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Not Dead Yet

Anthony Grafton: Latin, 8 January 2015

Latin: Story of a World Language 
by Jürgen Leonhardt, translated by Kenneth Kronenberg.
Harvard, 352 pp., £22.95, November 2013, 978 0 674 05807 1
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... in droves in the same period. A solar eclipse was about to take place. Two rival astronomers, William Whiston and Edmond Halley, had predicted where it would reach totality. As he had done once before, in 1715, Halley published in advance a map of the shadow that the eclipse would project on the earth, as seen from above – a brilliant feat of visual ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns, 11 December 1997

Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... Thomas Ken, Watts, Charles Wesley – but many less celebrated names, such as Sir Robert Grant, William Walsham How, William Chatterton Dix: Grant (‘O worship the King, all glorious above’), the Scottish-born English MP who ended his life as Governor of Bombay; Thomas Olivers (‘The God of Abraham praise’), a ...

Let him be Caesar!

Michael Dobson: The Astor Place Riot, 2 August 2007

The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama and Death in 19th-Century America 
by Nigel Cliff.
Random House, 312 pp., $26.95, April 2007, 978 0 345 48694 3
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... nor was there any mention of the two actors, the American Edwin Forrest and the Englishman William Charles Macready, whose long-smouldering rivalry as to whose was the greatest Macbeth of the age had culminated in clashes between a 15,000-strong mob and a detachment of the National Guard. Nowadays the neighbourhood hardly looks like the front line in ...

Wordsworth’s Crisis

E.P. Thompson, 8 December 1988

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 306 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 19 812868 1
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... I am of that odious class of men called democrats,’ Wordsworth wrote to his friend William Mathews in 1794. Much the same can be said of Coleridge, on the evidence of his letters and publications of the mid-1790s. By the early decades of this century, British, French and American scholarship concurred in finding both poets to be, in the 1790s, republicans and advanced reformers, who then suffered disappointment in the course of the French Revolution and, in different ways and at different times, changed their minds ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... in discussing the impact of the early settlers on the North American environment, he cites not William Cronon’s Changes in the Land (1983), now the standard work on the subject, but Civilisation and Climate by Ellsworthy Huntington, published in 1925. His account of the Reconstruction era after the Civil War rehashes long-discredited myths: that Congress ...

‘I’m glad what I done’

Gavin Millar, 13 October 1988

A Life 
by Elia Kazan.
Deutsch, 848 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 233 98292 2
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... Clifford Odets, Sam Behrman, Robert Ardrey, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Robert Anderson and William Inge. He did the same in the cinema with Williams, Robert Sherwood, Inge, Steinbeck and Schulberg. Though he modestly disclaims more than typecast competence on the boards, it should be remembered that he was a succès fou as Agate Keller in Clifford ...

Every club in the bag

Michael Howard, 10 September 1992

The Chiefs: The Story of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff 
by Bill Jackson and Dwin Bramall.
Brassey, 508 pp., £29.95, April 1992, 0 08 040370 0
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... they unmask their batteries, and we find that we are actually in the hands of General Sir William Jackson, GBE KCB MC MA, and Field Marshal Lord Bramall KG GCB OBE MC JP (JP indeed!). No artillery comes heavier than that. The title is also a little misleading: our generals tell the story, not just of ‘the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff’, as they ...


Tom Vanderbilt: ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, 21 August 2003

The Manchurian Candidate: BFI Film Classics 
by Greil Marcus.
BFI, 75 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 85170 931 1
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... haunted the pages of Time, while in Battle for the Mind (1957), the British psychologist William Sargent noted the Third Reich’s penchant for mass brainwashing: ‘Hitler never concealed his method, which included deliberately producing such phenomena by organised excitement and mass hypnotism, and even boasted how easy it was to impose “the lie ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... Others tried to cling on. The Earl of Powis stuck bravely by his decaying home, Lymore Hall in Montgomery until, at a church fête in 1921, ‘without any audible premonitory symptoms’, the earl and twenty of his guests suddenly fell through the floor of the great hall into the cellar. After that, sale was inevitable. The earl was heartbroken and those ...

Festival of Punishment

Thomas Laqueur: On Death Row, 5 October 2000

Proximity to Death 
by William McFeely.
Norton, 206 pp., £17.95, January 2000, 0 393 04819 5
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Death Row: The Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment 
edited by Bonnie Bobit.
Bobit, 311 pp., $24.95, September 1999, 0 9624857 6 4
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... and ruled capital punishment itself to be ‘cruel and unusual’. In Furman’s case only William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, the Court’s one black member, voted to strike down nearly all existing capital statutes on the grounds that they were intrinsically in violation of human rights or communal dignity. As Marshall put it in another ...

A Particular Way of Looking

J. Hoberman: NeoRealismo, 21 November 2019

NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932-60 
edited by Enrica Viganò.
Prestel, 349 pp., £49.99, September 2018, 978 3 7913 5769 0
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... periodicals. It also published work by the left-wing American photographers Paul Strand and William Klein, and ran photographic features intended to inspire subsequent movies, for example Carlo Cisventi’s ‘Chronicles from the Lower Po Valley’ and studies of Bussana Vecchia (a ghost-town near Genoa), Chiara Samugheo’s series of ‘Possessed ...

Sublimely Bad

Terry Castle, 23 February 1995

Secresy; or, The Ruin on the Rock 
by Eliza Fenwick, edited by Isobel Grundy.
Broadview, 359 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 1 55111 014 8
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... will fall in love with – and be betrayed by – her uncle’s natural son, the libertine Clement Montgomery.) When the other heroine of the novel, Caroline Ashburn, first comes across Sibella, she is perched like a ‘Wood Nymph’ on a tree stump, with Nina curled in her lap ‘in an attitude of confidence and affection’. Yet the tiny, sure-footed Nina is ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... ugly, if you don’t count Glen Ford or Dana Andrews (who weren’t exactly Paul Newman or Montgomery Clift themselves). My generation have Cahiers du cinéma, Godard and Truffaut to thank for the earlier generation of movie stars we might have overlooked. More fundamentally, we have to thank Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, who provided the ...

Whatever you do, buy

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s First Folio, 15 November 2001

The Shakespeare First Folio: The History of the Book Vol. I: An Account of the First Folio Based on Its Sales and Prices, 1623-2000 
by Anthony James West.
Oxford, 215 pp., £70, April 2001, 0 19 818769 6
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... Collectors’ fantasy Christmas present it may have become, but Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies was a series of headaches before it was anything else. Despite the confidently comprehensive title they gave it, the editors of the First Folio, John Heminges and Henry Condell, were defeated by the task of assembling all of their late colleague’s plays: we will never know how many nights’ sleep they lost over their failure to secure a copy of Love’s Labour’s Won, written before 1598 and printed in quarto before 1603, nor what arguments led to the exclusion not just of all Shakespeare’s poems and the single scene he wrote for Sir Thomas More but of three late collaborative plays, Pericles, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Cardenio ...

Hitler’s Teeth

Neal Ascherson: Berlin 1945, 28 November 2002

Berlin: The Downfall, 1945 
by Antony Beevor.
Viking, 490 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 670 88695 5
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... Eisenhower believed him, or at least had no time for the implications of not believing him. Montgomery and Churchill knew well what Stalin was up to, but the decision was not theirs. On 15 April, General William H. Simpson of the US 9th Army was flown back from the Elbe front to meet General Omar Bradley at ...

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