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4 December 1980
... still I think he was more right than wrong.) ‘Death joins us to the great majority,’ Droned Edward Young. No quarrel there from me. ‘Age,’ Bacon burbled, ‘will not be defied.’ A boring thought that will not be denied, For fatalism, even as a platitude, Remains the only reasonable attitude, While if compounded with inventive verve Its ...

What happened to Edward II?

David Carpenter: Impostors

7 June 2007
The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the British Nation 
by Ian Mortimer.
Pimlico, 536 pp., £8.99, April 2007, 978 1 84413 530 1
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... the flower of past kings; the form of future kings; a merciful king; the peace of his peoples; Edward III, completing the jubilee of his reign; an unconquered leopard; victorious in battle like a Maccabee . . . he ruled mighty in arms; now in heaven let him be a king. So (in translation) run the verses around the tomb of ...
22 May 1997
Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... do now ‘but fumble in a greasy till’. Was it For this that all the blood was shed, For this Edward Fitzgerald died, And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, All that delirium of the brave? ‘Delirium’ suggests Yeats’s usual equivocal insight; but more magnificently it celebrates the fever in the blood which was about to quicken the national pulses yet ...
4 August 1994
Adolescence and Youth in Early Modern England 
by Ilana Krausman Ben-Amos.
Yale, 335 pp., £25, April 1994, 0 300 05597 8
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... the argument, as if it is meant to be emphatic, but which by itself seems hardly worth saying. ‘Young people appear then to have been more promiscuous... than married adults.’ Even allowing for all kinds of cultural change, that seems always likely to have been (on average) true. So what is this book trying to tell us? That some things never ...
15 March 1984
Swans Reflecting Elephants: My Early Years 
by Edward James, edited by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 178 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 297 77988 5
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... In 1935, Edward James, English and very rich, entered into an agreement to purchase from Salvador Dali his most important works. It was a funny sort of agreement, but it lasted until 1939 and during that period James acquired a large number of Dali’s Surrealist works, including the telephone with a lobster replacing the receiver, two of the sofas which represent Mae West’s lips, and the painting Autumn Cannibalism, depicting two ‘Iberian beings’ eating one another with the help of spoon and fork and, according to the painter, expressing the pathos of civil war ...

The Man Who Never Glared

John Pemble: Disraeli

5 December 2013
Disraeli: or, The Two Lives 
by Douglas Hurd and Edward Young.
Orion, 320 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86097 6
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The Great Rivalry: Gladstone and Disraeli 
by Dick Leonard.
I.B. Tauris, 226 pp., £22.50, June 2013, 978 1 84885 925 8
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Disraeli: The Romance of Politics 
by Robert O’Kell.
Toronto, 595 pp., £66.99, February 2013, 978 1 4426 4459 5
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... and current affairs, and bitingly critical of Peel. This brings him to the attention of a group of young and wealthy backbench Tories who want a high-profile leader for their campaign against Peel’s ‘Conservatives’, and Peel is duly destroyed. Deserted by the majority of Tory MPs, he’s forced to resign and dies a few years later as the result of a ...
7 July 1983
by Ahdaf Soueif.
Cape, 159 pp., £7.50, July 1983, 0 224 02097 8
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... is traditionally Muslim and Egyptian and what is Western and modern. In one story, for example, a young peasant boy becomes an apprentice in an Alexandria hairdressing salon for women; there he discovers that while washing the women’s hair he experiences a passionate sexual arousal and this in turn sets him up in the story’s last scene for a terrifying ...


Penelope Fitzgerald

4 July 1996
Edward Thomas: Selected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... It would be quite possible to read about Edward Thomas and wonder how it was that so many people made such allowances for him. A man who had a house built for himself and then refused to live in it, he tormented his wife and children with his restlessness – he calculated he was never happy for more than a quarter of an hour in the day ...

Longing for Mao

Hugo Young: Edward Heath

26 November 1998
The Curse of My Life: My Autobiography 
by Edward Heath.
Hodder, 767 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 340 70852 2
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... In Modern British politics, Edward Heath is the Old Man of the Sea. Not quite as ancient as Methuselah, he has been around for five active decades which sometimes seem like a century. The ocean was what famously passed for his recreational hinterland, and the jacket of his autobiography shows an open, smiling face which could be that of a tweedy amateur sea-dog, weather-beaten and gimlet-eyed, and is, at a guess, at least ten years behind the corpulent, irritable landlubber who now rolls with some difficulty round the House of Commons ...


George Melly

4 April 1991
A Surrealist Life 
by John Lowe.
Collins, 262 pp., £18, February 1991, 0 00 217941 5
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... Am I eccentric?’ Edward James once asked me in the days before I was added to his long list of enemies both real and imaginary. ‘I suppose I am, but I don’t mean to be. I’ve always tried to behave like everyone else.’ We were sitting on the platform of one of the inevitably incomplete concrete follies he was building at enormous expense on a hillside he owned by proxy in a Mexican jungle ...

Unction and Slaughter

Simon Walker: Edward IV

10 July 2003
Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV 
by Jonathan Hughes.
Sutton, 354 pp., £30, October 2002, 0 7509 1994 9
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... that Jonathan Hughes situates his study of the Duke of York’s charismatic eldest son, Edward IV. Edward has always received a mixed historiographical press. Contemporaries recognised and celebrated his energy, intelligence and good fortune, but gave due weight as well to his periodic indolence and mounting ...

Flirting is nice

Mary-Kay Wilmers: ‘Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace’

11 October 2012
Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady 
by Kate Summerscale.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £16.99, April 2012, 978 1 4088 1241 9
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... Albert consulted the phrenologist about the upbringing of their children, he observed that the young prince’s ‘Amativeness is large and I suspect will soon give trouble’. Combe’s own amative region, he said, was small – he had not known the ‘wild freshness of morning’, even in his youth. Isabella’s bumps were against her: Love of ...
4 July 1985
... thought it prudent to visit Lebanon since the spring of 1982, although my wife Mariam and two young children have made a couple of visits since the Israeli invasion. My widowed mother valiantly hangs on all alone in her West Beirut house, quite sensibly focused on the problems of her health, the failures of electricity and telephone service, the ...
21 February 1991
Writer’s Block 
by Zachary Leader.
Johns Hopkins, 325 pp., £19.50, January 1991, 0 8018 4032 5
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... its operations, its requirement of originality – ‘Originals can arise from genius only,’ as Edward Young alleged – did make a difference to writers, who might well feel frightened into impotence by the appalling demands of genius and sublimity. Reminding us of the Romantic habit of leaving things unfinished, or writing other pieces to avoid ...


Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London

17 March 2005
Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... pastoral ‘Rills’) which not only Pope in Peri Bathous but also Hill himself, annotating Edward Young’s Paraphrase on the Book of Job (1719), identified as the stylistic traps lying in wait for prospective exponents of the sublime. Neither The Creation nor The Judgment Day (or, for that matter, any other poem by Hill) features in the excellent ...

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