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Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan, 16 December 2004

Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... Noting Jack Lindsay’s statement that Bunyan’s The Holy War, published in 1682 near the end of Charles II’s reign, is a commentary on ‘absolutism against the liberties of the people’, Greaves asserts that this view ‘cannot be sustained’, but doesn’t explain why. Yet Sharon Achinstein, a scholar he cites elsewhere, has convincingly argued that ...

Intellectual Liberation

Blair Worden, 21 January 1988

Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 317 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 436 42512 2
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Archbishop William Laud 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 272 pp., £25, December 1987, 0 7102 0463 9
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Clarendon and his Friends 
by Richard Ollard.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £15, September 1987, 0 241 12380 1
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Anti-Calvinists 
by Nicholas Tyacke.
Oxford, 305 pp., £30, February 1987, 0 19 822939 9
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Criticism and Compliment: The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles
by Kevin Sharpe.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £27.50, December 1987, 0 521 34239 2
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... there is Laudianism, the new-fangled High Churchmanship which was awarded political ascendancy by Charles I. Then, opposed to it, there is the old-fashioned Calvinism of that doyen of Puritan scholars, the Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher. Although the first system was less dogmatic than the second, both of them closed their adherents’ minds. Between them ...

Learned Insane

Simon Schaffer: The Lunar Men, 17 April 2003

The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 588 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 571 19647 0
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... Soon after his 70th birthday, Charles Darwin sat down to compose a Life of his grandfather Erasmus, poet and sage of 18th-century Lichfield, brilliant physician, mechanical inventor, incorrigible heretic and evolutionist.* The biography was a mix of piety and polemic. Erasmus Darwin’s fate, his chronic diseases, strenuous urging of social and organic progress, and posthumous obloquy, were too close for comfort to his grandson’s hopes and fears ...

One Night in Maidenhead

Jean McNicol, 30 October 1997

Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits 
by Terry Castle.
Columbia, 150 pp., £15.95, November 1996, 0 231 10596 7
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Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall 
edited by Joanne Glasgow.
New York, 273 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 8147 3092 2
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Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 434 pp., £25, June 1997, 9780719554087
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... go on counting ... They might still be in the minority and yet they sprang up everywhere.’ This passage, with its untroubled description of lesbianism, is unusual in Hall’s fiction – although it is true that even these confident young women exist only to point up Joan’s own failure in this respect and others. The portrayal of homosexual life in ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... such as Walter Crane or Kate Greenaway penury would have been avoided. But though he admired Charles Keene’s observation of types and was encouraged and helped by Ricketts and Shannon there was too much of his father’s son in him, and not enough of the English craftsman, for him to become a professional illustrator, working for publishers in the ...

Unliterary, Unpolished, Unromantic

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Merchant of Prato’, 8 February 2018

The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City 
by Iris Origo.
Penguin, 400 pp., £10.99, May 2017, 978 0 241 29392 8
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... stand out which reveals the hand that wrote it. He may see – as suddenly as, at a turn of the passage, one comes upon one’s image in a mirror – a living face.This essay was published in its final form in 1984, four years before her death, but it began as a lecture she gave at Cambridge in 1958, and this particular ...

Field of Bones

Charles Nicholl: The last journey of Thomas Coryate, the English fakir and legstretcher, 2 September 1999

... of burlesque version of themselves. These are men like the braggadocio Peter Shakerly; the railer Charles Chester, who was the model for Carlo Buffone in Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour; Humfrey King, the poetic tobacconist; the barber-surgeons Tom Tooley and Richard Lichfield; the tavern joker John Stone. These loquacious oddballs found a small ...

Fugitive Crusoe

Tom Paulin: Daniel Defoe, 19 July 2001

Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions 
by Maximilian Novak.
Oxford, 756 pp., £30, April 2001, 0 19 812686 7
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Political and Economic Writings of Daniel Defoe 
edited by W.R. Owens and P.N. Furbank.
Pickering & Chatto, £595, December 2000, 1 85196 465 7
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... beheaded ‘for the horrid fanatic plot, contrived for the bringing in, as they then called him, Charles Stuart, and the restoring of monarchy.’ This remark functions mainly as an alibi for his loyalty to the post-Protectorate political structure, and is intended to shield him from the charge of being a closet republican, or a classical republican like ...

