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The first great bourgeois victory

The proposal that the English have a long tradition of violence is the opening of Adam Nicolson’s book and he supports his belief by invoking the Book of Revelations, Virgil, Homer, Joanna Southcott, the Methodists, Jane Austen and William Blake to bring this together at Trafalgar. That occasion cannot, of course, be without Nelson, and

Wearing heavy boots lightly

‘I used to be an atheist,’ says ten-year-old Oskar Schell, ‘which means I didn’t believe in things that couldn’t be observed… It’s not that I believe in things that can’t be observed now, because I don’t. It’s that I believe things are extremely complicated.’ On 11 September 2001, Oskar is sent home from school when

A death greatly exaggerated

‘Canada,’ wrote the Toronto journalist Michael Valpy, ‘is the only country in the world where you can buy a book on federal-provincial relations at an airport.’ Things are looking up. Travellers eager to broaden their horizons can now curl up with this extended disquisition on globalisation by the consort of Canada’s outgoing Governor-General. His Excellency

The creepiness of Peter Pan

When I was a child, I frankly and thoroughly detested Peter Pan in every single one of its manifestations; horrible Christmas stage spectacular, horrible Disney cartoon, horrible, horrible novel. It was a passionate and immediate hatred, shot through with something very like terror. In part, I guess, it was the idea that someone might come