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Children’s Children

Penelope Fitzgerald, 7 November 1991

Grandmothers talking to Nell Dunn 
Chatto, 202 pp., £10.99, September 1991, 0 7011 3578 6Show More
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... tell if there had been anyone to listen to it, and the last years of life, as the oral historian Paul Thompson has pointed out, are ‘a time of reflection and exceptional candour’. But Nell Dunn is concentrating on the very earliest stage, her own stage, of grandmotherliness. When her son’s son, Cato, was born, she ...

Must the grasshopper be a burden?

D.J. Enright, 12 July 1990

I don’t feel old: The Experience of Later Life 
by Paul Thompson, Catherine Itzin and Michele Abendstern.
Oxford, 290 pp., £17.50, June 1990, 0 19 820147 8
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... Impatience is one characteristic of advancing years, and so, this book being delayed in the post, I set to and drafted a review in its absence. There is always another deadline looming up, all too aptly named, the one that Time’s winged chariot is heading for. More soberly, making notes before you have read a book isn’t as monstrous as it sounds: at least you formulate your own, existing, perhaps meagre views on the subject ...

Travels on the left

Paul Foot, 2 December 1993

John Strachey: An Intellectual Biography 
by Noel Thompson.
Macmillan, 288 pp., £27.50, May 1993, 0 333 51154 9
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John Strachey 
by Michael Newman.
Manchester, 208 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 9780719021749
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... born at the height of his father’s revolutionary fervour, was promptly put down for Eton. Noel Thompson calls his book ‘an intellectual biography’ and ignores the man altogether, as if the politician’s ideas can be cut clean away from the rest of his life. Strachey started out at the beginning of the century in a well-to-do Liberal home, where there ...

Sewing furiously

Rosalind Mitchison, 7 March 1985

The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine 
by Rozsika Parker.
Women’s Press, 256 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2842 9
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Living the Fishing 
by Paul Thompson, Tony Wailey and Trevor Lummis.
Routledge, 398 pp., £13.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9508 2
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By the Sweat of their Brow: Women Workers at Victorian Coal Mines 
by Angela John.
Routledge, 247 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 7102 0142 7
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... Why should embroidery exist? Its aim is the enhancement of fabrics, and so it might be expected to flourish only when the manufacture of such fabrics is confined to plain products. Would there need to be embroidery on the best fabrics of the Persian world, or on the wonderful silks displayed in the Japanese exhibition of a few years back? Perhaps there would: personal or religious symbols might be demanded by persons of special status, and anyone likely to be able to afford the basic fabric would probably consider themselves special ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... of lost momentum. St Andrew’s was a dramatic ruin: the great tracts of cleared land around St Paul’s and the Barbican were simply signs of stagnation. Elsewhere ‘vast opportunities’ had already been squandered in Pevsner’s view on banal and timid architecture. Production of The Buildings of England itself had been suspended for three years. Allen ...

English Marxists in dispute

Roy Porter, 17 July 1980

Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... in particular have been summarily attacked as weeds. The hot temper of so many responses to Edward Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963) indicates that many scholars, herbicide to hand, regard Marxist historiography as a menace. Professor J.H. Hexter’s recent ad hominem assault on Christopher Hill’s scholarly integrity seems to reveal ...

Dismantling the class war

Paul Addison, 25 July 1991

The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol I.: Regions and Communities 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 608 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25788 3
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The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol II.: People and Their Environment 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 392 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25789 1
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The Temper of the Times: British Society since World War Two 
by Bill Williamson.
Blackwell, 308 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 631 15919 3
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... a mass of unrelated specialisms. The Cambridge Social History, edited in three volumes by Michael Thompson, looks very much like an ambitious attempt to restore coherence and direction. But the stated aim is the more modest one of communicating ‘the fruits of recent writing and the most recent research in social history to the wider audience of students who ...

