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Funny Mummy

E.S. Turner

2 December 1982
The Penguin Stephen Leacock 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 527 pp., £2.95, October 1981, 0 14 005890 7
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Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Orbis, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85613 349 3
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Three Men in a Boat 
by Jerome K. Jerome, annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green.
Joseph, 192 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 907516 08 4
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The Lost Stories of W.S. Gilbert 
edited by Peter Haining.
Robson, 255 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 86051 200 2
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... book that caused the unlikeliest people to fall about laughing. In 1953 it may have caused hysteria on the Clapham omnibus as readers devoured the Pitman’s Advanced Shorthand version published (as ChristopherMatthew reminds us) that year. Jerome would surely have relished such a spectacle; or would he have felt, as the Almighty may have thought when the Bible was first rendered into Pitman’s, that the ...

In Praise of Follett

John Sutherland

16 October 1980
The Key to Rebecca 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 241 10492 0
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Joshua Then and Now 
by Mordecai Richler.
Macmillan, 435 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 333 30025 4
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Loosely Engaged 
by Christopher Matthew.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 09 142830 0
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Imago Bird 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 185 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 9780436288463
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A Quest of Love 
by Jacquetta Hawkes.
Chatto, 220 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 7011 2536 5
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... of the Bible suggests that Richler might even be inclined to take on David Kossoff. The narrative sweep gives, in passing, thirty years’ worth of social change in Canada, Britain and Ibiza. ChristopherMatthew’s Loosely Engaged is a sequel to Diary of a Somebody. For those who are at work by nine o’clock of a weekday morning this information will mean less than it should. For Matthew’s ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew

21 March 2013
The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
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... Nothing in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Saint Matthew quite lives up to its first few minutes, but getting anywhere near them is quite an achievement. And this static, mysterious movie, now showing at the BFI as part of a Pasolini season, becomes quite ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew​ Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde

5 February 1998
The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... of his work appeared last October alone. The Telegraph still uses him as sexual deviancy’s whipping-boy (‘his behaviour often hovered dangerously close to being that of a paedophile,’ snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released). Julia Prewitt Brown sees him as a philosophical heavyweight; and celebrates his ‘dodginess’ in order to instal him in a post-dualist ...

Saucy to Princes

Gerald Hammond: The Bible

25 July 2002
The Book: A History of the Bible 
by Christopher​ de Hamel.
Phaidon, 352 pp., £24.95, September 2001, 0 7148 3774 1
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The Wycliffe New Testament 1388 
edited by W.R. Cooper.
British Library, 528 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 7123 4728 3
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... Kristeva had seen the fragment and perhaps the tenth time I had, but I doubt that our sense of wonder was any different. There, in its portable transparent box, was the earliest relic of the Book. In Christopher de Hamel’s history, the Rylands fragment is reproduced life-size in the final chapter: life-size but not, to my faulty memory at least, very true to its actual appearance. In the reproduction the ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill

20 August 1981
Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher​ Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher​ Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... Some great and some good things, and some both great and good, undoubtedly came out of the period 1640-60 which Christopher Hill calls ‘the English Revolution’. What came out, however, was not necessarily originated by the period. It is a nice problem to distinguish causation from succession. In 12 short and easygoing ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter

7 March 1996
Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... dreadful mistakes, it will be a terrific movie. (Clinton staffers see Nick Nolte as a natural for Jack Stanton.) Most of the novel’s reviewers have acknowledged its excellence. In the New Yorker, Christopher Buckley (himself a suspect) called Primary Colors ‘an absolutely dazzling book, the best political novel in many years’. In Newsweek, Walter Shapiro found it ‘the best aide’s-eye view of ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Melanie Phillips

13 May 2010
... Bad Science and Bad Policy of Obama’s Global Warming Agenda – which would make Phillips’s The World Turned Upside Down a really snappy title if it hadn’t already been taken by the Diggers, Christopher Hill and Chumbawamba). Our thanks are not so much due for her outlining of the history of the property rights, ideas and politics of the West, all originating with the Hebrew Bible, and the shocking ...

Hitchcocko-Hawksien

Christopher​ Prendergast

5 June 1997
Projections 7 
edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue.
Faber, 308 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 571 19033 2
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. I: The Fifties. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 312 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15105 8
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. II: The Sixties. New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 363 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15106 6
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. III: 1969-72. The Politics of Representation 
edited by Nick Browne.
Routledge, 352 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 02987 2
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... finishes off Rothstein can also be read as a kind of hellfire, consuming both the world of Las Vegas and the cinematic image before us. It is accompanied on the soundtrack by an excerpt from the St Matthew Passion. Is Casino therefore a movie about movies? Michael Wood described it in these pages as an ‘essay’, offering ‘brooding considerations of the big questions’, the biggest being why ...

Diary

Christopher​ Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks

26 January 1995
... left the country, took to drink, died, got out of politics. But others satisfactorily compounded with that world of financial services and consultancies which floated on the oil. At best we were Matthew Arnolds’s ‘remnant’. Class counted. In retrospect, this episode recalled the subterranean Institute in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, where the delegates to an interminable conference spectate on ...

Closely Observed Trains on a Sea Coast in Bohemia

Christopher​ Tayler: Rushdie’s Latest

16 November 2017
The Golden House 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 370 pp., £18.99, September 2017, 978 1 78733 015 3
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... As a chronicler he has a lounge lizard’s view of the developments leading up to Trump’s presidency, mulling over news of discontent in the hinterlands and then going to the Russian Tea Room or a Matthew Barney opening. It turns out that there’s another bubble out there, but at least in his one ‘reality still persevered, and New Yorkers could identify a con man.’ After the election, a retreat ...
22 August 1996
The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... of five volumes to which C.S. Nicholls has devoted her editorial talents. There will now be something of a hiatus, until the first volumes of the New Dictionary of National Biography, under Colin Matthew, begin to appear early next century, with all lives revised and the text sprinkled with ten thousand pictures. A DNB newsletter issued to mark this transition lists some of the odder occupations, or ...

Admiring

Stephen Wall

26 March 1992
Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew​ Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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Loving 
by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... reclusive and died in 1973, aged 68. The disconcerting emptiness of his last twenty years is now to some extent filled in by Surviving, a book of Green’s uncollected writings edited by his grandson Matthew Yorke, and rounded off with a touching if too brief memoir by Sebastian Yorke. John Updike contributes a gracefully enthusiastic introduction. For Green, writing fiction was so demanding – partly ...

Is it always my fault?

Denis Donoghue: T.S. Eliot

25 January 2007
T.S. Eliot 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 202 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 19 530993 5
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... together ‘The Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot’ (2000), ‘In Defence of T.S. Eliot’ (1996) and ‘Evidence in the Eliot Case’ (1996) – this last featuring a notably unkind commentary on Christopher Ricks’s editing of Eliot’s Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-17. In the new book, as in these essays, Raine assumes that his readers are likely to be ‘somewhat impure and apt to confuse ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB

20 January 2005
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... O’Brian). Nonetheless, a not dissimilar kind of sleep-disturbing responsibility fell on its editor, and the project was fortunate to find the ideal man for the job in the Oxford historian Colin Matthew, who had demonstrated his capacity for the task in his monumental edition of the Gladstone diaries. Matthew became the founding editor of the ODNB in 1992, and much of the credit for both the ...

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