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Rough Wooing

Tom Shippey: Queen Matilda, 17 November 2011

Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror 
by Tracy Borman.
Cape, 297 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 0 224 09055 1
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... Stafford’s Queen Emma and Queen Edith (1997), which brackets Emma with her successor, wife of Edward ‘the Confessor’. Stafford’s earlier Queens, Concubines and Dowagers (1983) took a broader view, as does Lisa Hilton’s Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens (2008). If one were to pick out another powerful ruler too often forgotten, one might ...

Carry on writing

Stephen Bann, 15 March 1984

The Two of Us 
by John Braine.
Methuen, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 413 51280 0
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An Open Prison 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 575 03380 0
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Havannah 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £9.95, February 1984, 0 241 11175 7
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Sunrising 
by David Cook.
Secker, 248 pp., £8.50, February 1984, 0 436 10674 4
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Memoirs of an Anti-Semite 
by Gregor von Rezzori, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Picador, 282 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 330 28325 1
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It’s me, Eddie 
by Edward Limonov, translated by S.L. Campbell.
Picador, 264 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 330 28329 4
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The Anatomy Lesson 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 291 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 224 02960 6
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... is even a kind of charm which emanates from the gaucheness of the reportage. Bookstore proprietor Norman evidently thinks that the mythical antagonist of Hercules who couldn’t keep his feet on the ground was called ‘Antoneus’ – or is he perhaps cunningly conflating Antaeus with Antinous, since his thoughts seem to run in that direction? ...

Yoked together

Frank Kermode, 22 September 1994

History: The Home Movie 
by Craig Raine.
Penguin, 335 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 0 14 024240 6
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... in the depths of memory, and I found myself thinking of Theophila, a very long poem published by Edward Benlowes in 1652. Theophila is written in three-line stanzas, a pentameter, a tetrameter and an alexandrine, all on a single rhyme. The judgment on Theophila quoted above comes from The Oxford History of English Literature, which rightly regards Benlowes ...

Ejected Gentleman

Norman Page, 7 May 1987

John Galsworthy’s Life and Art: An Alien’s Fortress 
by James Gindin.
Macmillan, 616 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 333 40812 8
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... reflected that, while kind hearts and simple faith were excellent things in their way, a hint of Norman blood would do no harm. Like Joyce, writing obsessively about the Ireland he had quitted, he achieved fame as a chronicler of the family, the institution from which he fought a long campaign to escape. Slightly inconsistently, he married, after a long ...

Leaping on Tables

Norman Vance: Thomas Carlyle, 2 November 2000

Sartor Resartus 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Rodger Tarr and Mark Engel.
California, 774 pp., £38, April 2000, 0 520 20928 1
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... the pervasive effect on Carlyle’s style of this ‘literary apothecary’. Anthony Trollope and Edward Fitzgerald thought Carlyle had finally gone mad, and former disciples such as Matthew Arnold denounced him as frankly dangerous, a ‘moral desperado’. Some of the mud stuck. It was soon apparent that he was unwholesomely fascinated by Blood and Iron. In ...

Anglo-Saxon Aptitudes

John Gillingham, 17 November 1983

The Anglo-Saxons 
edited by James Campbell.
Phaidon, 272 pp., £16.50, July 1982, 0 7148 2149 7
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Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective 
by C.R. Dodwell.
Manchester, 353 pp., £35, October 1982, 0 7190 0861 1
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Anglo-Saxon Poetry 
edited by S.A.J. Bradley.
Dent, 559 pp., £10.95, August 1982, 0 460 10794 1
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The Anglo-Saxon World 
edited by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Boydell and Brewer, 275 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85115 169 8
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The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: The Authentic Voices of England, from the Times of Julius Caesar to the Coronation of Henry II 
by Anne Savage.
Heinemann, 288 pp., £14.95, March 1983, 0 434 98210 5
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... was first replaced by a ‘weak’ one (975-1066) and then by another ‘strong’ one, the Anglo-Norman state fashioned by William the Conqueror. The tenth-century kings from Edward the Elder to Edgar had to fight their way through succession crises of their own. Nor, when writing of the ‘weak’ period, does it do to ...

