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Nobody wants it

José Harris, 5 December 1991

Letters to Eva, 1969-1983 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Century, 486 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 7126 4634 5
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... as an intellectual equal. There are passing favourable comments on works of social history by Geoffrey Best and J.F.C. Harrison, but historians working in Taylor’s own areas of diplomatic or high-political history are almost invariably disparaged or deplored. Britain’s best-known Marxist historian is dismissed ...

Ideas of War

Johann Sommerville, 27 October 1988

The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Cambridge, 234 pp., £15, May 1988, 0 521 32607 9
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War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime: 1618-1789 
by M.S. Anderson.
Fontana, 239 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 00 686053 2
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Waging war: A Philosophical Introduction 
by Ian Clark.
Oxford, 154 pp., £17.50, April 1988, 0 19 827325 8
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... against the background of society as a whole. In his introduction to Professor Anderson’s book, Geoffrey Best observes that until recently much writing on military history has had little to say about the social context of warfare: ‘Sometimes sinking to uniforms, badges and buttons, it rarely rose above campaigns and battles.’ One purpose of the ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... of the creative life, they are none the less eager to shine their light on their own work. At its best, self-consciousness is forgotten and the act of self-explanation becomes a part of the self-vindication of the work and even of the creative process in general. The interview is a medium obtained from television. In print, the subjects are left slightly less ...

Beddoes’ Best Thing

C.H. Sisson, 20 September 1984

The Force of Poetry 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 447 pp., £19.50, September 1984, 0 19 811722 1
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... Wordsworth and Beddoes, together with a handful of 20th-century poets from A.E. Housman to Geoffrey Hill. In Wordsworth we are to attend particularly to line-endings and to prepositions, in Marvell to ‘a particular figure of speech’, in Gower to ‘diction and formulae’. The sophistication of the critic is to be given its full range but the ...

In praise of Geoffrey Lloyd

Helen King, 8 October 1992

Methods and Problems in Greek Science: Selected Papers 
by G.E.R. Lloyd.
Cambridge, 457 pp., £45, May 1991, 0 521 37419 7
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... Geoffrey Lloyd has held the position of Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Science in the University of Cambridge since 1985. The creation of this personal chair not only honoured a great and generous scholar, but also gave a much-needed boost to the growing interest in ancient science: a subject which, over the last two centuries, had been pushed to the margins of Classical scholarship while simultaneously being eclipsed by the rise of modern science ...

Christendom

Conrad Russell, 7 November 1985

F.W. Maitland 
by G.R. Elton.
Weidenfeld, 118 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 297 78614 8
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Renaissance Essays 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 312 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 436 42511 4
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History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick 
edited by Derek Beales and Geoffrey Best.
Cambridge, 335 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 25486 8
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... the enjoyment of the reader, and in a higher rhetorical style than is favoured by either. At its best, as in the essays on John Stow and William Camden, the method can produce work that is very vivid. Occasionally, the reader may be left wondering whether the vividness of the writing takes it a little bit further than the words of its source, or, as in the ...

The Revolution is over

R.W. Johnson, 16 February 1989

The Permanent Revolution: The French Revolution and its Legacy 1789-1989 
edited by Geoffrey Best.
Fontana, 241 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 00 686056 7
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... commemorated by a left-wing South African singing Zulu rock in the South Pacific? Perhaps it’s best we don’t know. One longs, at times, for the more considered attitude of Mao Tse-Dong, who, when asked what he thought the effects of 1789 had been, replied after some thought that it was still too soon to know.It is perhaps worth remembering that the 150th ...

Seventh Eighth Men Uncovered

Humphery Spender, 7 May 1981

... Geoffrey Grigson and I were touring Wiltshire in a hired car, a black Morris 1000 saloon, doing a piece of photo-journalism for Picture Post. I was taking the photographs. It-was 1951. The Mail had offered a reward of £10,000 for any information leading to the capture of the fleeing diplomats, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean ...

Act like Men, Britons!

Tom Shippey: Celticity, 31 July 2008

The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth, edited by Michael Reeve, translated by Neil Wright.
Boydell, 307 pp., £50, November 2007, 978 1 84383 206 5
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The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Broadview, 383 pp., £8.99, January 2008, 978 1 55111 639 6
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... that there might be some doubt about its authenticity. Much of the phenomenon must be ascribed to Geoffrey of Monmouth. Born some thirty years after the Norman Conquest, Geoffrey, with his Norman name and strong Welsh connections, was probably the child of a mixed marriage. His achievement was to inject old Celtic tradition ...

Comparative Everything

Geoffrey Strickland, 6 March 1980

Comparative Criticism: A Yearbook 
edited by E.S. Shaffer.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £12.50, November 1979, 0 521 22296 6
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... nor are all the places of publication. It scarcely matters in these circumstances that one of the best essays in the collection, J.P. Stern’s on Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull in the light of Nietzschean views of metaphor and morality, should be concerned solely with German literature. It is principally by asking what a literary canon is that the editor has ...

Diary

Ross McKibbin: Thatcher’s History, 6 December 1990

... In the days since Sir Geoffrey Howe’s resignation I have had a strong sense, not so much of history being made, as of history being invented: all the actors in this drama seem to be declaiming their parts as much for the history books as for the audience. That is true also of those whose duty it is to watch the drama and criticise the actors ...

Ms Camel

Geoffrey Moorhouse, 4 December 1980

Tracks 
by Robyn Davidson.
Cape, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01861 2
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... colour-supplement and topped everything off with this book, which her publishers are aiming at the best-seller lists. I’m afraid that, in a small way, it recalls Richard Aldington’s crack about T.E. Lawrence for ever backing into the ...

The Best

Tom Shippey, 22 February 1996

Alfred the Great 
by David Sturdy.
Constable, 268 pp., £18.95, November 1995, 0 09 474280 4
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King Alfred the Great 
by Alfred Smyth.
Oxford, 744 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 19 822989 5
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... you have a very different picture. In 1978, however, Penguin Classics promoted a competition for best suggestion for a new translation of a foreign text – which I won with the declaration that in the year 1978 (the 1100th anniversary of Edington) Penguin Classics had no choice at all but to translate Asser’s Life of Alfred, written in a foreign language ...

Bitten by the love geist

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 30 January 1992

Scheler 
by Francis Dunlop.
Claridge, 97 pp., £9.95, October 1991, 1 870626 71 0
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... of the newly-enfranchised ‘masses’. He was not willing, as Max Weber was, to make the best of the disenchantment by calling for a charismatic führer to raise the moral tone; or convinced, like Georg Lukacs, that the triumph of the philistines could be transcended with a Hegelianised Marx. But nor would he, like Theodor Adorno, resign himself to a ...

A Little Holiday

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Ben Hecht’s Cause, 23 September 2021

A Child of the Century 
by Ben Hecht.
Yale, 654 pp., £16, April 2020, 978 0 300 25179 1
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Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures 
by Adina Hoffman.
Yale, 245 pp., £10.99, April 2020, 978 0 300 25181 4
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... Don’t let this get around.’ Hecht took his advice. Two years later he won the first Oscar for best story, for Underworld, directed by Josef von Sternberg (at that time screenwriting meant providing the scenario and captions for silent pictures). Mank’s younger brother, Joseph, followed four years later, also on a Paramount contract, and went on to write ...

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