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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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... Dante on his hip as peasant mothers still do, while it is Beatrice who assumes the fearsome but no less essential fatherly role, rebuking Dante for his irresponsibility and lack of steadfastness. GeorgeHolmes 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The biography of stuff

5 July 2001
... Cocaine: An Unauthorised Biography by Dominic Streatfeild (Virgin, £20). How, even supposing a ‘biography’ 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 ...

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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... than the altruism of its ruling class. ‘This unusual pattern of co-existence helps to explain why Venice can look modern in a medieval world, medieval in a modern one.’ It is the strength of GeorgeHolmes’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 ...

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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... They had heard that we were great Philosophers, and expected much from us, one of the first questions 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 ...

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 ...
5 May 1983
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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... hostilities on society. Nor should it enable the military and diplomatic historian to treat his subject in 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 ...

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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... muddles up the argument of the satire; the burlesque trivialises both. And a novel which very nearly 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 ...
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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... a Frenchman bears down with fixed bayonet, Nikolai flings his pistol at him and runs for the nearest 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

13 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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... wear trousers and ride bicycles, play sport and cast votes.The Cause reveals a great deal about 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dead Babies

16 November 2000
... persuaded Heinemann to bring out a new edition, and in the process discovered that the author was Dr 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 ...
27 October 1988
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 ...

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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... as a key text in his philosophy of the moral and political reformer. There are two brilliant opening 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 ...

Works of Art

Peter Lamarque

2 April 1981
Art and Its Objects 
by Richard Wollheim.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 521 22898 0
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Works and Worlds of Art 
by Nicholas Wolterstorff.
Oxford, 372 pp., £20, December 1980, 0 19 824419 3
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... Generalising across the arts is a tricky business. Can we really expect to find anything in common between, say, Ulysses, Der Rosenkavalier, the ‘Donna Velata’ and Donatello’s St George in virtue of which they are all works of art? As if that were not hard enough, try adding prints, films, dances and buildings and the problem becomes intractable. Yet traditionally the aim of ...

Punch-up at the Poetry Reading

Joanna Kavenna: Dorothy Porter’s verse novel

7 May 1998
The Monkey's Mask 
by Dorothy Porter.
Serpent’s Tail, 264 pp., £9.99, October 1997, 1 85242 549 0
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... Sherlock Holmes tugging on his pipe in the fog-drenched London streets, Philip Marlowe swilling whiskey, waiting for the phone to release him from the solitude of his seedy office, Fitz – ‘Cracker’ – barking ...
4 September 1980
Queen Anne 
by Edward Gregg.
Routledge, 483 pp., £17.50, April 1980, 0 7100 0400 1
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... the war that began two months after her succession. Moreover, what Anne was incapable of providing certainly could not be provided by her husband. For if Anne was not a very intelligent woman. Prince George of Denmark seems to have been a very stupid man, an amiable ass who in the war enjoyed the empty honour of generalissimo of all English forces, and also occupied the office of Lord High Admiral. The ...

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