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Scenes from Common Life

V.G. Kiernan, 1 November 1984

A Radical Reader: The Struggle for Change in England 1381-1914 
edited by Christopher Hampton.
Penguin, 624 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 14 022444 0
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Riots and Community Politics in England and Wales 1790-1810 
by John Bohstedt.
Harvard, 310 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 674 77120 6
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The World We have Lost – Further Explored 
by Peter Laslett.
Methuen, 353 pp., £12.95, December 1983, 0 416 35340 1
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... such people as the maid-of-all-work in 1909 whose duties kept her busy from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.* Christopher Hampton gives us, in an anonymous 15th-century poem, a lament over women’s perpetual drudgery. His extract from the early feminist Mary Astell, writing in 1721, acknowledges that by comparison with Eastern women, who ‘are born Slaves, and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Dangerous Method’, 8 March 2012

A Dangerous Method 
directed by David Cronenberg.
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... Knightley. The movie – David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, with a screenplay by Christopher Hampton – opens with a view of her struggling against her captors in a horse-drawn coach (the date is 1904) and being delivered to a posh sanatorium in Switzerland. She goes rigid when she tries to talk, can’t at first get her words out, but ...

The Literature Man

Charles Nicholl, 25 June 1987

Cuts 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Hutchinson, 106 pp., £6.95, April 1987, 0 09 168280 0
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No, Not Bloomsbury 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 373 pp., £17.95, May 1987, 9780233980133
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The Last Romantics 
by Caroline Seebohm.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 297 79056 0
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The Magician’s Girl 
by Doris Grumbach.
Hamish Hamilton, 206 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12114 0
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... of a stir a few years back, partly due to the excellence of the book itself, of the adaptation by Christopher Hampton, and of the charismatic central performance by Anthony Sher – and partly due to the blushes of self-congratulation that suffuse the BBC when it oversteps its own maidenly limits in matters sexual and political. More than all ...

The Court

Richard Eyre, 23 September 1993

The Long Distance Runner 
by Tony Richardson.
Faber, 277 pp., £17.50, September 1993, 0 571 16852 3
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... by Andrea Dunbar, or Caryl Churchill’s plays directed by Max Stafford-Clark, or the plays of Christopher Hampton, Joe Orton, David Hare, Howard Brenton, Athol Fugard or Sam Shepard. The tradition of unmannered acting, devotion to the text, unostentatious direction, simple and expressive design has been maintained. So also, until recently, has the ...

No Beast More Refined

James Davidson: How Good Was Nureyev?, 29 November 2007

Rudolf Nureyev: The Life 
by Julie Kavanagh.
Fig Tree, 787 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 905490 15 8
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... dexterity of her pelvic floor muscles’. And did Nureyev shit on Zeffirelli’s doorstep? Christopher Hampton insists that he heard Nureyev himself saying he did. But Nureyev is often the worst source of all for his own achievements and his masseur and bodyguard, Luigi, insists it never happened, though he undermines his case somewhat by saying ...

Nightingales

John Bayley, 15 April 1982

Nightingale Fever: Russian Poets in Revolution 
by Ronald Hingley.
Weidenfeld, 269 pp., £12.95, January 1982, 0 297 77902 8
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Russian Writers and Soviet Society 1917-1978 
by Ronald Hingley.
Methuen, 296 pp., £4.95, June 1981, 0 416 31390 6
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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union 
edited by Archie Brown.
Cambridge, 492 pp., £18.50, February 1982, 0 521 23169 8
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‘Novy Mir’: A Case-Study in the Politics of Literature 1952-1958 
by Edith Frankel.
Cambridge, 206 pp., £19.50, November 1981, 0 521 23438 7
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... essentially vulgar displays like the recent book and play on Hitler by George Steiner and Christopher Hampton. Only books of a very exceptional kind – Solzhenitsyn’s and the memoirs of Mandelstam’s widow – can confront the nature of the tyranny directly, and they do so, not by the poetic word, but by putting first-hand experience in order ...

Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud, 9 October 2003

Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur Rimbaud: Presence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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Rimbaud 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... This is in many ways the full-dress portrait of the young man so brilliantly sketched by Christopher Hampton in Total Eclipse. The exotic otherness of Rimbaud to his Anglo-Saxon readers is indissociable from myths about French Revolutionary violence, the Paris Commune, Continental sexual mores, French art, French bohemianism, Parisian ...

