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At which Englishman’s speech does English terminate?

Henry Hitchings: The ‘OED’, 7 March 2013

Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... to the left of the headword. Murray’s successors William Craigie and Charles Onions tussled over whether to maintain this practice. Proofs of the Supplement dated 11 September 1929 retain Murray’s so-called tramlines; in the next proofs, dated 2 July 1930, they are gone. Between these dates, Onions joined the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English, where he became acutely aware of the prejudices that led some people to stigmatise new or imported terms; tramlines, he felt, didn’t help ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED, 20 April 1989

... a blood type, a paper size, a record side and a social class (though this last usage dates from Charles Booth’s Labour and Life of the People of 1889, a moment too late for Murray and his readers), plus a whole string of modern abbreviations and acronyms (a word first recorded in America in 1943). Nine columns pass before we hit a as indefinite article ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... and it’s good to welcome this reprint of Johnson’s first edition (1755). No dictionary before Webster’s Third International has caused so much comment and controversy, none has been the cause of so many anecdotes and myths, as Johnson’s. Few dictionaries have been so misunderstood and misrepresented. In The American Language H. L. Mencken says ...

Insolence

Blair Worden, 7 March 1985

Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance 
by David Norbrook.
Routledge, 345 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 7100 9778 6
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Restoration Theatre Production 
by Jocelyn Powell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £19.95, November 1984, 0 7100 9321 7
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Theatre and Crisis: 1632-1642 
by Martin Butler.
Cambridge, 340 pp., £25, August 1984, 0 521 24632 6
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The Court Masque 
edited by David Lindley.
Manchester, 196 pp., £22.50, August 1984, 0 7190 0961 8
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Ben Jonson, Dramatist 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 370 pp., £30, July 1984, 0 521 25883 9
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... although even there, some plays appear to have voiced sentiments which can scarcely have pleased Charles I – but the ‘town’. Butler devotes some space to popular and apprentice drama, where an Elizabethan tradition of irreverence lived on, but more to the ‘élite’ theatres which answered to the gentrification of London and which provided models of ...

Birditis

Ian Penman: The Obsession with Charlie Parker, 23 January 2014

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker 
by Gary Giddins.
Minnesota, revised edition, 195 pp., £15, October 2013, 978 0 8166 9041 1
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Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker 
by Stanley Crouch.
Harper, 365 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 06 200559 5
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Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker 
by Chuck Haddix.
Illinois, 188 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 252 03791 7
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... Flip Phillips, Charlie Shavers, Ray Brown, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, J.C. Heard, Ben Webster and Johnny Hodges at a Clef recording session, Hollywood (1952). Charlie Parker at the Clef recording session (1952). Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker at Massey Hall, Toronto (1953). Charlie Parker arriving at Bellevue hospital (1954). Charlie Parker at ...

Faces of the People

Richard Altick, 19 August 1982

Physiognomy in the European Novel: Faces and Fortunes 
by Graeme Tytler.
Princeton, 436 pp., £19.10, March 1982, 0 691 06491 1
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A Human Comedy: Physiognomy and Caricature in 19th-century Paris 
by Judith Wechsler.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £18.50, June 1982, 0 500 01268 7
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... popularity of contemporary genre art, first Chardin and Greuze in France, then Wilkie, Mulready, Webster, Frith and innumerable others in England, all of whom, painting for a bourgeois audience, painted bourgeois – individualised, not idealised – faces. Simultaneously, there was an increasing demand for portraits as more and more people could afford that ...

Ambifacts

Gary Taylor, 7 January 1993

Shakespeare: The Later Years 
by Russell Fraser.
Columbia, 380 pp., $35, April 1992, 0 231 06766 6
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Shakespeare: His Life, Work and Era 
by Dennis Kay.
Sidgwick, 368 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 283 99878 4
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William Shakespeare: The Anatomy of an Enigma 
by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 188 pp., May 1992, 1 85066 010 7
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Politics, Plague and Shakespeare’s Theatre: The Stuart Years 
by Leeds Barroll.
Cornell, 249 pp., £20.80, January 1992, 0 8014 2479 8
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Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus 
by Margreta de Grazia.
Oxford, 244 pp., £30, February 1991, 0 19 811778 7
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... devotes three and a half pages (pages 170-74) to the whole of Jacobean drama, brusquely dismissing Webster and Jonson and Ford, not even mentioning Middleton – except to dismiss The Revenger’s Tragedy, which he continues to misattribute to Tourneur – apparently as uninterested in the last two decades of textual scholarship as he is in the first two ...

