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Inigo Thomas: My Father, Hugh Thomas, 15 June 2017

... yourself. Then we began to go through the details of the death certificate. Name: Hugh Swynnerton Thomas. Date of death: 7 May 2017. Your relation to him? Son. A few years ago, when I asked my father why he wasn’t going to the house in south-west France where he had for several summers spent a few weeks, his answer sounded straightforward. ‘Too far from ...

The Monster Plot

Thomas Powers: James Angleton, Spymaster, 10 May 2018

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton 
by Jefferson Morley.
Scribe, 336 pp., £20, December 2017, 978 1 911344 73 5
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... American intelligence officer. The first, published ten years ago, was Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA. Long before Scott was named the Agency’s chief of station in Mexico City he had known Angleton in London during the war when both were working for the Office of Strategic Services ...

Alien Heat

Jonathan Gil Harris: ‘The Island Princess’, 17 March 2016

The Island Princess 
by John Fletcher, edited by Clare McManus.
Arden, 338 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 1 904271 53 6
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... After the Reformation, ‘maumet’ began to be used as a derogatory epithet for Catholic idols: Thomas Becon, for example, complains of ‘antichristian monsters’ who teach people ‘to run a Pilgrimage to this and that Idol, to paint this tabernacle, and to gild that maumet’. The Island Princess’s ‘maumet gods’ would have registered as an ...

Out of Bounds

Ian Gilmour: Why Wordsworth sold a lot less than Byron, 20 January 2005

The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period 
by William St Clair.
Cambridge, 765 pp., £90, July 2004, 9780521810067
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... Censor’. St Clair quotes Eldon in 1793, when he was only attorney general and called Sir John Scott, telling an author that he could continue to publish his reply to Burke in ‘an octavo form so as to confine it probably to that class of readers who may consider it coolly’ (that is, people who would be unlikely to approve of it), but that as soon as it ...

No Longer Merely the Man Who Ate His Boots

Thomas Jones: The Northwest Passage, 27 May 2010

Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage 
by Glyn Williams.
Allen Lane, 440 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 84614 138 6
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Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation 
by Andrew Lambert.
Faber, 428 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 571 23160 7
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... efforts to portray them in a positive light, were woefully ill-conceived: a school modelled on Thomas Arnold’s Rugby, the Tasmanian Philosophical Society and Tasmanian Journal of Science may have been worthy enterprises in their own right, but they were hardly suited to a penal colony largely populated by illiterate convicts. Franklin would have done ...

Erratic Star

Michael Foot, 11 May 1995

Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle 
by Simon Heffer.
Orion, 420 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81564 4
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... own estimation. Now, however, we are faced with what may be an even more forlorn effort, to fold Thomas Carlyle to their collective bosom. It so happens that Carlyle had a famous quarrel with Mill, in which most observers would have favoured Mill. Something deep in Mill’s outlook offended Toryism, old or new, whereas something deep in Carlyle’s has been ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones, 8 November 2018

... language of Callimachus, after all), was expected to buy a very big book indeed: Liddell and Scott’s monumental lexicon, big enough to afford the linguistic granularity you need to write Greek prose in the style of Demosthenes’ orations, with citations to corroborate every word used. A schoolboy could lift Liddell and ...


Charles Rzepka, 21 March 1991

The Puritan-Provincial Vision: Scottish and American Literature in the 19th Century 
by Susan Manning.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £32.50, May 1990, 0 521 37237 2
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... of Calvinist attitudes in the writings of David Hume, Jonathan Edwards, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. Far from a mechanical application of rigid doctrinal categories, Manning’s thoughtful critique shows how contradictory attitudes can arise out of, and in reaction to, a common adherence to absolutes. Her ...

An Agreement with Hell

Eric Foner, 20 February 1997

Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution 
by Jack Rakove.
Knopf, 439 pp., $35, April 1996, 0 394 57858 9
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... restricts national power. In recent opinions, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have described the political system established by the Constitution as a confederation of quasi-sovereign States, leaving almost no role for the federal government. Having a written constitution, clearly, does not preclude bitter controversy over how the ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas Powers, 4 July 2013

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... when you’re young. ‘I want to be one of the greatest writers who have ever lived,’ Scott Fitzgerald said to his friend Edmund Wilson when they were just out of college, ‘don’t you?’ Wilson was the son of a lawyer, a bit chilly, a prodigious reader steeped in Plato and Dante. He thought Fitzgerald’s remark foolish – just what you might ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... of Guermantes, the narrator says, ‘appeared to me to be a paradise I would never enter’. Scott Moncrieff, the earlier and best-known translator of Proust, is in this case quite literal about the famous sentence, and gives us ‘the true paradises are the paradises that we have lost,’ although even here there is a little slither, since in the ...

On Tom Pickard

August Kleinzahler: Tom Pickard, 22 November 2018

... north, across the Solway Firth some fifty miles away, I can see hills that Burns, Hogg and Walter Scott would have known.’ It is also from the west the prevailing weather comes ‘unhindered … like Thor’s fucking hammer’. Pickard holed up at the café for the next ten years. In March this year, a few months after his book appeared, the building burned ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘The Constant Gardener’, 3 November 2005

... who dreamed that one up?’ Roy Bland asks George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974). ‘Scott Fitzgerald,’ Smiley replies. The aphorism, or at any rate Bland’s paraphrase, applies just as well to a double-agent. Or to any spy: Smiley and his kind perpetrate all sorts of illegal, immoral and anti-democratic acts in the name of democracy ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason, 7 September 2000

Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... of his life’. These arguments were first unveiled in September 1794 in the indictments against Thomas Hardy, shoemaker and secretary of the LCS, John Horne Tooke, philologist and radical man of letters, and John Thelwall, Jacobin orator and poet. In the months preceding these arrests most of the action had occurred north of the border. It was crucial to ...


Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... that of Sassoon and Blunden than to that of Lewis and Carrington. My maternal grandfather, Rolfe Scott-James, was a literary critic, a sombre, self-consciously intellectual figure, a friend of Ford Madox Ford and Thomas Hardy. In 1912, he had published an essay in which he expressed satisfaction that, in the new age of ...

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