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Martin Kemp, 1 December 1983

Collected Essays: Vols I and II 
by Frances Yates.
Routledge, 279 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 7100 0952 6
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... Dame Frances Yates was an explorer: someone who pushed forward the frontiers of the generally known world, discovering and charting previously unmapped territory. The metaphors of exploration which abound in her own writings are not, therefore, merely rhetorical devices. Thirty years ago Ramon Lull’s philosophical output was a ‘huge un-climbed mountain’ and she was planning ‘a, reconaissance expedition searching out new routes for some future attempt on the summit ...

Under threat

Frank Kermode, 21 June 1984

Tributes: Interpreters of our Cultural Tradition 
by E.H. Gombrich.
Phaidon, 270 pp., £17.50, April 1984, 0 7148 2338 4
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... it. Among those more congenially celebrated are friends and professional associates of the author: Frances Yates, Ernst Kris, Otto Kurz, George Boas. Others are great art historians of an earlier generation: Aby Warburg and Johan Huizinga, each remembered on the centenary of his birth. More remote are Hegel and Lessing, remembered in occasional pieces ...

A Hee-Haw to Apuleius

Colin Burrow: John Crowley's Impure Fantasy, 1 November 2007

The Solitudes 
by John Crowley.
Overlook, 429 pp., £7.90, September 2007, 978 1 58567 986 7
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Endless Things 
by John Crowley.
Small Beer, 341 pp., $24, May 2007, 978 1 931520 22 5
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... world of Renaissance hermeticism, or rather into Renaissance hermeticism as it was represented by Frances Yates and her followers. Pierce is fascinated by Aegypt, which is not the place that we call Egypt, but ‘a land that never existed. Where Hermes was king, where magic worked.’ This was Egypt as perceived by a number of Renaissance ...

Looking for a Way Up

Rosemary Hill: Roy Strong’s Vanities, 25 April 2013

Self-Portrait as a Young Man 
by Roy Strong.
Bodleian, 286 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 1 85124 282 5
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... a section is ‘reserved for books by or about people who have most influenced me’; the death of Frances Yates, his former tutor at the Warburg Institute, occurs ‘a few months before I was knighted’. Yet this unswerving concentration on himself has the advantage of particularity. Memoirs, especially perhaps those of the 1960s, risk dissolving into ...

Yeats and the Occult

Seamus Deane, 18 October 1984

The Mystery Religion of W.B. Yeats 
by Graham Hough.
Harvester, 129 pp., £15.95, May 1984, 0 7108 0603 5
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Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry 
by Cairns Craig.
Croom Helm, 323 pp., £14.95, January 1982, 9780856649974
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Yeats. Poems 1919-1935: A Selection of Critical Essays 
edited by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £14, July 1984, 0 333 27422 9
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The Poet and his Audience 
by Ian Jack.
Cambridge, 198 pp., £20, July 1984, 0 521 26034 5
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A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 543 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 333 35214 9
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Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £17, August 1984, 0 333 36213 6
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... Against this background, enriched by the contributions of modern scholars from Denis Saurat to Frances Yates and Gershom Scholem, there emerge the first outlines of Yeats’s spiritual biography. As Professor Hough rightly remarks, this remains to be written. Should it ever be completed, this short book will be among its most important harbingers. The ...

Elizabethan Spirits

William Empson, 17 April 1980

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age 
by Frances Yates.
Routledge, 224 pp., £7.75, November 1979, 9780710003201
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... Something badly needed has got left out from the great structure that Dame Frances Yates has been building as an exposition of her view of the Occult tradition. I have felt it since her book on Bruno (1964), though I am ill-equipped to complain. Still, my ideas derive from a critic who had something of her own range of knowledge, and she seems to ignore his views, so I may speak up ...

Moderns and Masons

Peter Burke, 2 April 1981

The First Moderns: The Architects of the Eighteenth Century 
by Joseph Rykwert.
M.I.T., 585 pp., £27.50, September 1980, 0 262 18090 1
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... The discussion of Colbert and the arts draws heavily on an excellent old monograph by Lady Emilia Frances Dilke: some readers might have liked to know that Lady Frances (née Strong) was once the wife of Mark Pattison, and was widely believed to be the original of George Eliot’s Dorothea Casaubon. The First Moderns would ...

