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Don’t blame him

Peter Brown: Constantine

22 April 2015
Constantine​ the Emperor 
by David​ Potter.
Oxford, 368 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 975586 8
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... Few rulers​ have set in motion developments of such momentous consequence as the emperor Constantine, with his conversion to Christianity in 312 and subsequent halting of the persecution of Christians, ratified a year later in the Edict of Milan. Over the 17 centuries since then, theologians ...

Angry or Evil?

Michael Wood: Brecht’s Poems

21 March 2019
The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht 
translated by Tom Kuhn and David Constantine.
Norton, 1286 pp., £35, December 2018, 978 0 87140 767 2
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... Berlin was swept by a Dreigroschenoper fever. In the streets no other tunes were whistled.’ There were other fevers around, though, and in 1933, the day after the Reichstag fire, as Kuhn and Constantine tell us, Brecht and his Jewish wife, Helene Weigel, left Germany. Several years of exile followed, principally in Denmark and the United States, and it is possible that exile didn’t really end when ...

Breathing in Verse

Theodore Ziolkowski: A rich translation of Hölderlin

23 September 2004
Poems and Fragments 
by Friedrich Hölderlin, translated by Michael Hamburger.
Anvil, 823 pp., £19.95, March 2004, 0 85646 360 4
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... classical metrical forms. Hölderlin’s translators have made their various accommodations: J.B. Leishman rendered many of the odes into graceful Alcaics and Asclepiads; Christopher Middleton and DavidConstantine, in contrast, resorted to looser paraphrases. Hamburger takes the more challenging route – with considerable success. The opening lines of ‘Bread and Wine’ catch the rhythm and flow ...
23 February 1995
Edward Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vols I-VI 
edited by David​ Womersley.
Allen Lane, 1114 pp., £75, November 1994, 0 7139 9124 0
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... David Womersley’s massive and elegant edition of Gibbon is the better timed because it comes a century after the edition scholars have been obliged to use as the nearest to a critical text. It was in ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... especially of poets who challenge received opinions, particularly about the Forties and Fifties. We won’t find, for instance, Burns Singer, one of the most original poets of the Fifties, or David Wright and John Heath-Stubbs. All three were friends of Graham, and their inclusion might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson ...

The Chief Inhabitant

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Jerusalem

14 July 2011
Jerusalem: The Biography 
by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Weidenfeld, 638 pp., £25, January 2011, 978 0 297 85265 0
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... of Herod’s Temple; ‘After all, we all want the Temple rebuilt, don’t we?’ he coaxed. ‘Oh yes!’ came the enthusiastic chorus. You might say that the Jerusalem Syndrome began with King David. Once he had escorted Israel’s sacred Ark of the Covenant into the city, having conquered its Jebusite inhabitants and proclaimed it his capital, he danced in his exaltation ‘before the Lord with ...

In Athens

Richard Clogg

5 July 2012
... policy. The Corinth Canal, for example, was not reopened to navigation until 1949. In The Sacrifices of Greece in the Second World War, a book published by the Ministry of Reconstruction in 1946, Constantine Doxiadis calculated that 1,200,000 Greeks were made homeless and five thousand schools wrecked during the occupation. Many Greeks regard German war reparations as inadequate and attempts are still ...

Dangerous Play

Mike Selvey

23 May 1985
Gubby Allen: Man of Cricket 
by E.W. Swanton.
Hutchinson, 311 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 09 159780 3
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Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack: 1985 
edited by John Woodcock.
Wisden, 1280 pp., £11.95, April 1985, 0 947766 00 6
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... at cover from the rebound. He recalls not appreciating the significance until returning to the dressing-room, where he lapsed into a state of knee-knocking shock. Another Englishman, the Lancastrian David Lloyd, was hit a terrifying blow in the groin by Jeff Thomson. The following summer, I too hit him in the same region. I saw him later, ice packs clasped to his nether regions, and asked after his ...

