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Third Natures

Christopher Minkowski: The Kāmasūtra, 21 June 2018

Redeeming the ‘Kamasutra’ 
by Wendy Doniger.
Oxford, 181 pp., £14.99, March 2016, 978 0 19 049928 0
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... in 1883 of an English translation – a project fronted by the Orientalising self-promoter Richard Burton – there have been a great number of illustrated versions. To many, the Kāmasūtra’s connection with India is almost incidental. Most do not know what the text as a whole is like: the best-known portions take up only one of its seven ...

Putting it on

David Marquand, 12 September 1991

A Life at the Centre 
by Roy Jenkins.
Macmillan, 600 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 333 55164 8
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... has nothing to do with air or water, and that accent is only part of the story. In different ways, Richard Burton and Aneurin Bevan (Beaverbrook’s ‘Bollinger Bolshevik’) were also champion putters-on. So, in a rather minor key, were at least half the members of my mother’s extended family. In a putting-it-on competition between Roy Jenkins and my ...

Running out of Soil

Terry Eagleton: Bram Stoker and Irish Protestant Gothic, 2 December 2004

From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker 
by Paul Murray.
Cape, 356 pp., £18.99, July 2004, 0 224 04462 1
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... tutor, John Pentland Mahaffy, once crawled into a roomful of clergymen dressed in a tigerskin rug. Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin, could occasionally be seen swinging on chains in front of his palace, smoking a pipe. Even the modern-minded Charles Stewart Parnell was hag-ridden with superstition, while Yeats regularly conversed with spirits. Bram Stoker ...

Joke Book?

A.D. Nuttall, 23 November 1989

The Anatomy of Melancholy: Vol. I 
by Robert Burton, edited by Thomas Faulkner, Nicholas Kiessling and Rhonda Blair.
Oxford, 675 pp., £70, October 1989, 0 19 812448 1
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... who eluded her too amorous suitor by hiding among pigs, stands the funerary monument of Robert Burton. Already, it will be noticed, I am giving more information than is strictly necessary. My excuse must be that it is a habit I have caught from Burton himself. A schoolboy, asked to produce a review, is said to have ...

Magical Realism

D.A.N. Jones, 1 August 1985

The House of the Spirits 
by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02231 8
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Linden Hills 
by Gloria Naylor.
Hodder, 304 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780340360330
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Careful with the Sharks 
by Constantine Phipps.
Cape, 216 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780224023085
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... he writes like Baden-Powell in Adventures of a Spy, even sometimes like Mr Pooter. He reads Sir Richard Burton a good deal and studies a more modern book in which the secrets of the CIA are revealed for 15 bucks. In this mood he feels very clever, easily able to outwit Major Shark from whom he can keep secret the brilliance of his bugs. ‘Sometimes I ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... literary calling float through the novel like a set of spectral teases. It’s a bit like seeing Richard Burton use the technique he learnt for Henry V to play some Alistair Maclean paratrooper. Intermittently, the nonsense assumes a human shape and pressure, the dialogue, when it is not too blatantly James versus James, sounds like something a human ...

Audrey and Her Sisters

Wayne Koestenbaum, 18 September 1997

Audrey Hepburn 
by Barry Paris.
Weidenfeld, 454 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 297 81728 0
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... then ‘Audrey pointed to one of Elizabeth’s enormous jewels and asked: “Kenny Lane?” “No, Richard Burton,” replied Taylor, and both stars screamed with laughter.’ It blows my mind – I don’t know a more proper way to say it – to imagine Hepburn pointing to Taylor’s jewels, as if the two were simply women at a party, not symbolic ...

Belgravia Cockney

Christopher Tayler: On being a le Carré bore, 25 January 2007

The Mission Song 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 339 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 9780340921968
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... starring Alec Guinness, or Martin Ritt’s version of The Spy who Came in from the Cold with Richard Burton, it’s possible to persuade yourself that le Carré might even be the greatest English novelist alive. Unfortunately, looking at his other books the next morning makes this seem less likely, in part because the classic phase of his career ...

