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World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... and Lord Randolph Churchill, here present in a chatty round-up that is mere fluff; Paul Addison, who once worked with Randolph S. on editing the C papers, here useful on C and social reform; the navalist Richard Ollard, who has written on the Churchill-impacted Admirals Fisher and Cunningham (and the Navy), John Grigg (and ...

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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... that ‘some method should be thought on for ascertaining and fixing our Language for ever.’ Addison toyed with the idea of writing a dictionary, as Johnson notes in his Life. Meanwhile, through the 16th and 17th centuries, the English dictionary was slowly developing. Previous English dictionaries had developed from Old English glosses to Latin ...

At the Amsterdam

Steven Shapin: A Wakefull and Civill Drink, 20 April 2006

The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffee House 
by Brian Cowan.
Yale, 364 pp., £25, January 2006, 0 300 10666 1
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Coffee House: A Cultural History 
by Markman Ellis.
Phoenix, 304 pp., £8.99, November 2005, 0 7538 1898 1
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... and his mates would be at Will’s; and in the 1710s you could join in polite conversation with Addison and Steele at Button’s. If you wanted to gamble, the Young Man’s was a good bet; if experimental natural philosophy was your thing, Royal Society virtuosi frequently repaired to Garraway’s after their official meetings; if you wanted medical ...

Ovid goes to Stratford

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare Myths, 5 December 2013

Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare 
by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith.
Wiley-Blackwell, 216 pp., £14.99, December 2012, 978 0 470 65851 2
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... is subjected to genius-forming song recitals:             What are the Lays of artful Addison, Coldly correct, to Shakespear’s Warblings wild? Whom on the winding Avon’s willow’d Banks Fair Fancy found, and bore the smiling Babe To a close Cavern: (still the Shepherds shew The sacred Place, whence with religious Awe They hear, returning from ...


Inigo Thomas: Berry Bros, 20 December 2018

... society in the 18th century interest in weight became a measure of male hypochondria. Joseph Addison imagined a weight-obsessed man who spent all day checking his weight by sitting on a pair of scales: ‘I do not dine and sup by the Clock, but by my Chair; for when that informs me my Pound of Food is exhausted I conclude my self to be hungry, and lay in ...

Who’s the real cunt?

Andrew O’Hagan: Dacre’s Paper, 1 June 2017

Mail Men: The Unauthorised Story of the ‘Daily Mail’, the Paper that Divided and Conquered Britain 
by Adrian Addison.
Atlantic, 407 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 78239 970 4
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... known use of the word in English was in 1230, when an Oxford street was named Gropecunt Lane. Paul Dacre, that nice man who edits the Daily Mail, has become famous in recent times for ‘double-cunting’: a colleague, usually male, will be ticked off via a thunderous, compound deployment of the Old Frisian. ‘You call that a good cunting headline, you ...

Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 4 August 1988

Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... parody of Pamela’s writing-to-the-moment technique as the pen drops in homage to the penis. Paul-Gabriel Boucé’s essay on ‘Chthonic and Pelagic Metaphorisation in Eighteenth-Century English Erotica’ is a virtuoso display of linguistic excarnation, turning the flesh into the word. For Boucé sex is lexis; a vagina is never merely a vagina, but a ...

Protestant Guilt

Tom Paulin, 9 April 1992

Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 517 pp., £18.99, March 1992, 0 571 16604 0
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... it had every reason to fear’. The prose of Milton was replaced overnight by the prose of Addison, which in all essentials is ‘still our cultivated norm’. The full-stretch, vehemently unAddisonian muscularity of Hughes’s prose is a protest against civility that announces its pedigree – Bunyan, Milton, Lawrence – in an impulsive ...

Men in Aprons

Colin Kidd: Freemasonry, 7 May 1998

Who’s Afraid of Freemasons? The Phenomenon of Freemasonry 
by Alexander Piatigorsky.
Harvill, 398 pp., £25, August 1997, 1 86046 029 1
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... of 18th-century Masonry, but their tentative conclusions are at odds with Piatigorsky’s thesis. Paul Monod thinks that the message of restoration underpinning Masonic ritual – the rebirth in every Master Mason of King Solomon’s murdered builder Hiram Abiff – proved congenial to English Jacobites, while Philip Jenkins detects a distinctive Jacobite and ...

Fielding in the dock

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1990

Henry Fielding: A Life 
by Martin Battestin and Ruthe Battestin.
Routledge, 738 pp., £29.50, October 1989, 0 415 01438 7
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New Essays 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin.
Virginia, 604 pp., $50, November 1989, 0 8139 1221 0
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The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. The True Patriot, and Related Writings 
edited by W.B. Coley.
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An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and Related Writings 
edited by Malvin Zirker.
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The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register Office 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Bertrand Goldgar.
Oxford, 446 pp., £50, December 1988, 0 19 818511 1
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Fielding and the Woman Question: The Novels of Henry Fielding and the Feminist Debate 1700-1750 
by Angela Smallwood.
Harvester, 230 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 7108 0639 6
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... anxiety and grief which readers conveyed to Richardson or to Dickens over the fate of Clarissa or Paul Dombey (whose death ‘threw a whole nation into mourning’) is disconcertingly replicated in popular responses to radio and TV soap-operas. What Flaubert was to extol as novelistic ‘illusion’ has obvious affinities with the hoax and other forms of ...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett, 11 July 1991

by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 325 pp., £17.50, September 1990, 0 571 16070 0
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Collected Poems 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 456 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 7011 3713 4
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The Mail from Anywhere 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, September 1990, 0 19 282779 0
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An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems 
by Matt Simpson.
Bloodaxe, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 1 85224 103 9
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... most extended and schematic exorcism of history and mythology. The poem is – to borrow Paul Zweig’s phrase for ‘Song of Myself’ – a ‘therapeutic epic’. Each of its main characters represents an unfortunate aspect of the West Indian inheritance which, as the poem progresses, is either cured or comfortably accommodated. Philoctete, for ...

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