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The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge, 5 January 2017

Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... Brendan King​ starts with a difficulty: Beryl Bainbridge’s writing. It makes everyone else’s prose look flabby. But he also has an advantage: his particular knowledge of her life. King worked with Bainbridge for more than twenty years. He looked after her admin and edited her last novel for publication after her death ...

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes: Loathed by Huysmans, 2 April 2020

Modern Art 
by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.
Dedalus, 313 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 910213 99 5
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... dragging Mother Image by the hair or the feet down the wormeaten staircase of terrified Syntax’. Brendan King, who has already translated most of Huysmans’s fiction, has produced an excellent version. Rarely can it have been such fun to read translated denunciations of so many forgotten French pictures. The edition also includes scores of small black ...

Naked Hermit

Mary Wellesley: Blessed Isles, 5 March 2020

Islands in the West: Classical Myth and the Medieval Norse and Irish Geographical Imagination 
by Matthias Egeler.
Brepols, 357 pp., £100, October 2018, 978 2 503 56938 3
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... a gaping hole in his body or being burned to ashes by a magical cat.The story of the tenth-century king Gormo in Saxo Grammaticus’s History of the Danes, written around 1200, brings together many of these motifs. Gormo and his men embark on a sea voyage in search of wonders (mirabilia) and come to ‘further Bjarmia’, arriving at a black-walled city ...

Even the stones spoke German

Brendan Simms: Wrotizla, Breslau, Wroclaw, 28 November 2002

Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City 
by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse.
Cape, 585 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 224 06243 3
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... did so at the beginning of the Thirty Years War, when Presslaw supported the forlorn ‘Winter King’, but the city managed to escape the Habsburg backlash and maintain a precarious neutrality for most of the rest of the conflict. At the concluding Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the right of free Protestant worship was reaffirmed. As Davies and Moorhouse ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... the oath of succession. He was prepared to swear to the succession itself, which he believed that King and nobles were entitled to change, but was unwilling to swear to the preamble of the Act, since by doing so he would be denying Papal authority and implicitly rejecting the validity of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. From 1527 he had been the ...

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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... decade, however, there has been a more decidedly royalist turn in early American historiography. Brendan McConville’s The King’s Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776 (2006) argues that by the time of the American Revolution colonial Whigs – far from being classical republicans – had abandoned ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland, 21 April 1988

Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... Stephen King has occasionally raised a rueful protest against being typed as a horror writer – even with the consolation of being the best-selling horror writer in the history of the world. But, as he disarmingly reminds us, there is worse literary company than Lovecraft, Leiber, Bloch, Matheson and Jackson. ‘I could, for example, be an “important” writer like Joseph Heller and publish a novel every seven years or so, or a “brilliant” writer like John Gardner and write obscure books for bright academics who eat macrobiotic foods and drive old Saabs with faded but still legible GENE McCARTHY FOR PRESIDENT stickers on the rear bumpers ...

Americans

Stephen Fender, 2 July 1981

The Life of John O’Hara 
by Frank MacShane.
Cape, 274 pp., £10, March 1981, 9780224018852
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... Fiction’, ‘who was in the slot-machine racket, decided to go straight and became a laundromat king, sent his daughter to Bennington, where she married a poet-in-residence or a professor of modern linguistic philosophy ... People speak of the lack of tradition or of manners as having a bad effect on the American novel, but the self-made man is a far richer ...

Churchill by moonlight

Paul Addison, 7 November 1985

The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 
by John Colville.
Hodder, 796 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 340 38296 1
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... office as prime minister, Colville, Butler and Chips Channon drank a champagne toast to the ‘King over the water’ – Chamberlain. Of all the appeasers, young and old, Colville was the only one to make the transition from Chamberlain’s inner circle to Churchill’s. The new prime minister took a liking to him, and he – like millions of others ...

America first

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, 7 January 1993

European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 212 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 300 05285 5
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New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery 
by Anthony Grafton, April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi.
Harvard, 282 pp., £23.95, October 1992, 0 674 61875 0
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The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus 
by Valerie Flint.
Princeton, 233 pp., £16, August 1992, 0 691 05681 1
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Land without Evil: Utopian Journeys across the South American Watershed 
by Richard Gott.
Verso, 299 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 86091 398 8
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... as much of the medieval Alexander, the fictional hero of romantic tradition, as of the ancient King of Macedon. At the moment of his discovery, the impact of America was absorbed in layers of his own reading and made to fit his capacious image of himself. Like the artist who showed Cortés riding into Mexico on an elephant, he accommodated his vision of ...

My Feet Are Cut Off

Barbara Newman: Lives of the Saints, 3 December 2009

Gilte Legende Vol. I 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 496 pp., £65, November 2006, 0 19 920577 9
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Gilte Legende Vol. II 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 1036 pp., £65, August 2007, 978 0 19 923439 4
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... a supplement of 20 native saints (published in a separate EETS volume), including Aldhelm, Edward King and Martyr, Augustine of Canterbury, Dunstan, Frideswide and Brendan. First printed in 1483, the Golden Legend saw eight more editions, the last by Wynkyn de Worde in 1527, and its popularity showed no sign of waning on ...

High on His Own Supply

Christopher Tayler: Amis Recycled, 11 September 2003

Yellow Dog 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2003, 0 224 05061 3
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... Henry England, a.k.a. Hal Nine (aristocracy). Henry is ‘in a ridiculous situation’: he is King of England. More precisely, he is Henry IX. (We are in a parallel universe. And perhaps, in another parallel universe, a parallel Martin Amis is dreaming up a potplant-lecturing, tampon-envying Charles III.) Henry has a tremendously posh voice (‘My ...

He’ll have brought it on Himself

Colm Tóibín, 22 May 1997

Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing 
edited by Éibhear Walshe.
Cork, 210 pp., £40, April 1997, 1 85918 013 2
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Gooddbye to Catholic Ireland 
by Mary Kenny.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 320 pp., £20, March 1997, 1 85619 751 4
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... Himself.’ Chesterton saw a banner hanging between two tenement houses: ‘God Bless Christ the King,’ it said. From then on an authoritarian Church and a fragile, insecure State combined to produce a sort of dark ages. It was as though Ireland north and south vied with each other over who could produce the most sectarian state. Censorship, mass ...

Play for Today

Adam Smyth: Rewriting ‘Pericles’, 24 October 2019

Spring 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £16.99, March 2019, 978 0 241 20704 8
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The Porpoise 
by Mark Haddon.
Chatto, 309 pp., £18.99, May 2019, 978 1 78474 282 9
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... prostitution and incest (the play opens as Pericles discovers the incestuous relationship between King Antiochus and his daughter, and has to flee the murderer dispatched to silence him). The versions of Pericles that were performed or printed tended to cut out, or minimise, these elements. Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1807) has an ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... and spit on the other children. 12 February. A shoddy programme about the conviction of Jonathan King for offences against young men dating back twenty-five years and more. While it features some of the police involved, it manages not to ask the pertinent question: if these 15-year-old boys had been 15-year-old girls and romping round in Rolls-Royces even ...

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