Kermode’s Changing Times

P.N. Furbank, 7 March 1991

The Uses of Error 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 432 pp., £18, February 1991, 9780002154659
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... represented by ‘the classics’. Interest in the apocalypse was joined, under the influence of Frances Yates, by an interest in the ‘Imperial theme’, the theme of timeless empire continually renewing itself over huge tracts of history by means of ‘translations’ and ‘renovations’. This imperium sine fine was seen by Kermode as a paradigm of ...
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... and exorcism from sacred to profane representation’. One is reminded of the argument of the late Frances Yates, popularised by Sir Roy Strong, about the replacement of the image of the Virgin Mary by that of the Virgin Queen. This brief summary does less than justice to the richness of Greenblatt’s interpretation, or to his skill in interweaving ...

The Exotic West

Peter Burke, 6 February 1986

The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci 
by Jonathan Spence.
Faber, 350 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 571 13239 1
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Chine et Christianisme: Action et Réaction 
by Jacques Gernet.
Gallimard, 342 pp., frs 154, May 1982, 2 07 026366 5
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... Palace of Matteo Ricci, is at first sight a wilfully bizarre piece of work, a combination of Frances Yates, Joseph Needham and one of those novels which deliberately subverts chronology. All the same, it is in many ways effective, as well as being a natural development from the author’s earlier experiments with historical form. In 1595, Ricci ...

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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... iconography or numerology? The thought is put aside. What of the historical revisionism of Frances Yates and others, that the ‘Elizabethan world view’ should be thought of as an ideological construct, state propaganda? Followed through, this could have encouraged a much more animate and sceptical weighing of the relationship between background ...

‘Faustus’ and the Politics of Magic

Charles Nicholl, 8 March 1990

Dr Faustus 
by Christopher Marlowe, edited by Roma Gill.
Black, 109 pp., £3.95, December 1989, 0 7136 3231 3
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Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare 
by John Mebane.
Nebraska, 309 pp., £26.95, July 1989, 0 8032 3133 4
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Robert Fludd and the End of the Renaissance 
by William Huffman.
Routledge, 252 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 415 00129 3
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Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England 
by Patrick Curry.
Polity, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 7456 0604 0
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... interest in the psychodynamics of magic, and partly to the historical researches of scholars like Frances Yates, D.P. Walker and Peter French. In Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age, John Mebane offers an inclusive, deeply researched overview of the subject. He examines the many component parts of Renaissance occultism. It was, in the ...

Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 
by Alethea Hayter.
Robin Clark, 224 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 0 86072 146 9
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Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850 
edited by John Barrell.
Oxford, 301 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198173922
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London: World City 1800-1840 
edited by Celina Fox.
Yale, 624 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 300 05284 7
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... used to – say – Marxist criticism, or to the work of art historians like Michael Baxandall and Frances Yates. The emphases and conclusions differ – as they do between the essayists here – but the principle of balancing evidence intrinsic to the painting against material that lies outside the frame to make a critical account is the same. It is the ...

Gaiety

Frank Kermode, 8 June 1995

Angus Wilson 
by Margaret Drabble.
Secker, 714 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 436 20038 4
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... as profound a Dickensian as Wilson himself, the possibly more level-headed equal of his friend Frances Yates as a student of Renaissance occultism. He was a tennis player good enough to turn out at Wimbledon, a fine pianist and an exceptional linguist. He was happy to help the less well endowed, me for example, with magisterial solutions to technical ...

Blame it on the Belgians

Hilary Mantel, 25 June 1992

The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe 
by Charles Nicholl.
Cape, 413 pp., £19.99, June 1992, 0 224 03100 7
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... regime detests. One of Nicholl’s most interesting lines of investigation follows the work of Frances Yates, and concerns Giordano Bruno’s visit to England in 1583. Bruno was protected by Henri III of France; while in England, he may have proffered a distinctive Valois solution to Europe’s problems. On the one hand was an ...

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