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Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson, 30 March 2000

Philip Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... a participant in the often menacing jollifications which accompanied the finalisation of an Anglo-French treaty and a marriage alliance with the house of Navarre. In early August the French King made him a gentleman of his bedchamber, which carried the title of baron. But by the end of the month he was caught up in the ...

This is the new communism

Mark Philip Bradley: Modern Vietnam, 15 December 2016

The Penguin History of Modern Vietnam 
by Christopher Goscha.
Allen Lane, 634 pp., £30, June 2016, 978 1 84614 310 6
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... still widely read 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning Fire in the Lake. FitzGerald borrowed from French Orientalists who lamented the ‘vulgarisation of Chinese civilisation’ in Vietnam. Centuries of what they saw as a Confucian-inspired Vietnamese monarchy, and a popular belief in the mandate of heaven that legitimated kingship, had determined Vietnamese ...

Philip’s People

Anna Della Subin, 8 May 2014

... Cook, Christopher Columbus, to name a few – acquired a new star in the mid-1970s, when Prince Philip vacationed off the coast of Tanna, in what was then the New Hebrides, aboard HMY Britannia. Ever since, a string of Englishmen have made the pilgrimage to the volcanic island to don grass penis sheaths, get drunk on kava, and bask in the cool glow of ...

Complete Internal Collapse

Malcolm Vale: Agincourt, 19 May 2016

The Hundred Years War, Vol. IV: Cursed Kings 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 909 pp., £40, August 2015, 978 0 571 27454 3
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Agincourt 
by Anne Curry.
Oxford, 272 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 0 19 968101 3
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The Battle of Agincourt 
edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer.
Yale, 344 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 300 21430 7
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24 Hours at Agincourt: 25 October 1415 
by Michael Jones.
W.H. Allen, 352 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 7535 5545 3
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Agincourt: Henry V, the Man-at-Arms and the Archer 
by W.B. Bartlett.
Amberley, 447 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 1 4456 3949 9
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... it was very dirty – was done by them. They unleashed volleys of arrows, slaughtered hundreds of French men-at-arms, and finished off both prisoners and the wounded who lay helpless. The legend of Agincourt has become so popular – in Britain at least – partly because it teaches that the common man can change the course of history. As W.B. Bartlett puts ...

Steaming Torsos

J. Hoberman, 6 February 1997

Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Chicago, 352 pp., £23.95, November 1996, 0 226 53234 8
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... male) behaviour. But where baseball is all form, the Western is heavy on content. Essentially, as Philip French once observed, it is ‘America rewriting and reinterpreting her own past, however honestly or dishonestly’. As is the literary history of Westerns: Henry Nash Smith’s classic Virgin Land is redolent of New Deal optimism, Robert Warshow’s ...
... one important difference. Crusoe set to work for his individual survival, whereas I and my two French companions were consciously and happily willing to work at last for a just and human goal, to save the lives of our sick comrades. As for survival, this is a question that I put to myself many times and that many have put to me. I insist there was no ...

Into Your Enemy’s Stomach

Alexander Murray: Louis IX, 8 April 2010

Saint Louis 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Gareth Evan Gollrad.
Notre Dame, 947 pp., £61.95, February 2009, 978 0 268 03381 1
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... saint. His reign, from 1226 to 1270, forms the middle episode in an unbroken success story for the French monarchy, a story which had begun in 1180 with his grandfather Philip Augustus, and would reach a climax under his grandson Philip IV, who died in 1314. Louis’s fusion of kingly and ...

Last Days of the American Empire

Philip Towle, 19 May 1988

Armageddon? Essays 1983-1987 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 244 pp., £11.95, November 1987, 9780233981567
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Empire 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 587 pp., £11.95, November 1987, 0 233 98152 7
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The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 
by Paul Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 677 pp., £18.95, March 1988, 0 04 909019 4
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... that he had reversed the downward momentum of the country, just as de Gaulle changed the course of French history in the Sixties. The Contragate scandal and the massive budget and trade deficits have led to bitter disillusionment. All this helps to explain the popularity in the USA of writers who put their predicament into perspective. Of course, many of Gore ...

