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Whip, Spur and Lash

John Ray: The Epic of Gilgamesh, 2 September 1999

The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation 
by Andrew George.
Allen Lane, 225 pp., £20, March 1999, 0 7139 9196 8
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... BC, but its later role was similar to that of Latin in the Middle Ages. A school text quoted by Andrew George in his new translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh makes a sardonic point about Sumerian and its importance: The door monitor said, ‘Why did you go out             without my say-so?’ and he beat me. The water monitor said, ‘Why did ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels, 23 August 2001

... the perennial murmur swelling to a growl – is currently in crisis (again). Earlier this year, Andrew Marr certified it dead. (He was announcing the shortlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction at the time. His verdict may prove to be no less premature than Johnson’s pronouncement on Sterne: ‘Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... of material. The papers had been retained by the Bentley family, after the takeover of the firm by Smith, Elder & Co (itself soon to be taken over by John Murray). A descendant – loyally named Richard Bentley – had lovingly conserved and catalogued them for posterity. In 1967, the BL acquired a tranche of early Macmillan papers: Harold Macmillan, it ...

Puffed up, Slapped down

Rosemary Hill: Charles and Camilla, 7 September 2017

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life 
by Sally Bedell Smith.
Michael Joseph, 624 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 7181 8780 4
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The Duchess: The Untold Story 
by Penny Junor.
William Collins, 320 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 0 00 821100 4
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... 1994 No one with even the most cursory interest in the subject will learn much from Sally Bedell Smith’s Prince Charles, which relies heavily on Jonathan Dimbleby’s biography of 1994, but her plod through the material builds into a detailed, sometimes affecting picture of Charles and of the curious concoction of fantasy, celebrity and tradition that is ...

Purging Stephen Spender

Susannah Clapp, 26 October 1989

Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Chatto, 358 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 7011 2938 7
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For Sylvia: An Honest Account 
by Valentine Ackland.
Chatto, 135 pp., £6.95, July 1989, 9780701135621
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... Before she was born, Sylvia Townsend Warner was called Andrew. When she was seven, her mother took against her for failing to be pretty and failing to be male; by the time she was 17 she was known to the boys of Harrow, where her father was a master, as ‘the cleverest fellow we had’. She described herself as repelled by the ‘devouring femaleness’ of her mother and as owning a ‘preponderantly masculine’ intellect ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne, 4 November 1993

... pose, as I came to appreciate when we spent some time in Rhodesia during the closing years of the Smith-run settler dictatorship. Worsthorne was hanging out with real white trash like P.K. Van der Byl, Smith’s kinkily sadistic deputy, and Richard Cecil, the brave but dim-bulbed scion of the Salisburys. We met in Meikles ...

Bastard Gaelic Man

Colin Kidd, 14 November 1996

The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson 
edited by Vincenzo Merolle.
Pickering & Chatto, 257 pp., £135, October 1995, 1 85196 140 2
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... alike, while the New Right delights in a pedigree which reaches back to David Hume and Adam Smith. In the United States scholars have established the influence of Francis Hutcheson, Hume and Smith on the American Revolution and the making of the Constitution. This view has been widely disseminated – to the liberal ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... newsagents: Farewell, Plantagenet! And toll the bell For Mowbray and de Vere. A further knell For Smith and Robinson. Now meet Patel. There’s always a whole new set of things you’re not allowed to laugh at. And now you can’t laugh at newsagents. You can’t snigger at class, or Princess Diana, even if you’re the sort of person who might always have ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... quiet. At last, on 20 October 1994, the paper published the story that Fayed had paid the MPs Tim Smith and Neil Hamilton to campaign on his behalf in the House of Commons. Smith, a former Tory Party Treasurer, admitted the payments and promptly resigned as a junior Northern Ireland Minister. Hamilton denied everything to ...

The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... us to prosperity and liberty but at the price of atomising our picture of the world. The labourer, Smith writes, is ‘not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private ...

Smiles Better

Andrew O’Hagan: Glasgow v. Edinburgh, 23 May 2013

On Glasgow and Edinburgh 
by Robert Crawford.
Harvard, 345 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 674 04888 1
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... he uses, as here, in his short poem (a free version of the Latin poem by Arthur Johnston) about St Andrew’s, where he has lived with his family and worked for more than twenty years: I love how it comes right out of the blue North Sea edge, sunstruck with oystercatchers. A bullseye centred at the outer reaches, A haar of kirks, one inch in front of ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Plainly Unconstitutional, 21 October 2021

... early in the court’s history, the chief justice reached a decision that President Andrew Jackson disliked, Jackson is said to have remarked: ‘John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.’) If the court’s decisions are not seen as legitimate, its power could fade.Stephen Breyer, a Supreme Court justice since 1994, is ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones, 10 July 2003

... enabled people to be on time, whereas mobile phones mean it hardly ever matters if we’re late. Andrew Wilson, a poet, will be publishing his first collection, Text Messages, in the autumn (Smith/Doorstop, £5). Readers are encouraged to send poems to friends’ mobiles. From September, it will be possible to receive five ...

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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... There has recently been the quarrel between Nabokov’s biographers – the publishing rascal Andrew Field and friend of the family, Brian Boyd. Should Diane Middlebrook have had access to Anne Sexton’s psychiatric records? Did Lawrence Durrell commit incest with his daughter, and if he did should the public know about it? The reluctance of his estate ...

Trollope’s Delight

Richard Altick, 3 May 1984

The Letters of Anthony Trollope 
edited by John Hall.
Stanford, 1082 pp., $87.50, July 1983, 0 8047 1076 7
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Anthony Trollope: Dream and Art 
by Andrew Wright.
Macmillan, 173 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34593 2
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... have been trying to hunt three days a week,’ he wrote his friend and publisher George Smith. ‘I find it must be only two. Mortal man cannot write novels, do the Post Office, and go out three days.’ ‘In some coming perfect world,’ he said on another occasion, ‘there will be hunting 12 months in the year.’ An acquaintance once said in ...

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