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Grand Old Man

Robert Blake, 1 May 1980

The Last Edwardian at No 10: An Impression of Harold Macmillan 
by George Hutchinson.
Quartet, 151 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7043 2232 3
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... the same time avoiding grey caution, is not always easy. In spite of these and other problems Mr George Hutchinson has been remarkably successful in this short and admirably written biography. It is a portrait which is recognisable and vivid, essentially sympathetic but not uncritical. A valuable by-product is the author’s decision to reprint Iain ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Birthdays and Centenaries, 5 May 1983

... now both dead, and ‘Michael Innes’, still alive. We had dinner in a private room at the George restaurant, now also dead. Halfway through dinner the waiter asked to speaks to me in private. Then he said: ‘I am a respectable married man and if that gentleman comes out again I shall go home.’ I expostulated with Tom, who restrained his curiosity ...

I am a false alarm

Robert Irwin: Khalil Gibran, 3 September 1998

Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet 
by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins.
One World, 372 pp., £18.99, August 1998, 1 85168 177 9
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Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran 
by Robin Waterfield.
Allen Lane, 366 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 7139 9209 3
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... political figure. In Paris he knew Debussy, while Rodin went so far as to acclaim him as ‘the Blake of the 20th century’. As it happened, Gibran could remember not only his previous reincarnation as William Blake, but also a subsequent incarnation as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. During the First World War he was offered a ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Samuel Palmer’s dream landscapes, 17 November 2005

... the strangeness which made the Shoreham pictures so striking was not to come again. In a letter to George Richmond in 1834, Palmer wrote: I believe in my very heart … that all the very finest original pictures and topping things in nature have a certain quaintness by which they partially affect us – not the quaintness of bungling – the queer doing of a ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake, 20 August 1981

The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... which produced a clash between Lords and Commons that prefigured the great row about the Lloyd George Budget in 1909. These financial restrictions dated back to 1712. In the early 18th century journalism was vituperative, venomous and virulent, as well as being frequently obscene and licentious. The reigns of William III and Queen Anne were marked by ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... Blunt’s biography can be divided into phases corresponding to the artists about whom he wrote: Blake, Poussin, Borromini. In this account, Blake is the young man’s artist. Carter makes no comment on this: her book provides a limited account of Blunt’s work as an art historian. But she does make it quite clear that ...

The Tories’ Death-Wish

Kenneth O. Morgan, 15 May 1980

Tariff Reform in British Politics 
by Alan Sykes.
Oxford, 352 pp., £16, December 1979, 0 19 822483 4
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... of the party in a cause that was politically so calamitous.’ These perceptive words by Lord Blake, the foremost historian of the Conservative Party, aptly sum up the handling of the issues of protective tariffs and imperial preference by the Conservative or Unionist Party between 1903 and 1914. These Edwardian years were dominated by the Liberals, and ...

In the Wilderness

W.J.T. Mitchell, 8 April 1993

Culture and Imperialism 
by Edward Said.
Chatto, 444 pp., £20, February 1993, 0 7011 3808 4
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... and the Empire is no more. Empire follows Art and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose. William Blake, ‘Annotations to Reynolds’ Blake’s famous remark in the margins of Joshua Reynolds’s Discourses on Art has always mystified me. How could Blake, the fierce ‘prophet against ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... not undistinguished author of a good book on Leo Amery among other things, but his co-editor Lord Blake is ... Lord Blake, former Chairman of the Rhodes Trustees, former editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, former ... no, the Disraeli biographer and Tory historian of the Tory Party. Although Lord ...

Weathering the storm

Robert Blake, 18 October 1984

Lord Liverpool: The Life and Political Career of Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770-1828 
by Norman Gash.
Weidenfeld, 265 pp., £16.95, August 1984, 0 297 78453 6
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... days ‘an apoplectic fit’. He resigned a month later, having asked faintly: ‘Who succeeds?’ George IV had many unattractive traits, but harshness was not one of them. He told the second Lady Liverpool that there should be no talk of resignation till absolutely necessary and hoped the Prime Minister would soon be well enough to resume ...

Ferrets can be gods

Katherine Rundell, 11 August 2016

Gabriel-Ernest and Other Tales 
by Saki and Quentin Blake.
Alma Classics, 156 pp., £6.99, October 2015, 978 1 84749 592 1
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... lid of a trunk – and proposes a candidate for Saki’s heir by way of its illustrator, Quentin Blake. The spikiness of Blake’s line suits the spikiness of Saki’s universe, but also suggests a kinship between Saki and the writer most associated with Blake: Roald ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

Acrimony 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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Idols 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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Opia 
by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... overtly political work in his hands than in Pasternak’s (or in the translation of the novella by George Reavey), with Pasternak himself putting in an appearance to comment on the sacrifice of lives to political causes. On the other hand, all the imaginative sympathies here are with those who stand for the preservation of family life. The central character is ...

Cardinal’s Hat

Robert Blake, 23 January 1986

Cardinal Manning: A Biography 
by Robert Gray.
Weidenfeld, 366 pp., £16.95, August 1985, 0 297 78674 1
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... but he believed in state intervention, not state control, to cope with poverty, and he told Henry George: ‘I believe that the law of property is founded on the law of Nature, and that it is sanctioned in Revelation, declared in the Christian law, taught by the Catholic Church, and incorporated into the civilisation of all nations. Therefore, unless we are ...

The Bible as Fiction

George Caird, 4 November 1982

The Story of the Stories: The Chosen People and its God 
by Dan Jacobson.
Secker, 211 pp., £8.95, September 1982, 0 436 22048 2
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The Art of Biblical Narrative 
by Robert Alter.
Allen and Unwin, 195 pp., £10, May 1982, 0 04 801022 7
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The Great Code: The Bible and Literature 
by Northrop Frye.
Routledge, 261 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7100 9038 2
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... momentous realm of history.’ Northrop Frye regards the Bible as fiction because, like William Blake, from whom he derives his title, he comes near to identifying religion with creativity. To that extent he is an ally of Alter: but to him the focus of creativity is not in narrative but in myth; and myth is a construct – ‘it belongs to the world of ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... turned cattle herdsman), Sir Richard Bulkeley (an early 18th-century hunchback virtuoso), William Blake (‘I see so little of Mr Blake now,’ his wife once complained: ‘He is always in Paradise’), and James Pierrepont Greaves (damned by Carlyle as a ‘blockhead’ and an ‘imbecile’), preferred to leave the world ...

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