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29 August 1991
A Voyage to Abyssinia 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Joel Gold.
Yale, 350 pp., £39.50, July 1985, 0 300 03003 7
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Rasselas, and Other Tales 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Gwin Kolb.
Yale, 290 pp., £24.50, March 1991, 0 300 04451 8
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A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) 
by Samuel Johnson.
Longman, 1160 pp., £195, September 1990, 0 582 07380 4
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The Making of Johnson’s Dictionary, 1746-1773 
by Allen Reddick.
Cambridge, 249 pp., £30, October 1990, 0 521 36160 5
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Samuel Johnson’s Attitude to the Arts 
by Morris Brownell.
Oxford, 195 pp., £30, March 1989, 0 19 812956 4
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Johnson’s Shakespeare 
by G.F. Parker.
Oxford, 204 pp., £25, April 1989, 0 19 812974 2
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... subaltern, without the bland solvent of self-righteous statesmanship. In fact, they’re from Samuel Johnson’s first book, A Voyage to Abyssinia (1735), an excellent and little-noticed edition of which, by Joel Gold, appeared in 1985. They come at the conclusion of a distressing episode in which an ‘old Mahometan troublemaker, ‘the master of our ...

Answering back

James Campbell

11 July 1991
The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... in London, only really switched on the power in the 1950s. Novelists such as George Lamming, Samuel Selvon, John Hearne, Andrew Salkey and V.S. Naipaul were among the first voices from the outposts of Empire to talk back. Not for them ‘clapping his hands and stamping his feet’ in order to communicate, like Conrad’s fireman (‘and he had filed ...

Keller’s Causes

Robin Holloway

3 August 1995
Essays on Music 
by Hans Keller, edited by Christopher Wintle, Bayan Northcott and Irene Samuel.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £30, October 1994, 0 521 46216 9
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... In his heyday, from the late Forties to around the start of William Glock’s regime at the Third Programme (afterwards Radio Three), Hans Keller’s vehement presence was a force for the good in English musical life. He represented at a high level old-style modern values – not exactly cosmopolitan (an important reservation to which I shall return) but emphatically not insular ...
7 August 1980
A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... the OED and Webster’s Third – of indicating the social status of a word. Mencken confuses Samuel Johnson the writer with Dr Johnson the ogre and bully portrayed by Boswell. James Murray, the author of the OED, succumbed to the same confusion, perhaps, when in a dream he imagined that Johnson was speaking of his Dictionary and Boswell, in an impish ...

‘I’m coming, my Tetsie!’

Freya Johnston: Samuel Johnson’s Shoes

9 May 2019
Samuel Johnson 
edited by David Womersley.
Oxford, 1344 pp., £95, May 2018, 978 0 19 960951 2
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... The first time​ Tetty Porter met her future husband, Samuel Johnson, she told her daughter, Lucy, that she had never encountered a more ‘sensible’ man. Most readers assume she was praising Johnson’s sober, rational side; Leslie Stephen, writing in 1878, went so far as to commend Tetty’s penetrative ‘good sense’ for discerning the same quality in Johnson, despite his ‘grotesque appearance ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!

14 December 2000
Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... are actually yearning to be rumbled? Well, probably; or maybe not. Who, if anyone, did Samuel Pepys think he was fooling when he wrote, in his now famously transparent code, that ‘Yo did take her, the first time in my life, sobra mi genus and did poner mi minu sub her jupes and toca su thigh’? (In a later entry, Pepys proudly records that Mrs ...

How did she get those feet?

Alice Spawls: The Female Detective

20 February 2014
The Notting Hill Mystery: The First Detective Novel 
by Charles Warren Adams.
British Library, 312 pp., £8.99, February 2012, 978 0 7123 5859 0
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The Female Detective: The Original Lady Detective 
by Andrew Forrester.
British Library, 328 pp., £8.99, October 2012, 978 0 7123 5878 1
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Revelations of a Lady Detective 
by William Stephens Hayward.
British Library, 278 pp., £8.99, February 2013, 978 0 7123 5896 5
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... been found in an outhouse horribly slashed.1 The public in any case suspected the boy’s father, Samuel Kent, a known adulterer, and when the 16-year-old Constance was acquitted they turned against her accusers (she later admitted to the crime). For writers, the private detective was a neat solution to an untidy problem. He could uncover secrets and solve ...

I sizzle to see you

John Lahr: Cole Porter’s secret songs

19 November 2019
The Letters of Cole Porter 
edited by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh.
Yale, 672 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21927 2
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... speech, and enjoys retailing it to friends. At a party for Douglas Fairbanks Jr, he recounts Samuel Goldwyn’s overheard malapropism: ‘Since the last time I saw you, we’ve passed a lot of water under the bridge!’ Even so, the letters contain moments of his own incidental, almost Firbankean hilarity: ‘Linda is in wonderful form in spite of almost ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names

23 September 2010
A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... even figure in the top hundred. Andrew and Robert are barely hanging on. But Joshua, Benjamin, Samuel and Joseph have been restored to the places they held two hundred years ago, after languishing for years in the unfashionable regions of the charts. It is even possible to trace the rise of particular combinations of sounds. The popularity of J-names for ...

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