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Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... the viability of ballads like ‘Chevy Chase’ and other transgressions of ‘fancy’. Only Samuel Richardson really strove for refinement, which, as the result proved, was writing against his grain. Refinement was of course a strong, though highly ironised, element in Sterne’s novels. Even Reynolds was quite capable of the ...

Viva la trattoria

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 9 October 2003

Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Her Sister Arabella 
edited by Scott Lewis.
Wedgestone, $300, October 2002, 0 911459 29 4
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... the truth of her claim. The collection opens with a narrative immediacy that would do justice to Samuel Richardson, as EBB hastens to reaffirm the bond her marriage and flight have threatened to sever: My beloved Arabel I write to you after a thousand thoughts . . (for I have not heard a breath of any of you yet) but the strongest brings me still to ...

Skipping

Claudia Johnson: The history of the novel, 8 March 2001

The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot 
by Leah Price.
Cambridge, 224 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 78208 2
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... class and gender. The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel opens with a brilliant consideration of Samuel Richardson’s career. In addition to writing three important and influential novels – which take the form of letters compiled, edited, arranged, prefaced, annotated or excerpted by an inscribed editor, and in which the appropriation and quotation ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... dithyrambic praise of the English constitution in The Spirit of the Laws, like Diderot’s for Samuel Richardson (‘O Richardson, Richardson ... I will keep you on the same shelf with Moses, Homer, Euripides and Sophocles’) caused French hearts to beat even faster. A steady ...

Dear Miss Boothby

Margaret Anne Doody, 5 November 1992

The Letters of Samuel Johnson: Vol. I: 1731-1772, Vol. II: 1773-1776, Vol. III: 1777-1781 
edited by Bruce Redford.
Oxford, 431 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 19 811287 4
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... marriage must be fabulously – nay, more than fabulously – happy. This was ridiculous, and Samuel Johnson was close enough to Hester Thrale to have known, had he chosen to let himself know it, that her marriage was a long vexation beginning and ending in nightmare. Johnson had too much investment in the Thrale marriage to let himself face the truth ...

Get a Real Degree

Elif Batuman, 23 September 2010

The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing 
by Mark McGurl.
Harvard, 480 pp., £25.95, April 2009, 978 0 674 03319 1
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... literary scholarship and creative writing: disciplines which differ in their points of reference (Samuel Richardson v. Jhumpa Lahiri), the graduate degrees they award (Doctor of Philosophy v. Master of Fine Arts) and their perceived objects of study (‘literature’ v. ‘fiction’). Mark McGurl’s The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of ...

Uppish

W.B. Carnochan, 23 February 1995

Satire and Sentiment, 1660-1830 
by Claude Rawson.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 38395 1
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... and ‘patronising’ Item: in a chapter on Richardson (wittily called ‘Richardson, alas’ after ‘Hugo, hélas’), Rawson quotes a curious letter in which the novelist asks a friend to come to Tunbridge Wells, where she will be able to see a figure more ...

Porringers and Pitkins

Keith Thomas: The Early Modern Household, 5 July 2018

A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 
by Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson.
Yale, 311 pp., £40, October 2017, 978 0 300 19501 9
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... and others in 1937 – and furthered by the History Workshop movement launched in 1966 by Raphael Samuel. The modest social origins and leftish sympathies of many academic historians had generated a concern with the lives of ‘ordinary’ people rather than those of the political, social and intellectual elites. In subsequent decades, feminist historians ...

Restless Daniel

John Mullan: Defoe, 20 July 2006

The Life of Daniel Defoe: A Critical Biography 
by John Richetti.
Blackwell, 406 pp., £50, December 2005, 0 631 19529 7
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A Political Biography of Daniel Defoe 
by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Pickering & Chatto, 277 pp., £60, January 2006, 1 85196 810 5
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... in particular. It is no accident that the two earliest pioneers of the English novel, Defoe and Samuel Richardson, both wrote conduct books just before they turned to fiction. Richardson’s Familiar Letters tested friends and relations through imagined exchanges of letters, but the moral quandaries were ...

The Village Life

James Meek: Pushkin in English, 6 June 2019

Novels, Tales, Journeys 
by Aleksandr Pushkin, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Penguin, 512 pp., £9.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 29037 8
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... suggests, ‘represented themselves … as reading such European writers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Germaine de Staël and Scott, but denigrated or avoided naming their actual competition: such bestselling sentimental novelists as Kotzebue, de Genlis, Lafontaine and Sophie Cottin.’ Hoogenboom applies to Russia an ...

Reviewers

Marilyn Butler, 22 January 1981

Three-Quarter Face 
by Penelope Gilliatt.
Secker, 295 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436179587
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Show People 
by Kenneth Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77842 0
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When the lights go down 
by Pauline Kael.
Boyars, 592 pp., £8.95, August 1980, 0 7145 2726 2
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... the best of Mencken, not to mention Svetonius’s Lives of the Caesars; and into the garbage goes Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, perhaps the finest book of profile-essays ever written ... I am not, of course, claiming a place for myself among the masters I have named above. (Although, when Lamb is at his most whimsical, I sometimes think I could go a ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... the OED and Webster’s Third – of indicating the social status of a word. Mencken confuses Samuel Johnson the writer with Dr Johnson the ogre and bully portrayed by Boswell. James Murray, the author of the OED, succumbed to the same confusion, perhaps, when in a dream he imagined that Johnson was speaking of his Dictionary and Boswell, in an impish ...

Unreasoning Vigour

Stefan Collini: Ian Watt, 9 May 2019

Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic 
by Marina MacKay.
Oxford, 228 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 882499 2
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... deft and thoughtful study. In 1957 Watt published The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding. Few works of criticism from the second half of the 20th century have been more influential. The Rise of the Novel, MacKay reports, ‘continues to be amplified, supplemented or attacked – it must somehow be reckoned with – by every ...

Buried Alive!

Nick Richardson: Houdini, 14 April 2011

Houdini: Art and Magic 
by Brooke Kamin Rapaport.
Yale, 261 pp., £25, November 2010, 978 0 300 14684 4
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... they weren’t as safe as they should be. Ehrich’s first tutor in magic was his father. Mayer Samuel Weiss had brought his wife, Cecilia, and three sons to the US from Hungary in 1878 and settled in Appleton. With his exotic accent and formidable physical presence he was able to convince the townspeople to accept him as the local rabbi even though in ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud, 21 June 2001

Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... sometimes ungenerous Olivier, the invariably envious Wolfit and the amiable but rather straitlaced Richardson. And of course both books have to deal with the crisis of 1953. Gielgud was arrested for soliciting, and although Morley and his publishers claim to have dealt for the first time fully, frankly and sympathetically with this episode there is a perfectly ...

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