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Secret Purposes

P.N. Furbank, 19 September 1985

Defoe and the Idea of Fiction: 1713-1719 
by Geoffrey Sill.
Associated University Presses, 190 pp., £16.95, April 1984, 0 87413 227 4
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The Elusive Daniel Defoe 
by Laura Curtis.
Vision, 216 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 85478 435 7
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Dofoe’s Fiction 
by Ian Bell.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £17.95, March 1985, 0 7099 3294 4
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Realism, Myth and History in Defoe’s Fiction 
by Maximillian Novak.
Nebraska, 181 pp., £21.55, July 1983, 0 8032 3307 8
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... more recent critics have been tending to do. Of the books under review, both Laura Curtis’s and Geoffrey Sill’s offer an ethical rather than a socio-economic interpretation of the novel. Geoffrey Sill’s chapter on Robinson Crusoe strikes me as distinctly the weakest part of what is in some respects a very ...

One for Uncle

John Bayley, 5 April 1990

Robert Graves: The Years with Laura 1926-1940 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 297 79672 0
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... always had a way with children. Presently they were joined by a young Anglo-Irishman called Geoffrey Phibbs and began together what they called the ‘four life’. It had a strong element of the grotesque, for they all took it very seriously, with intense talks and conjurations in the manner of Anthony Powell’s The Kindly Ones with its highly ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford, 7 September 1995

Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... to expand the ‘wonderful Trinity’ to include a not particularly talented Irishman called Geoffrey Phibbs. Phibbs was already married but, at first at least, succumbed to Riding’s imperious sway: he burnt his clothes, donated his books to the Holy Circle’s communal library, and attempted, apparently without much success, to satisfy Riding’s ...

Resurrecting the Tudors

John Pemble: James Anthony Froude, 23 May 2013

James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet 
by Ciaran Brady.
Oxford, 500 pp., £45, May 2013, 978 0 19 966803 8
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... a jungle, for no one had opened the road for me. I have been turned into rooms piled to the window sill with bundles of dust-covered dispatches, and told to make the best of it. Often I have found the sand glittering on the ink where it had been sprinkled when a page was turned. Critics accused him of misreading, falsifying and even inventing his ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... affectionately of the spring in the grounds of Jervaulx Abbey which bubbles up below a stone sill installed by the monks before scampering away underground somewhere as it has done for I suppose a thousand years. I’m cheered by this as I am, even if only in recollection, by the spring at the top of the Raikes near Wilsill in Nidderdale which I first ...

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