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Households of Patience

John Foot, 9 June 1994

Antonio Gramsci: Letters from Prison 
edited by Frank Rosengarten, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Columbia, 374 pp., £27.50, March 1994, 0 231 07558 8
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Antonio Gramsci: Pre-Prison Writings 
edited by Richard Bellamy, translated by Virginia Cox.
Cambridge, 350 pp., £40, January 1994, 0 521 41143 2
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... In 1927, Antonio Gramsci was in chains, about to begin a nightmarish 19-day journey from Sicily to Milan’s San Vittore prison, when he met two ‘common criminals’ in a Palermo waiting-room. One of them refused to accept that he was indeed Gramsci ‘because Antonio Gramsci must be a giant and not such a tiny man.’ Disappointed, the man, Gramsci reported, ‘said nothing more, withdrew to a corner, sat down on an unmentionable contraption and stayed there, like Marius on the ruins of Carthage, meditating on his lost illusions ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... of 140 pieces) with a series of portraits of great women, including Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf themselves. ‘It ought to please the feminists,’ Bell observed. In a way, this incident was a model example of how the challenge posed by Bloomsbury could be re-absorbed into the trivial project of Civilisation, the creation of a lifestyle ...

Motiveless Malignity

D.A.N. Jones, 11 October 1990

The Dwarfs 
by Harold Pinter.
Faber, 183 pp., £11.99, October 1990, 0 571 14446 2
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The Comfort of Strangers, and Other Screenplays 
by Harold Pinter.
Faber, 226 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14419 5
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The Circus Animals 
by James Plunkett.
Hutchinson, 305 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 09 173530 0
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The South 
by Colm Tóibín.
Serpent’s Tail, 238 pp., £7.99, May 1990, 1 85242 170 3
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... he now says, ‘quite abstract, mainly, I believe, because I omitted the essential character of Virginia from it’. Last year, he went back to his old novel and prepared it for its present publication, mainly by cutting it down: despite the omissions, there is not quite so much mystery as usual about the motivation of the principal characters, ...

Stuffing

Gabriele Annan, 3 September 1987

The Neo-Pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle 
by Paul Delany.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £14.95, August 1987, 0 333 44572 4
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... knew of one another – in l911, there was a partial, temporary and gingerly link-up, initiated by Virginia Woolf; and all along James Strachey, born to be Bloomsbury but in love with Rupert Brooke, functioned as a sort of inter-coterie courier. So it’s easy to get confused, and although, like most generalisations, Delany’s compare-and-contrast exercise is ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 20 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... life,’ one reviewer wrote, ‘slips by like a panorama of earth’s loveliest experience.’ Virginia Woolf reviewed the book for the TLS, trying to remedy the relentless superficiality of the stitched-together letters and reminiscences by hinting that far from being Marsh’s sunny figure, Brooke was ‘the most restless, complex and analytic of human ...

A Topic Best Avoided

Nicholas Guyatt: Abraham Lincoln, 1 December 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 426 pp., £21, February 2011, 978 0 393 06618 0
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... The Civil War had been over for a week. Lincoln had already walked the streets of Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, taking in the devastation at first hand. ‘The only people who showed themselves were negroes,’ the radical senator Charles Sumner noted. The president had been thinking about what would happen after the war since 1862, when ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Blogswarms, 2 November 2006

... he was sweeping the board. He was up in Ohio! He was up in Pennsylvania! He wasn’t just up in Virginia, he was up by a double-digit amount! (At this point, anyone with detailed knowledge of American politics might have been given pause for thought.) Let’s skip the next eight years and send a dynamiting crew to Mount Rushmore right now! Don’t forget to ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner, 26 September 2019

Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... In​ 1882, the year Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams were born, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter, a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. It wasn’t as good as a Remington but it was cheaper. Nietzsche was losing his eyesight, probably as a result of syphilis, and hoped the Writing Ball would help. But first he had to master touch-typing ...

Who do you think you are?

Jacqueline Rose: Trans Narratives, 5 May 2016

... brought out a special issue on transgender subjectivities. ‘In these pages,’ the psychoanalyst Virginia Goldner wrote in her editor’s note, ‘you will meet persons who could be characterised, and could recognise themselves, as one – or some – of the following: a girl and a boy, a girl in a boy, a boy who is a girl, a girl who is a boy dressed as a ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett, 2 August 1984

... of ‘Speak for England, Arthur’, the play within the play. The memoirs of T.E. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf occur in the original script and the visit to the country house on the eve of the First War, but these are presented as the memories of Hugh and Moggie, the upper-class couple who sit out the Second World War in the basement of Claridge’s. The ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... novels such as Brideshead Revisited and Jewel in the Crown in the 1980s. (The culture secretary Virginia Bottomley praised the role of the classic serial in promoting ‘our country, our cultural heritage and our tourist trade’.) For Wearing, contemporary drama (the ‘journalism of the imagination’) was the loser. Even Peter Flannery’s triumphant ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... and the heart, causing massive internal bleeding. He had no chance of survival. Captain Andrew Cox dispatched a helicopter to pick up the injured man and bring him back to base. The helicopter carried him to camp Abu Naji where he was ventilated, but his pupils became fixed and at 00.50 hrs on 2 May 2005, surrounded by medical officers, Guardsman Wakefield ...

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