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George and the Dragon

John Burnside, 22 October 2015

... is being sacrificed, the dragon with its throat transpierced, a sign left over from the damp, pre-Christian world, led from the cave on its chain (the woman holds it lightly in her hand) to be destroyed for no good reason, given that it’s tame and captive now. Perhaps it’s just too green or too expressive, set against this knight whose mind is ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Weiner Trilogy, 29 August 2013

... his script sounds like an awkward adaptation of the ‘Two Americas’ routine deployed in 2008 by John Edwards (who showed that a genuine sex scandal comes with a divorce, a love child and a near-miss at a thirty-year jail sentence). Between Quinn and de Blasio is the mild-mannered, African-American Bill Thompson, a former comptroller who tends to split the ...


Christian Lorentzen: The Democratic Convention, 11 August 2016

... isn’t convinced by the case for voting for a lesser evil. ‘The suffering’, Noam Chomsky and John Halle wrote in June, that Trump’s ‘extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalised and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency’. My father ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: Fact-checking, 5 April 2012

... assembly line, for example – were fictions. While Daisey is being reprimanded, a writer called John D’Agata has been promoting a book, Lifespan of a Fact (Norton, $17.95), about the way he changes or makes up the facts. D’Agata and David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (2010), are the leaders of a movement that believes the most ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: Paul Krugman, 19 July 2012

... of any Democrat partisans to Obama’s left. Hope somehow never dies. In 2008 Krugman supported John Edwards, then Hillary Clinton, and then fell in line behind Obama even though he saw his candidacy as a ‘cult of personality’. ‘There’s a trap I’ve seen some people fall into,’ he said in 2010, ‘you let your vision of what should be get ...
... Why has it taken a century to bring this about? In giving notice of her death her husband, John Walter Cross, who had married her in St George’s, Hanover Square, scarcely eight months before, alluded to her wish to be buried here. Of her many famous friends, Tennyson, Browning and Trollope would certainly have written to Dean Stanley urging it, and ...

Faking the Canon

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Forging the Bible, 6 February 2014

Forgery and Counter-Forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics 
by Bart Ehrman.
Oxford, 628 pp., £27.50, January 2013, 978 0 19 992803 3
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... by another book called the New Testament, which told me all I thought I needed to know about my Christian faith, and then an American scholar called Bart Ehrman seized me by the lapels to tell me that ‘the most distinctive feature’ of its content was ‘the degree to which it was forged’. That is precisely what Ehrman says, on the first page of his ...

Tush Ye Shall Not Die

John Bossy, 23 February 1995

William Tyndale: A Biography 
by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £19.95, September 1994, 0 300 06132 3
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The Renaissance Bible: Scholarship, Sacrifice and Subjectivity 
by Debora Kuller Shuger.
California, 297 pp., £32, December 1994, 0 520 08480 2
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... burned) in October 1536. Daniell, like his hero, is an altar-stripper: he writes ‘Paul’ and ‘John’ for ‘St Paul’ and ‘St John’ as others write ‘Austen’ for ‘Jane Austen’. (For some reason Tyndale himself kept the ‘St’ for Matthew, but dropped it for everybody else.) He is that rare thing, not just ...


Michael Neve, 8 November 1990

The Double in 19th-Century Fiction 
by John Herdman.
Macmillan, 174 pp., £35, August 1990, 9780333490242
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Romanticism and the Sciences 
edited by Andrew Cunningham and Nicholas Jardine.
Cambridge, 345 pp., £40, June 1990, 0 521 35602 4
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Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? 
by Mary Boyle.
Routledge, 248 pp., £35, September 1990, 0 415 04096 5
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... he trying to keep us safe, inside the yard?) the literary study of doubles roots itself in Christian accounts of the world, describing how, by trick, by election or by sin, characters break open, split apart, see things that may be themselves, even meet the return of their true selves. And, of course, get to meet the Devil. Over a dram, or out in the ...

Reading the Bible

John Barton, 5 May 1988

The Literary Guide to the Bible 
edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode.
Collins, 678 pp., £20, December 1987, 0 00 217439 1
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... of this insight entails, above all, some attention to the conventions with which Hebrew and early Christian literature operated: not ignoring the religious subject-matter, but grasping the fact that like any other subject-matter it could be conveyed only through the medium of a specific literary culture. The outstanding essays here are those which most ...

World’s End

John Ryle, 13 October 1988

The Missionaries 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 245 pp., £10.95, May 1988, 0 436 24595 7
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... of God, the Kingdom of the Last Days. According to this millenial view, the prospect of the Christian message finally being heard in every part of the world brings mankind near to the end of time, a moment predicted in the Book of Revelation. It comes when the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 to the Apostles is fulfilled, when disciples have been made ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... When Lean graduated, Lewis took it over. The group was for men only. (Dorothy L. Sayers, a keen Christian and an admirer of Lewis, was excluded.) At first, meetings were held in Lewis’s Magdalen sitting room on Thursday evenings. Members drank tea and beer, argued about the meaning of life and read their latest work to each other. Then they also began to ...


John Lloyd: Split Scots, 25 June 1992

... lower-cultured citizens the Balts always thought they were; the Central Asians see them as Christian oppressors. Christian Armenians prosecute a war in the Caucasus which they define almost as holy: as the struggle of a (naturally superior) Christian culture against a Moslem ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith, 9 October 1986

Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... Richard Perceval Graves. It takes over where the author’s father, Robert’s younger brother John Graves, left off. John, who died in 1980, had been described by Robert as a ‘typically good pupil of a typically good school’ (to which he returned as teacher); he had for long contemplated the composition of a book ...
George Macaulay Trevelyan: A Memoir 
by Mary Moorman.
Hamish Hamilton, 253 pp., £9.95, April 1980, 0 241 10358 4
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Public and Private 
by Humphrey Trevelyan.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 241 10357 6
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... than of the recognition the world awarded. He now appears as a liberal bigot whom no socialist, Christian or conservative could consider non-partisan. Mrs Moorman’s book concentrates on the period before his return to Cambridge as Regius Professor (a Baldwin appointment) in 1927. Only two of her ten chapters concern his life after 1927, whether from ...

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