Tribute to Trevor-Roper
The festschrift, a collection of essays in honour of a senior professor, used to be dismissed as a rather tiresome German habit. Now, I think, it has become embedded in English academic procedure. A festschrift is a gratifying compilation to receive and sets an interesting task for the contributor. But it is the most difficult type of book to review. Where is the underlying theme, the spirit that holds together, in this case, 24 historical essays ranging from the question of who, if anyone, wrote the poems attributed to Homer to the imperialism and bellicosity of Great Britain before the First World War? I contemplated this problem gloomily for a long time and then stumbled on the answer.
Vol. 3 No. 21 · 19 November 1981
SIR: Oh dear. Who sent Lords Shelburne and Holland to Christ’s College, Cambridge instead of to Christ Church, Oxford? Was it you? Was it me? Or was it malign fate? At any rate it is wrong.
It was a beautifully-executed collaborative effort.
Editor, ‘London Review’
Vol. 3 No. 22 · 3 December 1981
SIR: The benign and generous notice of History and Imagination: Essays in Honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper by Mr A.J.P. Taylor that appeared in your last issue (LRB, 5 November) has given me so much pleasure that I am reluctant to complain of anything that it contains. But I cannot refrain from commenting on Mr Taylor’s belief that Classical studies are concerned with a body of evidence that never increases. For more than a century a steady flow of papyri and inscriptions has added to our knowledge of ancient literature and ancient history; and there is also the evidence of archaeology. Mr Taylor imagines that Bentley, writing 250 years ago, and I were dealing with exactly the same evidence in discussing the Homeric question: in fact, the discovery of Minoan and Mycenaean civilisation by the archaeologists has made rather a big difference.
Christ Church, Oxford