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A Scene of Furniture

Rosemary Hill: Hogarth, 4 February 1999

Hogarth: A Life and a World 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 794 pp., £14.99, September 1998, 0 571 19376 5
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... was on show, accompanied by Judy Egerton’s fine catalogue, there was also a video, narrated by Alan Bennett. As it finished on the day I was there, the woman in front of me said to her friend: ‘Well, I should hope they weren’t all like that.’ It was a very Bennett moment, as distinct from a Hogarthian one. ‘Missing the point’ was not in ...

Grail Trail

C.H. Roberts, 4 March 1982

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 
by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Cape, 445 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 224 01735 7
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The Foreigner: A Search for the First-Century Jesus 
by Desmond Stewart.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 241 10686 9
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Satan: The Early Christian Tradition 
by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
Cornell, 258 pp., £14, November 1981, 0 8014 1267 6
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... by a Hapsburg Archduke who transferred to him a large sum of money. Accused of simony by his bishop, he was exonerated by the Vatican; on his death-bed he was refused extreme unction. In the 13th century this part of the Cevennes had been the centre of the Cathar or Albigensian movement, and the Cathar fortress of Montségur with its reputed treasure ...

Untold Stories

Alan Bennett, 30 September 1999

... the keynote. And why not? But Leeds in those days was the proving ground for many a future dean or bishop, some of the grandest Anglican dynasties – Hollises, Bicker-steths, Vaughans – ministering to the slums of Hunslet and Holbeck. St Bartholomew’s was a great slum parish too, its huge black church set on a hill above Armley and Wortley, and though the ...

Monsieur Montaillou

Rosalind Mitchison, 7 August 1980

The Territory of the Historian 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Sian Ben.
Harvester, 346 pp., £12.50, May 1979, 0 85527 565 0
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by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Barbara Bray.
Penguin, 382 pp., £2.50, May 1980, 0 14 005471 5
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Carnival: a People’s Uprising in Romans, 1579-1580 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Mary Feeney.
Scolar, 426 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 85967 591 2
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... section of the inquisitorial process put into action by an unusually active and conscientious bishop; Carnival on two accounts, one of them anonymous, of the events of 1579-80 in and around the city. The books contain comments on these sources, and on one aspect of the Carnival story one of the sources is skilfully used to get behind the silences and bias ...


James Davidson, 8 February 1996

The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe 
by John Boswell.
Fontana, 412 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 00 686326 4
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... for two years in a cave, and then for a time inhabited an iron cage ... He became Bishop of Anastasioupolis, but ultimately resigned to return to monastic life’) and the Emperor Justinian, who was responsible for the introduction of draconian penalties against homosexual activity in the sixth century, instigating a vicious witch-hunt in ...

Peroxide and Paracetamol

Adam Mars-Jones: Alison MacLeod, 12 September 2013

by Alison MacLeod.
Hamish Hamilton, 340 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 0 241 14263 9
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... It’s not easy to put aside our knowledge and inhabit their innocence. In The Stranger’s Child Alan Hollinghurst went to some trouble to shake the patronising certainty of retrospect, setting the first part of his novel before the First World War, the second part in the 1920s. Readers had to piece together what had happened in the interval, a lesser ...

Doomed to Draw

Ben Jackson: Magnus Carlsen v. AI, 6 June 2019

The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match that Made Chess Great Again 
by Brin-Jonathan Butler.
Simon and Schuster, 211 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 9821 0728 4
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Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI 
by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan.
New in Chess, 416 pp., £19.95, January 2019, 978 90 5691 818 7
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... Over the course of the next few moves, Carlsen managed to bring his rook, knight and dark-square bishop into the attack. He advanced a pawn close to Caruana’s king, kept his own king out of danger, and had an extra half hour on the clock. It wasn’t a clear win for Carlsen, but he was certainly ahead. Rumours then began to circulate that Carlsen had ...


