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Godly Mafia

Blair Worden: Aristocrats v. the King, 24 May 2007

The Noble Revolt: The Overthrow of Charles
by John Adamson.
Weidenfeld, 742 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 0 297 84262 0
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... congested time, perhaps the most controversial period of English history, between the breakdown of Charles I’s personal rule in 1640, when financial collapse and military defeat by the Scots drove the king to call the Parliament that would destroy him, and the year of the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 (though whereas Trevor-Roper’s narrative went ...

The great times they could have had

Paul Foot, 15 September 1988

Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... a foreign power. Could there be anything more horrible, more unthinkable? Well, yes, according to Charles Higham’s extraordinary biography, there could. He suggests that not long ago the most dangerous agent of a foreign power was the King; and the second most dangerous was the King’s lover. Both were sympathetic to, and possibly active agents ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan, 16 December 2004

Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... Noting Jack Lindsay’s statement that Bunyan’s The Holy War, published in 1682 near the end of Charles II’s reign, is a commentary on ‘absolutism against the liberties of the people’, Greaves asserts that this view ‘cannot be sustained’, but doesn’t explain why. Yet Sharon Achinstein, a scholar he cites elsewhere, has convincingly argued that ...

Diary

Charles Glass: In Mosul, 16 December 2004

... arrested many Communists. Fighting continued, but by now everyone was involved. In an often-quoted passage, Batatu wrote: For four days and four nights Kurds and Yezidis stood against Arabs; Assyrian and Aramaean Christians against Arab Muslims; the Arab tribe of Albu Mutaiwat against the Arab tribe of Shammar; the Kurdish tribe of al-Gargariyyah against Arab ...

Chapels for Sale

Charles Hope: At the Altarpiece, 2 December 2021

The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece: Between Icon and Narrative 
by David Ekserdjian.
Yale, 495 pp., £60, June 2021, 978 0 300 25364 1
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... in the king’s will. By honouring the saints in this way, he hoped that they would ease his passage in the afterlife, just as he hoped that the effigy on his tomb would encourage visitors to pray for his soul. In the same way, it was common for patrons in Italy to be shown in altarpieces as donors. Although Ekserdjian discusses donors, he is ...

Home-breaking

Danny Karlin, 23 May 1991

The Clopton Hercules 
by Duncan Sprott.
Faber, 220 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 9780571144082
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Life of a Drum 
by Carlo Gebler.
Hamish Hamilton, 173 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 241 13074 3
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Seventh Heaven 
by Alice Hoffman.
Virago, 256 pp., £12.99, February 1991, 1 85381 283 8
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A Home at the End of the World 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 241 12909 5
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A place I’ve never been 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 194 pp., £12.99, February 1991, 0 670 82196 9
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... sexual profligacy and to speculation on the railways). The story is based on a true case, that of Charles Warde, and incorporates documentary passages from legal proceedings and newspapers: but its historical veracity is absolutely of no importance. What matters is the rhetorical twist which Sprott gives to the events, the modern standpoint from which he ...

Whatever happened to Ed Victor?

Jenny Diski, 6 July 1995

Hippie Hippie Shake: The Dreams, the Trips, the Trials, the Love-ins, The Screw Ups … The Sixties 
by Richard Neville.
Bloomsbury, 376 pp., £18.99, May 1995, 0 7475 1554 9
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... to get a solid grip on (except perhaps the Anthropic Principle in quantum physics) than the passage of time between being young, and the discovery that, at best, you’re halfway through your allocation It feels as if an error has been made – a decade skipped by some careless calendar designer. Try and make sense of it: 25 years ago I was 23. All ...

