1056 3
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... the problem with Emma Hamilton is knowing quite how to take her. Near the end of her book, Flora Fraser quotes a startlingly vivid account of Emma’s behaviour just after receiving news of Nelson’s death: it was, an eye-witness concluded, ‘a very serio-comic performance’. Is Emma’s story a tragedy or a comedy? Certainly it begins according to the ...

O Wyoming Whipporwill

Claire Harman: George Barker, 3 October 2002

The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker 
by Robert Fraser.
Cape, 573 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 224 06242 5
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... of life.’ Barker’s precocity was impressive, and attracted the attention and patronage of John Middleton Murry, T.S. Eliot and Edwin Muir. Murry gave the 19-year-old poet two books to review for the Adelphi on the strength of some pages of diary (later worked up into the first novel) and Barker had published in New Verse, Criterion and the Listener at ...

Unhappy Childhoods

John Sutherland, 2 February 1989

Trollope and Character 
by Stephen Wall.
Faber, 397 pp., £17.50, September 1988, 0 571 14595 7
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The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Michigan, 528 pp., $35, December 1988, 0 472 10102 1
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Dickens: A Biography 
by Fred Kaplan.
Hodder, 607 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 340 48558 2
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Charlotte Brontë 
by Rebecca Fraser.
Methuen, 543 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 9780413570109
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... Three modern biographers have set out to fill the gap. R.H. Super has delivered his book first; N. John Hall’s and Victoria Glendinning’s Trollopes are still to come. Sportingly, Super subtitles his biography ‘A Life’, leaving open the possibility that this may not turn out to be the life. But at least he has the consolation of being first past the ...

Dreamtime with Whitlam

Michael Davie, 4 September 1986

The Whitlam Government 1972-1975 
by Gough Whitlam.
Viking, 788 pp., £17.95, July 1986, 0 670 80287 5
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... voters in 1945; or a better comparison might be with the United States in 1960, when the dazzling John F. Kennedy seemed to represent the beginning of a new age after what his supporters saw as the suffocating and mediocre years of President Eisenhower. The under-forties in particular, in Australia in 1972 as in the United States in 1960, suddenly felt ...

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