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Coldbath Fields

Simon Bradley: In Praise of Peabody, 21 June 2007

London in the 19th Century: ‘A Human Awful Wonder of God’ 
by Jerry White.
Cape, 624 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 224 06272 5
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... or made things at home. Then there were London’s new schools, built or rebuilt in a great rush after the Elementary Education Act of 1870: the triple-decked brick board schools are still prominent on the skylines of the inner boroughs. The London School Board itself, which had women on it as well as men and was elected by ratepayers of both ...

A Lazarus beside Me

Avies Platt: An Encounter with Yeats, 27 August 2015

... persons. The president was Dr – or, as he prefers, for he is proud of being a surgeon – Mr Norman Haire. Avies Platt Norman Haire, even to progressives, is an extraordinary, I might even say an incalculable being. He considered himself, and probably was, the only really qualified, practising sexologist in ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... Cold War hardliners, such as Melvyn Lasky, Irving Kristol, James Burnham, Sidney Hook and later Norman Podhoretz. The ‘End of Ideology’ liberal professoriat: Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Lewis Coser. And perhaps most enduring in their contribution, if only because they partook of all wings and of none, the Europeanised cultural and literary Modernists ...

All in the Family

Sylvia Lawson, 3 December 1992

Letters to Sartre 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Quintin Hoare.
Radius, 531 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 09 174774 0
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Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvior, 1926-1939 
edited by Simone de Beauvior, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee.
Hamish Hamilton, 448 pp., £20, November 1992, 9780241133361
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... also necessary to insist that the author’s works, once afloat, are ours, not hers or his. The rush to discredit Woody Allen (mostly by reducing the stunning cinematic oeuvre to a feature story notion of his life) reminds me irresistibly of the way Beauvoir’s enemies, in several camps, seized on Lettres à Sartre when they emerged from Gallimard in ...


R.W. Johnson: Major Wins the Losership, 3 August 1995

... in the press was an endlessly recycled remark about him looking like a garden gnome. The Gadarene rush to Blair told the rest. What on earth was this really about? Cook is neither handsome nor ill-looking, just somewhere in between, like the rest of us. The Labour Party hadn’t cared about looks when it picked the flaccid Wilson, the much-creased figure of ...

Winners and Wasters

Tom Shippey, 2 April 1987

The French Peasantry 1450-1660 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Scolar, 447 pp., £42.50, March 1987, 0 85967 685 4
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The Superstitious Mind: French Peasants and the Supernatural in the 19th Century 
by Judith Devlin.
Yale, 316 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03710 4
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... In fact, it seems that under Malthusian pressure all the customs led to much the same result. The Norman peasant might declare with proud independence, C’est mon dréit et mé j’y tiens, the Occitanian peasant might console himself with fantasies of the ‘love square’, but anyone with less than about an acre and a half to grow grain on was going to ...

The Mantle of Jehovah

Francis Spufford, 25 June 1987

by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 224 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 7011 3169 1
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... seem silly. You could, of course, draw a contrast simply in terms of range of Bad Moments covered: Norman Mailer has preferred to steer clear of the peculiar pains of childbirth, and Andrea Dworkin has chosen not to dwell on the distinctive horror an uneasy Christmas dinner can become, while Byatt can and has handled both as elements in her continuing series ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... the free-market excesses that were to follow. Punk auditioned the dark night of Keith Joseph and Norman Tebbit. It turns out that none of the punk parasites much liked the sounds or the bands who produced them. They were career anarchists, varnishing their leather armour while they waited for an offer from the Daily Mail. Essentially, NME ‘new ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... between rich and poor is replaced, or complicated, by the roughly parallel opposition between Norman and Saxon. All the texts of the Esquire period assume that Robin is ‘quintessentially, racially, English’, largely because of his hostility to the Norman French, but it was Scott who traced Robin back to the Saxons ...

Britain’s Thermonuclear Bluff

Norman Dombey and Eric Grove, 22 October 1992

... became operational in 1963 and remained in service until the end of 1970. Another reason not to rush into H-bomb production was that after the amendment to the McMahon Act the US was willing to supply complete thermonuclear weapons to Britain (and other countries) provided they were kept under US control. W-49 warheads with a yield of 1.4 megatons were ...


Marc Weissman: Mysteries of the Russian Mind, 18 April 1985

... innocuous but mentions something ‘Soviet’ or ‘Russian’ in passing, as in the case of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, these passages are assiduously excised). It must be highly critical of life in ‘capitalist’ society (or must at least leave some slight revulsion about Western ways in the souls of the Russian readers). And it must ...


Stephen Fender, 3 April 1980

The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... of their transplanting. The common view of Bret Harte – the chronicler of the California Gold Rush who cut himself off from the primacy of his Western experience when he turned English gentleman – is convincingly undermined by this book. He kept writing stories set in the Wild West, but they were far from the hack work so derided by contemporary ...

Discovering America

Tatyana Tolstaya, 1 June 1989

... one knew what happened in the Twenties because no one living today was alive then. And the famous Norman Mailer, who had a hammock suspended under the roof of his New York apartment so that when, as he put it, ‘things got boring,’ the whole family could rush from the gallery on the second floor and jump into it. And ...


Ross McKibbin, 23 October 1986

The Politics of the UCS Work-In: Class Alliances and the Right to Work 
by John Foster and Charles Woolfson.
Lawrence and Wishart, 446 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 85315 663 8
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A Lost Left: Three Studies in Socialism and Nationalism 
by David Howell.
Manchester, 351 pp., £29.95, July 1986, 0 7190 1959 1
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The Miners’ Strike 1984-5: Loss without Limit 
by Martin Adeney and John Lloyd.
Routledge, 319 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 7102 0694 1
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Red Hill: A Mining Community 
by Tony Parker.
Heinemann, 196 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 57771 5
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Strike Free: New Industrial Relations in Britain 
by Philip Bassett.
Macmillan, 197 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 9780333418000
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... of MacGregor was a public act and he was to do rather maladroitly what his predecessor, Sir Norman Siddall, was doing by stealth – and he was to do it very publicly, as he was expected to. The hand of the Government was brutally clear, for example, in the DHSS’s decision to ‘deem’ that the miners were receiving £15-a-week strike pay – they ...

Eternal Feminine

Ian Gregson, 7 January 1993

by Mark Ford.
Chatto, 51 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3750 9
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The English Earthquake 
by Eva Salzman.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 1 85224 177 2
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Bleeding Heart Yard 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 871471 28 1
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The Game: Tennis Poems 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 48 pp., £6, June 1992, 1 871471 27 3
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Marconi’s Cottage 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Bloodaxe, 110 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 85224 197 7
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... a thought!’, ‘Hush!’, ‘Hark!’), a desire to register the vertiginous rush of the present moment – for which driving with no hands is a vivid hyperbolic analogy, and which entails the use of a head-over-heels free verse – and a tendency to sound blasé or deadpan when the imagery becomes surreal. They also share a slightly camp ...

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