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Bernard Knox, 11 May 1995

The Husbands: An Account of Books III and IV of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 55 pp., £6.99, October 1994, 0 571 17198 2
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... I first came across Christopher Logue’s ‘account’ of the Iliad in 1975 at Oxford where I went to hear a vigorous reading by two young men of Patrocleia, his version of Book XVI. It was an opportunity to experience the poem in its original medium, by the ear rather than the eye. Homer himself had probably chanted his verses plucking the strings of a lyre, like the bard Demodocus in the Odyssey and for many centuries after his death people did not read Homer: they listened to skilled rhapsodes, whose dramatic delivery mesmerised audiences and earned the performers ample rewards, as we know from Plato’s Ion ...

At Whatever Cost

Bernard Knox, 24 March 1994

Franco: A Biography 
by Paul Preston.
HarperCollins, 1002 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 215863 9
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... Francisco Franco Bahamonde has the dubious distinction of having held onto absolute power longer than any other European dictator of the first half of the 20th century. His 39 years of dictatorship, first as Nationalist supreme commander in the Civil War of 1936-9 and then as Caudillo – God-given leader – of Spain until his death in 1973, leave even his runner-up, Salazar of Portugal, well behind (32), and far outstrip his enemy Stalin (25) and his allies Mussolini (21) and Hitler, whose world-shaking career of war, genocide and destruction lasted a mere 12 years ...

To the crows!

James Davidson, 27 January 1994

The Oldest Dead White European Males, and Other Reflections on the Classics 
by Bernard Knox.
Norton, 144 pp., £12.95, September 1993, 0 393 03492 5
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... concern – campus politics. Taking as his title ‘The Oldest Dead White European Males’, Bernard Knox addressed the impact made on a conservative discipline of new methods and concerns: the anthropology-influenced work of the Paris circle of Pierre Vidal-Naquet and J.-P. Vernant, ‘militant feminists’ and political correctness. On this side ...

Simile World

Denis Feeney: Virgil’s Progress, 4 January 2007

Virgil: Georgics 
translated by Peter Fallon, with notes by Elaine Fantham.
Oxford, 109 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 0 19 280679 3
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Penguin, 486 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 7139 9968 3
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... career. It is graced with an introduction by Fagles’s long-time collaborator and friend Bernard Knox, who also wrote the introductions for Fagles’s Iliad and Odyssey. At the close of his introduction Knox retells the story of how he found a text of Virgil in a wrecked house towards the end of the Italian ...

Gods and Heroes

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 18 December 1980

Sophocles: An Interpretation 
by R.P. Winnington-Ingram.
Cambridge, 346 pp., £25, February 1980, 0 521 22672 4
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... articles by Professor Mary Lefkowitz. Winnington-Ingram is also inclined to accept the view of Bernard Knox that the plague in the Oedipus Tyrannus was suggested to Sophocles by the plague that attacked Athens in 430 BC. But there is a plague in the first book of the Iliad, and Sophocles hardly needed a real plague to cause him to add plague to the ...

Left with a Can Opener

Thomas Jones: Homer in Bijelo Polje, 7 October 2021

Hearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 320 pp., £28.95, April 2021, 978 0 525 52094 8
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... ornamental epithets in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Parry may have taken the argument too far: as Bernard Knox put it in 1990, ‘it is the fate of most new and valuable insights to be enthusiastically developed beyond the limits of certainty, or even of probability,’ and ‘extravagant claims for the predominance of formula in Homeric poetry have now ...


Richard Usborne, 24 January 1980

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 
Oxford, 908 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780192115607Show More
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... First the bad news. They have printed the Mgr Ronald Knox limerick as above. I am not going to look at the Baring-Gould book to see if the mistake was primarily his. But surely the proper Knox version made sense, and went something like Evangelical vicar in want Of a second-hand portable font,   Would exchange for the same   A portrait (in frame) Of the Bishop-Elect of Vermont ...

Agamemnon, Smith and Thomson

Claude Rawson, 9 April 1992

Homer: The ‘Iliad’ 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Viking, 683 pp., £17.95, September 1990, 0 670 83510 2
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by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 86 pp., £4.99, March 1991, 0 571 16141 3
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... is acknowledged in Fagles’s rendering, and also in the (outstandingly helpful) introduction by Bernard Knox, who speaks of the analogy of the lion ‘going his own barbaric way’ as one in which Achilles is seen as ‘the lower extreme of Aristotle’s alternatives – a beast’. The perception is here Apollo’s, not Homer’s, and is that of a ...

Deep down

Julian Symons, 28 June 1990

The Last World 
by Christoph Ransmayr, translated by John Woods.
Chatto, 202 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3502 6
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The End of Lieutenant Boruvka 
by Josef Skvorecky, translated by Paul Wilson.
Faber, 188 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14973 1
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The Dwarves of Death 
by Jonathan Coe.
Fourth Estate, 198 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 872180 51 5
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Last Loves 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 190 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 333 51783 0
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... Borges, is fascinated by the classical English mystery puzzle, and in the early Sins for Father Knox broke all the commandments of Knox’s ‘Detective Story Decalogue’ (‘No accident must ever help the detective ... No Chinaman must figure in the story,’ etcetera). The present set of five tales abandons the ...
Moral Prejudices: Essays on Ethics 
by Annette Baier.
Harvard, 368 pp., £33.95, February 1994, 0 674 58715 4
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... She began her address – ‘A Naturalist View of Persons’ – by saying: ‘According to John Knox, in his First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, it is “repugnant to nature”, as well as “contumely to God, and the subversion of good order”, to promote a woman to any position of superiority in any realm. We in the ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes, 26 January 2012

The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... of second-hand pulp, but haunts the libraries, loos and luggage of people like T.S. Eliot, Ronald Knox, Eric Newby, Vladimir Nabokov and Umberto Eco. He even made it into Edmund Wilson’s bedroom. Although Holmes is a private detective, he’s frequently consulted by Scotland Yard and repeatedly succeeds where it fails. This leads Haia Shpayer-Makov to read ...

With What Joy We Write of the New Russian Government

Ferdinand Mount: Arthur Ransome, 24 September 2009

The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Roland Chambers.
Faber, 390 pp., £20, August 2009, 978 0 571 22261 2
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... then and later (Lincoln Steffens, the Webbs, H.G. Wells, Walter Duranty of the New York Times, Bernard Shaw), but it was Ransome who first coined those glowing phrases that lingered in the Western mind for so long. He was thus a valuable commodity, as his great friend Karl Radek, the presiding genius of the Comintern, was quick to realise. To the mercurial ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... Madan? No one today would expect to find in a Times leader anything quotable, but in the heyday of Bernard Darwin’s fourth leaders, its staff were expected to turn phrases like fishcakes: ‘He liked what he considered to be the best conversation including his own,’ ‘The saying that there are two kinds of pedestrian, the quick and the dead, is well ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... any doubt except that. Below Karl Miller’s troubled conscience is an assurance worthy of John Knox, if rather more tolerant. His magazine reflects this – is, indeed, its embodiment. The LRB is the house magazine of the British intellectual élite. In the TLS they talk to the world. In the LRB they talk to each other. The dons let their hair ...

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