John Kerrigan, 13 October 1988

Archaic Figure 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 113 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 571 15043 8
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by Grevel Lindop.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 85635 697 2
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Sleeping rough 
by Charles Boyle.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1987, 0 85635 731 6
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This Other Life 
by Peter Robinson.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 85635 737 5
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In the Hot-House 
by Alan Jenkins.
Chatto, 60 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3312 0
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Monterey Cypress 
by Lachlan Mackinnon.
Chatto, 62 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3264 7
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My Darling Camel 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 64 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3286 8
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The Air Mines of Mistila 
by Philip Gross and Sylvia Kantaris.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £4.95, June 1988, 1 85224 055 5
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by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 131 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 0 19 281987 9
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The Arkansas Testament 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 117 pp., £3.95, March 1988, 9780571149094
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... divides between poems of here and elsewhere (a pattern which has become familiar since Elizabeth Bishop’s Questions of Travel), This Other Life is in five parts, with One, Three, and Five set in Britain and Two and Four in Italy. Within this oscillating progression, journeys abroad may involve returns (hence the first Italian poem is ‘There ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... Other less controversial occupations include entrepreneur, man of letters, geologist and bishop, smooth muscle physiologist, inventor of the safari park, inventor of whimsical machines, ethnomusicologist, authority on animal behaviour, magnate in the fishing industry, and, unexpected but welcome, stockbroker. The years 1986-1990 saw a notable culling ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... it as one of the few contemporary novels he liked. The book was reviewed in the New York Times by Alan Friedman, the author of a forgotten novel called Hermaphrodeity, who described it as ‘a nearly inscrutable mystery’ powered by ‘camp, vamp and very damp wit’. He praised White’s ‘poetic brilliance’ and ‘hard, gem-like style’ but ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... arbitrary than the longer critical haul of a century or two. For instance, shares in Elizabeth Bishop (d. 1979) are at an all-time high, helped by the timely publication of her letters; while shares in Philip Larkin (d. 1985) are at an all-time low, helped by the untimely publication of his ditto. Graham Greenes (d. 1991) are on the way down, Robert ...

Keep the baby safe

Stephen Sedley: Corrupt and Deprave, 10 March 2022

A Matter of Obscenity: The Politics of Censorship in Modern England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Princeton, 320 pp., £28, September 2021, 978 0 691 19798 2
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... the witness box. My own recollection is riveted to the moment when Mortimer was cross-examining a bishop and his clerk rushed into court with a note telling him that his wife, who had just had their first baby, was haemorrhaging. Mortimer stopped in mid-question, turned to me, said ‘Carry on’ and shot out of court. He returned an hour or more later to ...

Abolish everything!

Andrew Hussey: Situationist International, 2 September 1999

The Situationist City 
by Simon Sadler.
MIT, 248 pp., £24.95, March 1998, 0 262 19392 2
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... student union’s funds. Copies were presented by well-dressed representatives of the union to the Bishop of Strasbourg, the city’s chief of police and the rector of the university as they filed into the Palais Universitaire for the opening ceremony of the university term. A further round of chaos ensued in the form of a ‘revolutionary festival’, which ...

Hatpin through the Brain

Jonathan Meades: Closing Time for the Firm, 9 June 2022

The Palace Papers 
by Tina Brown.
Century, 571 pp., £20, April, 978 1 5291 2470 5
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... in interiors being ‘very Buckinghamshire’ and her mother’s alleged failure to adhere to Alan Ross’s snobs’ charter on U and non-U. The Middletons have been further mocked for having commissioned a coat of arms. Certain patterns of behaviour recur. With a sure populist instinct Diana gave the people what she wanted to give them in controlled ...

The Mothering of Montgomery

John Keegan, 2 July 1981

Monty: The Making of a General, 1887-1942 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 871 pp., £12, June 1981, 0 241 10583 8
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The War between the Generals: Inside the Allied High Command 
by David Irving.
Allen Lane, 446 pp., £9.95, June 1981, 0 7139 1344 4
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... intercession with the Commandant – the author suggests that Colonel Capper relented to spare the Bishop’s shame, but one suspects he was beaten in a fair fight – and he departed chastened to his regiment. The Royal Warwickshire was in India: Sandhurst makes a point of not giving its products a ‘character’ and he was therefore able to settle in as a ...

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