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Crabby, Prickly, Bitter, Harsh

Michael Wood: Tolstoy’s Malice

22 May 2008
War and Peace 
by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Vintage, 1273 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 09 951223 3
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... in this impression of ruthlessness, it turns out, since it harps a little on the words ‘spite’ and ‘spiteful’ where other versions (those of Louise and Aylmer Maude, Constance Garnett and AnthonyBriggs, for example) have ‘wrath’, ‘fury’ or ‘virulence’ for the noun and a whole range of possibilities – ‘grim’, ‘angry’, ‘crabby’, ‘ill-tempered’, ‘malignant ...

Some Wild Creature

James Meek: Tolstoy Leaves Home

22 July 2010
The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910 
by William Nickell.
Cornell, 209 pp., £18.95, May 2010, 978 0 8014 4834 8
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The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy 
translated by Cathy Porter.
Alma, 609 pp., £9.99, February 2010, 978 1 84688 102 2
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A Confession 
by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Anthony Briggs.
Hesperus, 146 pp., £7.99, February 2010, 978 1 84391 190 6
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Anniversary Essays on Tolstoy 
by Donna Tussing Orwin.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £55, February 2010, 978 0 521 51491 0
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... What are we saying when we say someone has ‘gone out of their mind’? The thing about going out of your mind is that the mind is still there; you can go back. You haven’t lost your mind. You’ve just gone out of it. The Russians use the same phrase. The Russian adjective meaning ‘crazy’, which is the same as the noun for ‘insane person’, is sumasshedshy, literally ‘who was going out ...

Before Wapping

Asa Briggs

22 May 1986
Victorian News and Newspapers 
by Lucy Brown.
Oxford, 305 pp., £32.50, November 1985, 0 19 822624 1
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... not merely the presence of Koss’s volume, that has narrowed her chosen range. Is it the fear of spreading too widely? Among living writers she does not mention Richard Altick, Raymond Williams or Anthony Smith. Nor does she speculate about newspapers and books, which co-existed easily or sometimes uneasily on W.H. Smith bookstalls, although she has a brief and useful section on periodicals which ...
30 August 1990
A Wicked Irony: The Rhetoric of Lermontov’s ‘A Hero of Our Time’ 
by Andrew Barratt and A.D.P. Briggs.
Bristol Classical Press, 139 pp., £25, May 1989, 1 85399 020 5
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The Battle for Childhood: Creation of a Russian Myth 
by Andrew Baruch Wachtel.
Stanford, 262 pp., $32.50, May 1990, 0 8047 1795 8
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... permanent: the paradox in these cases of the structural and polyphonic method is that the hero is always there because he has never existed. He is an aspect of literary sensibility. As Barratt and Briggs observe, ‘in Pechorin Lermontov created a character whose unhealthy commitment to inauthentic “bookish” behaviour makes him the direct forebear of the Underground Man.’ This is certainly true ...

Diary

Dave Haslam: Post-Madchester

25 February 1993
... donating £300,000 towards the cost of staging City of Drama 1994. Celebrities were introduced and speeches were made. Mr Gil Thompson, Chief Executive of Manchester Airport, cited James Agate, Asa Briggs and J.B. Priestley on the splendours of Manchester’s cultural past. Mr Thompson didn’t quote Engels. Nor, understandably, John Ruskin: ‘Manchester can produce no good art, and no good culture ...
20 August 1998
Free Trade and Liberal England, 1846-1946 
by Anthony​ Howe.
Oxford, 336 pp., £45, December 1997, 9780198201465
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The Origins of War Prevention: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1730-1854 
by Martin Ceadel.
Oxford, 587 pp., £55, December 1996, 0 19 822674 8
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... tradition in English history. Both are highly informative, sophisticated, closely and subtly argued. Martin Ceadel’s begins in 1730 but is really about the first half of the 19th century, while Anthony Howe’s is really about the second half of that century although it continues until 1946. Ceadel’s is largely pioneering in its subject-matter, while Howe picks his way through a dense ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture

8 November 2012
... wrote an essay called ‘Why I Hate Boys’, which is signed ‘A School-Master’. It was a developing theme, boys, children, whatever, and in 1946 Methuen published a book written by Gamlin and Anthony Gilbert called Don’t Be Afreud! A Short Guide to Youth Control (The Book of the Weak). The book is just about as funny as it wants to be, with author photographs (‘aged 7 and 8 approx’) and a ...

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