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O filth, O beastliness

Elspeth Barker, 8 October 1992

Catullus 
by Charles Martin.
Yale, 197 pp., £22.50, July 1992, 0 300 05199 9
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... So he created an effect of effortless colloquialism and spontaneity which belies its own artistry. Charles Martin’s handsome book seeks to emphasise the modernity of Catullus’s poetry and examines the relationships of individual poems to each other with a view to proving that they were arranged by Catullus himself, and not, as is often claimed, by ...

Charles and Alfred

J.I.M. Stewart, 17 December 1981

Studies in Tennyson 
edited by Hallam Tennyson.
Macmillan, 229 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 27884 4
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... The title page of this book tells us that it is ‘published to commemorate the centenary of Sir Charles Tennyson, the poet’s grandson and biographer, born 8 November 1879, died 22 June 1977’. Charles Tennyson was very far from being the most eccentric of all the Tennysons, but he is the most astonishing of them at least in one regard: that of enhanced, rather than merely sustained, activity in extreme old age ...

Martin Chuzzlewig

John Sutherland, 15 October 1987

Dickens’s Working Notes for his Novels 
edited by Harry Stone.
Chicago, 393 pp., £47.95, July 1987, 0 226 14590 5
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... Scholars seem not to have disturbed them until after the Second World War. Sylvère Monod’s Charles Dickens Novelist (1953) is credited with being the first study to revive interest in the working notes as a royal road to Dickensian interpretation. This was followed by Kathleen Tillotson and John Butt’s Dickens at Work (1957), and by the same ...

Whose Body?

Charles Glass: ‘Operation Mincemeat’, 22 July 2010

Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War Two 
by Ben Macintyre.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 7475 9868 8
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... of the war, by occupying the area before the Allies did. This own-goal-that-almost-was inspired Charles Cholmondeley, an eccentric RAF flight lieutenant seconded to MI5, to propose sending another corpse to Spain with papers that the Spanish would show to the Germans. Cholmondeley was secretary to the Twenty Committee, which ran double agents and whose ...

A Peece of Christ

Charles Hope: Did Leonardo paint it?, 2 January 2020

Leonardo da Vinci 
at the Louvre, until 24 February 2020Show More
Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered 
by Carmen Bambach.
Yale, 2350 pp., £400, July 2019, 978 0 300 19195 0
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The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting 
by Ben Lewis.
William Collins, 396 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 00 831341 8
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Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts 
by Margaret Dalivalle, Martin Kemp and Robert Simon.
Oxford, 383 pp., £35, November 2019, 978 0 19 881383 5
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... well aware that drapery seen through a solid transparent sphere could never be without distortion. Martin Kemp tried to explain this anomaly on the grounds that Leonardo was observing the principle of decorum: just as artists didn’t show refraction of Christ’s legs in water in paintings of his baptism, so too Leonardo avoided it here. The argument seems ...

There is no alternative to becoming Leadbeater

Nick Cohen: Charles Leadbeater, 28 October 1999

Living on Thin Air: The New Economy 
by Charles Leadbeater.
Viking, 244 pp., £17.99, July 1999, 0 670 87669 0
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... sold itself as a think tank pamphlet. Two of those hired to fill senior editorial positions, Charles Leadbeater and Martin Jacques, were ex-Communists who had wound up their party and formed Demos, a research centre aligned to Tony Blair’s New Labour project. Geoff Mulgan, a former Trotskyist and director of ...

Saint John Henry

Richard Altick, 5 August 1982

John Henry Newman: His Life and Work 
by Brian Martin.
Chatto, 160 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 7011 2588 8
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Protestant versus Catholic in Mid-Victorian England 
by Walter Arnstein.
Missouri, 271 pp., £14, June 1982, 9780826203540
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... Newman’s conversion to Rome five years earlier finally reached the nation as a whole. As Brian Martin reports, Punch brutally caricatured ‘a thin, emaciated, bespectacled Newman’ alongside ‘a fat, hypocritical Wiseman’ and rumours spread that Newman ‘was married and had locked his wife away in a convent’. Newman survived the assault, of ...

