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Blair Worden, 7 March 1985

Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance 
by David Norbrook.
Routledge, 345 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 7100 9778 6
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Restoration Theatre Production 
by Jocelyn Powell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £19.95, November 1984, 0 7100 9321 7
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Theatre and Crisis: 1632-1642 
by Martin Butler.
Cambridge, 340 pp., £25, August 1984, 0 521 24632 6
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The Court Masque 
edited by David Lindley.
Manchester, 196 pp., £22.50, August 1984, 0 7190 0961 8
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Ben Jonson, Dramatist 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 370 pp., £30, July 1984, 0 521 25883 9
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... and none of them would have understood the modern relocation of politics below imagination. David Norbrook’s Poetry and Politics in Renaissance England is a protest against the devaluation of political verse, and especially of radical political verse. Where Dr Johnson could deplore Milton’s radicalism yet admire his poetry, Eliot and Leavis expelled ...

Walter Scott’s Post-War Europe

Marilyn Butler, 7 February 1980

Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination 
by David Brown.
Routledge, 239 pp., £9.75, August 1980, 0 7100 0301 3
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... process, the first portrayer of society in terms that Adam Smith might and Karl Marx did approve. David Brown makes the academic case admirably. He begins by modestly disclaiming originality: he is developing insights put forward by others in recent years, and only applying them more carefully to a selection of the major novels. This is a service which it ...

Fiery Participles

D.A.N. Jones, 6 September 1984

Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic 
by David Bromwich.
Oxford, 450 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 19 503343 4
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William Godwin: Philosopher, Novelist, Revolutionary 
by Peter Marshall.
Yale, 496 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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Burke, Paine, Godwin and the Revolution Controversy 
edited by Marilyn Butler.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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... to fry). To write about the works of Hazlitt, one needs a bias towards history and philosophy. David Bromwich’s study concentrates on the latter discipline, for he is appraising Hazlitt’s understanding of Abstract Ideas and his command of words to express them. But there is also a historical theme running through this excellent book, accompanying the ...

Get the placentas

Gavin Francis: ‘The Life Project’, 2 June 2016

The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives 
by Helen Pearson.
Allen Lane, 399 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 1 84614 826 2
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... In November​ 1981 at a function in London, Neville Butler, a professor of paediatric medicine at Bristol University, contrived to drop a cup of coffee at Margaret Thatcher’s feet. He stooped down to mop it up, then sprang up and asked her for money. ‘I’m Professor Butler,’ he’s reported to have said ...

Caruthers & Co

Simon Raven, 19 July 1984

... Loder, the Fifth Form Cad, is being blackmailed by Hogg, the new School Butler: unless Loder gives Hogg £10, Hogg will go to the Head and report Loder for smoking and drinking in the Saloon Bar of the Black Ape; whereupon Loder will be sacked. ‘I don’t care so much for myself,’ sobs Loder to Tom Merry, the Hero of the Shell: ‘It’s my parents; the disgrace will kill them ...

To the End of the Line

Ferdinand Mount: The Red Dean, 26 April 2012

The Red Dean of Canterbury: The Public and Private Faces of Hewlett Johnson 
by John Butler.
Scala, 292 pp., £16.95, September 2011, 978 1 85759 736 3
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... from the Stalin Peace Prize which he had won the year before was icing on a substantial cake. John Butler is a Canterbury man and an emeritus professor at the University of Kent, best known for his book The Quest for Becket’s Bones. The dean now and then compared his own struggles for truth with those of St Thomas, though the dean’s bones and indeed the ...

Eyes and Ears

Anthony Thwaite, 23 June 1988

The Silence in the Garden 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 204 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 9780370312187
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Sea Music 
by David Profumo.
Secker, 207 pp., £10.95, May 1988, 9780436387142
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Tell it me again 
by John Fuller.
Chatto, 202 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 7011 3288 4
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The Continuing Silence of a Poet: The Collected Short Stories of A.B. Yehoshua 
Peter Halban/Weidenfeld, 377 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 1 870015 14 2Show More
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... other novels and stories. Such children are at the centre of William Trevor’s tenth novel and David Profumo’s first; or rather, Trevor seems to have chosen to place young Tom both centrally and peripherally (as children often are, in fiction and in life), while Profumo makes young James the very eyes and ears of his book, though distancing him by ...

