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I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary, 15 December 2016

The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... with him. The story goes that Schoenberg dismissed him, telling him he lacked an ear for harmony. Peter Yates’s book Twentieth-Century Music: Its Evolution from the End of the Harmonic Era into the Present Era of Sound (1968), reported Schoenberg as saying that Cage was ‘not a composer – but an inventor of genius’, a back-handed compliment that stuck ...

Maurice Thomson’s War

Perry Anderson, 4 November 1993

Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict and London’s Overseas Traders 1550-1653 
by Robert Brenner.
Cambridge, 734 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 521 37319 0
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The Nature of the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 466 pp., £32, June 1993, 0 582 08941 7
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... apart as chancers and innovators. Brenner picks out as the central figure among them one Maurice Thomson. His career makes an amazing story. Born in the Home Counties about 1600, the eldest of five brothers, Thomson emigrated to Virginia in his teens, where he soon became a ship’s captain, acquired land, and entered the ...

A Whale of a Time

Colm Tóibín, 2 October 1997

Roger Casement’s Diaries. 1910: The Black and the White 
edited by Roger Sawyer.
Pimlico, 288 pp., £10, October 1997, 9780712673754
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The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement 
edited by Angus Mitchell.
Anaconda, 534 pp., £40, October 1997, 9781901990010
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... of Roger Casement’s Life and Times, with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings, by Peter Singleton-Gates and Maurice Girodias, published by Grove Press in New York and the Olympia Press in Paris, was an extraordinary book. It included potted histories of Ireland, the Congo and the Putumayo in the Amazon basin, an account of Casement’s life ...

If Oxfam ran the world

Martha Nussbaum, 4 September 1997

Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 
by Peter Unger.
Oxford, 187 pp., £35, October 1996, 0 19 507584 6
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... problems that should be addressed by theories both of personal morality and of global justice. Peter Unger argues that we are culpably indifferent to this misery, and that our daily thinking about our duty to others is marked by self-serving irrationality. We typically believe that we do have a moral duty to rescue others who are at risk, especially where ...

Merely an Empire

David Thomson: Eighteen Hours in Vietnam, 21 September 2017

The Vietnam War 
directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
PBS, ten episodes
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... The voiceover narrative, written by Geoffrey Ward, is remorseless and untheatrical, just as Peter Coyote’s spoken narration is dry, unaccented and a little formal, as if reading out a casualty report. But Burns and Novick seem to understand how specious it would be to make this a tidy, organised report – a history – instead of attempting to ...

Lucky Lad

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Harold Evans, 17 December 2009

My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times – An Autobiography 
by Harold Evans.
Little, Brown, 515 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 1 4087 0203 1
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... highly profitable paper with a lively staff and, far from least, a model proprietor. Roy (Lord) Thomson was a Canadian businessman who had acquired the Sunday Times from Lord Kemsley in 1959 and the – then unrelated – Times from the Astor family in 1968. His flair for making money was matched by a lack of any political or social ambition, and he ...

Knights of the King and Keys

Ian Aitken, 7 March 1991

A Dubious Codicil: An Autobiography by 
by Michael Wharton.
Chatto, 261 pp., £15.99, December 1990, 0 7011 3064 4
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The House the Berrys built 
by Duff Hart-Davis.
Hodder, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 3 405 92526 6
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Lords of Fleet Street: The Harmsworth Dynasty 
by Richard Bourne.
Unwin Hyman, 258 pp., £16.95, October 1990, 0 04 440450 6
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... was a fairly junior member of the Telegraph’s staff for some years. As the author of the ‘Peter Simple’ column for thirty-odd years, Wharton must be regarded as immortal. As far as I know, I never met either, although I may have swapped punches or half-pints with one or other in the mid-Fifties, when I was one of the Daily Express interlopers in the ...

Signs of the ‘Times’

Peter Jenkins, 22 January 1981

Stop Press 
by Eric Jacobs.
Deutsch, 166 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 233 97286 2
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... The Sunday Times continued to be plagued by wilful disruption in the machine room. The second Lord Thomson decided to sell. It remains to be seen whether the Times can be saved, and if so, whether its problems can be solved. Stop Press makes these lamentable subsequent developments seem inevitable. For all management’s mismanagements, it was union ...

The End of the Scottish Press?

Peter Geoghegan, 21 April 2016

... week in a country whose population was barely three times that. Still published in Dundee by D.C. Thomson, which is also responsible for the Beano, it now sells 163,000, close to the sales of the Observer. The glory days of Scottish journalism are long gone. When the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster discussed ‘the crisis in the Scottish press ...

Richly-Wristed

Ian Aitken, 13 May 1993

Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... a whiff of Mr Scott’s attempts to merge the Guardian with the Astor Times and later with the Thomson Times. It was long after the event that I learned how Richard Scott, Laurance’s cousin and the chairman of the Scott Trust, flew to London from Washington on what my old employers would have called a ‘mercy mission’ to save us from being sold into ...

The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones, 11 December 1997

Hand To Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 436 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 571 17149 4
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... Then in Leviathan, published some years later, Auster uses the same initials for the narrator, Peter Aaron; and anagrammatic sleight of hand (Delia/Lydia, Iris/Siri: Auster’s real-life loves past and present) further blurs the boundaries between his facts and his fictions. So one approaches his openly autobiographical Hand to Mouth with ...

23153.8; 19897.7; 15635

Adam Smyth: The Stationers’ Company, 27 August 2015

The Stationers’ Company and The Printers of London: 1501-57 
by Peter Blayney.
Cambridge, 2 vols, 1238 pp., £150, November 2013, 978 1 107 03501 0
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... Number 188, to the west of St Dunstan’s Church, opposite Ye Olde Cock Tavern, and in an echo of Peter Blayney’s central themes (the business of books, and the Reformation), close to the publishers D.C. Thomson (the Beano, the Dandy, Scotland’s Sunday Post) and the Protestant Truth Society. The printer Richard Pynson ...

My Missus

John Sutherland, 13 May 1993

Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 
by Joseph McAleer.
Oxford, 284 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 820329 2
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American Star: A Love Story 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 568 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 434 14093 7
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... He has selected producers with three very different lines of goods: the Dundee firm of D.C. Thomson (for a hundred years the market leader in comics like Hotspur, Wizard, Rover, Dandy and Beano); Mills & Boon (the world’s most voluminous producer of women’s romance); and the Religious Tract Society (publisher for almost a century of the Boy’s Own ...

The Danger of Giving In

Andrew Saint: George Gilbert Scott Jr, 17 October 2002

An Architect of Promise: George Gilbert Scott Jr (1839-97) and the Late Gothic Revival 
by Gavin Stamp.
Shaun Tyas, 427 pp., £49.50, July 2002, 1 900289 51 2
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... firm came in to do glass and tiles. Soon he had a separate office and had turned aesthete. Greek Thomson, the Glasgow classicist, encountered him at dinner in 1871, where Scott ‘made his appearance in black knee breeks black silk stockings high heeled shoes with large buckles, blue coat, yellow vest white neck cloth with stiffner and frilled shirt – he ...

Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones, 20 October 1983

The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... Peter Prince’s admirable novel, The Good Father, is about a group of professional-class people in the London Borough of Lambeth, trying to see themselves as liberal and left-wing. They were students together in the late 1960s and are struggling to maintain in the 1980s the package of liberal values (or ‘received ideas’) which they shared so confidently in their youth ...

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