The Ironist

J.G.A. Pocock: Gibbon under Fire

14 November 2002
Gibbon and the ‘Watchmen of the Holy City’: The Historian and His Reputation 1776-1815 
by David​ Womersley.
Oxford, 452 pp., £65, January 2002, 0 19 818733 5
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... first 14 chapters, which recount the break-up of the Augustan and Antonine principate. The 15th and 16th chapters, which conclude the volume with a survey of Christian history before the victory of Constantine, instantly occasioned a fierce controversy over Gibbon’s evident unbelief and his use of irony to convey it, so that his writings on the history of the Church have been viewed through the glass of ...

Tacky Dress

Dale Peck

22 February 1996
Like People in History: A Gay American Epic 
by Felice Picano.
Viking, 512 pp., $23.95, July 1995, 0 670 86047 6
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How Long Has This Been Going On? 
by Ethan Mordden.
Villard, 590 pp., $25, April 1995, 0 679 41529 7
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The Facts of Life 
by Patrick Gale.
Flamingo, 511 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 602 24522 2
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Flesh and Blood 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 9780241135150
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... Dancer from the Dance, George Whitmore’s Nebraska, Edmund White’s Nocturnes for the King of Naples; and a decade since the first Aids fiction started to show up: Robert Ferro’s Second Son, David B. Feinberg’s Eighty-Sixed, Allen Barnett’s beautiful The Body and Its Dangers. Today, as a result of political pressure as well as recognition of a growing gay readership, gay sections can be ...

Ceremonies

Rodney Hilton

21 January 1988
Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies 
edited by David​ Cannadine and Simon Price.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33513 2
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... This is a collection of fascinating studies, ranging from Babylon to 20th-century Ghana, from China to Madagascar. David Cannadine, in his Introduction, says that the topics covered are mainly pre-modern and therefore outside the scope of most professional historians. In their Acknowledgments, however, the two editors ...

Enemy of the Enemies of Truth

Frank Kermode: The history of the footnote

19 March 1998
The Footnote: A Curious History 
by Anthony Grafton.
Faber, 241 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 0 571 17668 2
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... urgent critical programmes, some with powerful political and ecclesiastical implications. There was, for example, the celebrated demonstration by Lorenzo Valla, who died in 1457, that the Donation of Constantine was spurious. The Donation was an eighth or ninth-century fabrication that purported to be the instrument by which the Emperor Constantine had in the fourth century ceded to Pope Sylvester I dominion ...

Lunch

Jon Halliday

2 June 1983
In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... London: the BBC, Amnesty International and the British press. His account of his work is largely taken up with attempts to win them over. Early on in his tenure, Radji lunches with a helpful figure, David Spanier, the Diplomatic Correspondent of the Times. Spanier tells him that there are only ‘about fifteen to twenty people who are the opinion-makers in the British press and suggests I establish ...

Rome’s New Mission

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Early Christianity

2 June 2011
Christians and Pagans: The Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede 
by Malcolm Lambert.
Yale, 329 pp., £30, September 2010, 978 0 300 11908 4
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... unholy alliance of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Johnny-come-latelies, consolidated their prestige and estates against the interlopers by inventing evangelistic exploits for ancient saints like Dyfrig or David. Malcolm Lambert is a judicious guide to the shifting opinions of scholars amid these quicksands, casting a sceptical eye even on Bede’s motives for glorifying and sanitising the Roman mission to ...
18 July 1985
The Transformation of Spain: From Franco to the Constitutional Monarchy 
by David​ Gilmour.
Quartet, 306 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 9780704324619
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... become a modern and – something which Spain had been only very briefly in the 18th century – a European nation. This transition is one of the most remarkable events of the post-war years and, as David Gilmour says in what is by far the best general account of the phenomenon to have appeared so far, it was the King who made it possible. The greatest threat to Spanish democracy came, and still comes ...

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