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Impervious to Draughts

Rosemary Hill: Das englische Haus, 22 May 2008

The English House 
by Hermann Muthesius, edited by Dennis Sharp, translated by Janet Seligman and Stewart Spencer.
Frances Lincoln, 699 pp., £125, June 2007, 978 0 7112 2688 3
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... was a revolution that perpetuated something of what it appeared to reject. It seems unlikely, as Dennis Sharp writes in his introduction, that without Muthesius Gropius would have brought such a Morrisian view of craft to the Bauhaus or that ‘the idea of a utopian cathedral of socialism built on principles of medieval Masonic guilds’ would have ...

Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander Pope: A Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... In these essays Rogers alerts us to niceties and implications we might have missed. He has a sharp eye for selecting passages that richly illustrate his assertions, such as the following lines from the Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot: Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill; I wish’d the man a dinner, and sate still: Yet then did ...

Royalties

John Sutherland, 14 June 1990

CounterBlasts No 10. The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 42 pp., £2.99, January 1990, 0 7011 3555 7
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The Prince 
by Celia Brayfield.
Chatto, 576 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3357 0
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The Maker’s Mark 
by Roy Hattersley.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 9780333470329
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A Time to Dance 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 220 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 340 52911 3
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... there but only occasionally glimpsed. The glimpses are instructive. In 1937 the diplomat Geoffrey Dennis wrote a Coronation Commentary for Heinemann. This was a reasoned defence of the monarchy – then in a very rocky state. Dennis repeated, and deprecated, the widespread gossip that Mrs Simpson had been the Duke of ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... it survived its infancy largely thanks to Bernard Shaw’s reputation and money, that Clifford Sharp, the editor, was an alcoholic and possibly a spy, and that the paper itself was deadly dull. The only previous extended discussion of the Statesman’s first years was Edward Hyams’s ‘house’ history. Adrian Smith makes a fuller attempt to place the ...

Redheads in Normandy

R.W. Johnson: The 1997 election, 22 January 1998

The British General Election of 1997 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 343 pp., £17.50, November 1997, 0 333 64776 9
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Labour's Landslide 
by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge.
Manchester, 211 pp., £40, December 1997, 0 7190 5159 2
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Britain Votes 1997 
edited by Pippa Norris and Neil Gavin.
Oxford, 253 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 9780199223220
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Collapse of Stout Party: The Decline and Fall of the Tories 
by Julian Crtitchley and Morrison Halcrow.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £20, November 1997, 0 575 06277 0
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Les Election Legislatives, 25 Mai-1er Juin 1997: Le president desavoue 
Le Monde, 146 pp., frs 45, June 1998Show More
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... seems, all this came as a great surprise, yet there was nothing very remarkable in the voters’ sharp reaction to record unemployment, broken promises and Presidential arrogance, particularly in a country where the most deeply felt political sentiment has always been the wish to ‘sortir les sortants’ – to throw out whoever’s in power. The British ...

Cheeky

Norman Page, 16 March 1989

Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... I can come out at any time without notice’. The desiderated situation resembles that of the sharp-eyed, voyeuristic and invisible narrators of Hardy’s fictions, and in a rather different sense ‘coming out without notice’ is what the letters offer in their best moments. There are letters (like Keats’s) that belong to literature, and letters (like ...

Ambifacts

Gary Taylor, 7 January 1993

Shakespeare: The Later Years 
by Russell Fraser.
Columbia, 380 pp., $35, April 1992, 0 231 06766 6
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Shakespeare: His Life, Work and Era 
by Dennis Kay.
Sidgwick, 368 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 283 99878 4
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William Shakespeare: The Anatomy of an Enigma 
by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 188 pp., May 1992, 1 85066 010 7
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Politics, Plague and Shakespeare’s Theatre: The Stuart Years 
by Leeds Barroll.
Cornell, 249 pp., £20.80, January 1992, 0 8014 2479 8
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Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus 
by Margreta de Grazia.
Oxford, 244 pp., £30, February 1991, 0 19 811778 7
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... roles and old man’s roles’. The first claim is at best debatable, the other two simply wrong. Dennis Kay’s biography is altogether more respectable. He has only a dozen pages of notes, but they direct readers to major sources and divergent views. He has not closed his eyes and swallowed everything done in the last decade; but he hasn’t closed his eyes ...

Seductress Extraordinaire

Terry Castle: The vampiric Mercedes de Acosta, 24 June 2004

‘That Furious Lesbian’: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta 
by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 210 pp., £16.95, June 2004, 0 8093 2579 9
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Women in Turmoil: Six Plays 
by Mercedes de Acosta, edited by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 252 pp., £26.95, June 2003, 0 8093 2509 8
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... last line would a century later ineluctably evoke the Monty Python song about the highwayman ‘Dennis Moore, galloping o’er the moor’: Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Mr Moore. None of Micaela’s odd childraising methods, which included dressing Mercedes up as a boy, telling her her ...

Never the twain

Mark Amory, 4 March 1982

Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... certain reputation, occasional brushes with high life and lengthy diaries and letters filled with sharp gossip about your famous friends; and Waugh has the advantage that he is still widely read. Penguin keeps all the novels in print, though none of the biographies. Reluctant to give all the details, they allow that Decline and Fall is the top seller at about ...

The view from the street

John Barrell, 7 April 1994

Hogarth. Vol. I: The ‘Modern Moral Subject’, 1697-1732 
by Ronald Paulson.
Lutterworth, 411 pp., £35, May 1992, 0 7188 2854 2
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... art have offered us two different Hogarths, with about as much in common as Michael Howard and Dennis Skinner. One of them is described by David Solkin in his Painting for Money, reviewed in these pages last year by Ronald Paulson. Solkin’s Hogarth is an ambitious social climber, determined to efface the memory of his beginnings as an apprentice in the ...

Babylon with Bananas

Michael Newton: Tarzan's best friend, 29 January 2009

Me Cheeta: The Autobiography 
by Cheeta.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £16.99, October 2008, 978 0 00 727863 3
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... of revenge taken by Cheeta’. However, those expecting a contemporary version of Patrick Dennis and Cris Alexander’s fabulous spoof, Little Me (1961), the life of Belle Poitrine, will be disappointed. Poitrine’s memoir is pure absurdity, but gives a more accurate insight into the tone of the period. It helped perhaps that she was a fictional ...

Diary

John Lloyd: Split Scots, 25 June 1992

... appealing to democratic values. The Nationalists themselves – now better led than before, by the sharp accountant Alex Salmond and his more histrionic and rhetorically talented deputy, Jim Sillars – appeal at least in part to the proposition that a historically constituted nation held to be suffering in its relations with the dominant sector of the ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... think about resigning from the Government in protest. All his most reliable political friends – Dennis Skinner, Audrey Wise, Ken Coates, most of the activists in his Bristol constituency, even his son Stephen – advised him to do so. Benn’s own belief, often expressed here, that the power and influence that mattered came from below, from the shop ...

It’s life but not as we know it

Tim Radford, 3 July 1997

... words, of life on Mars at one time, even if not now. When they made the announcement there were sharp intakes of breath in space science departments everywhere. (Altogether, 12 meteorites have been identified as bits of Mars, chipped loose in a bygone catastrophe – a collision with something big, like an asteroid or comet – which had spun around the ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie, 5 April 2012

Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... Trynka writes with studied understatement, ‘no detailed memories of the household antics of Dennis Hopper, Iggy Pop and David Bowie survive, for each of the participants’ recollection of this period is patchy.’ It seems that Bowie probably did have an exorcism carried out on his house, but ‘other tales, including the one of David storing bodily ...

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