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Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... more populist contenders like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Mrs Humphry Ward’s The Marriage of William Ashe. In 1910 Howards End might have run into Clayhanger, and (Wells again) The History of Mr Polly; perhaps the Antipodean outsider Henry Handel Richardson would have scooped it with The Getting of Wisdom. In 1924 Forster’s publishers might have ...

Their Way

José Harris: On the Origin of Altruism, 12 March 2009

The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... or Soviet-style Marxism. Some of the most prominent social planners of those years, such as William Beveridge and Barbara Wootton in Britain, Pierre Laroque and Francis Netter in France, together with many campaigners for a united or federal postwar Europe, were heirs and exemplars of the positivist tradition of social, political and legal thought. Two ...

Dishevelled

Wayne Koestenbaum: Tennessee Williams, 4 October 2007

Tennessee Williams: Notebooks 
edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton.
Yale, 828 pp., £27.50, February 2007, 978 0 300 11682 3
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... with other poets published by New Directions, Williams’s primary American publisher: Pound, William Carlos Williams, Olson, Creeley, Levertov and Oppen. In his notebooks, Williams sometimes behaves like Pound or Olson, aware of the page as a field for uncertainty. And his notations of sexual events, like the references to Scotch and Seconal, participate ...

Splashed with Stars

Susannah Clapp: In Stoppardian Fashion, 16 December 2021

Tom Stoppard: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Faber, 977 pp., £14.99, September, 978 0 571 31444 7
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... collects Hemingway) and a portable desk with original leather fittings for ink and quills. Glynn Boyd Harte designs a bookplate with the couple’s initials entwined above a sketch of their house in Berkshire. They are snapped sharing a whopping study, with two enormous desks, a massive ashtray and a Swiss cheese plant. Miriam Stoppard – who while working ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... It is the document by which, in 1756, the firm of J.&R. Tonson undertook to publish The plays of William Shakespeare, in eight volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of Various Commentators; To which are added notes by Sam. Johnson. This edition, with its much reprinted preface and doggedly commonsensical approach to the text, still exerts a ...

Powers of Darkness

Michael Taylor: Made by Free Hands, 21 October 2021

Not Made by Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition 
by Bronwen Everill.
Harvard, 318 pp., £31.95, September 2020, 978 0 674 24098 8
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... where the abolitionists held most sway.According to this worldview, which has been illuminated by Boyd Hilton and Anthony Waterman, true liberty was spiritual, personal and economic: it depended on hearing the Gospel, accepting salvation through Christ and assuming that the Holy Spirit moved what Adam Smith called the ‘invisible hand’ of the ...

Outbreak of Pleasure

Angus Calder, 23 January 1986

Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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Outposts 
by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... victory in 1945 brought opportunity to high-minded persons from more than one political tradition. Boyd Orr the medical reformer and Julian Huxley the socially-conscious scientist helped to set up Unesco. William Beveridge, a Liberal, saw his Welfare State largely enacted; Creech Jones, chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau ...

Amor vincit Vinnie

Marilyn Butler, 21 February 1985

Foreign Affairs 
by Alison Lurie.
Joseph, 291 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 7181 2516 9
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... new Lurie doesn’t resemble a Bradbury or Lodge, or for that matter an early Lurie, so much as William Boyd’s Stars and Bars, which also investigates how members of one Anglophone culture don’t merely observe but exploit the other one. The protagonists in the new Lurie and Boyd novels are diffident people in ...

Christendom

Conrad Russell, 7 November 1985

F.W. Maitland 
by G.R. Elton.
Weidenfeld, 118 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 297 78614 8
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Renaissance Essays 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 312 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 436 42511 4
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History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick 
edited by Derek Beales and Geoffrey Best.
Cambridge, 335 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 25486 8
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... higher rhetorical style than is favoured by either. At its best, as in the essays on John Stow and William Camden, the method can produce work that is very vivid. Occasionally, the reader may be left wondering whether the vividness of the writing takes it a little bit further than the words of its source, or, as in the interesting essay on the Paracelsian ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... has an unfailingly good eye for anecdote and a line in sarky parenthesis – on such things as William Davenant’s pox-rotted nose – worthy of a stand-up comedian. Although it will find a home in that dreariest of Dewey Decimal deserts – the public reference section – this book is fun. But it will not help the ambitious undergraduate pass his/her ...

High Taxes, Bad Times

John Pemble: Late Georgian Westminster, 10 June 2010

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-32 
by D.R. Fisher.
Cambridge, 6336 pp., £490, December 2009, 978 0 521 19314 6
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... falling into contempt with the people.’ Taxes were high and times were bad, and journalists like William Cobbett were radicalising popular opinion by lambasting ‘Old Corruption’. Parliament, Cobbett stormed, was ruining the nation it no longer represented. An oligarchy of aristocrats and financiers, having hijacked the Commons by means of electoral ...

Who’s sorry now?

Andrew O’Hagan: Michael Finkel gets lucky, 2 June 2005

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa 
by Michael Finkel.
Chatto, 312 pp., £15.99, May 2005, 0 7011 7688 1
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Burning Down My Master’s House 
by Jayson Blair.
New Millennium, 288 pp., $24.95, March 2004, 9781932407266
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The Journalist and the Murderer 
by Janet Malcolm.
Granta, 163 pp., £8.99, January 2004, 1 86207 637 5
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... action squabble that saw the executive editor, Howell Raines, and the managing editor, Gerald Boyd, removed from their positions. ‘I hope you will agree with me that everyone should have the chance to apologise,’ Blair writes in the early pages of his action-thriller-memoir Burning Down My Master’s House. It’s not that you don’t feel bad for ...

The Enabling Boundary

Tom Nairn: We’re All Petit Bourgeois Now, 18 October 2007

What Should the Left Propose? 
by Roberto Mangabeira Unger.
Verso, 179 pp., £15, January 2006, 1 84467 048 1
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The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound 
by Roberto Mangabeira Unger.
Harvard, 277 pp., £19.95, February 2007, 978 0 674 02354 3
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Une brève histoire de l’avenir 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 432 pp., €20, October 2006, 2 213 63130 1
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... Such communities are a decisive survival tool, because they embody what Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd, in Not by Genes Alone (2004), have described as ‘ultra-sociality’. Human ultra-sociality is quite different from the communal networks formed among so many other species. As Durkheim showed in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, homo sapiens gains ...

Divinely Ordained

Jackson Lears: God loves America, 19 May 2011

A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided 
by Amanda Foreman.
Penguin, 988 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 104058 5
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... sharper outlines. Second-tier players have their moment in the limelight: the secretary of state William Seward drinks too much and blusters about invading Canada; the US ambassador Charles Francis Adams keeps a stiff and chilly distance from London society, managing to seem both unformed and overly formal; the Confederate envoy James Mason says ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... it took off on its own – the early enthusiasms for Robert Natkin, the later advocacy of Arthur Boyd – was unerringly awful. Either way, it hardly strengthened his cause. Take another critical position, more independent but more desperate. This critic is not encamped. There is one sort of art to which he responds, and in that sense he backs it; but he is ...

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