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Diary

Richard Gott: Paraguayan Power, 21 February 2008

... may yet produce a surprise result in Paraguay’s elections. Fernando Lugo, a 58-year-old former bishop, emerged two years ago as the unexpected candidate of the freshly minted left-wing opposition, and has been leading in the opinion polls ever since. With a doctorate in sociology and a continuing enthusiasm for liberation theology, Lugo is known to his ...

Jihad

James Wood, 5 August 1993

The New Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... a flourish. The ‘defining presences’ for many of these poets are, apparently, Auden, Ashbery, Bishop and Mahon. From these writers, we are told, the selected poets have learned to write ‘a poetry that understands that before it is moral, representational or empirical, it is above all sceptical.’ But first of all, the editors can’t mean both ...

Not all that Keen

John Bayley, 16 March 1989

Chekhov: A Spirit Set Free 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Hodder, 235 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 340 37409 8
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... of Chekhov’s plays is not unique. Shakespeare’s begin and in a sense end as stories; Henry James could not write for the stage, but produced tales and novels which have taken to it in a way which would have startled and perhaps discomposed him, even though he claimed in his Notebooks, after his own theatrical debacle, that the disaster had at least ...

Settling accounts

Keith Walker, 15 May 1980

‘A heart for every fate’: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. 10, 1822-1823 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 239 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7195 3670 7
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... has died too – and She writes with the man a corpse before her but instead of addressing the Bishop or Mr Wilberforce – she hath recourse to that proscribed – Atheistical – syllogistical – phlogistical person – mysen – as they say in Notts.’ At other times Byron pugnaciously elevates his alienation into a heroic role, remarking: ‘I should ...

A Form of Showing Off

Anna Vaux, 28 April 1994

A Change of Climate 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 352 pp., £15, March 1994, 0 670 83051 8
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... goes about his business, dispensing pieces of wisdom to his flock, thinking of ways to avoid the bishop, and looking out for the Devil, in whom he has no difficulty believing. He’s seen the Devil, after all: he runs the tobacconist’s shop at the bottom of the hill and he smells of sulphur. Ralph Eldred in A Change of Climate believes in God but has read ...

Diary

Stephen Sedley: Judges’ Lodgings, 11 November 1999

... a slip of paper bearing in a neat italic hand the words ‘I expect you have remembered to ask the Bishop to say grace.’ It was passed to me some years ago during pre-dinner drinks at the judges’ lodgings in Lincoln by the butler, who had sensed that, though formally in charge, I was not to the manner born. I had the same sense of not quite belonging in ...

Uncle William

E.S. Turner, 13 June 1991

The Passing of Barchester: A Real-Life Version of Trollop 
by Clive Dewey.
Hambledon, 199 pp., £14.95, April 1991, 1 85285 039 6
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... the bourgeoisie, or to those with wit and address enough to marry the niece of a childless dean or bishop. There was still a sub-stratum of vilely exploited curates, in the tradition of Crabbe’s no-hoper who toiled over Euripides while ‘four fair daughters and five sorrowing sons’ chased the duns from the door (nobody wanted to marry a curate’s ...

Against Michelangelo

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Pinecone’, 11 October 2012

The Pinecone 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 332 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26950 1
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... the vicar of Wreay, some papers in the Carlisle Record Office and the diaries of Losh’s uncle, James. For the modern biographer it is slim pickings, and Uglow takes the only possible course, which is to build up the background and the context in the hope that they will describe an outline in the foreground, a space that will suggest what Losh was like and ...

Self-Hugging

Andrew O’Hagan: A Paean to Boswell, 5 October 2000

Boswell's Presumptuous Task 
by Adam Sisman.
Hamish Hamilton, 352 pp., £17.99, November 2000, 0 241 13637 7
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: Research Edition: Vol. II 
edited by Bruce Redford and Elizabeth Goldring.
Edinburgh, 303 pp., £50, February 2000, 0 7486 0606 8
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Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author 
by Lawrence Lipking.
Harvard, 372 pp., £11.50, March 2000, 0 674 00198 2
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Dr Johnson's London 
by Liza Picard.
Weidenfeld, 362 pp., £20, July 2000, 0 297 84218 8
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... begetter of admiration in other people. Yet none that loved him could easily match the love of James Boswell, who puttered along for many years, joyously, drunkenly, boisterously, earnestly, with his love of Dr Johnson both a wondrous act of worship and a curious kind of self-loving. Arm in arm on their way up the High Street, Boswell and Johnson were a ...

Public Words

Randolph Quirk, 19 February 1981

Language – the Loaded Weapon 
by Dwight Bolinger.
Longman, 224 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 582 29107 0
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... In the English-speaking countries, they have been especially active from the 18th-century Bishop Lowth in England, Richard Grant White in the America of a century later, to Fowler and his successors in our own time. Many of them found they were ‘doing well by doing good’, as Tom Lehrer puts it in another connection, and the popular profitability ...

Did Jesus walk on water because he couldn’t swim?

Jenny Diski: Jewish Seafarers, 20 August 1998

The Children of Noah: Jewish Seafaring in Ancient Times 
by Raphael Patai.
Princeton, 208 pp., £17.95, May 1998, 0 691 01580 5
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... Patai explains, according to Talmudic cosmology, tohu, of the tohu bohu translated in the King James Bible as ‘without form and void’; an essential part of the chaos which was all there was before God separated and ordered the world into existence. These were the seas that contained Rahab, Leviathan and other sea monsters which, sings the Psalmist, God ...

Draining the Whig bathwater

Conrad Russell, 10 June 1993

The Personal Rule of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 983 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 300 05688 5
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... history’ involves the same sort of hyperbole as the Earl of Northampton’s claim, in 1610, that James I was ‘free from banqueting and surfeiting’. This sort of language gives hostages to fortune, and Sharpe’s claim has already been refuted in Dr Alison Gill’s thesis on the collection of Ship Money, which supersedes the collection figures on which ...

The Sacred Sofa

E.S. Turner, 11 December 1997

The House of Lords: From Saxon Wargods to a Modern Senate 
by John Wells.
Hodder, 298 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 340 64928 3
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... roofs, arrived ‘dis-wigged’ and debris-spattered; one had been relieved of his watch and a bishop had had his lawn sleeves ripped off. There, too, I would have thought, were the makings of a good film, with a spectacular bonus in the sight, up the road in Holborn, of frenzied Eurosceptics turning into pillars of fire as they tried to drink flaming ...

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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... 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 telling the tale in the third person. Trevor began as a ruefully comic chronicler of geriatrics and eccentrics (The Old Boys, The Boarding-House), squinnying at the frailties of the genteel ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... out-of-date beau and a not-yet-in-date subject of the once in a while and future king whom Henry James will christen Edward the Caresser. And at the centre of the novel is Professor Horace Nettleship, banked and glowering, a man whose geological hammer has chipped away his deity, and who is deep-seatedly obsessed with the monstrous parachronism of ...

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