Ripping Yarns

John Sutherland, 8 April 1993

Tennyson 
by Michael Thorn.
Little, Brown, 566 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90299 3
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Tennyson 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 370 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 333 52205 2
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... more active covert gays of his time. There was a major release of new material with the grandson Charles Tennyson’s 1949 Life. Now – in the age of the welfare state – the poet’s gloom was traced to his deprived childhood. Charles Tennyson depicted, for the first time, the gothic excesses of the Somersby rectory ...

Pork Chops

John Bayley, 25 April 1991

Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 00 217662 9
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... in the museum of the past. So many Victorian things do; it seems a feature of that epoch. R.B. Martin’s skills as a biographer, already manifest in his detailed and persuasive studies of Tennyson, FitzGerald and Charles Kingsley, are at their best in that rich Victorian ambience where religion, art and sex mingled in ...

Whose Greece?

Martin Bernal, 12 December 1996

Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History 
by Mary Lefkowitz.
Basic Books, 222 pp., $24, February 1996, 0 465 09837 1
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Black Athena Revisited 
edited by Mary Lefkowitz and Guy MacLean Rogers.
North Carolina, 544 pp., £14.75, September 1996, 0 8078 2246 9
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... between Egypt and the rest of Africa had earlier been set out by the radical French scholars, Charles François Dupuis and Constantine de Volney, at the end of the 18th century, while the idea of Egypt as the source of Greek and hence of Western civilisation was the conventional wisdom at that time, and had been proclaimed with particular fervour by the ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... This organisation very soon started to show signs of the malaise it was set up to cure. One man, Charles Knight Murray, assumed great power over the Church estates, but forgot to tell the Commissioners that he was a director of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway and an eager speculator in railway shares. To pay for his prodigious share purchases, he ...

What’s it for?

Martin Loughlin: The Privy Council, 22 October 2015

By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council – the Unknown Arm of Government 
by David Rogers.
Biteback, 344 pp., £25, July 2015, 978 1 84954 856 4
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... prerogative court that used inquisitorial methods (including torture) and operated without juries. Charles I exploited these powers during his 11 years of rule without parliament (the era of ‘the old despotism’), and in 1641 parliament responded by legislating for the Star Chamber’s abolition. This removed most but not all of the council’s judicial ...

Four Thousand, Tops

Michael Wood: Headlong by Michael Frayn, 14 October 1999

Headlong 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 395 pp., £16.99, August 1999, 0 571 20051 6
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... vision or speculation which takes over the whole modest world of the central character. He is Martin Clay, a philosophy lecturer on sabbatical, diligently avoiding work on the book he is supposed to be writing on nominalism, and he is convinced that his disorderly neighbour in the country has, but doesn’t know he has, a lost Bruegel among the mountains ...

Too Much for One Man

Thomas Penn: Kaiser Karl V, 23 January 2020

Emperor: A New Life of Charles
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 760 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 300 19652 8
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... In late​ 1555 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and head of the house of Habsburg, returned to the Low Countries, where he was born: there, he began the long, slow process by which he abdicated in favour of his son Philip and brother Ferdinand. It was abundantly clear why such a transfer of power was necessary. It was a cold winter and Charles, white-haired, with shrunken gums exposing blackened teeth, his joints so crippled by gout that he was unable to sign documents with his bandaged hands, was exhausted, infirm and, in his mid-fifties, prematurely aged ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... insecurity about the actual history and character of the US. The Olympic acquisition inspired Charles Rutheiser’s brilliant account of the city. An anthropologist teaching in Atlanta, he writes in the tradition of urban studies established by Mike Davis’s pathbreaking City of Quartz. But there is more ethnographic texture in Davis’s Los ...

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