Everlasting Stone

Patrick Wormald, 21 May 1981

The Enigma of Stonehenge 
by John Fowles and Barry Brukoff.
Cape, 126 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 224 01618 0
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British Cathedrals 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 275 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 297 77828 5
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... that a building must have been, or become, the seat of a bishop. Thus St Albans and Peterborough, Norman abbeys ‘episcopalised’ respectively in 1877 and 1541, get in, but Fountains and even Hexham do not; Manchester, Derby and Blackburn are admitted, but St Mary Redcliffe or Lavenham are not. Such a criterion may smack of arbitrary inconsistency, but it ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J. Michael Lennon’s ‘double life’ of Norman Mailer and offer that doubleness back as subjective criticism. Mailer, after all, gave us the non-fiction novel, Lennon gives us the pseudo-objective biography, so why can’t I offer the confessional review? On the afternoon of 10 April 2007 I was on a ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle, 5 August 2004

The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... time and for the effect of rendering into Latin testimony given in a native language (English or Norman French, or in Cragh’s case Welsh), illustrating and probing the variety of attitudes reflected in witnesses’ responses to rigorous grilling by the commissioners. In the second half of the book Bartlett broadens the scope of his study to explore the ...

Paraphernalia

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Tudor Spin, 19 November 2009

Selling the Tudor Monarchy: Authority and Image in 16th-Century England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 588 pp., £30, April 2009, 978 0 300 14098 9
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... 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. On the two occasions when competent and ruthless kings rebuilt it (Edward III, then Henry V), infuriatingly self-indulgent kings lost it (Richard II, then Henry VI). The uselessness of the two latter monarchs had led to their murder by ambitious would-be replacements; nobility had been so unimpressed by the ...

Mere Party

Robert Stewart, 22 January 1987

Pillars of Government, and Other Essays on State and Society c.1770-c.1880 
by Norman Gash.
Arnold, 202 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7131 6463 8
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Sir Robert Peel: The Life of Sir Robert Peel after 1830 
by Norman Gash.
Longman, 745 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 582 49722 1
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... A new publication by Norman Gash is cause for excitement. His stature among living 19th-century English historians is rivalled only by that of Eric Hobsbawm, and since the two men’s writings have little in common except an elegantly plain and direct prose, Clio herself would find it difficult to award the palm to one or the other ...

Act like Men, Britons!

Tom Shippey: Celticity, 31 July 2008

The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth, edited by Michael Reeve, translated by Neil Wright.
Boydell, 307 pp., £50, November 2007, 978 1 84383 206 5
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The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Broadview, 383 pp., £8.99, January 2008, 978 1 55111 639 6
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... Much of the phenomenon must be ascribed to Geoffrey of Monmouth. Born some thirty years after the Norman Conquest, Geoffrey, with his Norman name and strong Welsh connections, was probably the child of a mixed marriage. His achievement was to inject old Celtic tradition into the mainstream of European literature, through ...

Diary

Edward Mendelson: Three Joyces, 27 October 1988

... is now focused on the question of whether Joyce copied the Christian name of a certain Conolly Norman from a page in Thom’s Directory on which it was spelled with one ‘n’ or from a perhaps more significant page on which it was spelled with two. But the differences between the Joyce who wrote Gabler’s Ulysses and the Joyce who wrote Kidd’s are so ...

Homage to Marginality

Tony Tanner, 7 February 1980

Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives 
by Frederick Karl.
Faber, 1008 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11386 9
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... much of his Polish material); the minute and meticulous tracings of Conrad’s every movement by Norman Sherry, who not only told us when Conrad was in, say, Bangkok, but on which side of which streets he walked along; the more contentious but informative work of Jerry Allen; the Jungian account of Conrad by Gustav Morf; the psychoanalytic biography by ...

State-Sponsored Counter-Terror

Karl Miller, 8 May 1986

Parliamentary Debates: Hansard, Vol. 95, No 94 
HMSO, £2.50Show More
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... A6s from the American Sixth Fleet would have hit any more.’ Healey and Gilmour – and indeed Edward Heath and James Callaghan – may be thought to have spoken for those two-thirds of poll respondents who decided that Mrs Thatcher had been guilty of a brutal misjudgment: and for the many people who believe that she overrode a rational understanding on ...

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