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Second Time Around

Stephen Sedley: In the Court of Appeal, 6 September 2007

The Court of Appeal 
by Gavin Drewry, Louis Blom-Cooper and Charles Blake.
Hart, 196 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 1 84113 387 4
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... An appeal, you might think, is an argument that a lower court has got it wrong. Whether you would consider it to be ‘a piece of linguistic shorthand which accepts the existence of a penumbra of uncertainty in order to achieve universal comprehensibility at a very low level of exactitude’ is more doubtful; but what these authors seem to have in mind is that even a right of appeal doesn’t necessarily allow you to challenge everything that has happened so far ...

From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... party system, whether with the attempt to exclude the Catholic James from the succession to Charles II, with the rivalry between the Younger Pitt and Charles James Fox, or with the battle over Parliamentary Reform in the 1830s – Lord Blake prefers the second of these – it is ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... to display. Alan Bennett’s Diaries and, of course, Peter Ackroyd’s gold-brick biography of Blake. Bennett, Ackroyd and Jonathan Miller – these were the figures who mattered most. The Christmas parcels of English literature. Enough of threadbare bohemia, paranoid narcissism, chemical tourism through the Third World. Enough of ill-disciplined prose and ...

At Tate Britain

T.J. Clark: Paul Nash , 2 February 2017

... with all that followed in terms of a settling of accounts with Constable and Turner, and Blake and Palmer, and Crome and the watercolourists and Ford Madox Brown, was at all compatible with being a painter ‘in the 20th century’. The pressure of this last question – or indeed of all three – is not to be collapsed into shorthand of the ...

Castaway

Roy Porter, 4 March 1982

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. I: 1750-1781 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 640 pp., £27.50, June 1979, 0 19 811863 5
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The Poems of William Cowper: Vol. 1 1748-1782 
edited by John Baird and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 500 pp., £25, September 1980, 0 19 811875 9
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The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. II: 1782-1786 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 640 pp., £27.50, June 1979, 0 19 811863 5
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... any of us all – mad as a refuge from unbelief – Bacon, Newton and Locke.’ ” Thus William Blake’s memo of a ghostly visitation from William Cowper. But how aghast Cowper would have been at the words put into his mouth! Blake revelled in his own prophetic ravings, soaring free from the mind-forged manacles of the ...

Power Systems

John Bayley, 15 March 1984

Dante and English Poetry: Shelley to T.S. Eliot 
by Steve Ellis.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 521 25126 5
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Dante the Maker 
by William Anderson.
Hutchinson, 497 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 09 153201 9
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Dante: Purgatory 
translated with notes and commentary by Mark Musa.
Indiana, 373 pp., £19.25, September 1981, 0 253 17926 2
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Dante: Paradiso and Purgatorio 
with translation and commentary by Charles Singleton .
Princeton, 610 pp., £11.80, May 1982, 0 691 01844 8
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fitzgerald.
Harvill, 403 pp., £12.50, March 1984, 0 00 271008 0
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... the same reason, that what the poet has said may be taken in many different ways by his readers. Blake would have agreed with Shelley’s note about God at the end of ‘Queen Mab’, that ‘the works of His fingers have borne witness against Him.’ In whatever spirit of humility a great poet undertakes to demonstrate a transcendental view of our ...

Players, please

Jonathan Bate, 6 December 1984

The Oxford Book of War Poetry 
edited by Jon Stallworthy.
Oxford, 358 pp., £9.50, September 1984, 0 19 214125 2
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Secret Destinations 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 69 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 333 38268 4
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Fast Forward 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211967 2
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Dark Glasses 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 71 pp., £3.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2875 5
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... indelible in our collective consciousness. Further testimony of that indelibility is provided by Charles Causley’s new collection, Secret Destinations. Causley was born in Launceston, Cornwall, in 1917. His place and date of birth still weigh heavily on his work. He is at his best when writing of the locality he knows best; the poems in the first half of ...

