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Priapus Knight

Marilyn Butler, 18 March 1982

The Arrogant Connoisseur: Richard Payne Knight 1751-1824 
edited by Michael Clarke and Nicholas Penny.
Manchester, 189 pp., £30, February 1982, 0 7190 0871 9
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... neighbour Uvedale Price, Sir William Hamilton, Britain’s ambassador at Naples, and the collector Charles Townley. By the mid-l780s Knight moved in the liberal, not to say liberated Whig circles that had Charles James Fox as a hero, and ancient Athens as an inspiration. Knight’s first ...

Great Instructor

Charles Nicholl, 31 August 1989

Ben Jonson: A Life 
by David Riggs.
Harvard, 399 pp., £27.95, April 1989, 0 674 06625 1
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... in August 1637, aged 65, at the gate-house in Westminster where he lived his last years with a pet fox and a drunken housekeeper. His funeral was attended by ‘the greatest part of the nobilitie and gentry’, and a volume of memorial odes, Jonsonus Virbius, was published the following year. Here his disciples – the ‘Tribe of Ben’, as they were called ...

In No Hurry

Charles Glass: Anthony Shadid, 21 February 2013

House of Stone 
by Anthony Shadid.
Granta, 336 pp., £14.99, August 2012, 978 1 84708 735 5
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... at the Hawar Art Gallery beside the Tigris. ‘They’re going to burn the forest to kill the fox,’ Maher Samarai, a ceramicist, said. Shadid covered the long looting and burning of the forest with a sensitivity to the nuances of Iraqi life that eluded the war’s cheerleaders in much of the Anglo-American press. While colleagues embedded themselves ...

Why Calcutta?

Amit Chaudhuri, 4 January 1996

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 98 pp., £7.95, October 1995, 9781859840542
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... proximity to the holy and to absolution. Two-thirds of the way through the book, we come across Charles Keating, who is ‘now serving a ten-year sentence for his part in the Savings and Loan scandal – undoubtedly one of the greatest frauds in American history’. At the height of his success as a thief, Keating made donations (not out of his own ...

Never Mainline

Jenny Diski: Keith Richards, 16 December 2010

by Keith Richards, with James Fox.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 297 85439 5
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... name. Other reviews I’ve seen have been pretty much raves. ‘Whooooosssh! What a trip,’ says Charles Spencer at the Telegraph: ‘it is an absolute blast. Over more than 500 pages, its narrative only rarely fails to grip.’ According to John Walsh in the Independent, ‘the 500-plus pages of Life throb with energy, pulsate with rhythm and reverberate ...

Benign Promiscuity

Clair Wills: Molly Keane’s Bad Behaviour, 18 March 2021

Good Behaviour 
by Molly Keane.
NYRB, 291 pp., £12, May, 978 1 68137 529 8
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... Molly​ Keane’s gloriously camp novel, Good Behaviour, begins with the narrator, Aroon St Charles, a 57-year-old survivor of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, murdering her aged mother with a rabbit mousse. She doesn’t choke on it: Aroon has made sure that the quenelle in cream sauce is perfect, with ‘just a hint of bay leaf and black pepper, not a breath of the rabbit foundation’, the mousse irreproachable ‘after it has been forced through a fine sieve and whizzed for ten minutes in a Moulinex blender ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Trump Regime, 1 December 2016

... son-in-law, the real estate scion and entrepreneur Jared Kushner. In 2005 Kushner’s father, Charles, was convicted of making illegal political donations, tax evasion and witness tampering. He had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, a witness for the prosecution, and mailed the tape of their hotel encounter to his sister on the day of a ...

Behind the Waterfall

Lorna Scott Fox, 16 November 1995

The Creature in the Map: A Journey to El Dorado 
by Charles Nicholl.
Cape, 396 pp., £18.99, May 1995, 0 224 03333 6
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... In this celebration of a possible Good Imperialist (good beyond the inherent virtues of failure), Charles Nicholl unearths more detail and offers more seductive speculation than any previous writer. With the vigorous Return of the Subject that besets many contemporary historians, he also can’t resist elbowing to the forefront with a Channel 4 expedition to ...

Lucky’s Dip

James Fox, 12 November 1987

Trail of Havoc: In the Steps of Lord Lucan 
by Patrick Marnham.
Viking, 204 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 670 81391 5
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Lucan: Not Guilty 
by Sally Moore.
Sidgwick, 271 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 9780283995361
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... would appear. Looking back at the notes I made, I see that Elwes and Lucan’s other close friend Charles Benson emphasised Lucan’s heavy drinking at the time, and his dark, brooding mood, and signs of instability. Drink might easily have made Lucan lose control with the bludgeon, having perhaps first attacked Sandra Rivett with his gloved hands. Elwes told ...

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger, 25 October 2018

... turning up the music so that her screams could not be heard and putting his hand over her mouth. Fox News calls her a ‘loon’ (‘She may very well believe everything she’s saying. That is one of the signs of lunacy, believing something that isn’t real’); Senator Orrin Hatch says she is clearly ‘mixed up’; Donald Trump Jr tweets a crude drawing ...

No Strings

Bee Wilson: Pinocchio, 1 January 2009

by Carlo Collodi, translated by Geoffrey Brock.
NYRB, 189 pp., £8.99, November 2008, 978 1 59017 289 6
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... less malevolent forms, from Pinocchio’s childish hunger to the sinister avarice of the cunning Fox and Cat, who, as in Disney, pop up at every opportunity to lead the puppet astray. But in the book the Fox and Cat are murderous, not simply venal. At one point, they set upon Pinocchio in disguise, trying to steal the ...

Business as Usual

J. Hoberman: Hitler in Hollywood, 19 December 2013

Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-39 
by Thomas Doherty.
Columbia, 429 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 231 16392 7
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The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler 
by Ben Urwand.
Harvard, 327 pp., £19.95, August 2013, 978 0 674 72474 7
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... and apologists. Hitler’s American admirers included Henry Ford, William Randolph Hearst and Charles Lindbergh. General Motors, DuPont and IBM did business with the Nazis. So did MGM. It’s no shock to see democratic politicians cosying up to Saudi autocrats, or Rupert Murdoch or the Walt Disney Company ingratiating themselves with China’s ...

Can’t Afford to Tell the Truth

Owen Bennett-Jones: Trouble at the BBC, 20 December 2018

... Since the BBC is far more likely to report, for example, on climate change rather than, as Fox News might, on crimes committed by immigrants, its agenda is perceived in the US as liberal-leaning. This perception is bolstered by the rebroadcasting of the BBC on public radio stations, whose audiences tend to be liberal. The BBC is now, not ...

Jousting for Peace

Thomas Penn: Henry VIII meets Francis I, 17 July 2014

The Field of Cloth of Gold 
by Glenn Richardson.
Yale, 288 pp., £35, November 2013, 978 0 300 14886 2
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... Christendom’s centre of gravity lay not in Rome but in London. As Wolsey’s mentor, Richard Fox, acknowledged, the Universal Treaty of London was ‘the best deed that was ever done for the realm of England’. But early the following year, the Treaty came under threat. In January 1519, one of its key signatories, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian ...


Stefan Collini: Herbert Butterfield, 21 July 2005

Herbert Butterfield: Historian as Dissenter 
by C.T. McIntire.
Yale, 499 pp., £30, August 2005, 0 300 09807 3
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... for attacking the Whig interpretation of history without naming ‘a single Whig except Fox, who was no historian, or a single historian save Acton, who was no Whig’. This points to a larger unsteadiness about the object of Butterfield’s criticism, an unsteadiness that was to be reproduced as a tension running throughout his career. In the ...

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