The First Person, Steroid-Enhanced

Hari Kunzru: Hunter S. Thompson, 15 October 1998

The Rum Diary 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 204 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 9780747541684
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The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters. Vol. I 
by Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Douglas Brinkley.
Bloomsbury, 720 pp., £9.99, July 1998, 0 7475 3619 8
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... away from ‘neutral background’ (or seemed less able to stop himself doing it) than Hunter S. Thompson. Even at the start of his career, he was no believer in journalistic neutrality. Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937, Thompson was often in trouble with the police, spending his high-school graduation day in ...

Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... and went early to university, where he quickly established himself as a comic genius. Harry Thompson has written a serious and carefully researched biography, and his early pages can be read in perfect silence. Suddenly, however, as it reaches the early Sixties, the narrative is interspersed with indented passages of Peter Cook’s jokes. They creep up ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... from 4 per cent to 95.6 per cent, the bulk of The Iron Whim concerns itself with the likes of Paul Auster, Bram Stoker, William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested ...

John Homer’s Odyssey

Claude Rawson, 9 January 1992

Customs in Common 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 547 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 85036 411 6
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... Edward Thompson’s Customs in Common is described as a ‘companion volume’ to his The Making of the English Working Class, and rises to the occasion. It has the wide range of reference, the densely-textured documentation, a special quality of charged impressionism (sometimes tendentious, more often honourably concerned with generous perspectives and panoramic insight), the embattled moral fervour, which established the earlier book as a classic of historical scholarship and indeed of English letters ...

Ideal Speech

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 19 November 1981

Hegel contra Sociology 
by Gillian Rose.
Athlone, 261 pp., £18, May 1981, 0 485 11214 0
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The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School 
by George Friedman.
Cornell, 312 pp., £9.50, February 1981, 9780801412790
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Metacritique 
by Garbis Kortian, translated by John Raffan.
Cambridge, 134 pp., £12.50, August 1980, 0 631 12779 8
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The Idea of a Critical Theory 
by Raymond Geuss.
Cambridge, 99 pp., £10, December 1981, 0 521 24072 7
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The Politics of Social Theory 
by Russell Keat.
Blackwell, 245 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 631 12779 8
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Critical Hermeneutics 
by John Thompson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £17.50, September 1981, 9780521239325
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Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences 
by Paul Ricoeur, translated by John Thompson.
Cambridge, 314 pp., £20, September 1981, 0 521 23497 2
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... is a formidable test, and although the sun often goes in behind his prose, Kortian meets it. John Thompson also reaches back and does so to reach forward again. He goes back not to Kant or Fichte or Hegel or Marx but back, and a little sideways, to Wittgenstein: Wittgenstein the genitor of the view that an analysis of the rules of language use defines the ...

Erase, Deface, Transform

Hal Foster: Eduardo Paolozzi, 16 February 2017

Eduardo Paolozzi 
Whitechapel Gallery, until 18 May 2017Show More
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... critic John McHale alludes to Rudolf Arnheim, who first applied Gestalt theory to art, and cites Paul Schilder on the ‘fragmentary associations’ that we fold into our body images. Similar reflections on the infantile development of the corporeal imago had been made by Jacques Lacan in his celebrated paper on the ‘mirror stage’ a decade earlier. In it ...

Country Life

David Cannadine, 5 November 1981

The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... In 1972, Routledge and Kegan Paul published The Victorian City: Images and Realities, edited by H.J. Dyos and Michael Wolff, a Wagnerian epic in which history went to town in exuberant, zestful and flamboyant fashion. Understandably, the two volumes won immediate and widespread acclaim as a tour de force of entrepreneurial inspiration and editorial skill: ‘a study in superlatives’ was the response of one ecstatic reviewer ...

In Love

Michael Wood, 25 January 1996

Essays in Dissent: Church, Chapel and the Unitarian Conspiracy 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 264 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85754 123 5
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... Davie is fond of ferocity, and I think of Eliot angrily asking his liberal theologian friend Paul Elmer More whether his God was some kind of Santa Claus. Davie’s eloquent disagreement with E.P. Thompson allows us to see the strength of Davie’s uncompromising position, and also to see what he himself won’t see ...

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