Mysteries of Kings Cross

Iain Sinclair, 5 October 1995

Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... from The Waste Land, from Chaucer to Spenser and Shakespeare and Donne, through Milton and Blake and Keats, to David Jones, Gascoyne, Dylan Thomas, Nicholas Moore, to Lee Harwood’s Cable Street, Bill Griffiths’s Whitechapel and Brian Catling’s The Stumbling Block. London infected its interpreters, soliciting contributions to an open-ended ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Van Dyck’s Portraits, 12 March 2009

... looking up at his master, the lace, silver and silk: all these say more than the face. To give Charles I, a little man with a very ordinary face, regal presence, and to make his plain queen a beauty, was a gift the king knew the value of. In the exhibition the portrait of Charles by Daniel Mytens shows why Van Dyck ...

Cardinal’s Hat

Robert Blake, 23 January 1986

Cardinal Manning: A Biography 
by Robert Gray.
Weidenfeld, 366 pp., £16.95, August 1985, 0 297 78674 1
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... any of Gladstone’s letters. In fact, Manning wished his biographer to be J.E.C. Bodley, Sir Charles Dilke’s private secretary, but he may well not have said so to Purcell. Yet, with every allowance made, Purcell does seem to have behaved in a manner that was none too scrupulous. He persuaded the curators of Manning’s papers at the Church of St Mary ...

Certainties

Donald Davie, 20 May 1982

In Defence of the Imagination 
by Helen Gardner.
Oxford, 197 pp., £12.50, February 1982, 0 19 812639 5
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... it could hardly be mistaken for a creature of the same name defended long ago by William Blake. Dame Helen herself seems often to speak on behalf of some public body. And sure enough she speaks up for Lord Robbins and her other colleagues, for the most part robustly impenitent though prepared to concede ‘a disturbing development, which we did not ...

Want-of-Tin and Want-of-Energy

Dinah Birch: The lives of the Rossettis, 20 May 2004

The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume One 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 464 pp., £95, July 2002, 9780859915281
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The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume Two 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 640 pp., £95, July 2002, 0 85991 637 5
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William and Lucy: The Other Rossettis 
by Angela Thirlwell.
Yale, 376 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 300 10200 3
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... of this pattern. Four children were born in consecutive years in the late 1820s: Maria, Gabriel Charles (later to call himself Dante Gabriel), William and Christina. Their father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a political exile, driven out of Italy as a result of his activities as a nationalist. A poet, an ardent Dante scholar and the centre of a group of ...

At the Royal Academy

Rosemary Hill: The Treasures of the Society of Antiquaries, 18 October 2007

... first gallery runs an immense genealogical roll, made up of two parts, which traces the descent of Charles II. Pedigrees were literally the lifeline of antiquarianism, the slender thread of human provenance by which the present might feel its way into the labyrinth of the past. The first part, made in c.1455, shows the ancestry of Henry VI in a series of ...

Walking in high places

Michael Neve, 21 October 1982

The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of 18th-Century Science 
edited by G.S. Rousseau and R.S. Porter.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £25, November 1980, 9780521225991
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Romanticism and the Forms of Ruin 
by Thomas McFarland.
Princeton, 432 pp., £24.60, February 1981, 0 691 06437 7
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Poetry realised in Nature: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Early 19th-Century Science 
by Trevor Levere.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £22.50, October 1981, 0 521 23920 6
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Coleridge 
by Richard Holmes.
Oxford, 102 pp., £1.25, March 1982, 0 19 287591 4
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Young Charles Lamb 1775-1802 
by Winifred Courtney.
Macmillan, 411 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 333 31534 0
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... the view of posterity. The most extraordinary of these acts of intellectual banditry remains Sir Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, of 1830-1833, where Lyell argues that geology starts with himself. So, an Enlightenment which believed in materialism and progress, but which was a scientific non-event. Strange. The great merit of The Ferment of Knowledge ...

Eye Contact

Peter Campbell: Anthony van Dyck, 16 September 1999

Anthony van Dyck 1599-1641 
by Christopher Brown and Hans Vlieghe.
Royal Academy, 360 pp., £22.50, May 1999, 9780847821969
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Anthony van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641 
by Robin Blake.
Constable, 435 pp., £25, August 1999, 9780094797208
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... Roger de Piles noted, ‘took his time to draw a face when it had its best looks on.’ He painted Charles I’s Queen, Henrietta Maria, as a handsome woman – without, it would seem, losing the likeness. Yet her niece, who knew her first from the painting, was surprised to find the Queen ‘a little woman with long, lean arms, crooked shoulders and teeth ...

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