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Old Verities

Brian Harrison, 19 June 1986

The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 320 pp., £23.25, September 1985, 0 226 27932 4
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Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 
by Philip Priestley.
Methuen, 311 pp., £14.85, October 1985, 0 416 34770 3
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The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers and Vivisection in Edwardian England 
by Coral Lansbury.
University of Wisconsin Press, 212 pp., £23.50, November 1985, 0 299 10250 5
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‘Orator’ HuntHenry Hunt and English Working-Class Radicalism 
by John Belchem.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 19 822759 0
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... in some way untypical, and here the accounts we have are largely those of the better-off. Lord William Nevill, Lady Constance Lytton, Jabez Balfour and the suffragettes: their views reflect the redoubled degradation felt by prisoners drawn from a better social class. In other words, his overall picture does not compensate sufficiently for the fact that, as ...
... I first met William Empson fifty years ago, when he was teaching in Japan and I in Singapore. I was rather frightened of him. Only about my own age, he was a great deal more sophisticated and infinitely more intelligent. It was plain that he didn’t suffer fools gladly, and in his presence I often felt rather a fool ...

Undertellers

Walter Nash, 18 February 1988

The Panda Hunt 
by Richard Burns.
Cape, 189 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02445 0
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Davy Chadwick 
by James Buchan.
Hamish Hamilton, 145 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 241 12115 9
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Overhead in a Balloon: Stories of Paris 
by Mavis Gallant.
Cape, 196 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02426 4
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Black Idol 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 157 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 9780224024372
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... misleads with a profusion of detail and the one that mysatifies with laconic artfulness. The Panda Hunt is a tale at once overtold and undertold, and hence flawed-though it is an engaging book, humorous, lyrical, with a kind of dawdling charm that comes from the blending of comedy and pathos and occasionally something deeper and darker than pathos. It has its ...

Scandal’s Hostages

Claire Tomalin, 19 February 1981

The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: Vol. 1 
edited by Betty Bennett.
Johns Hopkins, 591 pp., £18, July 1980, 0 8018 2275 0
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... self-willed behaviour. She was pleased enough to report the compliment to Leigh and Marianne Hunt in a letter; and if she seems a little arch in liking compliments, she strikes the reader too as deserving them. This is the letter of an unusually intrepid and well-educated woman: it mixes affectionate chat about the Hunts’ children and hers with ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... puzzles: for example, the identity of ‘Bluebell’ (Conquest’s dog), or ‘engine driver Hunt’, from a passage in a letter reading ‘Praed, Hood, Gilbert – and engine driver Hunt’ (Hunt turns out to be a subject, not an author, of light verse, from the pseudonymous ...

Suffering Souls

Marina Warner: Ghosts in the Middle Ages, 18 June 1998

Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society 
by Jean-Claude Schmitt, translated by Theresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 290 pp., £26.50, May 1998, 0 226 73887 6
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... of sermons, letters, treatises, anthologies of tales. That accursed rabble of Hellequin’s hunt reflects the clerical grief and disapproval that would lead to the founding of the Christian orders of knights, the Templars and the Hospitallers, in an effort to discipline the Crusades and their Christian militia. ‘We cannot define any better the ...

Hemingway Hunt

Frank Kermode, 17 April 1986

Along with Youth: Hemingway, the Early Years 
by Peter Griffin.
Oxford, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 19 503680 8
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The Young Hemingway 
by Michael Reynolds.
Blackwell, 291 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 631 14786 1
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Hemingway: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 646 pp., £16.95, March 1986, 0 333 42126 4
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... he had, Hemingway did not serve in the Italian Army. It was about this time, we are told, that William Faulkner wore a Royal Canadian Air Force officer’s uniform with wings, and cultivated a limp, to none of which he was entitled. All this may sound very silly, but war is a great breeder of lies and the young Hemingway was behaving like a lot of other ...

Vinegar Pie

William Skidelsky: Annie Proulx, 6 March 2003

That Old Ace in the Hole 
by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 361 pp., £17.99, January 2003, 0 00 715151 9
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... sufficiently knowledgable on the subject, so had chosen a hog farm scout instead. Perhaps Bob’s hunt for Ace is really an oblique dramatisation of Proulx’s quest for a credible protagonist. Traces of Proulx’s original intention remain in the finished novel. Several chapters deal with the lives of Ace and his contemporaries – his dead partner; his ...

They don’t even need ideas

William Davies: Take Nigel Farage ..., 20 June 2019

... As an indication of what’s happening to the Tory Party, the more disturbing sight was of Jeremy Hunt – ostensibly a pragmatist – refusing to rule it out. And so the party’s long descent into ideological madness reaches a new nadir, where a sitting foreign secretary toys with declaring a state of exception, purely to exorcise some imagined European ...

Deleecious

Matthew Bevis: William Hazlitt, 6 November 2008

New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume I 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 507 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923573 5
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New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume II 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 553 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923574 2
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William Hazlitt: The First Modern Man 
by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 557 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 19 954958 0
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... Some of Hazlitt’s early critics used similar turns of phrase when describing his prose. Leigh Hunt felt that ‘his intellectual tact is such/That it seems to feel truth, as one’s fingers do touch,’ while Mary Russell Mitford wrote of his theatre reviews: ‘I could not help reading them altogether; though so much of Hazlitt is rather dangerous to ...

Missingness

John Bayley, 24 March 1994

Christina Rossetti: A Biography 
by Frances Thomas.
Virago, 448 pp., £9.99, February 1994, 1 85381 681 7
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... giggle in them of an affectedly self-conscious children’s game: ‘I love to hide and hear ’em hunt.’ Hearing them hunt becomes the poet’s pleasure, and a source of teasing power. For Emily Brontë the passions of Gondal (‘Cold in the earth, and fifteen wild Decembers’) carried the arrested detail and pathos of ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’, 28 January 2010

The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... went to a performance at the English Opera House on 29 August, and wrote appreciatively to Leigh Hunt about Cooke’s acting, clearly liked ‘this nameless mode of naming the unnameable’. She told Hunt that William Godwin, her father, had brought out a new two-volume edition of the ...

Dangerous Liaisons

Frank Kermode, 28 June 1990

Ford Madox Ford 
by Alan Judd.
Collins, 471 pp., £16.95, June 1990, 0 00 215242 8
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... in America, where he soon became part of the literary scene. Among the authors he charmed were William Carlos Williams, Allen Tate and Robert Lowell. How a biographer inflects the story of Ford in the telling will depend on his own moral and aesthetic assumptions. Sympathetic accounts can deal with the lying by polishing up the excuse offered by the author ...

Glooms

E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... not on the poet but the painter that Levi chooses to concentrate. Lear was born in 1812, when Dr William Gilpin’s cult of the picturesque was being vigorously debunked in The Adventures of Doctor Syntax, and the bemused water-colourists who jostled at the viewing-stations in the Lakes had tired of holding up their tinted Claude glasses to reflect and ...

Unfrozen Sea

Michael Byers: The Arctic Grail, 22 March 2007

... usually freezes over by early October, enabling the Inuit to travel across to Baffin Island to hunt caribou. This winter, the local council in Igloolik was considering chartering a plane to take the hunters across the unfrozen sea. A few hours before I spoke with Immaroitok, I’d sailed through Fury and Hecla Strait on board the Amundsen, Canada’s ...

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