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A Plan and a Man

Neal Ascherson: Remembering Malaya

20 February 2014
Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai 
by Christopher Hale.
History Press, 432 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 7524 8701 4
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... Britain’s My Lai’. Only a few pages deal in detail with the Batang Kali killings in December 1948, when a Scots Guards platoon executed 24 perfectly harmless Chinese plantation workers. Instead, ChristopherHale – a journalist with long experience reporting from Germany and South-East Asia – has put together a massive history of the British presence on the Malay peninsula. He tries to explain the ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: A 17-year-old murder victim

5 February 1998
... That was all this affair needed, I thought. As if the story of a slashed corpse in a seaside resort wasn’t already like something out of Brighton Rock, here was a nervous newsman to set alongside Hale of the Messenger, with his ‘inky fingers and his bitten nails’. It was a week into the police inquiry. The corpse had been found naked and decapitated. It had been cut in two and left in a Puma ...
29 September 1988
Eliot’s New Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Oxford, 356 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 19 811727 2
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The Letters of T.S. Eliot 
edited by Valerie Eliot.
Faber, 618 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 571 13621 4
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The Poetics of Impersonality 
by Maud Ellmann.
Harvester, 207 pp., £32.50, January 1988, 0 7108 0463 6
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T.S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism 
by Richard Shusterman.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £19.95, February 1988, 0 7156 2187 4
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‘The Men of 1914’: T.S. Eliot and Early Modernism 
by Erik Svarny.
Open University, 268 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 335 09019 2
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Eliot, Joyce and Company 
by Stanley Sultan.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 504880 6
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The Savage and the City in the Work of T.S. Eliot 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 251 pp., £25, December 1987, 9780198128694
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T.S. Eliot: The Poems 
by Martin Scofield.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 30147 5
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... reasonable delicacy, but research continues to discover more painful details. What will not be fully uncovered until 20l9 (Gordon’s date; Mrs Eliot says 2020) are the letters Eliot wrote to Emily Hale. He had known her since 1912, but most of the letters were written between 1927 (Gordon’s date; 1932 according to Valerie Eliot) and 1947. We learn from Mrs Eliot that in the Sixties the poet ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?

18 April 2019
The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... than twelve thousand pages of the Criterion, the magazine Eliot edited from 1922 until 1939. Beside these prodigious gatherings, the poetry looks svelte. Yet the 2015 Faber edition of the Poems by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue itself runs to nearly two thousand densely annotated pages. This, too, is a breathtaking achievement. Very few people will read through all these thousands of pages, and their ...

The water-doctors vanish

E.S. Turner: The social history of British spas

4 June 1998
British Spas from 1815 to the Present Day: A Social History 
by Phyllis Hembry and Leonard Cowie.
Athlone, 292 pp., £50, June 1997, 0 485 11502 6
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... new springs, and unstoppable decline thereafter. These volumes do not concern themselves with the medical pretensions of spas or with the derisive accounts by visitors like Tobias Smollett and Christopher Anstey. They are sober accounts of planning, financing and building, of the labours of improvement commissioners; they offer analyses of population and of the proportion of masters to servants, along ...

Zounds

Frank Kermode: Blasphemy

14 January 2002
Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... Blasphemy, from which the author courteously distances himself. Levy is mostly concerned with the history of the offence in England and America, a history in which that judgment of Lord Chief Justice Hale in 1676, later disputed by Jefferson, figures rather largely. Incidentally, the American record is a good deal less repressive and cruel than the English or the French. Levy remarks that the Supreme ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher​ Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle

15 October 1998
Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... Ellington in 1602. He wouldn’t meet funeral parties at the churchyard gate, refused to bury two children, and had the parish clerk ‘put them into the earth’. On the day of the funeral of Mary Hale he went off to Huntingdon, kept everyone waiting two hours, and then wouldn’t say the service in church because it was too dark. More considerate was John Coult, who left instructions in 1561 for ...
7 March 2019
... principles in a republican form of government’. But the news of the Caribbean slave emancipations complicated the issue. When debate on Allen’s resolution began the following day, Senator John P. Hale (New Hampshire) proposed an amendment that the French were also to be congratulated for ‘manifesting the sincerity of their purpose by instituting measures for the immediate emancipation of the ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg

18 November 2004
The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... or so in the Noctes Ambrosianae, a fictional symposium that ran in the paper between 1822 and 1835. The author of the Noctes was John Wilson, who constructed dialogues between his own alter ego (‘Christopher North’) and that of Hogg (‘the Shepherd’). The Shepherd gets the best lines – better, some have suggested, than anything Hogg ever wrote – but he is also made to look a ‘boozing buffoon ...

Shall I go on?

Colin Burrow: Loving Milton

7 March 2013
The Complete Works of John Milton. Vol. VIII: De Doctrina Christiana 
edited by John Hale and J. Donald Cullington.
Oxford, 1263 pp., £225, September 2012, 978 0 19 923451 6
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Young Milton: The Emerging Author, 1620-42 
edited by Edward Jones.
Oxford, 343 pp., £60, November 2012, 978 0 19 969870 7
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The Complete Works of John Milton. Vol. III: The Shorter Poems 
edited by Barbara Lewalski and Estelle Haan.
Oxford, 632 pp., £125, October 2012, 978 0 19 960901 7
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... voices of earlier English poets. He did it by a kind of imaginative oscillation between different volumes in his brain. The repeated references to choirs and choruses in his early writing – which Christopher Tilmouth beautifully unfolds in Young Milton – are in this respect a manifestation of his larger poetic design. Milton wants to create a solo voice that could alternately blend into the choir of ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke

19 October 2016
Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... when he edited the 700-page volume of Brooke’s letters that finally appeared in 1968 he didn’t include any of it and cut passages elsewhere that seemed damaging to Brooke’s reputation. (Keith Hale, who edited the Strachey-Brooke correspondence, which was finally published in 1998, says that Keynes’s editor at Faber wrote again and again in the margins of the copy: ‘Why delete?’, ‘Why ...

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