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A Lot to Be Said

Stefan Collini: Literary Criticism, 2 November 2017

Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History 
by Joseph North.
Harvard, 272 pp., £31.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 96773 1
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... recent academic literary studies for examples of what he calls ‘a genuinely critical impulse’, Joseph North picks out D.A. Miller’s subtle analysis of Jane Austen’s prose. ‘The critical voice speaking here is quite remarkable for the finesse with which it mimics the rhetorical effect it is describing,’ ...

In one era and out the other

John North, 7 April 1994

Joseph Scaliger: A Study in the History of Classical Scholarship. Vol II: Historical Chronology 
by Anthony Grafton.
Oxford, 766 pp., £65, December 1993, 0 19 920601 5
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... Julius Caesar Scaliger, one of the 16th century’s most formidable literary scholars, and his son Joseph, who, as it happens, was successor to Lipsius at Leiden. And if their distinctive styles of pedantry make the two of them discernible to connoisseurs of these things, there remains the fact that they are closely linked in many people’s minds by a ...

North Sea Fortune

Chris Patten, 5 November 1981

British Industry and the North Sea: State Intervention in a Developing Industrial Sector 
by Michael Jenkin.
Macmillan, 251 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 333 25606 9
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... Jenkin tells us, is that there have not been enough Steve Buxtons hovering over the rigs in the North Sea. And in the absence of a sufficient number of home-grown entrepreneurs, ministers and civil servants have felt obliged to see if they could force a few into life with a bucket of departmental fertiliser. Charles Wilson has argued that the main skill of ...


Anneke Van Woudenberg: Congo, 19 October 2006

... were to be announced, gun battles broke out in Kinshasa between the Republican Guard of President Joseph Kabila and the troops of his main challenger, Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba. United Nations peacekeeping troops had to evacuate the president of the Independent Electoral Commission when the fighting got too close to his office. There were 33 ...

Is he winking?

Joseph J. Ellis: Benjamin Franklin, 20 March 2003

Benjamin Franklin 
by Edmund S. Morgan.
Yale, 339 pp., £19.95, October 2002, 0 300 09532 5
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... birth-rate. Given this pattern, the demographic centre of the Empire would eventually shift to North America, and so the only sensible British policy was to integrate its Colonies into a more expansive version of Empire. Though several major figures such as Pitt and Burke listened attentively as Franklin continued to expound this view, they happened not to ...

Once a Syrian, always a Syrian

Maria Margaronis: Joseph O’Neill, 8 March 2001

Blood-Dark Track: A Family History 
by Joseph O'Neill.
Granta, 338 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 1 86207 288 4
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... Joseph O’Neill’s grandfathers, one Irish, the other Turkish, were both imprisoned without trial during World War Two. Jim O’Neill was arrested in 1940, when Eamon de Valera’s Government, fearful that IRA activities might compromise Eire’s neutrality, rounded up all known IRA men. He was held for four years at the Curragh internment camp in County Kildare ...


James Paradis, 18 June 1981

Sir Joseph Banks 
by Charles Lyte.
David and Charles, 248 pp., £10.50, October 1980, 0 7153 7884 8
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The Heyday of Natural History: 1820-1870 
by Lynn Barber.
Cape, 320 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 9780224014489
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A Vision of Eden 
by Marianne North.
Webb and Bower, 240 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 906671 18 3
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... the specialist, wrote for circles of experts. The decline in reputation of amateurs such as Sir Joseph Banks and James Audubon, both of whom had counted themselves as naturalists, was largely the result of their failure to contribute to the growing body of specialist literature. Coleridge, a careful student of the Linnaean tradition, objected that the ...

Memories of Brodsky

Anatoly Naiman: Akhmatova, Brodsky and Me, 13 May 1999

... When Joseph Brodsky died in January 1996, there was in Russia a strong tendency to oversimplify his life, to reduce it to an outline, and at the same time to mythologise it as Pushkin’s life has been mythologised. It wasn’t so much that a second Pushkin had died, but that people wanted Brodsky to conform to their idea of a poet, and their idea of a poet is Pushkin ...

Conspiratorial Hapsburger

Michael Hofmann, 5 March 1987

Hotel Savoy 
by Joseph Roth, translated by John Hoare.
Chatto, 183 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 7011 2879 8
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... When Joseph Roth was asked once to write about his earliest memory, he described how as a baby he had seen his mother strip his cradle and hand it over to a strange woman, who ‘holds it to her chest, as though it were some trifling object of negligible dimensions, speaks for a long time, smiles, showing her long yellow teeth, goes to the door and leaves the house ...

Carved Cosmos

Tom Lowenstein, 5 August 1993

Amaravati: Buddhist Sculpture from the Great Stupa 
by Robert Knox.
British Museum, 247 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 7141 1452 9
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... simply part of cosmological society, and the non-Buddhist shrines in the forest clearings of his north Indian territory were part of his aesthetic if not devotional landscape. ‘How delightful the Capala shrine is!’ he said during his terminal illness – an expression of pleasure of a kind which the scribes setting down the otherwise austere ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... place. It’s true that the main reference back is to more violence, a long-range desert patrol in North Africa in 1943, which Lyall brings to life as vividly as Popski once did in Private Army. Lyall has a feeling for battles long ago and knows his World War Two, which he has used in this way before. He could be said to be repeating himself. Certainly he ...

All I Can Stand

Thomas Powers: Joseph Mitchell, 18 June 2015

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Thomas Kunkel.
Random House, 384 pp., £22.50, April 2015, 978 0 375 50890 5
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... Joseph Mitchell​ of Fairmont, North Carolina lived one of the classic American lives: dreamy boy in a Southern town with a mother interested in the finer things, read a zillion books in college following no particular plan, decided he was going to get a newspaper job in New York City and become a writer, and by God did ...

Night Jars

Thomas Jones: ‘The North Water’, 14 July 2016

The North Water 
by Ian McGuire.
Scribner, 326 pp., £14.99, February 2016, 978 1 4711 5124 8
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... metaphor, deployed as the Volunteer is leaving the ‘broad brown murk’ of the Humber – ‘To north and south, a scanty shoreline welds the rusted steel of estuary and sky’ – welds the supposed opposites of nature and industry (and the rust is a reminder that industry is not immune to nature, that the destructive effects work in both directions). Also ...

Imperial Project

Richard Drayton, 19 September 1996

Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens 
by Ray Desmond.
Harvill/Royal Botanical Gardens, 466 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 86046 076 3
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... every Corner of the Habitable world.’ George III fostered this programme and in 1773 turned to Joseph Banks for assistance. In the half-century between the end of the Seven Years’ War and Waterloo, the East India Company took control of Moghul India, the Royal Navy began its hydrological survey of the world’s oceans, and Britain seized a string of new ...


Francis Spufford, 3 May 1984

... below the gentle crest of the hill which hides the yellow walls of the convent from sight. Uncle Joseph trots to this crest for a moment to admire the view and architecture, before returning to where they have already laid out the food – all hot, all sensible – and started to chatter. Back at the car the chauffeur is leaning against the engine, which he ...

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