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Leur Pays

David Kennedy: Race, immigration and democracy in America

22 February 2001
Making Americans: Immigration, Race and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy 
by Desmond King.
Harvard, 388 pp., £29.95, June 2000, 0 674 00088 9
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... of immigrants, including even those who came over here on the Mayflower.’ Strictly speaking, even the exception for Indians might be disallowed, since they, too, migrated to the American continents from elsewhere. There are other settler societies, including conspicuously Australia, Argentina, and Canada. But on a scale that dwarfs the experience ...

Short Cuts

Glen Newey: Murdoch

28 July 2011
... is stuffed. It was barely noticed earlier this year when Northern & Shell, owned by the porn king Richard Desmond, pulled its funding from the PCC. As a result, the commission can’t deal with complaints against N&S titles, including the Express, Star and OK! magazine. Not that external regulation has worked ...

Not the man for it

John Bossy: The Death of Girolamo Savonarola

20 April 2006
Scourge and Fire: Savonarola and Renaissance Italy 
by Lauro Martines.
Cape, 368 pp., £20, March 2006, 0 224 07252 8
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The Burning of the Vanities: Savonarola and the Borgia Pope 
by Desmond Seward.
Sutton, 320 pp., £20, March 2006, 0 7509 2981 2
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... regime; his commendation of republican morality and moral republicanism; his pious youths knocking on doors to check out what ungodliness might be going on inside; his transmutation of the feast of Carnival, with its ritual manifestation and destruction of the sins of the flesh, into a Lenten moment, like Aubrey Beardsley’s deathbed, for the burning of ...

King Cling

Julian Bell: Kings and Collectors

5 April 2018
Charles I: King and Collector 
Royal Academy, London, until 15 April 2018Show More
Charles II: Art and Power 
Queen’s Gallery/London, until 13 May 2018Show More
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... Perched​ on one platform, King Charles I; perched on another, the Dutch painter Daniel Mytens; lowered in between them, a canvas some two feet taller than the king, who was reportedly of small stature. If, as an inscription on the finished portrait insists, the likeness was painted ad vivum, then this might have been the way to do it ...

Human Nature

Stuart Hampshire

25 October 1979
Beast and Man 
by Mary Midgley.
Harvester, 396 pp., £7.50
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... philosophy of human nature. The founding father was Konrad Lorenz, who followed the vastly popular King Solomon’s Ring with the immensely influential On Aggression. Then came The Naked Ape (Desmond Morris) and The Territorial Imperative (Robert Ardrey), which made the idea of aggression in defence of territory a household ...

Tough Guy

Ian Hamilton: Keith Douglas

8 February 2001
Keith Douglas: The Letters 
edited by Desmond Graham.
Carcanet, 369 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 1 85754 477 3
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... and when successes came his way, he tended to respond to them with a theatrical offhandedness. Talking further of Eight Oxford Poets, he offered a grim picture of the current poetry scene: Their attitude to the war is that of the homosexual guardsman returning from Dunkirk – ‘Oh my dear! The noise! and the people!’ They turn a delicate shoulder to it ...

Grail Trail

C.H. Roberts

4 March 1982
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 
by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Cape, 445 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 224 01735 7
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The Foreigner: A Search for the First-Century Jesus 
by Desmond Stewart.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 241 10686 9
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Satan: The Early Christian Tradition 
by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
Cornell, 258 pp., £14, November 1981, 0 8014 1267 6
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... genealogies (still not published). There were references to Dagobert II, the Merovingian king, to Sion, and to treasure said to be Merovingian. The consequences of the discovery were odd. Saunière was sent to Paris with the two documents, and came into contact with some leading figures in the literary and artistic world, all of whom were interested ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Tweeting at an Execution

6 October 2011
... Alec Baldwin, as well as millions of people followed only by their sister and their boyfriend, asking what the killing of this 42-year-old man would say to the world about America. Troy Davis had been on death row for 20 years, since being convicted, in 1991, of killing Mark MacPhail, a police officer working as a security ...

