Search Results

Advanced Search

31 to 45 of 89 results

Sort by:

Filter by:


Article Types



Colin Burrow: ‘Hamlet’ as you like it, 21 June 2007

edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor.
Arden, 613 pp., £8.99, March 2006, 1 904271 33 2
Show More
Hamlet: The Texts of 1603 and 1623 
edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor.
Arden, 368 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 1 904271 80 2
Show More
‘Hamlet’ without Hamlet 
by Margreta de Grazia.
Cambridge, 267 pp., £17.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69036 2
Show More
Show More
... How many Hamlets would you like? A play of that name was performed in the late 1580s. It was probably bloody and Senecan, and probably written by Thomas Kyd. Another one (probably Shakespeare’s) was performed on board a ship anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone in 1607 at the request of the captain, William Keeling: ‘I invited Captain Hawkins to a ffishe dinner, and had Hamlet acted abord me: which I permitt to keepe my people from idlenes and unlawfull games, or sleep ...

Big Rip-Off

Colin Burrow: Riffing Off Shakespeare, 3 November 2016

Shylock Is My Name: ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Retold 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hogarth, 277 pp., £16.99, February 2016, 978 1 78109 028 2
Show More
Vinegar Girl: ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ Retold 
by Anne Tyler.
Hogarth, 233 pp., £16.99, June 2016, 978 1 78109 018 3
Show More
The Gap of Time: ‘The Winter’s Tale’ Retold 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Hogarth, 291 pp., £16.99, October 2015, 978 1 78109 029 9
Show More
Hag-Seed: ‘The Tempest’ Retold 
by Margaret Atwood.
Hogarth, 293 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78109 022 0
Show More
Show More
... Ripping off​ and riffing off are related but distinct activities. A jazz player takes a standard and turns it inside out and back to front and then, to a cheer, makes it reassemble out of the apparent dissonances. Oh. It is ‘Summertime’. The enabling conditions of a successful riff-off are virtuosity in the performer and deep familiarity with the standard among the audience ...

Waves of Wo

Colin Burrow: George Gascoigne, 5 July 2001

A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres 
by George Gascoigne, edited by G.W. Pigman.
Oxford, 781 pp., £100, October 2000, 0 19 811779 5
Show More
Show More
... Shepheardes Calendar (anonymously printed, with hints as to its author’s identity) the figure of Colin Clout stands for an ideal poet and at the same time for the work’s own particular poet, Edmund Spenser, while E.K., the volume’s annotator, adds to the mystery of who exactly wrote it and why. It is here that Gascoigne’s influence is crucial, but his ...

Tuesday Girl

Colin Burrow: Seraphick Love, 6 March 2003

Transformations of Love: The Friendship of John Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 330 pp., £25, January 2003, 0 19 925257 2
Show More
Show More
... John Evelyn was a dry old stick – and here that metaphor has an almost literal force, since his first and greatest love was for trees. In Fumifugium (1661) he argued that smoky workshops should be banished from London, and that the environs of the city should be planted with ‘such Shrubs, as yield the most fragrant and odoriferous Flowers’ to sweeten its stench ...

Frisks, Skips and Jumps

Colin Burrow: Montaigne’s Tower, 6 November 2003

Michel de Montaigne: Accidental Philosopher 
by Anne Hartle.
Cambridge, 303 pp., £45, March 2003, 0 521 82168 1
Show More
Show More
... In November 1619 René Descartes retired into a ‘stove’ in order to reflect on the foundations of our knowledge of ourselves and the world. From his meditations he produced the bloodless certainty of the cogito: ‘I think therefore I am.’ The rest is intellectual history. In 1571 Michel de Montaigne, suffering increasingly from melancholy, retired to the library tower on his estate in the Périgord, and began to write his Essays ...

Are you a Spenserian?

Colin Burrow: Philology, 6 November 2014

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities 
by James Turner.
Princeton, 550 pp., £24.95, June 2014, 978 0 691 14564 8
Show More
Show More
... All​ logophiles have their weaknesses. Mine is technical vocabulary drawn from handcrafts, especially if those words have an obscure or Germanic origin. Who could resist noggin – an abbreviation of nogging board, which carpenters now use to refer to a transverse piece of timber hidden behind a wall surface into which you can affix screws to support shelves? Where two planes of a board intersect at right angles there is a sharp arris, which careful craftsmen will plane down into a chamfer (the origins of these terms are French, ‘arête’ and ‘chanfrein’ respectively) to prevent cutting the fingers that will be drawn irresistibly to its crisp edge ...

On your way, phantom

Colin Burrow: ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, 7 June 2012

Bring Up the Bodies 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 411 pp., £20, May 2012, 978 0 00 731509 3
Show More
Show More
... Bring Up the Bodies is not just a historical novel. It’s a novel with a vision of history that magically suits the period it describes. Its predecessor, Wolf Hall, the first part of what will be a trilogy of novels about the life of Thomas Cromwell, carried the burden of beginning and perhaps also of containing too much history.* In it Thomas Cromwell frees Henry VIII from his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, engineers his union with Anne Boleyn by breaking from Rome, and has Thomas More executed ...

