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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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... in the Marshalsea. It wasn’t the childhood he wanted, so he hadn’t spoken about it. For Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, in his clever new study, the mass of biographies can make Dickens’s life seem as inevitable as a fairy tale, his genius so self-evident that a novelist’s career was certain. But the alternative lives he might have led, as a debtor like his ...

How Shall We Repaint the Kitchen?

Ian Hacking: The Colour Red, 1 November 2007

Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind 
by G.E.R. Lloyd.
Oxford, 201 pp., £27.50, April 2007, 978 0 19 921461 7
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... make for the cultural universals urged by anthropologists as different as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Mary Douglas. Cultures – a word that has long been overused, and which I try to avoid – are entities that exist because children are nurtured into systems of practices and reactions that define the collective lives of individuals. Nurture, as Galton ...

Report from Sirius B

Jeremy Harding: ‘Phantom Africa’, 22 March 2018

Phantom Africa 
by Michel Leiris, translated by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Seagull, 711 pp., £42, January 2017, 978 0 85742 377 1
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... bore a striking resemblance to the civilisation that wrote it up: ‘unmistakably French’, Mary Douglas said in 1967, ‘so urbane, so articulate, with such philosophical insight’. Mutterings came to a head in 1991, when the Belgian anthropologist Walter van Beek decided to take Griaule and Dieterlen apart: they had forced their material, and ...

Lost Mother

Michael Dobson, 17 February 2000

In My End Is My Beginning: A Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by James Mackay.
Mainstream, 320 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 84018 058 7
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Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation 
by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis.
Routledge, 259 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 0 415 11481 0
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Ancestry and Narrative in 19th-Century British Literature: Blood Relations from Edgeworth to Hardy 
by Sophie Gilmartin.
Cambridge, 281 pp., £37.50, February 1999, 0 521 56094 2
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... We are proud of the national sentiment in Scotland which is associated with the name of Mary Queen of Scots. A simple chronicle of her sufferings was the first tale of sorrow over which we wept ... In graver manhood we are not ashamed to acknowledge, that we cannot peruse the volumes of her wrongs without emotion ...

What belongs

Mary Beard, 7 April 1994

On the Museum’s Ruins 
by Douglas Crimp.
MIT, 348 pp., £24.95, November 1993, 0 262 03209 0
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... and film and photographs of the murders – with all the risks of voyeurism that that entails. Douglas Crimp’s On the Museum’s Ruins is a contribution to these wide debates on the nature of the museum object. A collection of nine previously published articles (plus a new Introduction), it focuses on the place of photography within the museum. What ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... Ann Douglas’s The Feminisation of American Culture, first published in 1977, now appears in Britain at the same moment as its long-delayed successor, Terrible Honesty. Looking back at the earlier book, Douglas remarks that her ‘excavation and re-evaluation of American feminine 19th-century literature’ has been continued by many other historians, mostly women, who have rebelled against what she calls, in tones more civil than those of some of her successors, a literary canon consisting ‘of almost exclusively male-authored, conspicuously shaped and achieved works ...

Libel on the Human Race

Steven Shapin: Malthus, 5 June 2014

Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet 
by Robert Mayhew.
Harvard, 284 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 0 674 72871 4
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... within ongoing moral conversations – and we rarely expect consensus to emerge from those. Mary Douglas once asked rhetorically whether we can ‘know the risks we face, now or in the future’. ‘No, we cannot,’ she answered, ‘but yes, we must act as if we do.’ The game of predicting future states is wracked with uncertainties, and it’s ...

Shaviana

Brigid Brophy, 2 December 1982

Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side 
by Arnold Silver.
Stanford, 353 pp., $25, January 1982, 0 8047 1091 0
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Bernard Shaw and Alfred DouglasA Correspondence 
edited by Mary Hyde.
Murray, 237 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7195 3947 1
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... his humane impulses. Some of Shaw’s humane impulses were exercised, by letter, on Lord Alfred Douglas. Shaw’s only meeting with Douglas was at the Café Royal on the fateful afternoon in 1895 when Frank Harris and Shaw tried to dissuade Oscar Wilde from the libel action he had set in train against ...