The Kentish Hog

Adrian Desmond

15 October 1987
The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Vol. II: 1837-1843 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith.
Cambridge, 603 pp., £30, March 1987, 0 521 25588 0
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The Works of Charles Darwin 
edited by Paul Barrett and R.B. Freeman.
Pickering & Chatto, 10 pp., £470, March 1987, 1 85196 002 3
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The Darwinian Heritage 
edited by David Kohn.
Princeton, 1138 pp., £67.90, February 1986, 0 691 08356 8
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Western Science in the Arab World: The Impact of Darwinism, 1860-1930 
by Adel Ziadat.
Macmillan, 162 pp., £27.50, October 1986, 0 333 41856 5
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Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate 1844-1944 
by Peter Bowler.
Blackwell, 318 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 631 15264 4
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Controversy in Victorian Geology: The Cambrian-Silurian Dispute 
by James Secord.
Princeton, 363 pp., £33.10, October 1986, 0 691 08417 3
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Darwin’s Metaphor: Nature’s Place in Victorian Culture 
by Robert Young.
Cambridge, 341 pp., £30, October 1985, 0 521 31742 8
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... the pace in history-of-science publishing. Nor is this surprising, given the years of painstaking work by the Cambridge team, hacking through the intractable jungle of Darwin’s illegible script and cryptic marginalia. And it is precisely the degree of social detail which is crucial. It will finally enable historians ...

The School of English

Hilary Mantel: ‘The School of English’: A Story

6 May 2015
... said, ‘but a facility. Follow and I will show you.’ But he turned back. ‘If you were making a joke, I heartily discourage you. I myself benefited from the care of English nursery teacher. I am joking like a native speaker. But in such exclusive postcodes as St John’s Wood, or in any leafy part of this great ...
2 August 1984
The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. IV: 1909-1913 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 337 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 19 812621 2
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The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. IV: 1792-1799 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 498 pp., £48, March 1984, 0 19 812681 6
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The Land and Literature of England: A Historical Account 
by Robert M. Adams.
Norton, 555 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 393 01704 4
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. II 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 543 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 19 812783 9
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... with a view to his extending his fascinations to a wider public. There follows a note to Desmond MacCarthy suggesting – surely with the firm touch of a provincial or a Victorian survivor – that it would be better if the New Quarterly were called instead the Quarterly Herald or Quarterly Clarion, ‘or some such’. The first of these letters ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters

25 September 2008
So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... in the back of his car, together with a supply of bamboo shoots.’ (Fisher, she explained, was working at London Zoo.) After five hundred pages of her letters the reader is, if not exactly used to this sort of thing, then perfectly prepared for it. The eruption of the startling, the comic and the inexplicable, into a life that Fitzgerald was often at pains to ...

Done for the State

John Guy: The House of York

2 April 2020
The Brothers York: An English Tragedy 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 688 pp., £12.99, April, 978 0 7181 9728 5
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Richard III: The Self-Made King 
by Michael Hicks.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21429 1
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... a blizzard on Palm Sunday, he took the throne from the weak, ineffectual Henry VI and was crowned King Edward IV.Usurpers were plentiful in the 15th century. Edward’s claim was by lineal descent from Edward III, and was a strong one if you ignored the deposition of Richard II in 1399. In the mid-1450s, Richard, Duke of York, Edward’s father and ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson

20 January 2011
The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
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... was ‘undoubtedly the stupidest’ of all the English poets he must have known that he was asking for trouble. Trouble duly came in the shape of Sir Desmond MacCarthy, who doggedly stood up in the Sunday Times for the quality of Tennyson’s mind, deplored Auden’s account of the great man as ‘very ...

Comet Mania

Simon Schaffer

19 February 1981
The comet is coming! 
by Nigel Calder.
BBC, 160 pp., £8.75, November 1980, 0 563 17859 0
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... and, occasionally, terror. Halley’s comet appears on the Bayeux Tapestry as a harbinger of King Harold’s doom. It was probably first spotted by the ever-watchful Chinese. In 840 AD an imperial edict in China forbade astronomers to mix ‘with civil servants and common people in general’ lest their knowledge of these terrible objects incite popular ...

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