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Goethe In Britain

Rosemary Ashton, 19 March 1981

Goethe’s Plays 
translated by Charles Passage.
Benn, 626 pp., £12.95, July 1980, 0 510 00087 8
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The Classical Centre: Goethe and Weimar 1775-1832 
by T.J. Reed.
Croom Helm, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1979, 0 85664 356 4
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Goethe on Art 
translated by John Gage.
Scolar, 251 pp., £10, March 1980, 0 85967 494 0
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The Younger Goethe and the Visual Arts 
by W.D. Robson-Scott.
Cambridge, 175 pp., £19.50, February 1981, 0 521 23321 6
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... Apprenticeship by Waidson appeared recently, with the promise of the Travels to follow. Now Charles Passage, already translator of the two Fausts, has brought out a large volume containing translations of all Goethe’s other major plays, and brief accounts of more than forty other plays, fragments, sketches, operettas, masks and adaptations. ...

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 ...

Rites of Passage

Anthony Quinn, 27 June 1991

The Elephant 
by Richard Rayner.
Cape, 276 pp., £13.99, May 1991, 0 224 03005 1
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The Misfortunes of Nigel 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Peter Owen, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0830 9
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Famous for the creatures 
by Andrew Motion.
Viking, 248 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 0 670 82286 8
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Double Lives 
by Stephen Wall.
Bloomsbury, 154 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 7475 0910 7
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... Dance to the Music of Time and Motion’. The first, The Pale Companion, was a mannered rites-of-passage tale set in 1968, and received fairly mixed reviews – a reception evidently forgotten by Viking, who call it ‘acclaimed’ on the dust-wrapper. Andrew Motion was perhaps compromised in that novel by the uncommon difficulties of hooking our attention ...

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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... adding references to drawings by Leonardo in his possession. He may also be the source for a brief passage about the unfinished Adoration of the Magi, now in the Uffizi. Although it was the most significant work by Leonardo in Florence, it had not been mentioned in the first edition. The 1568 Life had already been printed before Vasari went to Milan in ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The State of Statuary, 21 September 2017

... Most days​ I eat my lunch sitting under the statue of Charles James Fox in Bloomsbury Square. There are broad steps on each side of the statue, their Portland stone now stained an aqueous green, and I like to sit beneath and between Fox’s feet, looking, with him, down Bedford Place and towards Russell Square. Like most fat men in statuary (and in life), Fox is seated for greater dignity; he is also swathed in a voluminous toga which drips over the edge of his chair – ‘Charles James Fox unconcerned in a bath towel sits on his arse in Bloomsbury Square,’ was how Louis MacNeice put it in one of his last poems ...

Who was he?

Charles Nicholl: Joe the Ripper, 7 February 2008

The Fox and the Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath 
by Charles van Onselen.
Cape, 672 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 224 07929 7
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... the room. The bare facts are enough to convey the shock of being there, of having this glimpse, as Charles van Onselen puts it, into ‘the Angel of Death’s laboratory’. Van Onselen’s long, disturbing and magnificently dogged book, The Fox and the Flies, takes us through a grim terrain spread across three continents, a world of squalor and violence, of ...

Mantegna’s Classical World

Charles Hope, 19 June 1980

The ‘Triumphs of Caesar’ by Andrea Mantegna in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Hampton Court 
by Andrew Martindale.
Harvey Miller, 342 pp., £38, October 1979, 9780905203164
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... of the supreme masterpieces of Italian painting. But after the sale of the Gonzaga collection to Charles I in 1629 they suffered increasingly from neglect. As the result of a series of disastrously misconceived restorations, culminating in the bizarre decision to immerse them completely in paraffin wax, the canvases eventually became all but ...

Praising God

David Underdown, 10 June 1993

Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars 1638-1651 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 428 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 415 03282 2
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... In a striking passage in his memoirs Richard Baxter recalls watching the battle of Langport as a young chaplain in the army of the Parliament. After some fierce fighting, panic suddenly set in among the Royalists on the opposite hill. Standing next to Baxter was the godly Major Thomas Harrison. As the Cavaliers broke and fled, Baxter heard him ‘with a loud voice break forth into the praises of God with fluent expressions, as if he had been in a rapture ...

The Virgin

David Plante, 3 April 1986

... had its front paws between her breasts, and, its tongue out, it stared at her as she spoke to it. Charles, the husband, undressed and hung his clothes askew on the silent butler. When he took off his underpants, he held them in his hands a moment, expecting his wife to look towards him naked. She didn’t. About to throw his underpants on the floor, where his ...


Christine Brooke-Rose: Palimpsest Histories, 10 May 1990

... action need be taken either.   What a relief! The semi-conscious dramatic irony of this last passage is poignant. For, of course, all these quotations also apply, in advance of time, to The Satanic Verses (1988), where two palimpsest countries, India and England, and one palimpsest religion, Islam, are concerned; and which belongs to a type of fiction ...

Alma’s Alter

Gabriele Annan, 11 June 1992

Oscar Kokoschka: Letters 
translated by Mary Whittall.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £24.95, March 1992, 0 500 01528 7
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... Heinrich’), the hero of a Medieval epic and a recent play by Gerhard Hauptmann. The passage ends er im Kreuzzug an leitender stelle (ich im Bummelzug von Gabes nach Reval). Literally this means: ‘he is a leading position in the crusades, I on a slow train from Gabes to Reval.’ Whittal renders it: ‘he in the vanguard of a crusade (I in the ...

Jangling Monarchy

Tom Paulin: Milton and the Regicides, 8 August 2002

A Companion to Milton 
by Thomas N. Corns.
Blackwell, 528 pp., £80, June 2001, 0 631 21408 9
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The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography 
by Barbara K. Lewalski.
Blackwell, 816 pp., £25, December 2000, 0 631 17665 9
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... I would suggest, of light coming out of darkness at the Creation. Milton is remembering this passage when he begins Paradise Lost with an account of God creating the world, an account which he repeats twice later in the poem: in Book Three, ‘Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar/Stood ruled,’ until at his second bidding ‘darkness fled,/Light ...

Dead but Not Quite Buried

Charles van Onselen: The desecration industry in South Africa, 29 October 1998

... plight of black families who had been thrown off white farms. These evictions were prompted by the passage of the notorious Natives’ Land Act, the legislation which, like the Enclosure Acts, formed the bedrock on which the economic edifice of segregationist, and later apartheid, South Africa was constructed. Thousands of fleeing African tenant farmers had ...

The Crotch Thing

James Wood: Alan Hollinghurst, 16 July 1998

The Spell 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Chatto, 257 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 7011 6519 7
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... which is strange, for presumably an actual doctor exists very powerfully in Robin’s memory. The passage is lovely, with its smooth dormition, but it does not belong to Robin, with his particular vision, but to Hollinghurst, with his general vision. And so Robin slips away from us. One realises that Hollinghurst’s descriptions of nature are so fine in this ...


Keith Thomas: Working Methods, 10 June 2010

... Newton used to turn down the corners of the pages of his books so that they pointed to the exact passage he wished to recall. J.H. Plumb once showed me a set of Swift’s works given him by G.M. Trevelyan; it had originally belonged to Macaulay, who had drawn a line all the way down the margin of every page as he read it, no doubt committing the whole to ...

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