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Northern Lights

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 April 1984

Literature and Gentility in Scotland 
by David Daiches.
Edinburgh, 114 pp., £6.50, June 1982, 9780852244388
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New Perspectives on the Politics and Culture of Early Modern Scotland 
edited by John Dwyer, Roger Mason and Alexander Murdoch.
John Donald, 340 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 85976 066 9
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Adam Smith 
by R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner.
Croom Helm, 231 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 9780709907299
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Sister Peg 
edited by David Raynor.
Cambridge, 127 pp., £15.50, June 1981, 0 521 24299 1
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Boswell: The Applause of the Jury 1782-1785 
edited by Irma Lustig and Frederick Pottle.
Heinemann, 419 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 434 43945 2
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Muir of Huntershill 
by Christina Bewley.
Oxford, 212 pp., £8.50, May 1981, 0 19 211768 8
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... The leading figures in all these books are well-known, and are located in a period of conspicuous intellectual activity in the Scotland of the mid and late 18th century. This was the time when the modern social sciences were created as areas of legitimate study, much of their content for the use of teenage university students. There was also a modest literary revival ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘North by Northwest’, 9 July 2009

North by Northwest 
directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
July 1959
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... himself narrowly missing a bus. This busy city feeling continues as Cary Grant, playing the ad man Roger Thornhill, appears dictating notes to his secretary. They start to walk uptown, then take a taxi. He gets out at the Plaza, meets some business associates in the Oak Room. Then everything shifts into an entirely different register, apparently for plot ...

Banality and Anxiety

Michael Mason, 19 March 1981

Thirty Seconds 
by Michael Arlen.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 211 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 27576 9
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The Crystal Bucket 
by Clive James.
Cape, 238 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 224 01890 6
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The Message of Television 
by Roger Silverstone.
Heinemann, 248 pp., £14.50, March 1981, 0 435 82825 8
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... literary utterances in our culture, some of them directly ancestral to the books under review (Roger Silverstone, for example, frequently acknowledges Roland Barthes on fashion). It is striking nonetheless that only one of them, Michael Arlen’s Thirty Seconds, shows an inclination to regret the fact that intellectual and artistic adventurousness is ...

Downland Maniacs

Michael Mason, 5 October 1995

The Village that Died for England 
by Patrick Wright.
Cape, 420 pp., £17.99, March 1995, 0 224 03886 9
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... Brenan, John Stewart Collis, Fritz Schumacher, John Eliot Gardiner (son of Rolf) and via him Roger Norrington, Lord Hinchinbrooke, Jimmy Edwards, Kenneth Allsop, Tariq Ali, Fenner Brockway, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bill Douglas (who made a film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs in a revamped Tyneham), Mike Leigh (via Nuts in May), Nigel Coates, even David Mellor. The ...

Diary

Nicolas Freeling: On Missing the Detective Story, 11 June 1992

... monument; would make a fine pyramid of skulls but who would be bothered? ‘Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?’ shouted Edmund Wilson, exasperated, but it would barely be a mutter today. For who, sleepless in the guest bedroom in even the dankest of shires, is going to pounce gleefully upon Freeman Wills Crofts? But in 1930 – name to conjure with. Does ...

Men in Aprons

Colin Kidd: Freemasonry, 7 May 1998

Who’s Afraid of Freemasons? The Phenomenon of Freemasonry 
by Alexander Piatigorsky.
Harvill, 398 pp., £25, August 1997, 1 86046 029 1
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... oaths, handshakes and symbolic imagery pique the curiosity of the uninitiated, or ‘cowans’ in Mason-speak. Yet, despite its exotic paraphernalia, the Craft’s wider influence on British society is perceived to be mundane and narrow in compass. The list of allegations on the dust-jacket of Short’s book runs to corruption in local government, perversions ...

Conservative Chic

Michael Mason, 6 May 1982

The Politics of Culture and Other Essays 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 245 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 85635 362 0
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... to play with. It so happens that the first essay in a new collection by that British conservative, Roger Scruton, is about language, and he quotes as a specimen of superior antecedent English a passage from John Evelyn. Linguistic conservatives are obviously a church, not a sect: which is to say, that they, like their Parliamentary counterparts, are at ...
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... else’s. In the Hitchcock film, the suit marks a turning-point: having been kidnapped, Grant (Roger Thornhill) is taken to a country house and interrogated by James Mason (Van Damme), who assumes Grant is one George Kaplan. After the bourbon and the car, Grant returns to the scene of the crime with the police, only to ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 December 1994

The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... defendants) and had written several editorials about torture in Ulster when Roy Mason was Callaghan’s minister for the Province and a Yorkshire area-sponsored NUM Member of Parliament. Forgive me this free association; I’m getting to the point in a second. The Official Secrets Act persecution of the ABC defendants, which included ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... debates of the last twenty years. The editor-in-chief of this immense project is William Roger Louis, an American – though famously Anglophile – scholar. When he was appointed dismay was expressed in conservative newspapers at the thought that a quintessentially British historical experience was to be in the hands of some renegade colonial. In ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out, 8 June 1995

... All those faces last seen making up the numbers in souvenir snapshots from the Kentucky Club: Eric Mason, Frankie Fraser, Terry Spinks (a cortisone cherub). Ruthlessly ironed handkerchiefs peeping from the gash of a breast pocket. This turnout has been a killing for the car rental mobs, the muscle agencies, the barbers. Who says London refuses to oblige major ...

My word, Miss Perkins

Jenny Diski: In the Typing Pool, 4 August 2005

Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture 
edited by Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell.
Ashgate, 168 pp., £40, January 2005, 0 7546 3804 9
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... as I write (do cats eat bats or do bats eat cats?). ‘Whatever they may do,’ the bibliographer Roger Stoddard has noted, ‘authors do not write books.’ Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell take up the distinction and declare that their volume will focus ‘on the representation, self-representation and non-representation, in literature, film and other ...

Stir and Bustle

David Trotter: Corridors, 19 December 2019

Corridors: Passages of Modernity 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 78914 053 8
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... communication through which people, things and messages pass in both directions. Mind the traffic.Roger Luckhurst’s ambitious and consistently informative cultural history of the corridor makes brief mention of The Maltese Falcon in accounting for film noir’s preoccupation with bleakly anonymous lobbies, passages and hallways. But it’s not the skills ...

Touching and Being Touched

John Kerrigan: Valentine Cunningham, 19 September 2002

Reading after Theory 
by Valentine Cunningham.
Blackwell, 194 pp., £45, December 2001, 0 631 22167 0
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... of mere whingers against Theory, all those mouthy conservatives from (say) Helen Gardner . . . to Roger Shattuck . . . with their romps up and down the glooming critical slopes of the Blooms, Allan and Harold’ – this is a fair sample, unfortunately, of his idea of lively prose. He accepts that post-structuralism, new historicism, queer studies and all the ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord, 24 June 2010

... for ‘cheating a Derbyshire gentleman with counters instead of silver’, and a burglar, Thomas Mason (‘alias Humming Tom’), who had broken into the house of Sir Walter Cope. There was the woman from Finsbury accused of ‘cozening Elizabeth Barnes of certain money for a little powder in a paper’: she had promised that Elizabeth ‘should have her ...

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