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Un-Roman Ways

Michael Kulikowski: The Last Days of Rome, 24 September 2009

428 AD: An Ordinary Year at the End of the Roman Empire 
by Giusto Traina, translated by Allan Cameron.
Princeton, 203 pp., £16.95, May 2009, 978 0 691 13669 1
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... Dates have a funny way of imposing a preconceived analysis on the past. They can function by synecdoche: 1776 for the five years of the American Revolution, 1976 for the punk revolution and its aftermath. Or they can work by metonymy: 1789 stands for the dawn of modernity itself. When a book takes that sort of date for a title, it’s rarely more than a gimmick to spice up a familiar narrative ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: On Greensill, 6 May 2021

... In a speech​  at the University of East London in February 2010 David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, promised to lift the lid on ‘secret corporate lobbying’. The ‘far too cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money’, he said, would end on his watch. The full text of his speech isn’t easy to find – the Conservative Party erased ten years’ worth of speeches and press releases from its website in 2013 – but the internet doesn’t forget ...

Written out of Revenge

Rosemary Hill: Bowen in Love, 9 April 2009

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie Letters and Diaries 1941-73 
edited by Victoria Glendinning, by Judith Robertson.
Simon and Schuster, 489 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 1 84737 213 0
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People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen 
edited by Allan Hepburn.
Edinburgh, 467 pp., £60, November 2008, 978 0 7486 3568 9
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... next three decades of frantic entanglement. Bowen had no intention of leaving her husband, Alan Cameron, to whom she was devoted. Their marriage, however, was unconsummated. Ritchie was not her first lover, but at her age, as he ungallantly observed, he might well be her last. She openly adored him, while he, an accomplished ladies’ man, longed for a ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Leveson Inquiry, 21 June 2012

... to lull them in the security of their prejudices’. A year later, in Philadelphia, Edgar Allan Poe published ‘The Purloined Letter’. It wasn’t the first detective story – that was ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, in which an escaped orangutan turns out to have decapitated an old lady and shoved her daughter up a chimney – but it was the ...

God’s Own

Angus Calder, 12 March 1992

Empire and English Character 
by Kathryn Tidrick.
Tauris, 338 pp., £24.95, August 1990, 1 85043 191 4
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Into Africa: The story of the East African Safari 
by Kenneth Cameron.
Constable, 229 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 09 469770 1
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Burton: Snow upon the Desert 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 428 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 0 7195 4818 7
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From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton’s Travels in the Americas, 1860-69 
by Frank McLynn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 258 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 7126 3789 3
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The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles 
by Nigel Barley.
Viking, 276 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 670 83642 7
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... ever failed to get him to do so.’ Rider Haggard, in turn, obviously used Selous as a basis for Allan Quatermain in King Solomon’s Mines (1885). Like Selous, ‘Quatermain hunts trouserless and fortifies himself with cold tea.’ Then ‘life imitated art once again.’ Selous, in successive books, ‘sounded more and more like Ouatermain’. He became a ...

A Country Emptied

Ian Jack: The Highland Clearances, 7 March 2019

The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 30410 5
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... no more’.The phrase has had several lives. It first appeared in a song by the Edinburgh poet Allan Ramsay published in 1724:Farewell to Lochaber, farewell to my JeanWhere heartsome wi’ her I ha’e many days beenFor Lochaber no more, Lochaber no moreWe’ll maybe return to Lochaber no more.The words were matched to an old melody, possibly ...

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