Burning Love

Colin Burrow: Clive James’s Dante, 24 October 2013

Dante: The Divine Comedy 
translated by Clive James.
Picador, 526 pp., £25, July 2013, 978 1 4472 4219 2
Show More
Show More
... Everyone agrees that The Divine Comedy is wonderful. Just a shaft of song from the spirits in paradise, a phrase or two of Marco of Lombardy in purgatory explaining the birth of the soul, or even one of the squirts of desperate rage from one of the souls in hell, makes everything else seem small and distant. It’s extremely hard, though, to describe the exact mixture of qualities that makes it wonderful ...

Toolkit for Tinkerers

Colin Burrow: The Sonnet, 24 June 2010

The Art of the Sonnet 
by Stephanie Burt and David Mikics.
Harvard, 451 pp., £25.95, May 2010, 978 0 674 04814 0
Show More
Show More
... Sonnets have no rival. They’ve been written about kingfishers, love, squirrels, the moon (too often), God, despair, more love, grief, exultation, time, decay, church bells beyond the stars heard, war, statues, castles, rivers, revolutionaries, architecture, madness, seascapes, letters, kisses, and more or less everything else from apocalypse to zoos ...

New Model Criticism

Colin Burrow: Writing Under Cromwell, 19 June 2008

Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England: John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Marchamont Nedham 
by Blair Worden.
Oxford, 458 pp., December 2007, 978 0 19 923081 5
Show More
Show More
... Politics’ is a strange word, and the particular nature of its strangeness may explain why so many people feel confused by or alienated from political processes. It can refer high-mindedly to ‘the political ideas, beliefs or commitments of a particular individual’. But it can also be more or less value-neutral – or indeed suggest a complete lack of principle – when it is used to mean ‘activities or policies associated with government ...


Colin Burrow: Cultivation and desire in Renaissance gardens, 19 February 2004

Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens 
by Rebecca Bushnell.
Cornell, 198 pp., £18.95, August 2003, 0 8014 4143 9
Show More
Show More
... Gardening today labours to be classless. TV programmes and books try to persuade us that we, whoever we are, can make over scrubby lawns, erect decking, build pergolas, plumb in water features, and construct a little Blenheim in a rectangle of twenty by thirty feet. Everyone knows this notion of classlessness is false, since nothing stimulates petty snobberies more immediately than a garden ...

Grit in the Oyster-Shell

Colin Burrow: Pepys, 14 November 2002

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 499 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 670 88568 1
Show More
Show More
... Samuel Pepys was the son of a London tailor and a president of the Royal Society. He was a philanderer who could feed a wench lobster before having his way with her under a chair in a tavern (twice, on a good day), and a sage moralist who wrote solemnly to rebuke his chief patron, the Earl of Sandwich, for an extra-marital affair which threatened his career ...

Time to Mount Spain

Colin Burrow: Prince Charles’s Spanish Adventure, 2 September 2004

The Prince and the Infanta: The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match 
by Glyn Redworth.
Yale, 200 pp., £25, November 2003, 0 300 10198 8
Show More
Show More
... Never trust a man called Smith. Or rather, don’t trust him if he has a fake beard and is travelling with another man called Smith who also has a fake beard. This is one of the profound moral lessons which emerge from one of the most extraordinary incidents in 17th-century English history. On 17 February 1623, the future Charles I and the royal favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, set off for Madrid incognito ...

Be Nice to Mice

Colin Burrow: Henryson, 8 October 2009

‘The Testament of Cresseid’ and ‘Seven Fables’ 
by Robert Henryson, translated by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 183 pp., £12.99, June 2009, 978 0 571 24928 2
Show More
Show More
... Robert Henryson is the most likeable late medieval author after Chaucer. He wrote with a directness, a lightly carried learning and a lack of sentimentality hard to match anywhere in the British Isles at any date. A late and sadly unreliable anecdote conveys something of his style. Francis Kynaston reported in the early 17th century that when Henryson was dying of diarrhoea (probably around 1500) a cunning woman told him to go and circle a rowan tree chanting ‘whikey tree, whikey tree, take away this flux from me ...

Ohs and Ahs, Zeros and Ones

Colin Burrow: Lyric Poems, 7 September 2017

Theory of the Lyric 
by Jonathan Culler.
Harvard, 391 pp., £19.95, September 2017, 978 0 674 97970 3
Show More
Show More
... Chopping up literary activity into manageable portions of relatively similar material is, like butchery, a job that requires both skill and a measure of brutality. Of all the limbs into which literature has been subdivided by its anatomists, ‘lyric’ is perhaps the most like Grendel’s arm after Beowulf tears it off and hangs it up in Hrothgar’s hall: huge, a bit of a mess, and, in its vastness, terrifying to contemplate ...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences