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It wasn’t a dream

Ned Beauman: Christopher Priest

10 October 2013
The Adjacent 
by Christopher Priest.
Gollancz, 432 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 575 10536 2
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... Two days after the announcement of the shortlist for last year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel, ChristopherPriest wrote on his blog that part of the award’s purpose is to prove to ‘the larger world’ that science fiction ‘is a progressive, modern literature, with diversity and ambition and ability, and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Prestige’

14 December 2006
ThePrestige 
directed by Christopher​ Nolan.
October 2006
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... In Christopher Nolan’s movies men are always losing their minds: to revenge and an old phobia in Batman Begins; to a clinical condition in Insomnia; to the vagaries of a crippled short-term memory in Memento. The ...

Short Cuts

Christopher​ Tayler: King Charles the Martyr

21 February 2019
... one of them told me, from St Paul’s, there to help with the ushering. At the back of the hall, highly variegated clergy were taking stock. Were they rivals or fellow travellers? A Russian Orthodox priest made cautious small talk with a young man in extravagant blue and red robes who turned out to be a follower of the Western Orthodox rite from a monastery near Dumfries. At 11.40 a.m., the wandsmen ...

A Country Priest

Christopher​ Burns

1 August 1985
... When I touched her brow her eyes shot open and stared at me. She was hot to the touch but my hand, when I lifted it away, was damp. I sniffed it, half afraid of the smell of death. ‘Are you a priest?’ she asked. Her breath smelled like a dog’s. ‘I am. Don’t you recognise me?’ She looked at me as if she did not understand at all. ‘I have known you for some years,’ I said. ‘Am I ...
6 January 2011
... for Christopher Penfold The Queen and the Philosopher Sun on the sea running white, sun on white walls, yes, on the thick shoulders of the fishermen as they fanned their nets, sun as an engine, a trapdoor, a compass ...

It’s Been a Lot of Fun

David Runciman: Hitchens’s Hitchens

24 June 2010
Hitch-22: A Memoir 
by Christopher​ Hitchens.
Atlantic, 435 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84354 921 5
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... In his book about religion, Peter Hitchens has a lot more to say about his brother Christopher than Christopher has to say about Peter in his book about himself.* ‘Some brothers get on,’ Peter writes mournfully, ‘some do not. We were the sort that just didn’t.’ He continues: At one stage – I was ...

Runagately Rogue

Tobias Gregory: Puritans and Others

25 August 2011
The Plain Man’s Pathways to Heaven: Kinds of Christianity in Post-Reformation England, 1570-1640 
by Christopher​ Haigh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £32, September 2009, 978 0 19 921650 5
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... life. Books like Dent’s show us the plain man as his minister would have seen him. How accurate was the reflection? In a new study of English popular religion based on ecclesiastical court records, Christopher Haigh finds that Dent’s four characters represent widely held attitudes. While Dent invented them as useful stereotypes, his book succeeded because people recognised them and the things he had them ...

The Rat Line

Christopher​ Driver

6 December 1984
The Fourth Reich 
by Magnus Linklater, Isabel Hilton and Neal Ascherson.
Hodder, 352 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 340 34443 1
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I didn’t say goodbye 
by Claudine Vegh.
Caliban, 179 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 904573 93 1
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... Reich is a book about the present, disclosed by the past for which Klaus Barbie was arrested. Its stage-sets include Italy and Spain, Germany and the Americas; its characters a Croatian Catholic priest called Draganovic and Major Robert d’Aubuisson of Salvador. If British involvement and documentation seem minimal, this may simply be because that famous repository of guilty secrets, the Foreign ...

But Little Bequalmed

Christopher​ Tayler: Louis de Bernières’s Decency

2 September 2004
Birds without Wings 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 625 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 436 20549 1
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... stale but amiable pussycats’, the ‘demented and metaphysical’ hangovers, the nights ‘made sepulchral by the attenuated and dancing shadows’? By page 35, a ‘portentous and dignified’ priest has made an appearance, and on page 42 there’s talk of religion’s ‘tendentious but unchanging certainties’. But it’s hard to relax until page 44, where, in the space of three paragraphs ...