A Welcome for Foreigners

Peter Burke, 7 November 1991

The Golden Age of Painting in Spain 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 330 pp., £39.95, January 1991, 0 300 04760 6
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Spanish Paintings of the 15th through 19th Centuries 
by Jonathan Brown and Richard Mann.
National Gallery of Art, Washington/Cambridge, 165 pp., £50, April 1991, 0 521 40107 0
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... Sittow, who came from Reval (now Tallinn in Estonia) and had been trained in Bruges. Again, when Philip II wanted his new monastery-palace of the Escorial decorated, he summoned whole teams of painters from Italy, one group in the 1560s, and another, more distinguished, in the 1580s (the latter group included Luca Cambiaso, Federico Zuccaro and Pellegrino ...

Braudel’s Long Term

Peter Burke, 10 January 1983

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: Vol. I. The Structures of Everyday Life 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Collins, 623 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 00 216303 9
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Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: Vol. II. The Wheels of Commerce 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Collins, 670 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 9780002161329
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Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècle: Vol. III. Le temps du monde 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 607 pp., frs 250, May 1979, 2 253 06457 2
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... Fernand Braudel has pulled it off twice. For most French historians, the massive thesis required until recently for the doctorat d’état is their one piece of sustained research, after which they graduate, or subside, into writing learned articles, or textbooks for schools and universities. Even Gibbon felt a profound sense of relief when he wrote the last lines of the last page of the Decline and Fall, and he did not take up any other grand project ...

Flirting

P.N. Furbank, 18 November 1982

The English World: History, Character and People 
edited by Robert Blake.
Thames and Hudson, 268 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 500 25083 9
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The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal 
by Philip Mason.
Deutsch, 240 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 9780233974897
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... English writers (like Gerald Brenan) and Spain, between old-fashioned American scholars and the French poets, and between flattering Frenchmen (like André Maurois) and the bluff English. I revere Nikolaus Pevsner, but he will have to forgive me if I detect a touch of flirtatiousness in The Englishness of Art. One could labour the point, and offer reasons ...

My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... rhetorical currency required for any respectable courtship or commercial transaction. As a boy, Philip Sidney – whose works Richardson was later to publish, and to study with attention – was carefully trained in the art of letter writing. His bedroom, according to his early biographer Thomas Moffet, ‘overflowed with elegant epistles’ which he had ...

No more pretty face

Philip Horne, 8 March 1990

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central Henderson brothers, the French Aurore Clément and the German Nastassia Kinski as their wives. For Wenders, a long-time lover of the Western and of American rock music, it was, as he has since told the French magazine Positif, the closing of a ...

Sunflower

Peter Burke, 20 March 1986

Velazquez: Painter and Courtier 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 322 pp., £35, March 1986, 0 300 03466 0
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El Greco and his Patrons: Three Major Projects 
by Richard Mann.
Cambridge, 164 pp., £35, February 1986, 0 521 30392 3
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... written in collaboration with a ‘plain’ historian, John Elliott, studied the court of Philip IV and the building of the Palace of the Buen Retiro on the outskirts of Madrid. Behind the enterprise loomed the massive figure of Philip’s first minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares. Olivares took it seriously enough ...

The man who wrote for the ‘Figaro’

John Sturrock, 25 June 1992

Selected Letters: Vol. III, 1910-1917 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Philip Kolb, translated by Terence Kilmartin.
HarperCollins, 434 pp., £35, January 1992, 0 00 215541 9
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Correspondance de Marcel Proust: Tome XVIII, 191 
edited by Philip Kolb.
Plon, 657 pp., frs 290, September 1990, 2 259 02187 5
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Correspondance de Marcel Proust: Tome XIX, 1920 
edited by Philip Kolb.
Plon, 857 pp., frs 350, May 1991, 2 259 02389 4
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Correspondance de Marcel Proust: Tome XX, 1921 
edited by Philip Kolb.
Plon, 713 pp., frs 350, April 1992, 2 259 02433 5
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... Proust wrote too many letters: he thought so and so anyone might think, as Philip Kolb’s expanding series of annual volumes edges towards the writer’s death, in 1922. Sheer numbers would not have mattered had they been stronger letters, but Proust’s correspondence is too much of it mechanical or emptily ingratiating, the one remaining exercise of the social virtues by a man who had taken to his bedroom (with occasional querulous sorties late at night to the Ritz Hotel) in order to be alone with his asthma and the prodigiously radiating manuscript of his novel ...

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