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In an Empty Church

Peter Howarth: R.S. Thomas, 26 April 2007

The Man who Went into the West: The Life of R.S. Thomas 
by Byron Rogers.
Aurum, 326 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 1 84513 146 0
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... has come to terms with his own unimportance, or that he is unpopular because he tells the truth. Byron Rogers’s biography, The Man who Went into the West, punctures such fantasies to present Thomas as a man whose isolation sprang less from integrity than from a social ineptness that damaged his family, friends and ministry, though it also sponsored ...

Diary

Philip Purser: On Jack Trevor Story, 27 January 1994

... sentiments before being flung off. ‘Enough plots to provide anyone else with ten novels,’ Byron Rogers said, dusting himself down. In the course of an arduous round of radio appearances to publicise the book, Story started to miss dates and generally show signs of confusion. He became convinced that he was the victim of just such a conspiracy as ...

Stag at Bay

Adam Phillips: Byron in Geneva, 25 August 2011

Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 189 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84631 643 2
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... Byron looked at his own tumultuous life with an Enlightenment gaze: empirical, sceptical, agnostic, hedonistic. He was an ironic rationalist, who, like all rationalists, had an irrational personal history. He was interested in what, if anything, the two things – the tumultuous life and the Enlightenment gaze – might say about each other, but he never assumed that one could be used to explain the other, or that explanation could ever be sufficient; as he has Cain say, ‘I look/Around a world where I seem nothing, with/Thoughts which arise within me, as if they/Could master all things ...

Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander Pope: A Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... morals and his versification in a series of spirited letters to the Gentleman’s Magazine. Byron swam against a tide of Romantic scorn, issuing his own poetic commandments in Don Juan: ‘Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope;/Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey.’ And in the 20th century, especially since the Second World War, a ...

The Man Who Never Glared

John Pemble: Disraeli, 5 December 2013

Disraeli: or, The Two Lives 
by Douglas Hurd and Edward Young.
Orion, 320 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86097 6
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The Great Rivalry: Gladstone and Disraeli 
by Dick Leonard.
I.B. Tauris, 226 pp., £22.50, June 2013, 978 1 84885 925 8
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Disraeli: The Romance of Politics 
by Robert O’Kell.
Toronto, 595 pp., £66.99, February 2013, 978 1 4426 4459 5
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... with India. You can’t beat that, it’s better than Wyatt Earp.’ And it’s as good as Lord Byron. Take the life of Disraeli, for ‘novelist’ read ‘poet’, and you’ve got an epic about what happened to Byron after he’d recovered from that deadly fever at Missolonghi. Having fought for Greek independence, he ...

You Have Never Written Better

Benjamin Markovits: Byron’s Editor, 20 March 2008

The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron 
edited by Andrew Nicholson.
Liverpool, 576 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 1 84631 069 0
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... The relationship between Byron and his editor John Murray lasted a little over ten years. It began in March 1812 with the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which made Byron’s name. (‘I awoke one morning and found myself famous,’ he famously wrote, or is said to have written ...

Hidden Consequences

John Mullan: Byron, 6 November 2003

ByronLife and Legend 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 674 pp., £9.99, November 2003, 0 571 17997 5
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... The trailer for the recent BBC dramatisation of Byron’s life made no bones about the poet’s appeal. ‘Everything you’ve ever heard about him is true,’ the husky female voice-over promised. Here was a story that would excite us because of what we already thought we knew. Judging by the immediate critical response to Fiona MacCarthy’s biography, the appetite for Byron’s life is indeed sharpened by all the stories we already have ...