Greatest Genius

Frances Harris, 23 July 1992

Charles James Fox 
by L.G Mitchell.
Oxford, 338 pp., £25, June 1992, 0 19 820104 4
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... Charles James Fox was early hailed as ‘the phenomenon of the age’: an Infant Phenomenon like his chief opponent and perfect foil, William Pitt, who, Fox’s mother is said to have predicted, would be ‘a thorn in Charles’s side as long as he lives’. David Hume, encountering Fox at 16 during one of his formative visits to Paris, was startled by his intellectual power and maturity and already foresaw him as ‘a very great acquisition to the publick’, if the lure of a life of cosmopolitan dissipation, already strong on him, did not distract him ...

The great times they could have had

Paul Foot, 15 September 1988

Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... a foreign power. Could there be anything more horrible, more unthinkable? Well, yes, according to Charles Higham’s extraordinary biography, there could. He suggests that not long ago the most dangerous agent of a foreign power was the King; and the second most dangerous was the King’s lover. Both were sympathetic to, and possibly active agents ...

Nonetheless

John Bayley, 2 February 1989

The Lost Voices of World War One: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets and Playwrights 
edited by Tim Cross.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 7475 0276 5
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Poems 
by Paul Celan, translated by Michael Hamburger.
Anvil, 350 pp., £15.95, January 1989, 0 85646 198 9
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Flights of PassageReflections of a World War Two Aviator 
by Samuel Hynes.
Bloomsbury, 270 pp., £13.95, November 1988, 0 7475 0333 8
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... major cultural event,’ as the Introduction rightly observes. Some of the best excerpts are from Charles Péguy: from the Vers libre of Le Mystère de la charité de Jeanne d’Arc and from his attack on the ‘socialist art’ advocated by Jaurès. Modernism, well under way before it, as is testified not only in the work of such big names as Trakl and ...

Back to the Border

Niamh Gallagher: Ulsterism, 17 June 2021

The Partition: Ireland Divided, 1885-1925 
by Charles Townshend.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £20, April, 978 0 241 30086 2
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... was replaced by the Irish Free State, but Northern Ireland is with us still.In The Partition, Charles Townshend aims to explain how Ulster came to be conceived of as an entity requiring special treatment, even if people couldn’t agree on what, if anything, should be done about it, or on what exactly Ulster was. Townshend’s main focus is on British ...

War without an Enemy

Blair Worden, 21 January 1982

The Outbreak of the English Civil War 
by Anthony Fletcher.
Arnold, 446 pp., £24, October 1981, 0 7131 6320 8
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The Royalist War Effort 
by Ronald Hutton.
Longman, £12, October 1981, 0 582 50301 9
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... a war between king and parliament but a war between parliament and its papist enemies.’ But when Charles, raising his army, removed from the shires the only arms with which they could defend themselves against the expected Popish insurrection, he seemed finally to demonstrate that the conspiracy had reached the heart of the Court. In this interpretation ...

The Flight of a Clergyman’s Wife

Gareth Stedman Jones, 27 May 1993

Annie Besant: A Biography 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 383 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 19 211796 3
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... in her day-to-day life, the tension remained palpable many years afterwards. According to Charles Bradlaugh’s daughter, Hypatia, ‘she was the most tactless person I ever knew.’ But even for those who disliked her methods, denied her inspiration and opposed her opinions, there was something about her which compelled admiration. To Nehru, who had ...

His Friends Were Appalled

Deborah Friedell: Dickens, 5 January 2012

The Life of Charles Dickens 
by John Forster.
Cambridge, 1480 pp., £70, December 2011, 978 1 108 03934 5
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Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist 
by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.
Harvard, 389 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 674 05003 7
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Charles Dickens: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 527 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 670 91767 9
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... Only after Charles Dickens was dead did the people who thought they were closest to him realise how little they knew about him. His son Henry remembered once playing a memory game with him: My father, after many turns, had successfully gone through the long string of words, and finished up with his own contribution, ‘Warren’s Blacking, 30 Strand ...

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