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Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... but I found his chapters on lesser writers even more instructive. Robert Burton and Samuel Gott are revealed as more significant ‘utopians’ than has been recognised. Dr Davis is also interesting on William Sprigge’s A Modest Plea for an Equal Commonwealth of 1659, the anonymous Chaos (1659) and The Free State of Noland (1696), which he classifies ...

Cushy Numbers

Neal Ascherson, 3 November 1983

French and Germans, Germans and French: A Personal Interpretation of France under Two Occupations, 1914-1918/1940-1944 
by Richard Cobb.
University Press of New England, 188 pp., £10.95, July 1983, 0 87451 225 5
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Still Life: Scenes from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 161 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2695 7
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... novelists but who is also a pitiless judge when it comes to evil. But evil is not a category for Richard Cobb. He recognises naughtiness and nastiness, vanity, callousness, lust for blood, but – like a French Impressionist – utter black is not a colour for him. Cobb is most moving and persuasive when he speaks of women and fugitives. ‘A deserter cannot ...

The Faster the Better

Paul Driver: Anatomising Mendelssohn, 3 February 2005

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music 
by Larry Todd.
Oxford, 683 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 19 511043 9
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... into the treble G of a tiny flute solo, ushering in the chorale ‘Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott!’ and the triumph of the Lutheran Church. Todd tells us that this solo was originally a whole recitative, influenced by the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth, but that Mendelssohn found the effect too obvious. The three bars to which he shrunk it have a ...

She shall be nameless

Nicholas Spice: Marlen Haushofer, 18 December 2014

The Wall 
by Marlen Haushofer, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Quartet, 211 pp., £12, June 2013, 978 0 7043 7311 2
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Nowhere Ending Sky 
by Marlen Haushofer, translated by Amanda Prantera.
Quartet, 178 pp., £12, June 2013, 978 0 7043 7207 8
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The Loft 
by Marlen Haushofer, translated by Amanda Prantera.
Quartet, 173 pp., £12, May 2011, 978 0 7043 7313 6
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... by a housewife. As a way of clearing her mind, a woman makes use of a weekend when her husband, Richard, is away, to set down on paper what has been happening over the previous months. Stella, a teenager, just out of high school, comes to stay as a guest of the family. Under the eyes of his wife, Richard seduces ...

Vermicular Dither

Michael Hofmann, 28 January 2010

The World of Yesterday 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Anthea Bell.
Pushkin Press, 474 pp., £20, 1 906548 12 9
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... in many literary quarters to be a major item in that ongoing ‘punishment of England’ (‘Gott strafe England’) that had been on the German agenda since 1914.The composer Hanns Eisler records a meeting between Brecht and Zweig in London. Brecht, who ‘of course never read a line of Zweig’ (one admires the economy of effort), sees him only as a ...

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