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No Bottle

Rose George: Water

18 December 2014
Drinking Water: A History 
by James Salzman.
Overlook Duckworth, 320 pp., £9.99, October 2013, 978 0 7156 4528 4
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Parched City: A History of London’s Public and Private Drinking Water 
by Emma Jones.
Zero Books, 361 pp., £17.99, June 2013, 978 1 78099 158 0
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Water 4.0: The Past, Present and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource 
by David Sedlak.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, March 2014, 978 0 300 17649 0
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... doubt but that in the pitcher is his only who drew it out? His labour hath taken out of the hands of Nature where it was common.’ And with water, much labour is involved. In the 12th century, as EmmaJones writes in her patchy history of London’s water, William Fitzstephen wrote of ‘special wels in the Suburbs’ where the water was ‘sweete, wholesome and cleare’. Water no longer has to ...

Edgar and Emma

John Sutherland

20 February 1986
World’s Fair 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 275 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2685 8
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The Adventures of Robina 
edited by Emma​ Tennant.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 571 13796 2
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... with all their feathers. Chickens, I knew were Jewish. It all comes off very well. Different and unclassifiable as it is, World’s Fair is the best thing of Doctorow’s I’ve read. Boiled down, Emma Tennant’s Adventures of Robina goes like this. The red-haired and beautiful heroine belongs to a rich family, but is herself possessed only of a measly £25,000 which has been locked up in a trust ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Godot on a bike

5 February 2004
... the pronouncement of Flaubert’s which Bernard takes for his title is transparently absurd. In another (no less obvious) sense, however, Flaubert couldn’t be more right: what makes his heroine Emma Bovary rather than Delphine Delamare, c’est lui. Writers must get tired of answering crass questions – and not only writers. Bob Dylan, when asked by a journalist what his songs were ‘about ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Hitler’s Last Day

6 May 2015
... by 4 p.m. the Führer will be dead.’ ‘Tragedy endeavours​ , as far as possible,’ Aristotle wrote in the Poetics, ‘to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun.’ Fielding in Tom Jones argued that writers weren’t ‘obliged to keep even pace with time’, but would do well to steer clear of ‘monkish dullness’ and focus on ‘matters of consequence’ so as not to ‘resemble ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler

2 September 1982
The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... indoctrinated into a belief in national unity and identity, greatness and purpose, through the values elicited from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales and Henry IV Part One, Keats’s Odes and Tom Jones, Emma and Tess. It is still happening, even after we have got historians to stop drilling them in the battles we won, and when geographers no longer offer them maps in which the Empire is coloured ...

Murdering the Millefeuilles

Thomas Jones: Emma​ Richler

3 January 2002
Sister Crazy 
by Emma​ Richler.
Flamingo, 258 pp., £12.99, September 2001, 0 00 711822 8
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... But they did, I suppose, teach me something about the boundaries between imagination and plastic (as well as something about the cynicism of corporate merchandising). Jemima Weiss, the narrator of Emma Richler’s first novel, is as a nine-year-old devoted to Action Man. With each purchase of an item from the Action Man directory, you were awarded stars in proportion to its value . . . When you ...

Super-Real

Peter Campbell

18 March 1982
The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... sort – is clear enough. The results evoke responses which are nothing like as simple. From the first the Pre-Raphaelites were able to rouse both anger and admiration; a Soho sex shop with Burne-Jones posters as its sole window decoration suggests that whatever it was about their work that made people uneasy still tells. Pre-Raphaelite pictures can be memorable even when they are unlikeable ...

Oh! – only Oh!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Burne-Jones

9 February 2012
The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones​ and the Victorian Imagination 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 629 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 571 22861 4
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... Edward Jones – the Burne came later – was born in Birmingham to a mother who died giving birth to him and a father who eked out a living as a frame-maker, although art, his son reported, ‘was always a great ...
24 October 1991
Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle 
by Teresa Newman and Ray Watkinson.
Chatto, 226 pp., £50, July 1991, 0 7011 3186 1
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... he enrolled at the Academy in Bruges, where he was impressed by Flemish painting. Later he studied at Ghent and in the Antwerp Academy. Unlike William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or Edward Burne-Jones, Brown profited from a broad and thorough education in the business of painting. Later, his art became a passion and a vocation. But it never ceased to be a job from which a living had somehow to be ...

Festschriftiness

Susan Pedersen

6 October 2011
Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... and this has been a good year, with the publication of collections honouring three men who have done much to shape British social history over the last four decades: Ross McKibbin, Gareth Stedman Jones and Patrick Joyce. I should say before I go any further that I too am a modern British historian: this is my subject and my tribe. I’ve met the dedicatees, most of the editors and a majority of the ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones

21 November 1985
The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... is told by Security: ‘Dr Lewis, I understand that you are the natural son of Sir Norman Braose.’ We meet Sir Norman kissing little Alex, who is Nan’s girl, and Sarah says: ‘Say hello to Aunt Emma, Alex.’ Emma tells little Alex she is going to stay at Nayles, ‘a marvellous house with an old family name’, where Emma used to stay when she was a little girl ‘because mummy and daddy were ...

Round Things

T.J. Binyon

24 October 1991
Maurice Baring: A Citizen of Europe 
by Emma​ Letley.
Constable, 269 pp., £18.95, September 1991, 0 09 469870 8
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... John Vavassour de Quentin Jones, Belloc tells us in his Cautionary Tales, Was very fond of throwing stones At Horses, People, Passing Trains But specially at Window-panes. Like many of the Upper Class, He liked the sound of Broken ...

Mixed Blood

D.A.N. Jones

2 December 1982
Her Victory 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 590 pp., £8.95, September 1982, 0 246 11872 5
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This Earth of Mankind 
by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by Max Lane.
Penguin, 338 pp., £2.50, August 1982, 9780140063349
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... was Jewish, but married a Gentile, Percy Phillips, against the will of both fathers. The Phillipses had one son, killed in the British Army, and two daughters, Tom’s Aunt Clara and his mother, Emma. The flighty Emma had fallen for a member of the catering staff, while cruising on a passenger boat, and this long-lost man was Tom’s father. He was Jewish, too. This discovery brightens Tom up. He ...

Magical Realism

D.A.N. Jones

1 August 1985
The House of the Spirits 
by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02231 8
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Linden Hills 
by Gloria Naylor.
Hodder, 304 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780340360330
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Careful with the Sharks 
by Constantine Phipps.
Cape, 216 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780224023085
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... that the author has ‘impeccably heroic socialist and feminist credentials’. My daughter-in-law brought home Cosmopolitan with a long extract, prettily illustrated, and an astounding comment from Emma Dally: ‘Although it is not a “women’s novel”, the strength of the female characters is quite astounding.’ Isabel Allende herself on television has described these figments as ‘strong ...

Great Fun

John Bayley

22 January 1987
Gossip 
by Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Chicago, 287 pp., £9.25, November 1986, 0 226 76844 9
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The Bonus of Laughter 
by Alan Pryce-Jones.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 241 11903 0
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... Jane Austen was more like Isabella Thorpe than Catherine Morland, and her ‘Evelina’ characters – Fanny Price, Anne Elliot – have a relation to their creator which is ingeniously compounded in Emma, the heroine whom ‘no one but myself will like’, who said things that Jane Austen would probably herself have wished to say. The novel never admits that gossip is its life, moral matters only its ...

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