Among the Flutterers

Colm Tóibín: The Pope Wears Prada

19 August 2010
The Pope Is Not Gay 
by Angelo Quattrocchi, translated by Romy Clark Giuliani.
Verso, 181 pp., £8.90, June 2010, 978 1 84467 474 9
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... apology, which they use as often as they can. There are fascinating lapses, however, such as the outburst, at the end of the three-day Irish Episcopal Conference last March, by the bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones, a member of the Bishops’ Liaison Committee for Child Protection, who accused the media of being ‘unfair and unjust’: ‘Could I just say with all this emphasis on cover-up, the cover-up ...

Zigzags

John Bossy

4 April 1996
The New Oxford History of England. Vol. II: The Later Tudors 
by Penry Williams.
Oxford, 628 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 19 822820 1
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... 11, therefore seem scanty; ‘Art, Power and the Social Order’ get 65, and I shall not be suggesting that they are too many. Of the 40, Catholics get ten and a bit, and Williams has followed Christopher Haigh in downsizing the Elizabethan Catholic mission into a bomb that failed to go off. This leaves an awful hole in the story: it was a real bomb, and blew up a lot of things, including the planter ...

Give me a Danish pastry!

Christopher​ Tayler: Nordic crime fiction

17 August 2006
The Priest​ of Evil 
by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, translated by David Hackston.
Arcadia, 352 pp., £11.99, May 2006, 1 900850 93 1
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Roseanna 
by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, translated by Lois Roth.
Harper Perennial, 288 pp., £6.99, August 2006, 0 00 723283 7
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Borkmann’s Point 
by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson.
Macmillan, 321 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 333 98984 8
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The Redbreast 
by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 520 pp., £11.99, September 2006, 9781843432173
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Voices 
by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Bernard Scudder.
Harvill Secker, 313 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 1 84655 033 5
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... Chasing a cross-dressing serial killer through a tunnel beneath Helsinki, Timo Harjunpää, the hero of The Priest of Evil by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, pulls out his gun and then pauses to consider the health and safety implications of what he’s doing. ‘He recalled that this communal tunnel was used for almost ...

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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... encouraged in this by the introduction of parish registers in 1538 (a surprising omission from Cressy’s book). The compulsory recording of baptisms, marriages and burials made the officiating priest a bureaucratic executive, carrying out his instructions and doing the paperwork afterwards. Ritual acts became formal outlines, with registers to prove they took place as they should and the priest ...

Nolanus Nullanus

Charles Nicholl

12 March 1992
Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair 
by John Bossy.
Yale, 294 pp., £16.95, September 1991, 0 300 04993 5
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The Elizabethan Secret Service 
by Alison Plowden.
Harvester Wheatsheaf, 158 pp., £30, September 1991, 0 7108 1152 7
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The Lord of Uraniborg: A Biography of Tycho Brahe 
by Victor Thoren.
Cambridge, 523 pp., £40, May 1991, 0 521 35158 8
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... mission’ in England. The other protagonist of the story, Henry Fagot, must at least have known Bruno quite well. He too was an habitué of the French Embassy, in which he served for a while as priest and confessor. He was also a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham, supplying him with a steady stream of intelligence from within the Catholic enclave of the Embassy. His letters and reports, written in ...

The Crowe is White

Hilary Mantel: Bloody Mary

24 September 2009
Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 249 pp., £19.99, June 2009, 978 0 300 15216 6
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... with five other humble people outside the town walls of Colchester. Rawlins White was burned; he was an illiterate Cardiff fisherman. William Hunter was 19 years old, a silk-weaver’s apprentice; a priest sneered at him: ‘It is a merye worlde when such as thou arte shall teache us what is the truth.’ Thomas Tomkins, a weaver, was burned after Edmund Bonner, bishop of London, had forcibly shaved ...

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