His Friends Were Appalled

Deborah Friedell: Dickens, 5 January 2012

The Life of Charles Dickens 
by John Forster.
Cambridge, 1480 pp., £70, December 2011, 978 1 108 03934 5
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Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist 
by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.
Harvard, 389 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 674 05003 7
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Charles Dickens: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 527 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 670 91767 9
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... Only after Charles Dickens was dead did the people who thought they were closest to him realise how little they knew about him. His son Henry remembered once playing a memory game with him: My father, after many turns, had successfully gone through the long string of words, and finished up with his own contribution, ‘Warren’s Blacking, 30 Strand ...

Learned Insane

Simon Schaffer: The Lunar Men, 17 April 2003

The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 588 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 571 19647 0
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... Soon after his 70th birthday, Charles Darwin sat down to compose a Life of his grandfather Erasmus, poet and sage of 18th-century Lichfield, brilliant physician, mechanical inventor, incorrigible heretic and evolutionist.* The biography was a mix of piety and polemic. Erasmus Darwin’s fate, his chronic diseases, strenuous urging of social and organic progress, and posthumous obloquy, were too close for comfort to his grandson’s hopes and fears ...

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

The Poems of Browning. Vol. I: 1826-1840 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin.
Longman, 797 pp., £60, April 1991, 0 582 48100 7
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The Poems of Browning. Vol. II: 1841-1846 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin .
Longman, 581 pp., £50, April 1991, 9780582063990
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... Anthology, where Pound explicitly pays his dues by way of the parenthetical epigraph: ‘(King Charles)’. But in this case Pound’s adaptation is so inferior that there’s no point quoting anything but the Browning original. This is a deeper and more troubling poem than ‘Kentish Sir Byng’, because it articulates the all but suicidal sentiment of a ...

Rather Break than Bend

Clare Jackson: The Winter Queen, 26 May 2022

Elizabeth Stuart: Queen of Hearts 
by Nadine Akkerman.
Oxford, 581 pp., £20, December 2021, 978 0 19 966830 4
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... they were by James’s pacific inaction or by the apparently popish inclinations of his successor, Charles I. (Puzzlingly, the dust-jacket credit attributes the original portrait to Michiel Janszoon van Miereveldt but, when the picture is shown again in the tenth chapter, the caption indicates that it is ‘from the studio of Honthorst, and reminiscent of ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... such as Walter Crane or Kate Greenaway penury would have been avoided. But though he admired Charles Keene’s observation of types and was encouraged and helped by Ricketts and Shannon there was too much of his father’s son in him, and not enough of the English craftsman, for him to become a professional illustrator, working for publishers in the ...

Veni, vidi, video

D.A.N. Jones, 18 August 1983

Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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Monimbo 
by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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Heartburn 
by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... humourless para-political thrillers of espionage as Monimbo (copyright Mossgrave Partnership) or Charles McCarry’s The Last Supper – so ambitiously titled but with all the human interest of a computer or a ventriloquist’s dummy. Charles McCarry must not be confused with Edgar Bergen’s famous doll, Charlie ...

Greatest Genius

Frances Harris, 23 July 1992

Charles James Fox 
by L.G Mitchell.
Oxford, 338 pp., £25, June 1992, 0 19 820104 4
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... Charles James Fox was early hailed as ‘the phenomenon of the age’: an Infant Phenomenon like his chief opponent and perfect foil, William Pitt, who, Fox’s mother is said to have predicted, would be ‘a thorn in Charles’s side as long as he lives’. David Hume, encountering Fox at 16 during one of his formative visits to Paris, was startled by his intellectual power and maturity and already foresaw him as ‘a very great acquisition to the publick’, if the lure of a life of cosmopolitan dissipation, already strong on him, did not distract him ...

Fire and Ice

Patrick O’Brian, 20 April 1989

Fire Down Below 
by William Golding.
Faber, 313 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 571 15203 1
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... new novel, Fire Down Below is the third volume of a trilogy, the other parts being Rites of Passage and Close Quarters. The trilogy is about a voyage to Sydney in 1813, and a bald, merely literal account might run like this ... On the first page the hero appears, Edmund FitzHenry Talbot, an unformed young man of good family who is going out to help ...

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