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A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... we willingly confused with the actors who played them. The new retro cool I wallowed in had Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade as its source: the hard men with soft, democratic centres, American Romantics tinged with the Founding Fathers and Melville’s melancholic sense of humanity, the people’s Lancelots, who were dragged, flinching with distaste, into ...


David Thomson: ‘Vertigo’ after Weinstein, 21 June 2018

... to watch over her. It is a familiar scheme in the movies, akin to General Sternwood enlisting Philip Marlowe to take care of his wild daughter in The Big Sleep. And we learned to trust the immaculate Marlowe and to love Bogart playing him, because no matter the fix he’s in, the private eye has a wisecrack and flawless assurance, as well as Lauren Bacall ...

Born to Network

Anthony Grafton, 22 August 1996

The Fortunes of ‘The Courtier’: The European Reception of Castiglione’s ‘Cortegiano’ 
by Peter Burke.
Polity, 209 pp., £39.50, October 1995, 0 7456 1150 8
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... definition of the artless art of conversation. Others understood it more pragmatically. Gabriel Harvey, an ambitious Elizabethan policy wonk whose beautifully written marginalia offer some of the richest information we have about Early Modern ways of reading, annotated The Courtier in minute detail (his copy is now in the Newberry Library in that centre of ...

Swift radiant morning

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1991

The Collected Letters of Charles Hamilton Sorley 
edited by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 310 pp., £25, November 1990, 9780900821547
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Ivor Gurney: Collected Letters 
edited by R.K.R Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 579 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 85635 941 6
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... a time that must seem remote from the present. Nothing testifies more strikingly to the truth in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘MCMXIV’ – though its terms are rather different, except perhaps for the reference to ‘dark-clothed children at play/Called after kings and queens’ – than Sorley’s letters. ‘Never such innocence again,’ indeed, so long as ...

Like What Our Peasants Still Are

Landeg White: Afrocentrism, 13 May 1999

Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes 
by Stephen Howe.
Verso, 337 pp., £22, June 1998, 1 85984 873 7
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... had irresistible appeal. Linking the Biblical story of the baptism of the Ethiopian by Philip the Evangelist (Acts 8.27-40) with such texts as ‘Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God’ (Psalm 68.31), they marked out an alternative tradition to the one which condemned them, as sons of Ham, to be perpetual ‘servants of ...

Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens: Donkey Business in the White House, 19 February 1998

Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 746 pp., $30, February 1998, 0 684 80819 6
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-64 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 416 pp., September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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The Dark Side of Camelot 
by Seymour Hersh.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £8.99, February 1998, 9780006530770
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Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson , Bobby Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade 
by Jeff Shesol.
Norton, 591 pp., £23.50, January 1998, 9780393040784
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The Year the Dream Died 
by Jules Witcover.
Warner, 512 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 446 51849 2
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Without Honor: The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot 
by Jerry Zeifman.
Thunder's Mouth, 262 pp., $24.95, November 1996, 9781560251286
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Howard, 740 pp., £23.50, September 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection 
edited by David Barrett.
Texas A & M, 906 pp., $94, June 1997, 0 89096 741 5
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Taking Charge: The Johnson Whitehouse Tapes 1963-64 
edited by Michael Beschloss.
Simon and Schuster, 624 pp., £20, April 1998, 0 684 80407 7
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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes 
edited by Stanley Kutler.
Free Press, 675 pp., $30, November 1997, 0 684 84127 4
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The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy and the Jupiters, 1957-63 
by Philip Nash.
North Carolina, 231 pp., £34.70, October 1997, 0 8078 4647 3
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... the pool, hurting his back.’ The brace would keep the President upright for the bullets of Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes you wonder about the lighter side of Camelot. Here, at any event, is a suggestive minor-key connection between hubris and nemesis – or between Kennedy’s frantically sordid private life and the events that punctuated and then terminated ...

What does she think she looks like?

