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Dante’s Mastery

Gabriel Josipovici, 21 August 1980

Dante 
by George Holmes.
Oxford, 104 pp., £95, April 1980, 0 19 287504 3
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The Divine Comedy: A New Verse Translation 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 455 pp., £8.95, April 1980, 9780856352737
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... essential fatherly role, rebuking Dante for his irresponsibility and lack of steadfastness. George Holmes is a distinguished medieval historian, and his little book on Dante for the OUP ‘Past Masters’ series is a serious and sensible piece of work. But in another sense it is a scandal. No one reading it would ever imagine that ...

Patrons

Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy 
edited by F.W. Kent and Patricia Simons.
Oxford/Humanities Research Centre, 331 pp., £35, June 1987, 0 19 821978 4
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Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City 
by Charles Mack.
Cornell, 250 pp., $43.95, June 1987, 9780801416996
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Piety and Patronage in Renaissance Venice: Bellini, Titian and the Franciscans 
by Rona Goffen.
Yale, 285 pp., £30, July 1986, 0 300 03455 5
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Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance 
by Margaret King.
Princeton, 524 pp., £42.90, April 1986, 0 691 05465 7
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The Venetian Patriciate: Reality versus Myth 
by Donald Queller.
Illinois, 386 pp., $29.95, September 1986, 0 252 01144 9
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Tradesman and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c.1250-c.1650 
by Richard MacKenney.
Croom Helm, 289 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 7099 1763 5
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Florence, Rome and the Origins of the Renaissance 
by George Holmes.
Oxford, 273 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 19 822576 8
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From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in 15th and 6th-Century Europe 
by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine.
Duckworth, 224 pp., £29.95, January 1987, 0 7156 2100 9
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Renaissance and Revolt: Essays in the Intellectual and Social History of Early Modern France 
by J.H.M. Salmon.
Cambridge, 306 pp., £30, June 1987, 0 521 32769 5
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... why Venice can look modern in a medieval world, medieval in a modern one.’ It is the strength of George Holmes’s study of Florence and Rome, as it is of Richard Mackenney’s book on Venice, that it undermines stereotypes of medieval and modern. It is essentially concerned with the first stage of the Renaissance, the ‘outburst’ of Tuscan ...
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe 
edited by George Holmes.
Oxford, 398 pp., £17.50, March 1988, 0 19 820073 0
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A History of 12th-century Western Philosophy 
edited by Peter Dronke.
Cambridge, 495 pp., £37.50, April 1988, 0 521 25896 0
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The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c.350-c.1450 
edited by J.H. Burns.
Cambridge, 808 pp., £60, May 1988, 0 521 24324 6
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Medieval Popular Culture: Problem of Belief and Perception 
by Aron Gurevich, translated by Janos Bak and Paul Hollingsworth.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £27.50, May 1988, 0 521 30369 9
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A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World 
edited by George Duby, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 650 pp., £24.95, April 1988, 0 674 39976 5
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... A captious person might mutter that The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe is a little ‘hobbitical’: it reminds one of Professor Tolkien’s hobbits, who ‘liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions’. This would be unfair, in that it is a splendid volume, presenting contemporary scholarship to the general reader with care, grace, much thought and many illustrations; filled with things that most general readers won’t know at all, and that many specialist readers won’t have thought of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The biography of stuff, 5 July 2001

... of the drug is possible, would you set about getting it authorised? Who would you ask? George W. – ‘W’ in this instance standing for ‘When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible’ – Bush? Or perhaps the Queen, within yards of whom, the Evening Standard was shocked to report, other representatives of the supra-legal ...

A chemistry is performed

Deborah Friedell: Silicon Valley Girl, 7 February 2019

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup 
by John Carreyrou.
Picador, 320 pp., £9.99, March 2019, 978 1 5098 6808 7
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... Elizabeth Holmes​ was said to be the ‘youngest self-made female billionaire’ of all time. And why not? Her invention was going to be the reason people – Americans first, but eventually everyone in the world – would lead better, healthier, longer lives. Why shouldn’t she have a private jet, a private chef, a team of bodyguards who would say into their mouthpieces: ‘Eagle One is on the move’? She would tell her investors: ‘We’re in a market for people who don’t like having a needle stuck in their arm ...

