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Zoë Heller: Ronald Reagan, 2 March 2000

Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 874 pp., £24.99, October 1999, 0 00 217709 9
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... Fourteen years ago, Edmund Morris won the job of writing the official Reagan biography. With the job came all kinds of unprecedented access. Morris was allowed to attend senior staff meetings at the White House and to travel as part of the Presidential entourage on foreign trips ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt, 6 June 2002

Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... neglected, but Nathan Miller’s 1992 biography was the first since Henry Pringle’s in 1931. Edmund Morris won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, a bestseller despite its 863 pages, and now he gives us the Presidential years in a svelte, eminently readable 772 pages. Some critics (mostly academic, perhaps) will lament the ...

Anything but Staffordshire

Rosemary Hill, 18 September 1997

Rare Spirit: A Life of William De Morgan 1839-1917 
by Mark Hamilton.
Constable, 236 pp., £22.50, September 1997, 0 09 474670 2
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... learning’, which in the early 1850s fired the imaginations of the Oxford undergraduates William Morris and Edward Burne Jones. But De Morgan was enrolled at University College, where there was no scope for picturesque medievalism. The spirit of place did not haunt Gower Street. Having failed to get a degree, De Morgan decided to become a painter. He made ...

Character Building

Peter Campbell, 9 June 1994

Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernity 
by Jerome McGann.
Princeton, 196 pp., £25, July 1993, 0 691 06985 9
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Letters from the People 
by Lee Friedlander.
Cape, 96 pp., £75, August 1993, 9780224032957
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Margins and Marginality 
by Evelyn Tribble.
Virginia, 194 pp., $35, December 1993, 0 8139 1472 8
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... way on the texts they contain? Jerome McGann reckons that the private press movement (William Morris and his followers) was an agent in the rise of Modernist poetry, and goes on to make large claims for the ability of poetry in the Modernist tradition to unknot linguistic and philosophical binds. His line of argument is skittish – he breaks into it from ...

Incidence of Incest

Edmund Leach, 19 February 1981

The Red Lamp of Incest: A Study in the Origins of Mind and Society 
by Robin Fox.
Hutchinson, 271 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 09 144080 7
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Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and its Devastation 
by Susan Forward and Craig Buck.
Penguin, 154 pp., £1.95, February 1981, 0 14 022287 1
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... journalism and serious human ethology. These authors include Konrad Lorenz, Robert Ardrey, Desmond Morris and E.O. Wilson. The present work is dedicated to the memory of Robert Ardrey, so the reader should know what to expect. The radical difference between social anthropology and the kind of thing offered by Fox needs to be spelled out since Fox quotes ...

Be like the Silkworm

Terry Eagleton: Marx’s Style, 29 June 2023

Marx’s Literary Style 
by Ludovico Silva, translated by Paco Brito Núñez.
Verso, 104 pp., £14.99, January, 978 1 83976 553 7
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... scores of other authors, though he was less enthralled by ‘Elizabeth’s arse-kissing poet’ Edmund Spenser, an advocate of state terror in Ireland. One of his most ardent antagonists on the political left, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, acknowledged that few people had read as much and as intelligently. Marx learned Italian from reading Dante and ...

In Letchworth

Gillian Darley: Pevsner's Hertfordshire, 2 January 2020

... cathedral, just as Gilbert Scott’s planned renovations gathered momentum. Scott died in 1878 and Edmund Beckett, an exceedingly rich and entirely unsupervised architectural amateur stepped in. He considered the cathedral a tabula rasa, to be rebuilt at his own expense. William Morris, whose Society for the Protection of ...

Sour Apple

Jose Harris, 5 July 1984

H.G. Wells: Aspects of a Life 
by Anthony West.
Hutchinson, 405 pp., £12.95, June 1984, 0 09 134540 5
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by Anthony West.
Secker, 305 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 56592 7
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... penchant for black and white judgments is not confined to his assessment of his parents. William Morris, for example, was a purveyor of ‘bogus archaisms and mock heroics’, Beatrice Webb was an ‘arrogant woman of limited intelligence’, Edmund Gosse was the ‘gentleman’s outfitter’ of English literary ...

Strawberries in December

Paul Laity: She Radicals, 30 March 2017

Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Verso, 512 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 1 78478 588 8
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... Its members met in coffee houses, read from their favourite poets – Whitman, Shelley, William Morris – and listened to ‘rousing glees’; Carpenter was one of their most popular speakers. The two women were swept up in the ‘new unionism’ that energised British socialism at the end of the 1880s, as the old craft unions made way for organisations ...


C.H. Sisson, 9 November 1989

Edgell Rickword: A Poet at War 
by Charles Hobday.
Carcanet, 337 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 85635 883 5
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... slaughter seems incomprehensible, and incompatible with his Socialism.’. (He had read William Morris, and was ‘still at grips with social problems’.) There is here perhaps a certain lack of historical imagination, on Hobday’s part. Rickword did in due course join the Artists’ Rifles, a corps in which, we are told, ‘the artistic element’ had ...
... to stigmatise the child, Lewes forgave the offence and allowed the boy to be registered as Edmund Lewes – perhaps with a wry glance at the bastard in King Lear. But the offence was repeated; and before Agnes bore the second of her four or five children by Hunt, Lewes had ceased to regard her as his wife. Yet, having condoned her adultery, he was ...


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

... 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 a name survive of that ...


Terry Eagleton: T.S. Eliot’s Politics, 19 September 2002

The ‘Criterion’: Cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Interwar Britain 
by Jason Harding.
Oxford, 250 pp., £35, April 2002, 9780199247172
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... not a Fascist but a reactionary, a distinction lost on those of his critics who, in the words of Edmund Burke, know nothing of politics but the passions they incite. Ideologically speaking, Fascism is as double-visaged as the Modernism with which it was sometimes involved, casting a backward glance to the primitive and primordial while steaming dynamically ...

Where does culture come from?

Terry Eagleton, 25 April 2024

... and free expression of human powers and capacities, a theme that runs from Schiller and Ruskin to Morris and Marcuse. Art or culture can issue a powerful rebuke to society not so much by virtue of what it says but because of the strange, pointless, intensely libidinal thing that it is. It’s one of the few remaining activities in an increasingly ...

How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... urban and rural radical traditions – an attempt which contrived, for instance, to make William Morris look bosky. Indeed, in ‘The Road’, a crucial 86-line poem which is not in Kavanagh, he celebrates their essential congruity – and a politics we do not meet again until the recollected ‘war’ poems of the asylum years: Anyhow folk live there And ...

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