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The ‘R’ Word

Adam Smyth: For the Love of the Binding, 4 November 2021

Book Ownership in Stuart England 
by David Pearson.
Oxford, 352 pp., £69.99, January, 978 0 19 887012 8
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... on the Continent. In the early 17th century libraries of more than a thousand volumes were rare: Richard Bancroft, archbishop of Canterbury between 1604 and 1610, had perhaps the largest of the day at around six thousand volumes. A hundred years later, John Moore, bishop of Ely, had more than thirty thousand books. Moore’s collection is now a star of ...

The World of School

John Bayley, 28 September 1989

The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... of burial, and the tour de force is also a sober labour of love. This Waugh has affiliations with Richard Boston’s Osbert Lancaster, the portrait of a connoisseur of social oddity who also loved it steadily and whole. Boston is discriminatingly informative about Lancaster’s achievement as artist and cartoonist, and about such lesser-known matters as his ...

Better off in a Stocking

Jamie Martin: The Financial Crisis of 1914, 22 May 2014

Saving the City: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 
by Richard Roberts.
Oxford, 320 pp., £20, November 2013, 978 0 19 964654 8
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... has been almost completely forgotten. This act of historical amnesia is one of the themes of Richard Roberts’s Saving the City, the only major book-length treatment of this topic to appear since 1915. On Roberts’s account, people at the time didn’t really distinguish between the distinct crises of August 1914, financial, military and ...

Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan

Lawrence Norfolk: The Ways of the Boar, 6 January 2011

... Canon Charcot’s method of consumption: pull out the gizzard and swallow the bird whole. M.F.K. Fisher calls this recipe ‘brutishly refined’ but admits puzzlement as to what the canon did with the feathers.) By the time of Petronius the dish was already an absurdity. Decapitated at the table, live thrushes (the poor man’s fig-pecker) fluttered out of ...

Tolerant Repression

Blair Worden, 10 May 1990

Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal 
by Tom Mayer.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £32.50, April 1989, 0 521 36104 4
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Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 317 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 631 13566 9
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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Portraits at the Court of Henry VIII 
by Retha Warnicke.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 521 37000 0
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English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 448 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 300 04180 2
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... in blood: the blood of Edmund de la Pole in 1513, of the Duke of Buckingham in 1521, of More and Fisher in 1535, of Anne Boleyn and her alleged lovers in 1536, of Thomas Cromwell and the Protestants burned without trial in 1540, of the surviving supporters of Catherine of Aragon and of the Marquis of Exeter in 1540-1, of the Earl of Surrey in 1547. Thomas ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... Cambridge. On parade (on King’s Parade in fact) just after ten, where the calming presence of Richard Lloyd Morgan, the chaplain of King’s, waits to shepherd me to the Senior Common Room. It’s already crowded with dons, some, since it’s the university sermon, presumably heads of houses.* I manage to avoid a chat by settling into a corner to con my ...

Outcasts and Desperados

Adam Shatz: Richard Wright’s Double Vision, 7 October 2021

The Man Who Lived Underground 
by Richard Wright.
Library of America, 250 pp., £19.99, April, 978 1 59853 676 8
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... When​ Richard Wright sailed to France in 1946, he was 38 years old and already a legend. He was America’s most famous black writer, the author of two books hailed as classics the moment they were published: the 1940 novel Native Son and the 1945 memoir Black Boy. By ‘choosing exile’, as he put it, he hoped both to free himself from American racism and to put an ocean between himself and the Communist Party of the United States, in which he’d first come to prominence as a writer of proletarian fiction only to find himself accused of subversive, Trotskyist tendencies ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... and work as separate units. At worst, they read like a cross between R.D. Laing’s case-notes and Richard Aldington’s Imagism. At best, they have a force and integrity which none of the other poets associated with the Review, and few poets since, have come close to matching. The problem, as Hamilton concedes in his preface, is that these 50 poems encompass ...

Audrey and Her Sisters

Wayne Koestenbaum, 18 September 1997

Audrey Hepburn 
by Barry Paris.
Weidenfeld, 454 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 297 81728 0
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... part of Eliza Doolittle: reportedly, she said, ‘Get me My Fair Lady,’ to then-husband Eddie Fisher and agent Kurt Frings. I wonder if Liz knew that Audrey had turned down the part of Cleopatra in 1959. Audrey later said: ‘Oh come on, I’m not a movie star. Liz Taylor is a movie star.’ For a movie star, that’s a surreal disclaimer, though it ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... worked with Randolph S. on editing the C papers, here useful on C and social reform; the navalist Richard Ollard, who has written on the Churchill-impacted Admirals Fisher and Cunningham (and the Navy), John Grigg (and Lloyd George), etc. The platoon’s roll goes on, with Gordon A. Craig, America’s Germanist and ...

How to Get Another Thorax

Steven Rose: Epigenetics, 8 September 2016

... Haldane was one of a trio of mathematically minded biologists – the other two were Ronald Fisher and Sewall Wright – who brought Mendelian genetics and natural selection together in what became known as the Modern or neo-Darwinian Synthesis, a comprehensive theory of evolution which persisted throughout much of the rest of the 20th century. In the ...

Don’t worry about the pronouns

Michael Wood: Iris Murdoch’s First Novel, 3 January 2019

Under the Net 
by Iris Murdoch.
Vintage, 432 pp., £9.99, July 2019, 978 1 78487 518 3
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... they tend to concentrate on themes and characters rather than techniques or questions of language. Richard Eyre’s film Iris (2001) is well paced, well acted, and offers a moving portrait of Murdoch’s succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. But there is no sense of the writer in the film. We just get the sprightly young woman, the honoured dame and the person ...

‘Just get us out’

Ferdinand Mount, 21 March 2019

... allowed the pope to hire and fire his English bishops and give their dioceses English placenames. Richard II’s prime aim in the Great Praemunire Statute of 1392 was to prevent the pope and his favoured cardinals from taking juicy revenues out of England. British membership of the EU has, per contra, attracted billions of foreign capital to Britain, while ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 4 December 2014

Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... 1960s was his campaign against Stuart Montgomery. Montgomery’s Fulcrum Press had published Roy Fisher, Lorine Niedecker, Robert Duncan and Lee Harwood, and seemed poised to become the publisher the British Poetry Revival of those years needed to counterbalance the waning radical commitments of the post-Eliot Faber list. Reprinting Finlay’s 1960 volume ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies, 13 July 2017

... as equivalent and accessible in the here and now. ‘In 1981,’ the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher wrote in Ghosts of My Life (2014), ‘the 1960s seemed much further away than they do today.’ Facebook extends this logic to people’s own personal history, informing them of what banal activity they were engaged in this time last year, or eight years ...

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