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Round the (Next) Bend

Simon Adams: Sir Walter Ralegh, 6 July 2000

The Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh 
edited by Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings.
Exeter, 403 pp., £45, July 1999, 0 85989 527 0
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... could there be of demonstrating that commitment than bringing to justice the notorious pirate Sir Walter Ralegh? Gondomar had already returned to Spain by the time of Ralegh’s execution in October (he couldn’t stand the British climate), but it was widely seen as his work. He had, quite unwittingly, created a martyr. Ralegh became the last of the great ...

So long, Lalitha

James Lever: Franzen’s Soap Opera, 7 October 2010

Freedom 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 562 pp., £20, September 2010, 978 0 00 726975 4
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... couple called the Paulsens to give us an Updikean neighbourhood view of our protagonists, Walter and Patty Berglund and their children, Joey and Jessica. This is the story from the outside: Walter and Patty, the pioneering gentrifiers of a once down-at-heel street in St Paul, Minnesota, are popular, liberal, but not ...

Burying Scott

Marilyn Butler, 7 September 1995

The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £19.99, January 1995, 1 55786 231 1
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... the first of its kind, John Gibson Lockhart’s pioneering five-volume Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott (1837-8), though the drift of the two Lives is in opposite directions. Sutherland has come to bury Scott, while Lockhart, the great man’s son-in-law, praises him in a public-relations exercise calculated to maintain the family’s prestige and ...

Downsize, Your Majesty

David Cannadine, 16 October 1997

The Royals 
by Kitty Kelley.
Warner, 547 pp., $27, September 1997, 0 446 51712 7
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... A family on the throne,’ observed Walter Bagehot, in one of those honeyed phrases which may mean more or less than they seem to, ‘is an interesting idea.’ Indeed, it is. But during the past two hundred years of British royal history, it is an idea which has embodied itself in two very different human forms ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Gerrit Dou, 5 October 2000

... from The Grocery Shop by Gerrit Dou (1613-75), now in the Queen’s Collection – bought by George IV for 1000 guineas in 1817. Dou’s reputation (and prices) were then still high. He gave tremendous value. He attended closely to the play of light as it came through a window or was thrown out by a candle. He rendered the textures of wood, metal, fabric ...

Out of Germany

E.S. Shaffer, 2 October 1980

The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought 1800-1860 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 521 22560 4
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Criticism in the Wilderness. The Study of Literature Today 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Yale, 314 pp., £11.40, October 1980, 0 300 02085 6
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... both English and American criticism altogether, and to return to Schlegel’s homeland and to Walter Benjamin. The heart of the book lies not in the chapter about Benjamin, however, but in the programmatic chapter called ‘Literary Commentary as Literature’, in which in a handful of brilliant pages Hartman links Lukacs’s early essay on the essay form ...

Drinking and Spewing

Sally Mapstone: The Variousness of Robert Fergusson, 25 September 2003

‘Heaven-Taught Fergusson’: Robert Burns’s Favourite Scottish Poet 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Tuckwell, 240 pp., £14.99, August 2002, 1 86232 201 5
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... Weekly Magazine, and a collection of nearly forty of them had been brought out in 1773 by Walter Ruddiman, the magazine’s publisher. Fergusson was never able to complete the long works he envisaged: he apparently had it in mind to translate Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics. He abandoned a (now lost) dramatic tragedy about William Wallace after two ...

On the Beaches

Richard White: In Indian Country, 21 March 2002

Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America 
by Daniel Richter.
Harvard, 317 pp., £17.95, January 2002, 0 674 00638 0
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... called You Are There. The pretence was that a reporter, who in my mistaken memory was always Walter Cronkite, would be on hand as a historical event unfolded. No matter what the century, the reporters were from the 1950s, with notepads or microphone in hand. ‘General Washington, General Washington,’ Mr Cronkite would call to ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... particularly bizarre in witnessing a figure who might have stepped out of the pages of Sir Walter Scott or Bulwer Lytton stirring a cup of tea with a spoon. It produced a kind of chronological shock which one would receive upon entering a drawing-room in Mayfair and meeting a Crusader armed to all points, or, the other way about, if one were to ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 7 September 2017

... soft rounded contour of a feminine breast’. The ‘subtler threads of temperament’ that Walter Pater had adduced in Winckelmann’s Hellenism were more than hinted at in works like Walter Crane’s The Renaissance of Venus (1877), where the goddess is in most physical respects, as writer and artist W. Graham ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... he expanded and elucidated Virgil, his translation left nothing out. Royle is right to mention Sir George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh as ‘one of the few intellectual giants of his day’ – ‘that noble wit of Scotland’, as Dryden called him – but he might have told us that his Aretina (1660) was the first novel by a Scotsman (and he mght have mentioned Sir ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... a menu of ‘Primary Colors Specials’, including Lasagne di Paul Begalanese and Pork Chop George Stephen-applesauce. There’s a copy prominently displayed in the new books section of the White House library, and 742,000 have been shipped to bookstores to meet the demand. It’s number one on the New York Times bestseller list; North American ...

Gehenna

Walter Kendrick, 2 August 1984

The Brothers Singer 
by Clive Sinclair.
Allison and Busby, 176 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 85031 275 2
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The Penitent 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Joseph Singer.
Cape, 170 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 224 02192 3
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... disparate novels could hardly be imagined than Middlemarch and The Brothers Ashkenazi: but both George Eliot and Joshua Singer believed that life was rationally intelligible and could be mirrored in rational form. Bashevis does not share this faith. His novels and stories teem with ghosts, demons and hallucinations; his characters are driven by forces that ...

Social Workers

David Cannadine, 5 October 1995

Royal Bounty: The Making of a Welfare Monarchy 
by Frank Prochaska.
Yale, 352 pp., £19.95, October 1995, 0 300 06453 5
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... the early Hanoverians, the British monarchy first seriously embraced good works during the time of George III, who in this as much else was the father and founder of modern royalty. He allowed his name to be associated with many new philanthropic ventures, especially London hospitals, and personally gave £14,000 a year to good causes, which makes him, in ...

America is back

Alan Brinkley, 1 November 1984

... Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale have presented the American electorate with as clear an ideological choice as any set of Presidential candidates in the 20th century. The two men disagree fundamentally on their prescriptions for the economy, their approaches to national defence, their views of foreign policy, their stances on social issues ...

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