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Beyond Paris

Richard Cobb, 27 June 1991

My France: Politics, Culture, Myth 
by Eugen Weber.
Harvard, 412 pp., £19.95, February 1991, 0 674 59575 0
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... Bucharest and other places in Romania, via Paris in the late Thirties, to a period in an unnamed English public school in the early Forties, service in the infantry of the British Army in the later stages of the Second World War, and then to graduate work at Cambridge where he nearly became a Medievalist. As in so many cases of historical ...

Possibility throbs

Richard Altick, 23 July 1987

Palais-Royal 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 274 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14718 6
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... size. The architect the duke commissioned was Pierre-François Fontaine, and it is the premise of Richard Sennett’s attractive novel that he chose for his assistant a young Englishman who was just finishing his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Frederick Courtland was the son of an architect who had learned his profession under the comfortably ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder, 28 January 1993

The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... infuriated the teaching profession by announcing an immediate review of the Statutory Order for English. No sooner had the review been announced than Mr Patten and his fellow ministers did their best to pre-empt its outcome. They let it be known that their intention was to reinforce the teaching of spelling, traditional grammar and Standard ...

Insurrectionary Hopes

Matthew Kelly: Myths of 1916, 1 December 2005

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion 
by Charles Townshend.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £20, September 2005, 0 7139 9690 0
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... event in 20th-century Irish history, marking the moment when Ireland emerged symbolically from English domination. Sinn Fein’s extraordinary tally of seats at the 1918 general election, the guerrilla war against the British forces that followed, the establishment of the Free State in 1921, and de Valera’s unilateral declaration of an Irish republic in ...

The Excommunicant

Richard Popkin: Spinoza v. the Synagogue, 15 October 1998

The God of Spinoza: A Philosophical Study 
by Richard Mason.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £35, May 1997, 0 521 58162 1
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Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity 
by Steven Smith.
Yale, 270 pp., £21, June 1997, 0 300 06680 5
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... is to see the world from the aspect of eternity, and to achieve the intellectual love of God. As Richard Mason reminds us, Spinoza’s neglect of epistemology made him of little interest to those who insisted that the problem of knowledge as set out by Descartes defined what philosophy was properly about. Spinoza found a little room for that problem only at ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... years to the day that the Battle of Maldon was fought against the Danes. On 10 August 991, an English levy, somewhat hastily assembled and placed behind a smaller unit of professional soldiers, faced an army of Viking thugs across a causeway in Essex. That afternoon the English general, Earl Byrhtnoth, made a ...

Occasions for Worship

Simon Walker, 4 September 1997

Richard II 
by Nigel Saul.
Yale, 528 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 300 07003 9
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... Each generation fashions its own image of Richard II. To his contemporaries, Richard’s fate was an admonitory instance of changing fortune: the King fell in the midst of his glory and was delivered into the hands of his enemies. To historians of the Tudor age, Richard’s deposition by one of his subjects was a terrible warning of the dangers of rebellion, bequeathing to succeeding generations a legacy of bloodshed and civil strife ...

Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone, 30 July 2020

... walk. His look of quizzical apprehension changed to an amiable apology when I explained I was the Richard Shone to whom he had sent a note a few days earlier asking me to ‘drop in’. ‘Yes, of course you are,’ he said. The note had been prompted by Nancy Ackerley, a friend of mine and the sister of Forster’s great friend J.R. Ackerley, who had written ...

The English Disease

Hugh Pennington: Who’s to blame for BSE?, 14 December 2000

The BSE Inquiry 
by Lord Phillips et al.
Stationery Office, 5112 pp., £324.50, October 2000, 0 10 556986 0
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... have also been put into the public domain via www.bseinquiry.gov.uk. The Inquiry joins a long English tradition of detailed government-commissioned reports compiled with state-of-the-art technology. The Domesday Book was the first and BSE might be thought of as a tardy riposte to that Norman intrusion – the disease, after all, has crossed the Channel in ...

Writing French in English

Helen Cooper: Chaucer’s Language, 7 October 2010

The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War 
by Ardis Butterfield.
Oxford, 444 pp., £60, December 2009, 978 0 19 957486 5
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... marked a people as distinctive, as happened with the Welsh, they could invite ridicule from the English in a way that reinforced political dominance. Even if a language was notionally the same, certain dialects of ‘French’ or ‘English’ were all too easily confused with issues of political or cultural ...

President François Misprint

Richard Mayne, 1 April 1983

The Wheat and the Chaff: The Personal Diaries of the President of France 1971-1978 
by François Mitterrand, translated by Richard Woodward, Helen Lane and Concilia Hayter.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 297 78101 4
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The French 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins, 542 pp., £12.95, January 1983, 0 00 216806 5
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... published by Flammarion and – in the case of the second – also by Le Livre de Poche. The English version is not only imperfect, but cut by about half. On my count, no fewer than 195 entries are missing. They include all the quotations above. Of course, Mitterrand’s journal is lengthy, and might be thought too much for American and British ...

A Leg-Up for Oliver North

Richard Rorty, 20 October 1994

Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America’s Future 
by Richard Bernstein.
Knopf, 367 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 41156 9
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... In his new book, Richard Bernstein – one of the best reporters at the New York Times – offers some detailed descriptions, and some solid criticisms, of a serious nuisance. Unfortunately, he then tries to inflate this nuisance into a dangerous monster. He offers a lot of useful information about what one segment of the American Left has been doing recently, and his analyses are very acute ...

Handfuls of Dust

Richard Cronin: Amit Chaudhuri, 12 November 1998

Freedom Song 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Picador, 202 pp., £13.99, August 1998, 0 330 34423 4
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... The first of the great Indian novelists to write in English, R.K. Narayan, wrote modest novels about modest people living in the small South Indian town of Malgudi. The completeness of the world he creates is possible only because that world is so circumscribed. Then in 1981 Salman Rushdie published Midnight’s Children, and such a narrow focus no longer seemed possible ...

Lobbying

Richard J. Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens, 17 March 2016

Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... language but also French, still the language of diplomacy long after the First World War, and English, usually because they’d been brought up by a British nanny, an essential member of the household for the European nobility. Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was a regular reader of the Illustrated London News, the Bukarester Tageblatt and ...

ODQ

Richard Usborne, 24 January 1980

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 
Oxford, 908 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780192115607Show More
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... Virgil 557:16.’ Turn to page 557, Virgil (70-19 BC). Ah yes. They give the Latin first, then English: ‘bright glimpse of the rosy glow of her neck, and from her ambrosial head of hair a heavenly fragrance wafted: her dress flowed down right to her feet and in her walk it showed, she was in truth a goddess.’ ‘Et vera incessu patuit dea.’ You ...

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