High-Meriting, Low-Descended

John Mullan: The Unpolished Pamela, 12 December 2002

Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded 
by Samuel Richardson, edited by Thomas Keymer and Alice Wakely.
Oxford, 592 pp., £6.99, June 2001, 0 19 282960 2
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... the novelist had been calling in a debt by arranging this hype. The journal’s editor was William Webster, who had owed Richards0n £90. Webster’s letter (or perhaps the letter that Richardson wrote for him) is written as if to persuade the ‘Editor’ out of his reluctance to publish the work: ‘I can’t conceive why ...

Hero as Hero

Tobias Gregory: Milton’s Terrorist, 6 March 2008

Why Milton Matters: A New Preface to His Writings 
by Joseph Wittreich.
Palgrave, 253 pp., £37.99, March 2008, 978 1 4039 7229 3
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... poet whom it is possible for serious readers to dislike. There are no fans of Marlowe, Jonson or Webster who cannot also find pleasure in Shakespeare; there are no admirers of Piers Plowman or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight who cannot also appreciate The Canterbury Tales. But it is not hard to find enthusiastic readers of Marvell or Spenser or Dryden or ...

Duas Cervejas

James C. Scott: Ford’s Utopia, 8 October 2009

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City 
by Greg Grandin.
Metropolitan, 416 pp., $27.50, June 2009, 978 0 8050 8236 4
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... he painted his murals of what he called a ‘wonderful symphony’. The painter and photographer Charles Sheeler represented the complex but austere geometry of the factory yards as a new version of pastoralism. Inevitably, however, utopian schemes encounter insurmountable human and natural obstacles. Compromises spoil their symmetry and beauty. At this ...

Terrorism

Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... the course the US is pursuing. In this country sensible discussion of terrorism is still possible. Charles Townshend, Paul Wilkinson and James Adams are immune to the hysteria that has afflicted Reagan’s America. Performing a miracle of compression, Mr Townshend tells the story of British ‘counter-insurgency’ in Ireland, the Middle ...

Signs of spring

Anthony Grafton, 10 June 1993

The Portrayal of Love: Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ and Humanist Culture at the Time of Lorenzo the Magnificent 
by Charles Dempsey.
Princeton, 173 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 691 03207 6
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... major single piece of progress has consisted in a documentary discovery made by John Shearman and Webster Smith. They showed that the painting originally hung not in the villa of Castello, which belonged after 1477 or 1478 to Lorenzo’s cousin, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, but in Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco’s city house – a discovery which does ...

Death in Greece

Marilyn Butler, 17 September 1981

Byron’s Letter and Journals. Vol. XI: For Freedom’s Battle 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 243 pp., £11.50, April 1981, 0 7195 3792 4
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Byron: The Complete Poetical Works 
edited by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 464 pp., £35, October 1980, 0 19 811890 2
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Red Shelley 
by Paul Foot.
Sidgwick, 293 pp., £12.95, May 1981, 0 283 98679 4
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Ugo Foscolo, Poet of Exile 
by Glauco Cambon.
Princeton, 360 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 691 06424 5
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... and contemplating (over a game of billiards) the seduction of the chaste Lady Frances Wedder-burn Webster, while he confided in Lady Melbourne, suavest of older women, about both. The love of women hardly bothers Byron in his last months. His messages even to Teresa Guiccioli, the last attachment, are terse postscripts added to letters she was receiving from ...

Dislocations

Stephen Fender, 19 January 1989

Landscape and Written Expression in Revolutionary America: The world turned upside down 
by Robert Lawson-Peebles.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £35, March 1988, 0 521 34647 9
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Mark Twain’s Letters. Vol. I: 1853-1866 
edited by Edgar Marquess Branch, Michael Frank and Kenneth Sanderson.
California, 616 pp., $35, May 1988, 0 520 03668 9
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A Writer’s America: Landscape in Literature 
by Alfred Kazin.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £15.95, September 1988, 0 500 01424 8
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... by the two axes of the ‘Shining Mountains’ and the Mississippi River. The lexicographer Noah Webster began by embracing the possibilities of American neologism. Where Europe had ‘grown old in folly, corruption and tyranny’, he wrote in 1783, the American language should allow new usages to reflect its young and vigorous political ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... He, too, was acquitted, along with two of Brooks’s executives, Fergus Shanahan and Geoff Webster, who signed off the payments. Jurors returned further not guilty verdicts on the royal editor Duncan Larcombe and his ‘eyes and ears’ at Sandhurst, Sergeant John Hardy, who received £23,700 between 2006 and 2008, including £5000 for a photo (it has ...

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