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In Scheherezade’s shoes

Colin Jones, 23 November 1989

Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in 16th-century France 
by Natalie Zemon Davis.
Polity, 217 pp., £22.50, March 1988, 0 7456 0531 1
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... Like good detective novels, the letters of remission which are the subject of Natalie Zemon Davis’s most recent book usually start with a corpse which requires to be explained. Other offences – tax riot, heresy, the defloration of a virgin – could be the occasion for the ‘pardon tales’ such letters contained, but the procedure was most often resorted to by someone who had been the cause of someone else’s death ...

Not a Belonger

Colin Jones, 21 August 1997

The End of the Line: A Memoir 
by Richard Cobb.
Murray, 229 pp., £20, June 1997, 0 7195 5460 8
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... Richard Cobb, who died last year at the age of 79, began his career as a historian of Revolutionary France. When I first met him, in 1968, he was widely thought to be able to write only in French, but as time went on a strong personal vein and a taste for high comedy widened the scope of his writing and revealed a highly distinctive English style: intricate perceptions and sensations set down in long, baroque sentences, full of Gallicisms, argot and incantatory lists of French and English place-names ...


Colin Jones: Voltaire’s Loneliness, 25 May 2006

Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom 
by Roger Pearson.
Bloomsbury, 447 pp., £18.99, November 2005, 0 7475 7495 2
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Le Monde des salons 
by Antoine Lilti.
Fayard, 572 pp., £30, October 2005, 2 213 62292 2
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... The life of François-Marie Arouet, a.k.a. Voltaire (1694-1778), could hardly have been as colourful as that of the eponymous hero of his most famous novella, Candide. In his brief but eventful life, Candide encounters, inter alia, massacre, pillage, rape, piracy, mutilation, brutal militarism, cannibalism, slavery, bestiality, vivisection, religious fanaticism and political intolerance ...

Megalomaniac and Loser

Norman Hampson, 21 March 1985

Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History 1794-1815 
edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas.
Cambridge, 276 pp., £22.50, October 1983, 0 521 25114 1
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Chouannerie and Counter-Revolution: Puisaye, the Princes and the British Government in the 1790s 
by Maurice Hutt.
Cambridge, 630 pp., £60, December 1983, 0 521 22603 1
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Britain and Revolutionary France: Conflict, Subversion and Propaganda 
edited by Colin Jones.
Exeter, 96 pp., £1.75, June 1983, 0 85989 179 8
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... other, we should know that they were all dead. The volume of essays, edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas in honour of Richard Cobb, deals mostly with the later years of the Revolution, between the fall of Robespierre and the advent of Bonaparte. The period has always been rather an embarrassment to historians who are looking for patterns. If the Terror ...

A Laugh a Year

Jonathan Beckman: The Smile, 18 June 2015

The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth-Century Paris 
by Colin Jones.
Oxford, 231 pp., £22.99, September 2014, 978 0 19 871581 8
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... hideous, his mouth wide open and his teeth falling to the ground’. In the years between, Colin Jones shows, another, barely perceptible revolution occurred: polite society accepted the open-mouthed smile. Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s ‘Self-Portrait with Her Daughter Julie’ (1786). Wariness of the laugh (le rire) among classical ...

Enlightenment’s Errand Boy

David A. Bell: The Philosophes and the Republic of Letters, 22 May 2003

Calvet’s Web: Enlightenment and the Republic of Letters in 18th-Century France 
by L.W.B. Brockliss.
Oxford, 471 pp., £55, July 2002, 9780199247486
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The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon 
by Colin Jones.
Allen Lane, 651 pp., £25, August 2002, 0 7139 9039 2
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... these popular images of the Enlightenment have retained considerable force. Textbooks (including Colin Jones’s superb new one) have repeated them to new generations of readers, while literary historians such as Daniel Mornet have taken them for granted and proceeded to tell the story of the Enlightenment’s steady diffusion outwards from its Parisian ...

Much more than a Man

Caroline Weber: The Sleeping Robespierre, 24 March 2022

The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris 
by Colin Jones.
Oxford, 571 pp., £25, August 2021, 978 0 19 871595 5
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... ripped the bandage from his jaw. In​ The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris, Colin Jones, a professor of history at Queen Mary, offers a suspenseful and original account of this episode. The book is suspenseful because, even though we know the way things end, it relates the build-up to Robespierre’s execution in breathless ...