Balloons and Counter-Balloons

Susan Eilenberg: ‘The Age of Wonder’, 7 January 2010

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science 
by Richard Holmes.
HarperPress, 380 pp., £9.99, September 2009, 978 0 00 714953 7
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... that they askd was, when it would thunder. Joseph Banks, The ‘Endeavour’ Journal Richard Holmes describes The Age of Wonder as a ‘relay race of scientific stories’ about the explosion of exploration and scientific achievement in England between two celebrated voyages, Captain James Cook’s first circumnavigation of the world in the ...
Wars and Revolutions: Britain 1760-1815 
by Ian Christie.
Arnold, 359 pp., £17.50, June 1982, 0 7131 6157 4
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Augustan England: Professions, State and Society 1680-1730 
by Geoffrey Holmes.
Allen and Unwin, 323 pp., £18.50, November 1982, 0 04 942178 6
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... vacuo. It is the great strength of both Ian Christie’s Wars and Revolutions and Geoffrey Holmes’s discussion of the Augustan professions that they each, in their different ways, avoid any such insularity of approach. Christie’s book is a sophisticated, wide-ranging and lucidly written text, one of the best in the ‘New History of ...

Twinkly

Theo Tait: Beyond the Barnes persona, 1 September 2005

Arthur & George 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 360 pp., £17.99, July 2005, 0 224 07703 1
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... said something about English identity ends up as a broken-backed mess. His new novel, Arthur & George, is also a sort of parable of English identity (Barnes has suggested that it might be interpreted as an English version of the Dreyfus Affair). And, like many of his previous books, it deals in fact – but here the treatment of fact is ...

Shelley in Season

Richard Holmes, 16 October 1980

The Unacknowledged Legislator: Shelley and Politics 
by P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 312 pp., £16.50, June 1980, 0 19 812095 8
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Shelley and his World 
by Claire Tomalin.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 9780500130681
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... chapters on Shelley’s split political background. One part was formed by the radical Whigs, George Fox and the old republican roué the Duke of Norfolk, who proposed the notorious toast to ‘our Sovreign, the People’; the other by the new concept of the ‘democratic revolution’, with its French and American antecedents – Godwin, of course, Tom ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... bushes, possessed by ‘a single unmixed instinct of fear for his young and happy life’. Richard Holmes’s impressive and absorbing Firing Line shows how accurately Tolstoy projected, in this episode and others, the psychology of troops in battle. Holmes quotes Lieutenant David Tinker on his first ...

Much of a Scramble

Francesca Wade: Ray Strachey, 23 January 2020

A Working Woman: The Remarkable Life of Ray Strachey 
by Jennifer Holmes.
Troubador, 392 pp., £20, February 2019, 978 1 78901 654 3
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... Strachey’s preoccupations, and their roots in her life, which are carefully unpicked in Jennifer Holmes’s meticulous biography. In many ways, The Cause is Strachey’s tribute to preceding generations, a compendium of women whose lives guided her in steering a course away from her own mother’s demands. Strachey’s mother, Mary Whitall Smith, lived for ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dead Babies, 16 November 2000

... Bashford, a Post Office medical officer from Hampstead who went on to become Honorary Physician to George VI. Whether or not this meant he was expected or even allowed to combat the King’s diseases I don’t know; either way it didn’t stop him getting a knighthood. His name doesn’t appear on the cover of the most recent edition of Augustus Carp ...

Living with a little halibut

John Bayley, 8 October 1992

Fraud 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 224 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 224 03315 8
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... is Pip, and what is he after? Everyone can be made to seem both banal and mysterious. The Sherlock Holmes tales exploit both the puzzle and the adventure, and the humdrum oddness of the society in which they take place: but writers who are cunning by nature or naturally fortunate know that mysteries are not there to be solved. Todorov said that Henry James’s ...

Allergic to Depths

Terry Eagleton: Gothic, 18 March 1999

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Fourth Estate, 438 pp., £20, December 1998, 1 85702 498 2
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... its publication in 1897, with Dracula himself the most filmed fictional character after Sherlock Holmes. An English film, made in 1962, was responsible for five thousand fainting cases in cinemas, 75 per cent of them male. Women presumably see more blood than men, and men no doubt saw even less of it before they were allowed to be present at births. The late ...

Beyond Discussion

Neal Ascherson, 3 April 1980

The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial 
by Auberon Waugh.
Joseph, 240 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7181 1799 9
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... at the Old Bailey produced less certainty about who really did what to whom than if Jeremy Thorpe, George Deakin, David Holmes and John Le Mesurier had been invited to take off their shoes and socks and walk along a trench full of glowing charcoal. As with the trench method, the populace gathered to watch or to read about ...

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