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Half-Finished People

Thomas Meaney: Germany Imagines Hellas, 11 October 2012

The Tyranny of Greece over Germany 
by E.M. Butler.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £23.99, March 2012, 978 1 107 69764 5
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... the conqueror, who would show himself conscious of his cultural calling in Europe.’ Eliza Marian Butler started studying the Nazis’ designs for Europe in 1933. Born in Lancashire in 1885 and educated extensively on the Continent, she had watched Kaiser Wilhelm inspect his troops, witnessed German violence close-up as a nurse in the First World War, and ...

Sly Digs

Frank Kermode: E.M. Forster as Critic, 25 September 2008

‘The Creator as Critic’ and Other Writings 
by E.M. Forster, edited by Jeffrey Heath.
Dundurn, 814 pp., £45, March 2008, 978 1 55002 522 4
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... a novel reader, but there was modesty in the disclaimer. He listed Jane Austen, Proust and Samuel Butler as the three authors who had helped him most, adding that Butler ‘did more than either of the other two to help me look at life the way I do’. He named Dante, Gibbon and Tolstoy the greatest of writers and repeatedly ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel ButlerA Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... Samuel Butler might be seen as one of those liberators who escort readers and admirers into a new airy sort of cell, and turn the key with an air of bestowing on them perfect freedom and emancipation of mind. So effective a freedom fighter was he, at least on one front, that his message and his books may now seem not much more than literary curiosities ...

Jane Austen’s Word Process

Marilyn Butler, 25 June 1987

Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels and an Experiment in Method 
by J.F Burrows.
Oxford, 245 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 812856 8
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... enough for the five most changeable speakers in his table, Marianne Dashwood, Mr Knightley, Fanny, Emma and Henry Crawford, not so well for the next best learners, Mrs Norris and Mrs Bennet. Once again, other authors fail to match Austen’s remarkable diversity. Forster’s Margaret Schlegel ‘develops’ considerably more than other figures in her ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries, 28 July 2011

... the Adam Smith Institute, proposing the privatisation of the public libraries. His name is Eamonn Butler and it’s to be hoped he’s no relation of the 1944 Education Act Butler. Smirking and pleased with himself as they generally are from that stable, he’s pitted against a well-meaning but flustered woman who’s an ...

Thirty Years Ago

Patrick Parrinder, 18 July 1985

Still Life 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 358 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7011 2667 1
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Wales’ Work 
by Robert Walshe.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 9780436561450
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... these are as packed with ideas and argumentative passages as the ‘prig novels’ of Samuel Butler and H.G. Wells. Although Byatt herself attended Cambridge, there is a feeling of thesis-illustration and slightly strained invention in Frederica’s adventures there. One sees it in the names of the luminaries who gather around her, names such as Raphael ...

Fiction and E.M. Forster

Frank Kermode: At the Cost of Life, 10 May 2007

... It is true that Gide and Wells and James and Bennett, of course, and also Max Beerbohm, Samuel Butler, Galsworthy, David Garnett, Hardy, Robert Hichens, W.H. Hudson, Lubbock, H. de Vere Stacpoole are mentioned, also Forster’s close friend G.L. Dickinson. Of another, highly gifted friend, Virginia Woolf, he has very little to say, merely a glancing though ...

The Road to Chandrapore

Eric Stokes, 17 April 1980

Race, Sex and Class under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics 
by Kenneth Ballhatchet.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £9.50, January 1980, 0 297 77646 0
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Queen Victoria’s Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-1898 
by Michael Alexander and Sushila Anand.
Weidenfeld, 326 pp., £9.95, February 1980, 0 297 77656 8
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... without the Nonconformist conscience and the nascent women’s movement. From 1869, Josephine Butler and the Repeal Association battled against the British Act until, in 1883, they secured its suspension, and, in 1886, its abolition. Successful in Britain, one section of the reform movement turned its attention to India. It was not enough for the ...

Walking like Swinburne

P.N. Furbank, 12 July 1990

Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... came to his house for the weekend, he quite shattered her by simply refusing to allow her in. The butler, taking pity on her, let her in after all, only (according to Herbert’s highly-coloured story) to find her later in the cellar, eating coal. What were the circumstances causing a common condition to be acted out on such a spectacular scale? Two obvious ...

The World of School

John Bayley, 28 September 1989

The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... Charles Ryder to visit his old nanny at Brideshead, where the two climbed ‘uncarpeted, scrubbed elm stairs, followed more passages, covered with linoleum ... up a final staircase, gated at the head. Here were the nurseries.’ The nurseries! The grand calm of that plural has a magniloquence all the more comic for sounding so self-assured. Here is the old ...

The Voice from the Hearth-Rug

Alan Ryan: The Cambridge Apostles, 28 October 1999

The Cambridge Apostles 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life 
by W.C. Lubenow.
Cambridge, 458 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 521 57213 4
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... and Oscar Browning, but solid, sober headmasters in the High Victorian style, such as Montagu Butler and J.E.C. Welldon at Harrow, afforced by Kennedy at Shrewsbury, Farrar at Marlborough, and Young at Sherborne. Lubenow is interested in a whole raft of different topics, and the only complaint one can decently level at The Cambridge Apostles is that it ...


Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... Like all his best work, Loving shows his extraordinary gift for combining the two. When Raunce the butler hears the gramophone playing in the ballroom which the servant girls Edith and Kate are supposed to air once a week, he is at first irritated: ‘The little bitches I’ll show ‘em,’ he said and suddenly opened.   They were wheeling wheeling in ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... the painter of bathing boys. Three or four are mere suspects, followed by question marks: Samuel Butler? Luca Signorelli? Forster had presumably seen those great paeans to the male buttocks, Signorelli’s frescoes in Orvieto cathedral, and come to an irresistible conclusion. A felt kinship with Whitman was fairly predictable for a gay writer at the time; in ...

Don’t Ask Henry

Alan Hollinghurst: Sissiness, 9 October 2008

by Howard Sturgis.
NYRB, 345 pp., £8.99, May 2008, 978 1 59017 266 7
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... not going to Eton than a servant not dropping an “h”’. One enjoys the odd Thackerayan butler announcing that ‘lunching was served’, but what is odd in a novel whose protagonist is racked by a social conscience, and longs to go ‘into one of those East End parishes and start a place something on the lines of Toynbee Hall’ is the mocking ...

Balzac didn’t dare

Tom Crewe: Origins of the Gay Novel, 8 February 2024

... books are relaxed about discussing similarly dubious subjects, such as ‘natural children’ (Emma is unimaginable without one such product of ‘vice’, Harriet Smith). Either way, Austen must have been aware of the possibility she was leaving open. The historian Seth Stein LeJacq has calculated that her brothers Francis and Charles, both of whom became ...

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