Tea with Medea

Simon Skinner: Richard Cobb, 19 July 2012

My Dear Hugh: Letters from Richard Cobb to Hugh Trevor-Roper and Others 
Frances Lincoln, 240 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 7112 3240 2Show More
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... create, and methodologically couldn’t have created, a school of history. As his former student Colin Lucas explains in an entry in the DNB, while Cobb’s students ‘learned the value of the provincial history of the period, the importance of large-scale reading of manuscript archives at all levels, and the necessity of a real enthusiasm for ...

D.A.N. Jones writes about David Robert Jones

D.A.N. Jones, 20 November 1986

by Jerry Hopkins.
Elm Tree, 275 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11548 5
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Alias David Bowie 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Hodder, 511 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 340 36806 3
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... David Robert Jones, alias David Bowie, is now in his 40th year. His creepy, chilling phrases pop out of pub jukeboxes, and extracts from his movies catch the eye on pub videos, whether he is embracing a Chinese girl or being executed by Japanese soldiers; his image appears in the Sunday-paper magazines, artistically displayed in sundry poses ...

Added Fashion Value

David A. Bell: Capitalism’s Rosy Dawn, 7 October 2021

Capitalism and the Emergence of Civic Equality in 18th-Century France 
by William H. Sewell Jr.
Chicago, 412 pp., £28, April, 978 0 226 77046 8
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... surplus value’ involved consumers’ mouths as much as their wardrobes (not coincidentally, as Colin Jones has observed, the encounter between colonial sugar and European teeth also helped spur a revolution in European dentistry).When the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen arrived in the Caribbean colonies, some white plantation owners ...

Not a Nasty

Thomas Jones: Peter Ho Davies, 24 May 2007

The Welsh Girl 
by Peter Ho Davies.
Sceptre, 344 pp., £12.99, May 2007, 978 0 340 93825 6
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... training in the mountains for the invasion of Norway’. On the evening of D-Day, Esther and Colin, a sapper she’s been ‘stepping out with’, sneak down to the camp after last orders. Esther hasn’t told her father about Colin. Arthur Evans is a ‘staunch nationalist’: he’s only been to England once, to a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Angels aren’t what they used to be, 16 December 2004

... Newcomb, ‘the Angel Lady’, who writes a number of columns in the mystical press, teaches at Colin Fry’s International College of Spiritual Science and Healing in Ramsbergsgarden, Sweden, runs, and has now written a book, An Angel Treasury: A Celestial Collection of Inspirations, Encounters and Heavenly Lore ...

The Powyses

D.A.N. Jones, 7 August 1980

After My Fashion 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 286 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 330 26049 9
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Weymouth Sands 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 567 pp., £2.95, June 1980, 0 330 26050 2
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Recollections of the Powys Brothers 
edited by Belinda Humfrey.
Peter Owen, 288 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 7206 0547 4
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John Cowper Powys and David JonesA Comparative Study 
by Jeremy Hooker.
Enitharmon, 54 pp., £3.75, April 1979, 0 901111 85 6
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The Hollowed-Out Elder Stalk 
by Roland Mathias.
Enitharmon, 158 pp., £4.85, May 1979, 0 901111 87 2
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John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest 
by Morine Krissdottir.
Macdonald, 218 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 354 04492 3
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... his meed of lectures, tutorials and research students. Nevertheless, the book-addicted young, the Colin Wilsons of our time, find John Cowper instantly available in the heart of London, at the Village Bookshop, hard by Piccadilly Circus, that alternative campus. There is here a bust of John Cowper, with large pictures of his photogenic face. There is a wall ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... art. Should you decide to do so, however, you’d better watch out for Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn. Colin Renfrew, as he’s probably better known, is the author of Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology (Duckworth, £9.99). ‘Clandestine and unpublished digging of archaeological sites for gain, i.e. looting . . . is the source of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, 6 October 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 
directed by Tomas Alfredson.
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... away from one of the mole-inspired disasters, Benedict Cumberbatch as Smiley’s diligent gofer, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds as high-ups in British intelligence, all candidates for the ultimately declared position of mole – and the director’s elegant hand is everywhere. Tomas Alfredson is best ...

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