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A Touchy Lot

Lynn Hunt: Libelling for a Living, 11 March 2010

The Devil in the Holy Water, or, The Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon 
by Robert Darnton.
Pennsylvania, 534 pp., £23, December 2009, 978 0 8122 4183 9
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Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution: The Culture of Calumny and the Problem of Free Speech 
by Charles Walton.
Oxford, 348 pp., £32.50, February 2009, 978 0 19 536775 1
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... an art of political slander, as Robert Darnton terms it, and in many places something like what Charles Walton calls a ‘culture of calumny’. But in what ways are they particular to a time and place? How different, for example, are the charges of lesbianism and Machiavellian manoeuvring levelled against Hillary Clinton from those published two ...

Wide-Angled

Linda Colley: Global History, 26 September 2013

The French Revolution in Global Perspective 
edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson.
Cornell, 240 pp., £16.50, April 2013, 978 0 8014 7868 0
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... into French, and introducing this potentially subversive material to their onetime countrymen. Charles Walton also stresses the impact of cross-Channel politics and exchanges in his discussion of the Eden trade treaty between France and Britain in 1786. He shows how many French commentators condemned the treaty as unduly favourable to British ...

The Price of Pickles

John Lanchester: Planet Wal-Mart, 22 June 2006

The Wal-Mart Effect: How an Out-of-Town Superstore Became a Superpower 
by Charles Fishman.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £12.99, May 2006, 0 7139 9825 3
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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price 
directed by Robert Greenwald.
November 2005
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... The moment of revelation is a little different for every person who experiences it. For Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, the road to Damascus came in the form of a pair of knickers. At the time – 1945 – Walton was in his late twenties, and was running a small department store in Newport, Arkansas belonging to a franchise called Ben Franklin ...

Diary

Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds, 22 November 2018

... Essex. 7. 1828, month unknown. Shot at Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, Yorkshire, by the keeper of Lord Charles Stourton. 8. 1840, month unknown. Caught in a state of exhaustion near Marshchapel in North Lincolnshire. 9. 1841, 21 December. Shot at Margate, Kent, by a boy ‘employed in keeping crows’; sold to a dealer for fourpence, then exhibited in Margate ...

By All Possible Art

Tobias Gregory: George Herbert, 18 December 2014

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert 
by John Drury.
Penguin, 396 pp., £9.99, April 2014, 978 0 14 104340 1
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... love. The saintly image was established by Herbert’s early biographers, most fully by Izaak Walton, whose Life of Herbert (1670) devotes half its length to the first 37 years of Herbert’s life, in which he was not a country priest, and half to the last three, in which he was. Scholars have been pointing out inaccuracies in ...

Goldfish are my homies

John Lahr, 22 October 2020

Casting Shadows: Fish and Fishing in Britain 
by Tom Fort.
William Collins, 368 pp., £20, April, 978 0 00 828344 5
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... 1462 from the Low Countries to populate them. Fort is nothing if not intrepid. In search of Izaak Walton’s fishing path in The Compleat Angler (1653-76), Fort journeys to Tottenham Hale to explore the River Lea, only to conclude that the path described in the book was a literary device to conceal ‘the true purpose, which was to collect between the covers ...

Young and Old

John Sutherland, 15 October 1981

Life Stories 
by A.L. Barker.
Hogarth, 319 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 7012 0538 5
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Many Men and Talking Wives 
by Helen Muir.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 7156 1613 7
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Good Behaviour 
by Molly Keane.
Deutsch, 245 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 9780233973326
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A Separate Development 
by Christopher Hope.
Routledge, 199 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7100 0954 2
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From Little Acorns 
by Howard Buten.
Harvester, 156 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7108 0390 7
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Fortnight’s Anger 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 85635 376 0
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... as far as Thackeray: gentility’s struggle to preserve itself against invading shabbiness. The St Charles family is first discovered living a pre-war, prosperous ‘leisured life’. 1914 brings catastrophe and gradual decline. The heroine’s dashing father loses a leg in the Great War and survives a whisky-sodden philanderer. The family’s only son is ...

Recribrations

Colin Burrow: John Donne in Performance, 5 October 2006

Donne: The Reformed Soul 
by John Stubbs.
Viking, 565 pp., £25, August 2006, 0 670 91510 6
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... in 1611-12. Absence always worked powerfully on Donne’s imagination, and according to Izaak Walton, his friend and first biographer, he had a vision while on this trip: ‘I have seen my dear wife pass twice by me through this room, with her hair hanging about her shoulders, and a dead child in her arms.’ On his return he discovered that his wife had ...

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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... by Lawrence Lipking in his important book, The Ordering of the Arts in 18th-Century England – Charles Burney’s History of Music, for example, Joshua Reynolds’s Discourses on Art and Johnson’s own Lives of the Poets. The Oxford History of English Literature hasn’t ‘superceded’ Johnson’s Lives, and there’s a sense in which we must say that ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’, 28 January 2010

The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... as shorthand for an unwieldy and dangerous entity created from ill-assorted bits and pieces. As Charles Robinson notes in his new edition of the novel, such confusion set in soon after the book’s first publication in 1818. In October 1823, at a masked ball in Liverpool, a local newspaper reported: ‘Mr Harris, of Preston, personated (we are ...

‘You can have patience or you can have carnage’

Charles Glass: In Afghanistan, 18 November 2004

... local prison systems are separate. After Vietnam, they no longer trust the natives.) In 1963 Frank Walton, the director of USAID’s Public Safety Program, signed an order at one Vietnamese prison that detainees be ‘isolated from all others for months at a time’ and be subject to ‘immobilisation – the prisoner is bolted to the floor, handcuffed to a ...

His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... he was also the natural outsider in a scene that as well as Britten (born 1913), included William Walton (1902) and Lennox Berkeley (1903), with the reassuring presence of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872) hovering over them all. Whether Tippett ever entered the pantheon, or even deserves to, remains an open question for some. His Concerto for Double String ...

A Piece of Single Blessedness

John Burrows, 21 January 1988

Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... are of particular interest; and others like them may yet be found. The discovery of the play Sir Charles Grandison, or The Happy Man, the work of Jane Austen and her niece Anna, suggests that there may even yet be additions to the small body of literary manuscripts. There, at present, the documentary record ends; and the biographer must constantly allow for ...

Diary

C.K. Stead: A New Zealander in London, 18 October 1984

... in their place) that we lack a proper historical sense. It may be true. The New Zealand poet Charles Brasch wrote poems looking forward to a time when we, too, would have a landscape littered with ruins. ‘The plains are nameless and the cities cry for meaning,’ he wailed. I think he may have been remembering New Zealand from his rooms in an Oxford ...

Top Grumpy’s Top Hate

Robert Irwin: Richard Aldington’s Gripes, 18 February 1999

Richard Aldington and Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale 
by Fred Crawford.
Southern Illinois, 265 pp., £31.95, July 1998, 0 8093 2166 1
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Lawrence the Uncrowned King of Arabia 
by Michael Asher.
Viking, 419 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87029 3
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... the Provençal poet, is pretty dull. The book which best deserves reprinting is The Strang Life of Charles Waterton (1782-1865), a biography of the recklessly eccentric naturalist and taxidermist, published in 1949. Here was a rumbustious, unaffected figure whom Aldington could admire without reservation. Squire Waterton had a perfect contempt for social ...

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