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Burke and History

Owen Dudley Edwards, 22 January 1981

Edmund Burke and the Critique of Political Radicalism 
by Michael Freeman.
Blackwell, 250 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 631 11171 9
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Burke 
by C.B. Macpherson.
Oxford, 83 pp., £4.50, October 1980, 0 19 287518 3
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... any political thinker has inspired more sustained imbecility among his friends and enemies than Edmund Burke. And, despite first appearances, his appeal is far less predictable than theirs. Both Aquinas and Marx were in the first place theoreticians: the latter died at his desk, the former should have done. Burke in ...

No Theatricks

Ferdinand Mount: Burke, 21 August 2014

The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burkefrom the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence 
by David Bromwich.
Harvard, 500 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 0 674 72970 4
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Moral Imagination: Essays 
by David Bromwich.
Princeton, 350 pp., £19.95, March 2014, 978 0 691 16141 9
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... you had been standing with the greatest man you had ever yet seen.’ Dr Johnson’s remark on Edmund Burke, related in one of Hester Thrale’s anecdotes, is unforgettable. The greatest Tory of the 18th century takes off his hat and makes the lowest possible bow to the much younger Irish Whig (Burke’s dates are ...

A Magazine of Wisdom

Linda Colley, 4 September 1997

Edmund BurkeA Life in Caricature 
by Nicholas Robinson.
Yale, 214 pp., £30, October 1996, 0 300 06801 8
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. III: Party, Parliament and the American War 1774-80 
edited by Warren Elofson and John Woods.
Oxford, 713 pp., £75, September 1996, 0 19 822414 1
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Edmund Burke and India: Political Morality and Empire 
by Frederick Whelan.
Pittsburgh, 384 pp., £39.95, December 1996, 0 8229 3927 4
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... Edmund Burke is easily the most significant intellectual in politics these islands ever produced. Infinitely more profound and productive than his nearest 18th-century equivalent, Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke, he was also far more prominent in national politics over a much longer span than John Milton or the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury in the 17th century, J ...

Misappropriation

Colin Kidd: Burke, 4 February 2016

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke 
by Richard Bourke.
Princeton, 1001 pp., £30.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 14511 2
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Training Minds for the War of Ideas: Ashridge College, the Conservative Party and the Cultural Politics of Britain, 1929-54 
by Clarisse Berthezène.
Manchester, 214 pp., £75, June 2015, 978 0 7190 8649 6
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, Vol. IV: Party, Parliament and the Dividing of the Whigs, 1780-94 
edited by P.J. Marshall and Donald Bryant.
Oxford, 674 pp., £120, October 2015, 978 0 19 966519 8
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... the ‘little platoons’ championed by their acknowledged forebear, the political philosopher Edmund Burke. One of the few intellectual stars on the Conservative backbenches, the free-range MP for Hereford, Jesse Norman, has published studies of The Big Society (2010) and of ...

Parliamentary Sovereignty

Betty Kemp, 22 December 1983

The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. II: Party, Parliament and the American Crisis, 1766-1774 
edited by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 508 pp., £40, April 1981, 0 19 822416 8
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. V: India: Madras and Bengal, 1774-1785 
edited by P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 667 pp., £55, July 1983, 0 19 822417 6
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The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: Constitutional Code, Vol. I 
edited by F. Rosen and J.H. Burns.
Oxford, 612 pp., £48, April 1983, 9780198226086
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The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: Deontology, together with a Table of the Springs of Action and Article on Utilitarianism 
edited by Amnon Goldworth.
Oxford, 394 pp., £38, July 1983, 0 19 822609 8
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The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: Chrestomathia 
edited by M.J. Smith and W.H. Burston.
Oxford, 451 pp., £40, November 1983, 0 19 822610 1
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Bentham and Bureaucracy 
by L.J. Hume.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £22.50, September 1981, 0 521 23542 1
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Jeremy Bentham and Representative Democracy: A Study of the Constitutional Code 
by Frederick Rosen.
Oxford, 255 pp., £19.50, May 1983, 9780198226567
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Bentham 
by Ross Harrison.
Routledge, 286 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9526 0
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... Bentham’s Collected Works is likely to produce more new or revised views than the publication of Burke’s Writings and Speeches: indeed, it has already done so. The Bentham project will also take longer, for the establishment of the text is a herculean task. Bentham left a vast archive of notes and of drafts and redrafts of works planned but not ...

Seizing the Senses

Derek Jarrett, 17 February 2000

Edmund Burke. Vol. I: 1730-84 
by F.P. Lock.
Oxford, 564 pp., £75, January 1999, 0 19 820676 3
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... Mr Burke will live,’ declared the Times two days after he had died, ‘as long as strength of imagination and beauty of language shall be respected by the world.’ By the time the Oxford edition of Burke’s Select Works came out in 1876 there was more for the world to respect ...

