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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 ...

In Praise of Follett

John Sutherland, 16 October 1980

The Key to Rebecca 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 241 10492 0
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Joshua Then and Now 
by Mordecai Richler.
Macmillan, 435 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 333 30025 4
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Loosely Engaged 
by Christopher Matthew.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 09 142830 0
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Imago Bird 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 185 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 9780436288463
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A Quest of Love 
by Jacquetta Hawkes.
Chatto, 220 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 7011 2536 5
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... sweep gives, in passing, thirty years’ worth of social change in Canada, Britain and Ibiza. Christopher Matthew’s Loosely Engaged is a sequel to Diary of a Somebody. For those who are at work by nine o’clock of a weekday morning this information will mean less than it should. For Matthew’s original ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... behaviour often hovered dangerously close to being that of a paedophile,’ snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released). Julia Prewitt Brown sees him as a philosophical heavyweight; and celebrates his ‘dodginess’ in order to instal him in a post-dualist tradition of aesthetic theory – a missing link ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew’, 21 March 2013

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
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... Nothing in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Saint Matthew quite lives up to its first few minutes, but getting anywhere near them is quite an achievement. And this static, mysterious movie, now showing at the BFI as part of a Pasolini season, becomes quite hectic at the end, as if impatient to finish, to run away from a story it now finds crowded rather than interesting ...

Saucy to Princes

Gerald Hammond: The Bible, 25 July 2002

The Book: A History of the Bible 
by Christopher de Hamel.
Phaidon, 352 pp., £24.95, September 2001, 0 7148 3774 1
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The Wycliffe New Testament 1388 
edited by W.R. Cooper.
British Library, 528 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 7123 4728 3
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... was any different. There, in its portable transparent box, was the earliest relic of the Book. In Christopher de Hamel’s history, the Rylands fragment is reproduced life-size in the final chapter: life-size but not, to my faulty memory at least, very true to its actual appearance. In the reproduction the papyrus is a kind of drab olive; in the Rylands, with ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... Stanton.) Most of the novel’s reviewers have acknowledged its excellence. In the New Yorker, Christopher Buckley (himself a suspect) called Primary Colors ‘an absolutely dazzling book, the best political novel in many years’. In Newsweek, Walter Shapiro found it ‘the best aide’s-eye view of politics since Robert Penn Warren’s All the ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill, 20 August 1981

Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... some good things, and some both great and good, undoubtedly came out of the period 1640-60 which Christopher Hill calls ‘the English Revolution’. What came out, however, was not necessarily originated by the period. It is a nice problem to distinguish causation from succession. In 12 short and easygoing chapters, originally the Merle Curti Lectures at ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... of a hiatus, until the first volumes of the New Dictionary of National Biography, under Colin Matthew, begin to appear early next century, with all lives revised and the text sprinkled with ten thousand pictures. A DNB newsletter issued to mark this transition lists some of the odder occupations, or claims to distinction, recorded in earlier volumes. The ...

Hitchcocko-Hawksien

Christopher Prendergast, 5 June 1997

Projections 7 
edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue.
Faber, 308 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 571 19033 2
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. I: The Fifties. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 312 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15105 8
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. II: The Sixties. New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 363 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15106 6
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. III: 1969-72. The Politics of Representation 
edited by Nick Browne.
Routledge, 352 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 02987 2
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... and the cinematic image before us. It is accompanied on the soundtrack by an excerpt from the St Matthew Passion. Is Casino therefore a movie about movies? Michael Wood described it in these pages as an ‘essay’, offering ‘brooding considerations of the big questions’, the biggest being why things always go wrong (‘In the end we fucked it all ...

Citizens

Christopher Ricks, 19 November 1981

Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 
by Marilyn Butler.
Oxford, 213 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 19 219144 6
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... this book is among other things a manifesting of the function of criticism at the present time. Matthew Arnold’s supreme essay is everywhere relevant to the enterprise, not least because his are the reservations about Romanticism which have proved the most enduringly intelligent. Dr Butler would agree with him that ‘for the creation of a master-work of ...

Diary

Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks, 26 January 1995

... with that world of financial services and consultancies which floated on the oil. At best we were Matthew Arnolds’s ‘remnant’. Class counted. In retrospect, this episode recalled the subterranean Institute in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, where the delegates to an interminable conference spectate on the external world via an immense camera obscura. Gray ...

Closely Observed Trains on a Sea Coast in Bohemia

Christopher Tayler: Rushdie’s Latest, 16 November 2017

The Golden House 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 370 pp., £18.99, September 2017, 978 1 78733 015 3
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... mulling over news of discontent in the hinterlands and then going to the Russian Tea Room or a Matthew Barney opening. It turns out that there’s another bubble out there, but at least in his one ‘reality still persevered, and New Yorkers could identify a con man.’ After the election, a retreat to the personal strikes him as being the wisest ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Melanie Phillips, 13 May 2010

... World Turned Upside Down a really snappy title if it hadn’t already been taken by the Diggers, Christopher Hill and Chumbawamba). Our thanks are not so much due for her outlining of the history of the property rights, ideas and politics of the West, all originating with the Hebrew Bible, and the shocking devaluation of all three (and much besides) since ...

Philip’s People

Anna Della Subin: Divine Prince Philip, 8 May 2014

... white explorers said to have been hailed as gods – Francis Drake, Hernán Cortés, Captain Cook, Christopher Columbus, to name a few – acquired a new star in the mid-1970s, when Prince Philip vacationed off the coast of Tanna, in what was then the New Hebrides, aboard HMY Britannia. Ever since, a string of Englishmen have made the pilgrimage to the ...

So Much More Handsome

Matthew Reynolds: Don Paterson, 4 March 2004

Landing Light 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 84 pp., £12.99, September 2003, 0 571 21993 4
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... trick also licensed comparatively plain language, arhythmia and absence of rhyme in the manner of Christopher Reid’s pseudo-translations from a supposedly Eastern European language, Katerina Brac (1985). A further twist is introduced in God’s Gift to Women by ‘Candlebird’ (‘after’ the eighth-century Arabic poet Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf), where a lover ...

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