Charm with Menaces

Colin Burrow: ‘The Mirror and the Light’, 19 March 2020

The Mirror and the Light 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 883 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 00 748099 9
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... Henry’s desire to remarry after Jane Seymour’s death, and that he wants himself to marry Mary, the king’s daughter, so he can set his own heirs on the throne. Cromwell can flatter Henry by telling him ‘Your Majesty is the only prince. The mirror and the light of other kings,’ but, as the king says, ‘he has never forgiven me for Wolsey.’ As ...

Making strange

John Sutherland, 19 March 1981

Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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XPD 
by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... term ‘metaphysical’). But Amis is less concerned with reconstituting the mysterious past of Mary Lamb (as she arbitrarily calls herself) than with exploiting her as a centre of deranged consciousness. For Mary the common world is defamiliarised. Thus, for instance, she tackles the telephone: ...

Settling accounts

Keith Walker, 15 May 1980

‘A heart for every fate’: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. 10, 1822-1823 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 239 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7195 3670 7
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... experiences gets caught up in Don Juan. ‘Send me a good Cocker,’ Byron writes to his banker Douglas Kinnaird, referring to the author of a 17th-century manual: ‘or the best Simplifier of Arithmetic – and you cannot imagine the difference.’ By the same principle of good husbandry, he puts Cocker to use in Don Juan:   Though all Exchequer ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... first two months of 1895 were busy for Oscar Wilde. In late January he was in Algiers with Alfred Douglas. He wrote to Robert Ross: ‘There is a great deal of beauty here. The Kabyle boys are quite lovely. At first we had some difficulty procuring a proper civilised guide. But now it is all right and Bosie and I have taken to haschish: it is quite ...

Hot Dogs

Malcolm Bull, 14 June 1990

Mine eyes have seen the glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America 
by Randall Balmer.
Oxford, 246 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 19 505117 3
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In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt, USA 
by Douglas Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 240 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 04 440423 9
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The Divine Supermarket 
by Malise Ruthven.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3151 9
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The Democratisation of American Christianity 
by Nathan Hatch.
Yale, 312 pp., £22.50, November 1989, 0 300 44470 2
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Religion and 20th-Century American Intellectual Life 
edited by Michael Lacey.
Cambridge/Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, 214 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 37560 6
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New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America 
by Mary Farrell Bednarowski.
Indiana, 175 pp., $25, November 1989, 0 253 31137 3
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... be of serious social importance? Both Randall Balmer, a professor of history at Columbia, and Douglas Kennedy, an American writer resident in London, confronted this question on numerous occasions in their travels through the evangelical sub-culture of America. Their narratives abound with the exploits of Christian stunt women, Christian tee-shirt ...

Gas-Bags

E.S. Turner: The Graf Zeppelin, 15 November 2001

Dr Eckener’s Dream Machine: The Historic Saga of the Round-the-World Zeppelin 
by Douglas Botting.
HarperCollins, 356 pp., £17.99, September 2001, 0 00 257191 9
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... lording it over Gotham, had crossed the Atlantic in two and a half days, whereas the Queen Mary, on whose maiden voyage I had just travelled, had taken nearly twice as long, shore to shore. In both craft the passengers dressed for dinner. The Hindenburg apparently had a priest to conduct Mass; the Queen Mary had a ...

Scrapbook

Edward Pearce, 26 July 1990

A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... filial man and a devoted husband. The account of that remote and not instantly attractive figure, Douglas Hogg, first Viscount Hailsham, Attorney-General and later Lord Chancellor in the Baldwin era, is impressive for what it tells us both about the parent, a model of old, Scottish-shaped Protestant rectitude, and about the son who without affectation loved ...

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