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What mattered to Erasmus

James McConica, 2 March 1989

Erasmus’s Annotations on the New Testament. The Gospels: Facsimile of the final Latin text with all earlier variants 
edited by Anne Reeve.
Duckworth, 284 pp., £35, March 1986, 9780715619902
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Erasmus’s Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian 
by Erika Rummel.
Toronto, 234 pp., £24.50, January 1987, 0 8020 5683 0
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A New Rabelais Bibliography: Editions of Rabelais before 1626 
by Stephen Rawles and M.A. Screech.
Droz, 691 pp.
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The Library of Robert Burton 
by Nicholas Kiessling.
Oxford Bibliographic Society, 433 pp., £25, May 1988, 0 901420 42 5
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... date of purchase. An Appendix to Kiessling’s new catalogue, which supersedes that of Strickland Gibson and F.R.D. Needham (1926), lists these former owners, along with others subsequently associated with Burton’s books. The introduction and description are admirably done. To historians, the peculiarly interesting thing about Burton’s library is not ...

Scottish Men and Scottish Women

Jenny Turner, 27 June 1991

The Burn 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 244 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 436 23286 3
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Blood 
by Janice Galloway.
Secker, 179 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 436 20027 9
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... James Kelman was born in Glasgow in 1946. After spells in the US as a teenager, London as a young adult, he returned to Glasgow, where he now lives and works. Janice Galloway was born in Ayrshire in 1956. She worked in Ayrshire as a schoolteacher until recently, when she started making enough money from her writing to give up teaching and move to Glasgow ...

Vous êtes belle

Penelope Fitzgerald, 8 January 1987

Alain-Fournier: A Brief Life 1886-1914 
by David Arkell.
Carcanet, 178 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 85635 484 8
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Henri Alain-Fournier: Towards the Lost Domain: Letters from London 1905 
translated by W.J. Strachan.
Carcanet, 222 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 85635 674 3
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The Lost Domain 
by Henri Alain-Fournier, translated by Frank Davison.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 212262 2
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... and the great beauty of the ‘other book’ come partly from the dissonance of its elements. James Barrie noted in 1922 that ‘long after writing P. Pan its true meaning came back to me – desperate attempt to grow up but can’t.’ Le Grand Meaulnes is about adolescents who want to want not to grow up, but fail. Alain-Fournier, as has been ...

Homage to the Provinces

Peter Campbell, 22 March 1990

Wright of Derby 
by Judy Egerton.
Tate Gallery, 294 pp., £25, February 1990, 1 85437 038 3
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... parallels. The most attractive of Wright’s portraits of couples – that of the Reverend Thomas Gibson and his wife Mary, for example – have the quality of a Jane Austen happy ending: ordinariness is not glamorised, good feeling is celebrated. The finish and-detail of his paintings often look Dutch, and give good value inch by well-painted inch. Whether ...

Bachelor Life

Peter Campbell, 28 January 1993

Delacroix 
by Timothy Wilson-Smith.
Constable, 253 pp., £16.95, October 1992, 0 09 471270 0
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... it was ideally suited to the needs of a man who wished to live in society but for his art. Henry James, Proust and Degas were all, like Delacroix, supported by it. When they went home it was to a housekeeper and the muse – who, Delacroix wrote, ‘is a jealous mistress. She abandons you at the slightest in fidelity.’ Home was for being ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... in Manchester in 1857 it was seen by 1.3 million visitors, and two years later the photographer James Robinson had the bad taste to make stereoscopic images of it, so that the viewer could enter the scene of the suicide in 3D. At times the authors’ tone (perhaps inadvertently) succumbs to bombast: ‘a stellar roll call of American poets who took their ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1990, 24 January 1991

... flashy reversing, zooming and stopping as the rear cars begin to turn round. In the course of this James R. goes over to one of the cars and asks them if they are looking for the man with a hammer, whereupon a policeman leaps from the car, and ignoring the open gate, vaults theatrically over the garden wall, shouting, ‘Here, we want you!’ and the young man ...

Are you a Spenserian?

Colin Burrow: Philology, 6 November 2014

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities 
by James Turner.
Princeton, 550 pp., £24.95, June 2014, 978 0 691 14564 8
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... OED, and so offers the hope that I might have made it up – though, alas, I discover that William Gibson, father of cyberpunk, used it to describe an addiction to technology. Ah well, my usage is etymologically purer because it preserves the sense of the Greek root -laliá, meaning ‘chatter’. Shakespeare was a playwright, a word forged with contemptuous ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... Lewis Grassic Gibbon, and it didn’t seem as though they were pulling in opposite directions (as James Leslie Mitchell, his real name, Gibbon was, after all, a socialist internationalist). For the rebellious, rebellion was still an individual, not a corporate activity; not the rebel as Mel-Gibson-as-William-Wallace plus ...

Our Jack

Julian Symons, 22 July 1993

Imagination of the Heart: The Life of Walter de la Mare 
by Theresa Whistler.
Duckworth, 478 pp., £25, May 1993, 9780715624302
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... in the Bank of England. The family was originally a Huguenot one from Normandy. Walter’s father James married twice. The first marriage was childless, the second made ten years after his wife’s death to Lucy Browning, who was 26 years his junior. The family lived first at a modest house in Charlton, later in a more substantial one in the more convenient ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... the hanging judge would have sat comfortably in a tradition of Scottish eccentricity that includes James Hogg’s The Shepherd’s Calendar, John Galt’s ‘theoretical histories’ and Margaret Oliphant’s tales of terror. It’s common to think of Blackwood’s as a stolid redoubt of middlebrow English respectability, the kind of torpid organ invoked by ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... complemented literary and mythological allegories. In The Crisis of 1614, essays by Jonathan Gibson and Stephen Clucas show Ralegh’s cousin Sir Arthur Gorges adapting Lucan’s verse history of Rome’s civil wars, and Jonson’s friend Sir Robert Cotton rewriting the reign of Henry III, with an eye to Jacobean political anxieties. Cotton was among the ...

Humdrum Selfishness

Nicholas Guyatt: Simon Schama’s Chauvinism, 6 April 2006

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution 
by Simon Schama.
BBC, 448 pp., £20, September 2005, 0 563 48709 7
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... marginalise the contradiction between liberty and slavery in the Revolutionary era. Take the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot, which shows a South Carolina planter with a black ‘employee’ who willingly joins a Patriot militia and takes arms against the British. Have a look at the many high-school or college textbooks in the US in which slavery is depicted as ...

Diary

Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... would not be permitted to contest the next election: three of them are going quietly, but Ian Gibson, who still has the backing of his local party, protested loudly and with some justification. As someone remarked, in his case it looks like a contract killing of someone who was a thorn in the side of the regime.  A chat with a prominent economic ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’, 24 January 2013

The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... five weeks after the ship went down. It starred a real-life survivor – the 22-year-old Dorothy Gibson, already famous as a model when she became Brulatour’s mistress (both were married). Rushing across the ocean to be in Brulatour’s arms, she had found a place in a half-empty lifeboat that failed to go back and rescue would-be survivors flailing in the ...

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