Beast and Frog

John Bayley, 4 November 1993

Dr Johnson & Mr Savage 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 260 pp., £19.99, October 1993, 0 340 52974 1
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Samuel Johnson 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 116 pp., £4.99, April 1993, 0 19 287593 0
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... with everything that had gone before’. In terms of his besoin de fatalité Savage could put Byron or Baudelaire in the shade. More important, though, he is a perfect instance of obsessive self-creation, asserting and reasserting the persona out of which his biographer will make the portrait. The man he wanted to be, and always claimed to be, was the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... in the Design Museum. I am reading The Man who Went into the West: The Life of R.S. Thomas by Byron Rogers, whose book on J.L. Carr I read here on holiday last year. R.S. Thomas, the poetry of whom I scarcely know, sounds as bleak as Larkin pretended to be. A huge hawk hovers high above the house. It doesn’t fly off but just drifts upwards, and is ...

Fiery Participles

D.A.N. Jones, 6 September 1984

Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic 
by David Bromwich.
Oxford, 450 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 19 503343 4
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William Godwin: Philosopher, Novelist, Revolutionary 
by Peter Marshall.
Yale, 496 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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Burke, Paine, Godwin and the Revolution Controversy 
edited by Marilyn Butler.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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... is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone.’ Or it might have been Byron, or Byron’s favourite, Samuel Rogers, both of whom put the solitude paradox into verse. It might even have been Cicero, quoting Scipio Africanus: nec minus solus quam cum solus ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... be no intrinsic objection to such a dedication as Thomas Moore’s, of Lalla Rookh: – To Samuel Rogers, Esq., this Eastern Romance is inscribed by his very grateful and affectionate friend, Thomas Moore. But one may object that is not so interesting or original in its wording as to be worth anthologising. Eric Partridge, who was diversely interesting and ...

Missing Pieces

Patrick Parrinder, 9 May 1991

Mr Wroe’s Virgins 
by Jane Rogers.
Faber, 276 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 571 16194 4
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The Side of the Moon 
by Amanda Prantera.
Bloomsbury, 192 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 7475 0861 5
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... social history, but it is carefully shaped to fit in with the neighbouring pieces. Jane Rogers’s fourth novel is full of information about the harshness of the Industrial Revolution, the plight of the weavers and spinners, and the fight against the Combination Acts. Through the device of a character who was reared in Owenite circles, we get ...

Master of the Revels

Benjamin Markovits: Miklós Bánffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy, 14 November 2002

They Were Counted 
by Miklós Bánffy, edited by Patrick Thursfield and Kathy Bánffy-Jelen.
Arcadia, 596 pp., £12.99, March 1999, 9781900850155
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They Were Found Wanting 
by Miklós Bánffy, edited by Patrick Thursfiled and Kathy Bánffy-Jelen.
Arcadia, 470 pp., £12.99, June 2000, 9781900850292
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They Were Divided 
by Miklós Bánffy, edited by Patrick Thursfield and Kathy Bánffy-Jelen.
Arcadia, 326 pp., £11.99, August 2001, 1 900850 51 6
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... implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection’. Bánffy is the kind of writer Byron himself might have enjoyed: ‘Men of the world, who know the world like men,/Scott, Rogers, Moore, and all the better brothers,/Who think of something else besides the pen.’ Bánffy thinks of a great many other ...

Too Many Pears

Thomas Keymer: Frances Burney, 26 August 2015

The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney 1786-91, Vols III-IV: 1788 
edited by Lorna Clark.
Oxford, 824 pp., £225, September 2014, 978 0 19 968814 2
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... Tory Quarterly Review. Hatchet jobs were Croker’s speciality: it was his review of Endymion that Byron joked was the cause of Keats’s death in Don Juan (‘’Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,/Should let itself be snuff’d out by an article’). Burney was already dead, and Croker let rip. The diary was just gossip ‘treated with all the ...

All in pawn

Richard Altick, 19 June 1986

The Common Writer: Life in 19th-century Grub Street 
by Nigel Cross.
Cambridge, 265 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 521 24564 8
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... To Victorian readers, ‘Grub Street’ had a historical rather than a timely reference. As Pat Rogers brilliantly demonstrated in his Grub Street: Studies in a Subculture (1972), it then meant primarily the squalid milieu of the hacks whom Pope had skewered with malicious wit in the Dunciad. Their archetype was Richard Savage, whose profligate life Dr ...

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