With Great Stomack

Simon Schaffer: Christopher Wren, 21 February 2002

His Invention so Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 463 pp., £25, July 2001, 9780224042987
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... Christopher Wren, England’s best known architect and one of its greatest natural philosophers, experimented with everything: stone and wood, cones and domes, animals and men. He liked to depart from revered authorities. Under his hands plans for a church steeple or an academic hall would turn into a bold revision of Vitruvian schemes, the twitches of an anatomised dog into a startling challenge to Galenic orthodoxy, the motion of a planetary model into liberation from the ‘tyranny’ of ancient astronomy ...

Waving

Anthony Thwaite, 27 October 1988

Stevie Smith: A Critical Biography 
by Frances Spalding.
Faber, 331 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 571 15207 4
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... Lear-and-Thurber-derived drawings, or a serious and in many ways profound literary artist. Christopher Ricks wrote: ‘The first question to ask about the poems of Stevie Smith is, can she possibly be as ingenuous as she sounds?’ Towards the end of this essay, having demonstrated with his usual prestidigitation and allusiveness Stevie ...

As God Intended

Rosemary Hill: Capability Brown, 5 January 2012

The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-83 
by Jane Brown.
Chatto, 384 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8212 0
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... an underlying grammar. Towards the end of his life Brown, walking in the gardens he had created at Hampton Court, gave Hannah More the only personal account of his methods known to survive. ‘“Now there” said he, pointing his finger, “I make a comma, and there” pointing to another spot, “where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at ...

Funny Mummy

E.S. Turner, 2 December 1982

The Penguin Stephen Leacock 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 527 pp., £2.95, October 1981, 0 14 005890 7
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Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Orbis, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85613 349 3
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Three Men in a Boat 
by Jerome K. Jerome, annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green.
Joseph, 192 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 907516 08 4
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The Lost Stories of W.S. Gilbert 
edited by Peter Haining.
Robson, 255 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 86051 200 2
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... on the Clapham omnibus as readers devoured the Pitman’s Advanced Shorthand version published (as Christopher Matthew reminds us) that year. Jerome would surely have relished such a spectacle; or would he have felt, as the Almighty may have thought when the Bible was first rendered into Pitman’s, that the finer elements of the text must inevitably be lost ...

Hugh Dalton to the rescue

Keith Thomas, 13 November 1997

The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 523 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 06703 8
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Ancient as the Hills 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7195 5596 5
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The Fate of the English Country House 
by David Littlejohn.
Oxford, 344 pp., £20, May 1997, 9780195088762
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... classes. Better transport and growing leisure made it possible for Londoners to take day-trips to Hampton Court or Cobham Hall and for the inhabitants of Birmingham and Manchester to visit such show houses as Eaton Hall, Alton Towers, Chatsworth, Hardwick, Haddon, Belvoir and Warwick Castle. Country-house tourism thrived in the mid-19th century, and in the ...

Come and Stay

Arnold Rattenbury, 27 November 1997

England and the Octopus 
by Clough Williams-Ellis.
CPRE, 220 pp., £10.95, December 1996, 0 946044 50 3
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Clough Williams-Ellis: RIBA Drawings Monograph No 2 
by Richard Haslam.
Academy, 112 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 1 85490 430 2
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Clough Williams-Ellis: The Architect of Portmeirion 
by Jonah Jones.
Seren, 204 pp., £9.95, December 1996, 1 85411 166 3
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... on her past. Now, in the immediate postwar years, she is between systems. Now is Clough’s Little-hampton, Clough’s Stevenage and, worse for them both, the death of Christopher, their son. Haslam has this as ‘1945, killed at battle of Monte Cassino’, Jonah Jones as ‘in the protracted and bloody battle of Monte ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... these prodigious gatherings, the poetry looks svelte. Yet the 2015 Faber edition of the Poems by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue itself runs to nearly two thousand densely annotated pages. This, too, is a breathtaking achievement. Very few people will read through all these thousands of pages, and their publication risks making Eliot seem more daunting than ...

You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate 
by Paul Lay.
Head of Zeus, 352 pp., £30, January, 978 1 78185 256 9
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... seized him just before the Battle of Naseby.’In his rumbustious biography God’s Englishman, Christopher Hill diagnoses Cromwell as a manic depressive. When evaluating his performance in government, Hill, as a Marxist, was more plainspoken than some liberal historians, who tend to be mealy-mouthed and cower in the shadow of Thomas Carlyle and the Great ...

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