Who were they?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: ‘Thuggee’, 3 December 2009

Stranglers and Bandits: A Historical Anthology of ‘Thuggee’ 
edited by Kim Wagner.
Oxford, 318 pp., £22.99, January 2009, 978 0 19 569815 2
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... lower-class Indian – Merchant himself was convinced that this was ‘a matter of record’: Sir Richard Burton ‘had done exactly that again and again’. Merchant was educated at St Xavier’s College in Bombay before leaving for the US in 1958, and was clearly not so sceptical about colonialist claims of conducting a mission civilisatrice in the way ...

Strewn with Loot

Adewale Maja-Pearce, 12 August 2021

The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution 
by Dan Hicks.
Pluto, 368 pp., £20, November 2020, 978 0 7453 4176 7
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Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes 
by Barnaby Phillips.
Oneworld, 388 pp., £20, April, 978 1 78607 935 0
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... Benin court art, since works in brass, ivory and wood are also included – in his 1668 account. Richard Burton, who travelled to the city in 1863, had written of them too, and a few had been presented as gifts, notably two carved ivory tusks given to a visiting trader in 1889 (he also took photographs), and a bronze figure of a horseman given to ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... and Harrington, but I found his chapters on lesser writers even more instructive. Robert Burton and Samuel Gott are revealed as more significant ‘utopians’ than has been recognised. Dr Davis is also interesting on William Sprigge’s A Modest Plea for an Equal Commonwealth of 1659, the anonymous Chaos (1659) and The Free State of Noland ...

The Politics of Translation

Marina Warner: Translate this!, 11 October 2018

This Little Art 
by Kate Briggs.
Fitzcarraldo, 365 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 910695 45 6
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Translation as Transhumance 
by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz.
Les Fugitives, 150 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 0 9930093 3 4
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Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto 
by Mark Polizzotti.
MIT, 168 pp., £17.99, May 2018, 978 0 262 03799 0
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The 100 Best Novels in Translation 
by Boyd Tonkin.
Galileo, 304 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 903385 67 8
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The Work of Literary Translation 
by Clive Scott.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £75, June 2018, 978 1 108 42682 4
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... and surveys a number of translators who were information-gatherers for their paymasters (Richard Burton, for example, the maker of a steamy Arabian Nights). Briggs lobbied hard for the job of translating Roland Barthes’s famous lecture series at the Collège de France, and, in spite of being a newcomer to ‘this little art’, was ...


Peter Campbell: At Kew, 21 April 2005

... Eyre’s particular version of hi-tech, just as the needs of the 1852 Palm House (Decimus Burton, ironwork by Richard Turner) were well served by advanced cast-iron technology. In both cases, aesthetic predilections are appropriate to practical needs. The larger, more stolid Temperate House (mainly 1859-62), also by ...

Gentlemen Travellers

D.A.N. Jones, 15 September 1983

George Borrow: Eccentric 
by Michael Collie.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 521 24615 6
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A World of his Own: The Double Life of George Borrow 
by David Williams.
Oxford, 178 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 19 211762 9
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Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jan Morris.
Oxford, 279 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 19 281361 7
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by Alexander Kinglake and Jonathan Raban.
Century, 226 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 7126 0031 0
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... monster, lionised by London hostesses as a man who did savage things in exotic lands, like Sir Richard Burton, later in the century. But that would be too absurd. ‘The proposed victim looked so thoroughly capable of enjoying life (if he could only get to the other side of the river) that I thought it would be hard for him to die, merely in order to ...
... I thought I was too grand to do interviews, but then I was asked to interview Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the set of some film. So I said, what the hell, I’ll do it. That initited the interviewing period of my life: I remember coming back and thinking. ‘It’s an absolute doddle, interviewing’ – I mean. Elizabeth Taylor was more famous ...

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