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Devil take the hindmost

John Sutherland, 14 December 1995

Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Liverpool, 170 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 85323 439 6
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The History of Mr Wells 
by Michael Foot.
Doubleday, 318 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 385 40366 6
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A Modern Utopia 
by H.G. Wells, edited by Krishan Kumar.
Everyman, 271 pp., £5.99, November 1994, 0 460 87498 5
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... apparently willing to countenance the elimination (but not genocide) of the ‘swarms of black and brown’ in the same name of ‘efficiency’. He concedes that Wells ‘equivocated embarrassingly about the Jews’, but then anti-semitism was part of the eugenic philosophy which the writer had picked up second-hand from Francis Galton and Karl Pearson, whose ...

Costume Codes

David Trotter, 12 January 1995

Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel 
by Jane Eldridge Miller.
Virago, 241 pp., £15.99, October 1994, 1 85381 830 5
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... described herself as the kind of New Woman people used to write about long ago, and her friend Rebecca West, who joined the staff of the Freewoman in 1911, as a prototype of the ‘Newest Woman’. The gap opens within The Unlit Lamp itself. For although the novel is radical in its acknowledgment of the Newest Woman, it is written from the point of view of ...


Rebecca Solnit: After the Oil Spill, 5 August 2010

... are utterly inadequate.There’s a YouTube video shot by an oil-rig diver in which huge brown globs of oil float underwater like colossal clots of phlegm. From the surface the chunky brown stuff looks like vomit. ‘Just globs of death out there,’ one diver, Al Walker, says in a Southern accent. ‘Oil so thick ...

Is the lady your sister?

E.S. Turner: An innkeeper’s diary, 27 April 2000

An Innkeeper's Diary 
by John Fothergill.
Faber, 278 pp., £23.95, January 2000, 0 571 15014 4
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... later is a downright delight. The angry and abusive restaurateur is still with us, as Craig Brown points out in his excellent short introduction, but John Fothergill, for all his eccentricities, snobberies and potty obsessions, had an endearing quality lacking in today’s kitchen boors; and for me this aspect was strongly confirmed by a rereading of ...

All the Advantages

C.H. Sisson, 3 July 1980

Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings 
by Richard Kennedy.
Norton, 529 pp., £12, May 1980, 0 87140 638 1
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... petulance or justified outrage’. Cummings got on with no one except his Harvard friend Brown; they treated their chef de section with contempt; they washed and shaved less than they should have done and they got into deep trouble with the censor. In short, they were nuisances, and the fact that it all ended in the internment centre described in The ...

Adulterers’ Distress

Philip Horne, 21 July 1983

A Nail on the Head 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 135 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 241 11001 7
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New Stories 8: An Arts Council Anthology 
edited by Karl Miller.
Hutchinson, 227 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 9780091523800
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The Handyman 
by Penelope Mortimer.
Allen Lane, 199 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1364 9
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Open the Door 
by Rosemary Manning.
Cape, 180 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 224 02112 5
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A Boy’s Own Story 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 218 pp., £2.50, July 1983, 0 330 28151 8
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... Wyndham’s ‘The Half Brother’, Susan Boyd’s ‘Remembrance’ and Carol Singh’s ‘Brown Eyes’ use an articulate but still conversational first-person – discovering tones we can be grateful for. They unobtrusively establish rhythms that are hard to resist, and skilfully conceal an artfulness which most of the other stories more or less ...

Never Mind the Bollocks

Hilary Rose and Steven Rose: Brains and Gender, 28 April 2011

Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences 
by Rebecca Jordan-Young.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.95, September 2010, 978 0 674 05730 2
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... and intellectual pre-eminence. By the end of the 19th century the physiologist Charles Edouard Brown-Séquard was injecting himself with extracts of dog and guinea-pig testicles to restore his youth. (It failed.) In popular culture the scientist’s elixir was transformed into ‘monkey glands’, which had a long, if much satirised, vogue, still extant in ...

Lotti’s Leap

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 July 1982

Collected Poems and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Val Warner.
Carcanet/Virago, 445 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 85635 260 8
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... a flight of stairs away.     ‘Oh, my God! the down,   The soft young down of her, the brown The brown of her – her eyes, her hair, her hair!’ ‘Sexual sincerity is the essential of good emotional work,’ complained Wilfred Scawen Blunt, who, predictably, didn’t like the personae and was ‘often left in ...

Democratic Warming

Tom Nairn: The Upstaging of the G8, 4 August 2005

... made, and he would subsequently find himself driven to even more exaggerated support for Blair and Brown. Why was the mesmeric trance so crucial, and why did it have to be maintained at all costs? Well, there was a lot behind it: something of the way of the world, as well as the investment of billions in pre-publicity, policemen and stadiums. The threatened ...

Special Frocks

Jenny Turner: Justine Picardie, 5 January 2006

My Mother’s Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Our Lives 
by Justine Picardie.
Picador, 336 pp., £12.99, September 2005, 0 330 41306 6
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... directly before or afterwards, I don’t remember which. I went shopping supposedly to find a brown jumper to wear with the neat black skirt suit I had packed in my bag from London; the suit I had bought a couple of months before for a wedding, with the idea of looking like Mary Archer. In the event, though, I didn’t find the right ...

Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... a book as meticulous as it is generous. It is nonetheless timely: just as the prison service has brown-filled this pleasant site, so, too, New Labour has trampled on the radical socialism of which Lansbury was one of the finest exponents. Despite having a historian for Chancellor and assorted chroniclers of the Party’s history on its back benches, the ...

Beware of clues!

Joanna Biggs: Geek lit, 21 September 2006

Special Topics in Calamity Physics 
by Marisha Pessl.
Viking, 514 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 670 91607 2
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... pulls the blanket back further, and discovers a horse’s head at the foot of the bed, its glossy brown nose facing us, glassy eye to the ceiling. I turned back to my brother and asked him how he’d known. ‘The same thing happened in The Simpsons,’ he said. It’s a strange thing to recognise something backwards. When you see that episode of The ...

Under the Ustasha

Mark Mazower: Sarajevo, 1941-45, 6 October 2011

Sarajevo, 1941-45: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Hitler’s Europe 
by Emily Greble.
Cornell, 276 pp., £21.50, February 2011, 978 0 8014 4921 5
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... general’s chair, feet on the desk, his head hidden behind a thick book. The book was wrapped in brown paper with a sticker on it that said: ‘SECRET. For MOD use only.’ ‘It’s all in here,’ he said as he put it down. It was the Penguin edition of Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. For a vast and often ...


Jay Griffiths: The Mayday protest in London (2000), 22 June 2000

... lies’. One protester, Steve, comes to a meeting fresh from court, where the Vestey heir, Mark Brown (accused but found not guilty of organising J18) is on trial. ‘The press, they were scum today; they were parasites.’ Outside the court, he says, RTS activists and the press were involved in a scuffle: ‘One cameraman got his camera ...

He had it all

Alex Harvey: Fitzgerald’s Decade, 5 July 2018

Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald 
by David S. Brown.
Harvard, 424 pp., £21.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 50482 0
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‘I’d Die for You’ and Other Lost Stories 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Scribner, 384 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4711 6473 6
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... Fitzgerald shared with his hero Gatsby an untimely death and barely attended funeral. David Brown’s thorough biography, Paradise Lost, emphasises that Fitzgerald lived with the constant tension between the desire to be a ‘whole man’ and the recognition of its impossibility. His life was full of drama and destruction: reckless spending, high ...

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