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The Purser’s Tale

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1984

Home and Dry: Memoirs III 
by Roy Fuller.
London Magazine Editions, 165 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 904388 47 6
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... This is the third and last volume of Roy Fuller’s memoirs, and it takes him up to the end of the war. It may sound ungracious, but I can’t help wondering why I find all three books so appealing that the strong implication of finality seems quite unacceptable. Though literate and pleasantly, even amusingly morose, these are not what are commonly called compulsive reads ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Roy Lichtenstein, 18 March 2004

... installation currently give the Hayward Gallery an of-our-own-time presence. But the paintings by Roy Lichtenstein which line the walls – the early ones anyway – are now so well established as an ironic commentary on pop culture that they read as decoration, as conventional and period-flavoured in their way as chintz.* The general effect of the show is ...

A Human Kafka

Gabriel Josipovici, 5 March 1981

The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 297 77845 5
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... has a good deal of truth in it. One cannot read a page of Kafka without feeling that there is a strong religious sensibility at work, allied to the kind of violent honesty of which no more than a handful of writers are capable in any generation. Nevertheless, those who had come to know and love the works must have felt uneasy with this view, and here and ...
Breaking the Mould 
by Ian Bradley.
Martin Robertson, 172 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 85520 469 9
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... Labour votes and Labour seats. Hence our behaviour during the long gestation period between Roy Jenkins’s Dimbleby Lecture call for a realignment of the ‘radical centre’ and the establishment of the Council for Social Democracy 15 months later. We differed sharply over our tactics. Some of us – notably Colin Phipps and Michael Barnes – thought ...

The Need for Buddies

Roy Porter, 22 June 2000

British Clubs and Societies 1580-1800: The Origins of an Associational World 
by Peter Clark.
Oxford, 516 pp., £60, January 2000, 0 19 820376 4
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... a characteristically fact-packed but thoughtful study, that most English of institutions was going strong long before then. Indeed, Sam Johnson’s beloved ‘clubbable’ men must have been in clover in 18th-century England. In those days Oxford offered the Eternal Club, the Jelly Bag Society, or the Town Smarts, whose members decked themselves out in white ...

I ain’t a child

Roy Porter, 5 September 1996

Growing Up Poor: Home, School and Street 1870-1914 
by Anna Davin.
Rivers Oram, 289 pp., £19.95, January 1996, 9781854890627
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... of single-parent families, easily colour historians’ readings. The other temptation is equally strong – to romanticise the metropolitan masses as Cockney sparrows or street-wise, bolshie rebels, engaged in an endless rearguard action against exploitation and embourgeoisement. Vindications of working-class ‘honour’ along these lines used to be ...

Esprit de Corps

Roy Porter, 21 January 1988

Granville Sharp Pattison: Anatomist and Antagonist 1791-1851 
by F.L.M. Pattison.
Canongate, 284 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 86241 077 0
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Death, Dissection and the Destitute 
by Ruth Richardson.
Routledge, 426 pp., £19.95, January 1988, 0 7102 0919 3
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... As Ruth Richardson argues in her original anatomy of the Anatomy Acts, sentiment had always run strong throughout society against the desecration of the corpse. Popular piety went in awe of the shades of the departed, while traditional Christian orthodoxy decreed that bones should lie in holy ground awaiting the Last Trump. The rich treated their dead as ...

A Time for War

Peter Clarke, 21 October 1982

The Rebirth of Britain 
edited by Wayland Kennet.
Weidenfeld, 275 pp., £12, October 1982, 0 297 78177 4
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Claret and Chips 
by Hugh Stephenson.
Joseph, 201 pp., £8.95, September 1982, 0 7181 2204 6
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... crisis has reinforced Labour’s chronic debility, so far the SDP has been able to thrive upon it. Roy Jenkins talked of an experimental aircraft in adumbrating the idea of a centre party in the early summer of 1980: a ‘dangerously caricaturable analogy’, as he admits in a retrospective comment in The Rebirth of Britain. He said then that it ‘might well ...

Brideshead and the Tower Blocks

Patrick Wright, 2 June 1988

Home: A Short History of an Idea 
by Witold Rybczynski.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 434 14292 1
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... surely be central to architecture – like justice to law or health to medicine. The point is a strong one, and Professor Rybczynski duly piles it on. Bitterly deprived by his own education, he can only write from a position of ‘ignorance’. As he sets out to discover the ‘meaning of comfort’, he is at pains to differentiate his own ecological ...

An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi, 21 February 1985

The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... the institutionalising of literary study it has been comparatively neglected by academic critics. Roy Pascal’s Design and Truth in Autobiography, published nearly twenty-five years ago, remains an indispensable pioneering work; more recently John Pilling’s Autobiography and Imagination provided some interesting studies of particular autobiographies by ...

Problems for the SDP

David Butler, 1 October 1981

... act together. If monetarism triumphs, so that, within the next two years, the economy develops a strong upward surge and unemployment begins to fall, Mrs Thatcher could win a second term. But few economists see this occurring soon enough to save the Government. 2. The Labour Party gets its act together. This would require either that the Trade ...

Rooting for Birmingham

John Kerrigan, 2 January 1997

The Dow Low Drop: New and Selected Poems 
by Roy Fisher.
Bloodaxe, 208 pp., £8.95, February 1996, 1 85224 340 6
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... Since the publication of Roy Fisher’s sequence City, in 1961, his work has been praised by fellow poets, but his refusal to strike marketable postures, during a period in which reaching an audience has increasingly depended on a poet’s willingness to do so, has kept him relatively unknown. This neglect is the more understandable given Fisher’s publication history ...

God’s Medium

Sam Miller, 3 April 1986

The Mantle of the Prophet 
by Roy Mottahedeh.
Chatto, 416 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 7011 3035 0
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... was the abolition of the veil. In 1941, according to Ahmad, a sceptical university professor in Roy Mottahedeh’s book The Mantle of the Prophet, ‘women such as my aunt, who hadn’t left her house since Reza Shah’s forced unveiling of women, felt as if they had been released from prison, because they could appear in the streets in their chadors.’ In ...

Upper Ireland

Nicholas Canny, 16 March 1989

Modern Ireland 1600-1972 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £18.95, October 1988, 0 7139 9010 4
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... histories of Ireland seems insatiable and sales can match those of a moderately successful novel. Roy Foster’s Modern Ireland has exceeded such expectations. It has recorded sales in excess of 12,000 hardback copies on the Irish market alone since its publication in October 1988. Such an astonishing success is richly deserved. Foster’s book is the most ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves, 6 June 2013

The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... of friendship with Michael’s widow, Rachel, with whom he would have ‘late afternoon cups of strong tea at her flat in Flood Street, Chelsea’, incline him to say such things as ‘it is no exaggeration to assert that the Redgraves defined and extended the possibilities for actors in every medium for over a century’ or that ‘the most commonly used ...

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