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Carlyle’s Mail Fraud

Rosalind Mitchison, 6 August 1981

The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle: Vol. VIII 1835-1836, Vol. IX 1836-1837 
edited by Charles Sanders and Kenneth Fielding.
Duke, 365 pp., £32.95, May 1981, 0 8223 0433 3
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... These volumes are issued as a pair, with a single index, and rightly, because they hold together for a coherent segment of Carlyle’s life. The dominant theme of the two is the writing of The French Revolution: in Volume VIII Carlyle is struggling with the first two volumes, in IX he produces the third, spends four months battling with the proofs and finally sees the whole book published and reviewed ...

Doing the bores

Rosemary Ashton, 21 March 1991

The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke–Edinburgh Edition. Vols XVI-XVIII: 1843-4 
edited by Clyde Ryals and Kenneth Fielding.
Duke, 331 pp., £35.65, July 1990, 9780822309192
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... There will be many more years –and many more volumes – before the Carlyles’ Collected Letters are brought to completion. Twenty-two more years of Jane Carlyle’s long, witty, sharp, self-dramatising yet oddly attractive litanies about the obstinacy of servants, her husband’s indifference to her, and the annoyances of her lot as a ‘Lion’s wife’ obliged to ‘do the bores’ who come to view the lion himself ...

A Life of Its Own

Jonathan Coe, 24 February 1994

The Kenneth Williams Diaries 
edited by Russell Davies.
HarperCollins, 827 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 00 255023 7
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... there stands English comedy,’ David Frost is reported to have declaimed, as Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams stood side by side on his doorstep. Williams was unimpressed. ‘I thought to myself, “Then many people would be lacking in perception,” but shouted drunken goodbyes and reeled down the street into a taxi.’ What these two Titans of comedy ...

Theydunnit

Terry Eagleton, 28 April 1994

What a Carve Up! 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 512 pp., £15.50, April 1994, 0 670 85362 3
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... a Carve Up! is also the title of a spicy comic film he saw as a child, in which Kenneth Connor drools over a disrobing Shirley Eaton but refuses to join her in bed, as the narrator will similarly refuse a woman friend of his own. (Just for good measure, a radical theorist in the book discourses of Godard and the sway of the signifier, as if ...

Barriers of Silliness

J.I.M. Stewart, 1 July 1982

The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations 
by Julian Symons.
Orbis, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 85613 362 0
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Critical Observations 
by Julian Symons.
Faber, 213 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 571 11688 4
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As I walked down New Grub Street: Memories of a Writing Life 
by Walter Allen.
Heinemann, 276 pp., £8.95, November 1981, 0 434 01829 5
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... World War and a sudden upsurge in reputation, with Maurice Bowra, Stephen Spender, John Piper, Kenneth Clark, John Lehmann and others going hysterical about her: a kind of trendy Stringalong situation, we are invited to judge. Then by 1954 it is all over and the balloon deflated for good. Can my dislike of this piece – a piece executed with great verve ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... ephemeral compilations. Jenny Uglow writes here about them, but her main interest is in Henry Fielding, who was not only a novelist, a playwright and a magistrate but a prolific high-class journalist and editor. In his day there were no book reviews as such, though books might be discussed along with other matters of topical interest. Soon, in the ...

Shandying It

John Mullan: Sterne’s Foibles, 6 June 2002

Laurence Sterne: A Life 
by Ian Campbell Ross.
Oxford, 512 pp., £25, March 2001, 0 19 212235 5
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... life, much about Sterne’s activities as a controversialist has been uncovered, mostly thanks to Kenneth Monkman. Here is new material to be digested into a biographical account, though perhaps only the enthusiast will read the small print of Sterne’s journalistic input to the York Courant and his squabbles with local would-be power-brokers. Sterne later ...

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