No Trousers

Claude Rawson, 20 December 1990

The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. VIII: The French Revolution 1790-1794 
edited by L.G. Mitchell.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, March 1990, 0 19 822422 2
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Reflections on the Revolution in France 
by Edmund Burke, edited by J.G.A. Pocock.
Hackett, 236 pp., $5.95, January 1987, 0 87220 020 5
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APhilosophical Enquiry 
by Edmund Burke, edited by Adam Phillips.
Oxford, 173 pp., £4.95, June 1990, 0 19 281807 4
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... Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France was published on 1 November 1790. By then, Burke had long ceased to be the dominant intellectual influence in the Whig Party. He hoped the work would restore him to that position. Instead, it began the long process of his transformation into the patron saint of a later Toryism, rooted in nostalgia, in a feeling for the evolution rather than revolution of national structures, gradualist in reform, empirical rather than abstractly ideological, and moderate rather than extremist in its principles of political action ...

Tory Phylogeny

John Brewer, 2 December 1982

In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714-1760 
by Linda Colley.
Cambridge, 383 pp., £25, February 1982, 0 521 23982 6
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Dynamics of Change: The Crisis of the 1750s and English Party Systems 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 640 pp., £37.50, May 1982, 0 521 23830 7
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... Edmund Burke, who spent most of his life either in the wilderness of Parliamentary opposition or as a champion of lost causes, knew how uncharitably we treat political failure. ‘The conduct of a losing party,’ he wrote, ‘never appears right: at least it never can possess the only infallible criterion of wisdom to vulgar judgments – success ...

Versatile Monster

Marilyn Butler, 5 May 1988

In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and 19th-century Writing 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 207 pp., £22.50, December 1987, 0 19 811726 4
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... Revolution and particularly the Parisian mob to a parricidal monster may have occurred first to Edmund Burke. Already in his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Burke saw the fomentors of revolutions as sinister magicians, the Parisian municipal army as ‘a species of political monster, which has always ...

Gove or Galtieri?

Colin Kidd: Popular Conservatism, 5 October 2017

Crown, Church and Constitution: Popular Conservatism in England 1815-67 
by Jörg Neuheiser, translated by Jennifer Walcoff Neuheiser.
Berghahn, 320 pp., £78, May 2016, 978 1 78533 140 4
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Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy 
by Daniel Ziblatt.
Cambridge, 450 pp., £26.99, April 2017, 978 0 521 17299 8
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Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830-1914: An Intellectual History 
by Emily Jones.
Oxford, 288 pp., £60, April 2017, 978 0 19 879942 9
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Kind of Blue: A Political Memoir 
by Ken Clarke.
Pan, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 1 5098 3720 5
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... hijack of the Conservative Party, but signalled its ultimate provenance in the philosophy of Edmund Burke: ‘We respect the fact that society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who are yet to be born.’ This election was perhaps Britain’s best chance of ...

The Right Stuff

Alan Ryan, 24 November 1994

The Principle of Duty 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 288 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 1 85619 474 4
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... it must be that The Principle of Duty puts the work of Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, David Hume and Edmund Burke in the shade. The Principle of Duty not only fails to live up to its billing: it is quite dreadful. It is querulous and pompous, written in a sort of demented lawyer-speak, full of misreadings of the writers Selbourne criticises – and even of ...

Self-Hugging

Andrew O’Hagan: A Paean to Boswell, 5 October 2000

Boswell's Presumptuous Task 
by Adam Sisman.
Hamish Hamilton, 352 pp., £17.99, November 2000, 0 241 13637 7
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: Research Edition: Vol. II 
edited by Bruce Redford and Elizabeth Goldring.
Edinburgh, 303 pp., £50, February 2000, 0 7486 0606 8
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Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author 
by Lawrence Lipking.
Harvard, 372 pp., £11.50, March 2000, 0 674 00198 2
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Dr Johnson's London 
by Liza Picard.
Weidenfeld, 362 pp., £20, July 2000, 0 297 84218 8
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... remains strong among some people that Boswell simply made his hero up. This can’t be true: Edmund Burke remarked that Johnson appeared greater in Boswell’s books than in his own, but he readily admitted, as did all of Johnson’s friends, that Boswell had, quite inexplicably but not unexpectedly, caught the living essence of the Johnson they had ...

Soft Cop, Hard Cop

Seamus Deane, 19 October 1995

Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 355 pp., £18.95, May 1995, 1 85984 932 6
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... reappears in various forms elsewhere, in discussions of the Protestant Ascendancy and hegemony, of Edmund Burke and the Arnoldian appropriation of his peculiar version of cultural aesthetics and nationalism, of Gothic fiction and the intricate connections between the shapes of exile and of intimacy, of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and the Great ...

So Much for Staying Single

Maya Jasanoff: 18th-Century Calcutta, 20 March 2008

Hartly House, Calcutta 
by Phebe Gibbes.
Oxford, 222 pp., £13.99, April 2007, 978 0 19 568564 0
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... Georgian political theatre at its best. The drama owed much of its intensity to its chief player, Edmund Burke, the leader of the prosecution. For four consecutive days, Burke held his audience transfixed with a speech detailing Hastings’s alleged rapacity, corruption, blackmail and worse. Transporting his listeners ...

Immoralist

José Harris, 1 December 1983

John Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed 1883-1920 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Macmillan, 447 pp., £14.95, November 1983, 0 333 11599 6
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... convention can be reconciled with his admiration for that most ‘conventional’ of philosophers, Edmund Burke. One is left wondering at times whether Keynes’s affirmations of nihilism were not merely expressions of a delayed adolescent desire to shock: Cambridge ‘clever-clever’ rather than serious moral conviction. Nevertheless, this first volume ...

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