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One Enormous Room

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Council of Trent, 9 May 2013

Trent: What Happened at the Council 
by John O’Malley.
Harvard, 335 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 674 06697 7
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... Church of the Latin Rite, not least that section which remained loyal to the bishop of Rome. John O’Malley illustrates the room in his superb new history of the Council of Trent: the nave of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Trent, a bishopric in the foothills of the Dolomites. In that grand setting, seated on an amphitheatre ...

Take a tinderbox and go steady with your canoe

John Bossy: Jesuits, 20 May 2004

The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories 
by Jonathan Wright.
HarperCollins, 334 pp., £20, February 2004, 0 00 257180 3
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... but I can’t quite see a Jesuit pulling off something similar – though on a smaller scale John O’Malley’s The First Jesuits (1993) isn’t a bad shot. I’m struck by the fact that the most powerful contribution made by an English historian to Jesuit history, Outram Evennett’s Spirit of the Counter-Reformation (1968) was written by a person ...

Ostentatio Genitalium

Charles Hope, 15 November 1984

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Faber, 222 pp., £25, September 1984, 0 571 13392 4
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... is another matter: but at least one distinguished historian of Renaissance theology, the Jesuit John O’Malley, who contributes a postscript to the book, seems to find his conclusions broadly convincing, so they deserve to be examined closely. In Byzantine and early Italian art the infant Christ was customarily shown either in a loose robe or in ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... the Irish revolutionary mentality and experience into a classic memoir: except for Ernie O’Malley. O’Malley was one of the most celebrated of the freedom-fighters: a youthful guerrilla leader with fiery red hair and an ascetically handsome face, contemptuous of those who – as he saw it – sold out by ...

Holy Mountain

John Holloway, 19 March 1981

... of heat-filled emptiness, with sparse birds, and light hazed into dust. Once, Queen Grace   O’Malley, of Clare Island, ‘mighty by land and sea’ (you read it in the tiny   ruined church, country Latin and especially, lettering), gazed at the same giant summer expanses, giant   and luminous over the tidal flow, she too thought the Saint’s ...

Small Crocus, Big Kick

Daniel Soar: Jeffrey Eugenides, 3 October 2002

by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Bloomsbury, 529 pp., £16.99, October 2002, 0 7475 6023 4
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... Lefty at Ford: Every 14 seconds Wierzbicki reams a bearing and Stephanides grinds a bearing and O’Malley attaches a bearing to a camshaft. This camshaft travels away on a conveyor, curling around the factory, through its clouds of metal dust, its acid fogs, until another worker fifty yards on reaches up and removes the camshaft, fitting it onto the engine ...

Keeping Left

Edmund Dell, 2 October 1980

The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... Lever. Apart from myself, two other victims of Barbara’s midnight spleen are Roy Hattersley and John Silkin. John Silkin, a ‘failure’ at the Department of the Environment, is forgiven in a footnote because of his ‘success’ at the Ministry of Agriculture. Perhaps for once she is too generous. Because of the General ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray, 20 January 2000

by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... popular fiction of the 1840s. Judging by his occasional mangling of titles (Charles Lever’s ‘O’Malley’, for example), Taylor has not troubled to steep himself in the work of Thackeray’s contemporaries. Bulwer Lytton, Thackeray’s great anti-type, is barely mentioned. Taylor evidently has different ends in view. Criticism is ...

The Dynamitards

John Horgan, 19 January 1984

Political Violence in Ireland: Government and Resistance since 1848 
by Charles Townshend.
Oxford, 445 pp., £22.50, December 1983, 0 19 821753 6
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... has been obliquely criticised as simplistic by his principal rival in the party, Mr Desmond O’Malley. And what has been at least as interesting as the deliberations of the Forum itself has been the degree of interest displayed in it by Britain, and more particularly by the British press. This has led to the suspicion that the British will to remain in ...

Moral Lepers

John Banville: Easter 1916, 16 July 2015

Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £10.99, May 2015, 978 0 241 95424 9
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... The Republic: The Fight for Irish Independence, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) leader, John O’Leary who, in Yeats’s poem, shared his grave with the corpse of ‘romantic Ireland’, observing that the Brotherhood’s ‘propagandist work was … entirely separatist with practically no reference to Republicanism’. Similarly, and just as ...

Extreme Gothic Americana

James Lasdun, 6 June 2019

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee 
by Casey Cep.
Heinemann, 314 pp., £20, May 2019, 978 1 78515 073 9
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... the reverend submitted insurance claims on his nephew to the Beneficial National, the Vulcan, the John Hancock and the World Wide insurance companies. The reverend, who was black, was assisted in his macabre actuarial pursuits, as well as in his legal battles, by a white lawyer called Tom Radney. Exploiting the vulnerabilities of an insurance industry that in ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites, 12 September 2013

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... who became teachers, mostly in grammar schools. Leavisites like Denys Thompson and Raymond O’Malley produced English textbooks for them to use and edited the journal Use of English, which provided model lessons and exercises. It also promoted practical criticism teaching in schools, in the Leavis manner, via pairings of admirable against deplorable ...

Mantegna’s Revenge

Nicholas Penny, 3 September 1987

by Ronald Lightbown.
Phaidon/Christie’s, 512 pp., £60, July 1986, 0 7148 8031 0
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The Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo Rediscovered 
edited by Massimo Giacometti, translated by Paul Holberton.
Muller, Blond and White, 271 pp., £40, September 1986, 0 584 11140 1
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... consumption in eight different countries. In particular, there is a very full and clear account by John Shearman of the complex building history of the chapel, its liturgical function, the programme of the 15th-century decorations, and of Raphael’s tapestries. There is also an article by Michael Hirst which subjects to scrutiny the fragile sheets from the ...

Rivonia Days

R.W. Johnson: Remembering the trial, 16 August 2007

The State v. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa 
by Joel Joffe.
Oneworld, 288 pp., £16.99, July 2007, 978 1 85168 500 4
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... full of demands for it. But it is also most unlikely that the domineering minister of justice, John Vorster, would have left such a key decision to De Wet. Vorster was Van den Bergh’s boss and the two men were close. It seems far more likely that Vorster, probably after discussion with Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister, decided it would not be politic ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín, 10 June 1993

Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... mid-Sixties we began to make a swap in the evening and thus became acquainted with the writing of John Healy in the Backbencher column of that newspaper. He wrote every week about a new breed of Fianna Fail politician. He wrote with wit and irreverence, but he wrote from the inside and he conferred a huge glamour on the young ministers in Lemass’s ...

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