Short Cuts

Norman Dombey: False Intelligence, 19 February 2004

... Council concerning Iraq’s mobile biological weapons laboratories was immediately criticised by David Kelly, who recognised them as trucks bought from Marconi for filling balloons with hydrogen. David Kelly and Brian Jones were not the only ones to have doubts about the dossier: similar doubts were expressed by nuclear ...

Three feet on the ground

Marilyn Butler, 7 July 1983

William Wordsworth: The Borders of Vision 
by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Oxford, 496 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 19 812097 4
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William Wordsworth: The Poetry of Grandeur and of Tenderness 
by David Pirie.
Methuen, 301 pp., £14.95, March 1982, 0 416 31300 0
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Benjamin the Waggoner 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Paul Betz.
Cornell/Harvester, 356 pp., £40, September 1981, 0 85527 513 8
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... and a commentator on Wordsworth’s oeuvre in its best years, 1797-1805. Another British critic, David Pirie, writes in The Poetry of Grandeur and of Tenderness from a point of view which often resembles Jonathan Wordsworth’s. Pirie’s book is less obviously biographical in its orientation, yet in the end its goal is a portrait of Wordsworth’s mind and ...

After Hartlepool

James Butler, 3 June 2021

... interviews based on an essay in the New Statesman. Blair’s retainers dutifully lauded the essay: David Miliband, the king over the water, described it as a masterclass in political argument. In fact, the piece is an embarrassment, a mixture of reheated Blairite cliché, regurgitated Silicon Valley TED talks, and analysis of the British cultural landscape as ...

High Priest of Mumbo-Jumbo

R.W. Johnson, 13 November 1997

Lord Hailsham: A Life 
by Geoffrey Lewis.
Cape, 403 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 224 04252 1
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... contest of 1963. Macmillan, after much vacillation, decided that the main thing was to defeat Butler and that Hogg was his man. Home concurred, though he feared that ‘complete disunity’ and great troubles would follow. This gradually hardened into a resolve to stand himself. Meanwhile Hogg, overcome by excitement, threw his hat into the ...

Language Writing

Jerome McGann, 15 October 1987

In the American Tree: Language, Poetry, Realism 
by Ron Silliman.
National Poetry Foundation, 628 pp., $34.50, June 1986, 0 915032 33 3
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‘Language’ Poetries: An Anthology 
by Douglas Messerli.
New Directions, 184 pp., $19.95, March 1987, 0 8112 1006 5
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... of Yeats’s fascination with the young American phenomenon Ezra Pound had cooled enough for Jack Butler Yeats to supply his son with some smouldering paternal wisdom: The poets loved of Ezra Pound are tired of Beauty, since they have met it so often ... I am tired of Beauty my wife, says the poet, but here is that enchanting mistress Ugliness. With her I ...

Amor vincit Vinnie

Marilyn Butler, 21 February 1985

Foreign Affairs 
by Alison Lurie.
Joseph, 291 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 7181 2516 9
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... French’s Bleeding Heart, Malcolm Bradbury’s Stepping Westward and Rates of Exchange, and David Lodge’s Changing Places and Small World. Now, all around the large cabin, other refugees from Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only and from Gene Wilder in The Woman in Red have their noses stuck into novels. Could it be that a certain kind of novel is being ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Silly mistakes and blood for Bush, 4 December 2003

... the secret of her illicit gin supply. Charley Raunce, the former head footman recently promoted to butler, continues his predecessor’s practice of skimming a few pounds off the household accounts every month.A sentence at the bottom of the first page puzzled me for a while: ‘Not cut of that room I couldn’t.’ Green’s dialogue is remarkable for the ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar , 2 June 2016

... the years visiting photographers have only reinforced the national stereotypes: the nanny, the butler, the toff, the man in the bowler hat, the black-faced miner, the snot-nosed child, the woman in rollers and a headscarf, the brass band, the council estate, the corner shop, each one as emblematic as the Union Jack and the London bus. The German-born ...

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