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Strong Meat

John Lanchester, 11 January 1990

The Bellarosa Connection 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 102 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 436 19988 2
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The War Zone 
by Alexander Stuart.
Hamish Hamilton, 207 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 241 12342 9
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A Touch of Love 
by Jonathan Coe.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2277 3
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Do it again 
by Martyn Harris.
Viking, 220 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82858 0
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... based, on voice: the novel in which the main character is the voice in which the story is told. In Alexander Stuart’s second novel, The War Zone, the storytelling voice belongs to Tom, an adolescent whose family has just moved from London, which he liked, to Devon, which he hates: ‘the people down here don’t know they’re alive.’ He misses the ...

Make it more like a murder mystery

Eleanor Birne: The life and death of Stuart Shorter, 19 May 2005

StuartA Life Backwards 
by Alexander Masters.
Fourth Estate, 295 pp., £12.99, April 2005, 0 00 720036 6
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... The first time Alexander Masters met Stuart Shorter, he was crouched in a doorway next to the discount picture-framing shop round the corner from Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge: as it happens, the framing shop I used to work for as a sandwich boarder in my teens. Every Saturday the shop owner would hand me a board and a stack of leaflets and I’d hurry down to Christ’s Pieces, a public green in town which was also, I now know, Stuart’s home ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution, 18 December 2014

The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... line of English kings reaching back to the Saxon era. In the process they rehabilitated the Stuart dynasty: the Virginia Almanac of 1741, for instance, commemorated 30 January as the day Charles I was martyred. By the 1740s, McConville reckons, ‘Americans understood the Hanoverian monarchy to rule by a kind of benevolent divine right,’ and George ...

Rigging and Bending

Simon Adams: James VI & I, 9 October 2003

The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 438 pp., £20, February 2003, 0 7011 6984 2
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... was rapidly becoming his chief confidant. In 1588 James arranged Huntly’s marriage to Henrietta Stuart, daughter of his former favourite the Duke of Lennox, thus admitting him into the wider royal family. In the following decade, Huntly’s various escapades – the murder of the Earl of Moray; the ‘Spanish Blanks’ affair, an offer by Scottish Catholics ...

Bottom

Richard Jenkyns: George Grote’s ‘A History of Greece’, 9 August 2001

A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 BC 
by George Grote, edited by J.M. Mitchell and M.O.B. Caspari.
Routledge, 978 pp., £60, September 2000, 0 415 22369 5
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... of Greece, ranging ‘from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great’, was a work of heroic industry in reading, sifting, assimilating and composing; nor was it all he did for the understanding of classical Greece, for he was to go on to write Plato and the Other Companions of Socrates and an unfinished study ...

Carers or Consumers?

Barbara Taylor: 18th-Century Women, 4 November 2010

Women and Enlightenment in 18th-Century Britain 
by Karen O’Brien.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £17.99, March 2009, 978 0 521 77427 7
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... In 1779, a Scottish doctor called William Alexander published a two-volume History of Women. Alexander was a man of the Enlightenment who regarded politeness to women as a mark of civilisation. Savages and ‘musselmen’ might treat their women as sexual helots, but a gentleman was solicitous of his womenfolk ...

Birth of a Náison

John Kerrigan, 5 June 1997

The Political World of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, 1621-41 
edited by J.F. Merritt.
Cambridge, 293 pp., £35, March 1996, 0 521 56041 1
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The British Problem, c. 1534-1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and John Morrill.
Macmillan, 334 pp., £13.50, June 1996, 0 333 59246 8
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The Stuart Court and Europe: Essays in Politics and Political Culture 
edited by Malcolm Smuts.
Cambridge, 289 pp., £35, September 1996, 9780521554398
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Mere Irish and Fíor-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, its Development and Literary Expression Prior to the 19th Century 
by Joep Leerssen.
Cork, 454 pp., £17.95, November 1996, 1 85918 112 0
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... In The Political World of Thomas Wentworth – a distinguished collection of essays on one Stuart minister who advanced British hegemony – Peter Lake urges historians not to link Early Modern crises ‘directly to contemporary concerns about Northern Ireland, the union with Scotland and the European union’. It strikes me that Lake devalues the ...

Diary

Tom Nairn: On Culloden, 9 May 1996

... upwards of five thousand persons – ‘the size of the Jacobite army under Prince Charles Edward Stuart’, noted the Scotsman’s reporter – assembled on the tableland for the 250th birthday. Around 10 a.m. the queue of motor carriages stretched back down into Inverness. After a dry winter the sombre morass was a lot more walkable than usual. No ...