Rosemary Hill: The Dress in Your Head, 5 April 2018

... clinging to it.’ The department store is in decline these days, but it is still possible in Harvey Nichols or perhaps Fenwicks to have that sense of luxuriating in peace and freedom – if you like such shops. I like them for the reasons that some women and many men dislike them. There are rarely any windows to the outside. You navigate by departments ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury, 31 October 2002

... this time. Hints had appeared in print, in the loquacious pamphlets of Robert Greene and Gabriel Harvey and Thomas Nashe, but more damagingly precise were the reports of Government informers – a flourishing trade in the police-state atmosphere of late Elizabethan London. There are two key documents, generally referred to as the ‘Baines Note’ and the ...

Forgive us our debts

Benjamin Kunkel: The History of Debt, 10 May 2012

Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order 
by Philip Coggan.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, December 2011, 978 1 84614 510 0
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Debt: The First 5000 Years 
by David Graeber.
Melville House, 534 pp., £21.99, July 2011, 978 1 933633 86 2
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... digest of changes in Western monetary policy over the last few centuries by the Economist writer Philip Coggan, and in Debt: The First 5000 Years by the anthropologist and activist David Graeber, which situates the same stretch of modern history within the vast tidal shifts, across five millennia of Eurasian history, between monetary regimes founded on ...

My Kind of Psychopath

Michael Wood, 20 July 1995

Pulp Fiction 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 198 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 571 17546 5
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Reservoir Dogs 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 113 pp., £7.99, November 1994, 0 571 17362 4
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True Romance 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 134 pp., £7.99, January 1995, 0 571 17593 7
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Natural Born Killers 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 175 pp., £7.99, July 1995, 0 571 17617 8
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... allusion and a send-up of the whole idea of culture. The funniest moment in Pulp Fiction concerns Harvey Keitel, come to clean up after John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson have made a mess of things. Well, made a mess of a person, actually, turned him into pulp and sprayed him all over the inside of a car when Travolta’s gun went off. ‘You probably hit a ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... case of 1956 (an abortive attempt to integrate the University of Alabama), on the paid informer Harvey Matusow (who named 244 persons as Communists ‘and later said he had “probably” testified falsely about “every one” of them’), Sayre moves on to the Hollywood blacklist. Here she draws on the reminiscences of a group of expatriate Americans she ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... of Evans’s ‘love and produce’. Evans is the ‘paleface’ to Mailer’s ‘redskin’ in Philip Rahv’s counter-position, or the ‘Christian’ to Mailer’s ‘Cannibal’, to invoke one of Mailer’s own titles borrowed from Moby-Dick. Consider race. Both writers place the question of black and white at the absolute centre of things. But whereas ...

Wilderness of Tigers

Michael Neill: Shakespeare’s Latin, 19 March 2015

Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity 
by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 281 pp., £16.99, September 2013, 978 0 19 968479 3
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... satire and romantic tragedy. It was such violations of classical decorum that so affronted Philip Sidney and caused him to rail against his contemporaries’ taste for ‘mongrel tragi-comedy’. Shakespeare liked nothing better than to tease or confound his audience’s expectations: he renders the tragic effect of Othello even more cruel by means of ...

Skating Charm

James Wolcott: Kenneth Tynan, 13 December 2001

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan 
edited by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 439 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 7475 5418 8
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... creating a sensation as a theatre critic, he’s as trim, sleek and transparently avid as Laurence Harvey on the make in Room at the Top, but more convivial and amused – an amiable shark. No one looks that eagerly young anymore. Two decades after his death, Tynan is still getting the star treatment, a rare thing for any writer; even rarer for a critic, whose ...

Which play was performed at the Globe Theatre on 7 February 1601?

Blair Worden: A Play for Plotters, 10 July 2003

... whose account of Bolingbroke’s usurpation, according to the Elizabethan writer Gabriel Harvey, was admired by Mountjoy – represents the coup as a ‘sin’. In words recalling Hayward’s assessment of its consequences, he explains that he wrote the poem ‘to show the deformities of civil dissension, and the miserable events of ...

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