Barbarians

Stuart Airlie, 17 November 1983

Medieval Germany and its Neighbours 900-1250 
by K.J. Leyser.
Hambledon, 302 pp., £18, February 1983, 0 907628 08 7
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The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987 
by Rosamond McKitterick.
Longman, 414 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 582 49005 7
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Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill 
edited by Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough and Roger Collins.
Blackwell, 345 pp., £27.50, September 1983, 0 631 12661 9
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... Saxon historian Widukind inclined him to think that the Saxons were descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Great. Similarly, some Franks fondly imagined that their people had a Trojan origin. Both Dr McKitterick and Mr Leyser endeavour to see past such images, delusions and sheer propaganda in order to reveal a truer picture of barbarian Europe. For Dr ...

Master’s Voice

Stuart Hampshire, 19 June 1986

The Time of My Life: An Autobiography 
by W.V. Quine.
MIT, 499 pp., £21.50, September 1985, 0 262 17003 5
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... in exchanges of opinion, particularly on political topics. He remarks that he agreed with General Alexander Haig’s political opinions when he met him, but he otherwise leaves imprecise and undecidable topics out of the account. The exhilaration of reading him comes from his own communicated enjoyment of his very honourable batting average, and his related ...

Little Red Boy

Elizabeth Lowry: Alistair MacLeod, 20 September 2001

Island: Collected Stories 
by Alistair MacLeod.
Cape, 434 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 224 06194 1
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No Great Mischief 
by Alistair MacLeod.
Vintage, 262 pp., £6.99, June 2001, 0 09 928392 1
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... one of the affluent dentist sons so deeply regretted in ‘The Closing down of Summer’. He is Alexander MacDonald, known to the extended MacDonald family on Cape Bret-on as gille beag ruadh (‘little red boy’) to distinguish him from his numerous other kinsfolk in clann Chalum Ruaidh (‘the clan of Calum the Red’) with the same name. All are ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue, 20 December 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... attacks on Orwell from the Left. The militants are Malcolm Evans, Alan Brown, Alaric Jacob, Bill Alexander, Robert Stradling, Beatrix Campbell, Deirdre Beddoe, Stephen Sedley, Lynette Hunter, Andy Croft, Stuart Hall, Antony Easthope and Christopher Norris. The attacks are now commonplace. Raymond Williams and other writers ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... Andrew Millar, William Strahan, Thomas Cadell (father and son) and George Robinson in London, and Alexander Kincaid, John Balfour, John Bell and William Creech in Edinburgh, were not ‘mechanicks’ as Strahan once complained, but collaborators in a London-Edinburgh publishing enterprise that put Scotland on the literary map. For John Pinkerton, an Edinburgh ...

At the Helm of the World

Pankaj Mishra: Alexander Herzen, 31 May 2017

The Discovery of Chance: The Life and Thought of Alexander Herzen 
by Aileen Kelly.
Harvard, 582 pp., £31.95, May 2016, 978 0 674 73711 2
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... among the English translations of Marx, Lenin and various socialist realist novels, an edition of Alexander Herzen’s novel Who Is to Blame? The title was irresistible and its theme of stupor and futility in the provinces seemed both contemporary and urgent. The ‘tryst with destiny’ promised by Nehru in 1947 seemed further away than ever in an India that ...

Homage to Mrs Brater

Rosemary Ashton, 7 August 1986

George Eliot 
by Gillian Beer.
Harvester, 272 pp., £16.95, May 1986, 0 7108 0506 3
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German Women in the 18th and 19th Centuries: A Social and Literary History 
edited by Ruth-Ellen Joeres and Mary Jo Maynes.
Indiana, 356 pp., $29.95, January 1986, 0 253 32578 1
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Red Jenny: A Life with Karl Marx 
by H.F. Peters.
Allen and Unwin, 182 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 04 928053 8
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Wives of Fame: Mary Livingstone, Jenny Marx, Emma Darwin 
by Edna Healey.
Sidgwick, 210 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 283 98552 6
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A Mid-Victorian Feminist: Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon 
by Sheila Herstein.
Yale, 224 pp., £16.95, January 1986, 0 300 03317 6
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George Eliot and Blackmail 
by Alexander Welsh.
Harvard, 400 pp., £20.50, November 1985, 0 674 34872 9
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... on the woman question is discussed, among other things, in two recent books, by Gillian Beer and Alexander Welsh. Gillian Beer, with a nice sense of the difficulty of taking up a single-minded position on the question of whether George Eliot was more liberated or more constrained about women’s lives in her fiction than in her life, notes mildly that ...

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