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Misguided Tom

Eric Stokes, 5 March 1981

Letters of Thomas Arnold the Younger 1850-1900 
edited by James Bertram.
Auckland/Oxford, 276 pp., £15, August 1980, 0 19 647980 0
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... of such a life is chiefly of interest for the celebrities which it encountered. In 1966, Professor James Bertram brought out the New Zealand Letters of Thomas Arnold, which included all Clough’s longer ‘anti-podistic’ letters to his friend between 1847 and 1851: these had been omitted from F.L. Mulhauser’s Correspondence of A.H. Clough (1957). The ...

The Importance of Aunts

Colm Tóibín, 17 March 2011

... In November 1894 Henry James set down in his notebooks an outline for the novel that, eight years later, became The Wings of the Dove. He wrote about a heroine who was dying but in love with life. ‘She is equally pathetic in her doom and in her horror of it. If she only could live just a little; just a little more – just a little longer ...


James Wood: Speaking our Minds, 1 June 2000

... into monologue. There is an interesting moment, for instance, in All’s Well that Ends Well, when Bertram is first introduced to the King of France. Instead of receiving Bertram in the usual way, and asking after him, the King starts reminiscing about Bertram’s father, whom he obviously ...

Did You Have Bombs?

Deborah Friedell: ‘The Other Elizabeth Taylor’, 6 August 2009

The Other Elizabeth Taylor 
by Nicola Beauman.
Persephone, 444 pp., £15, April 2009, 978 1 906462 10 9
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... always to be in the right’ is the kind of morally reprehensible incident of which Henry James would have made much; he would also have made something out of Elizabeth’s being so upset that he did not come (she had cooked pheasant, John drove to the station) and, more interestingly, out of her decision to grovel rather than embarrass, and ...

Southern Discomfort

Bertram Wyatt-Brown, 8 June 1995

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism 
by Eugene Genovese.
Harvard, 138 pp., £17.95, October 1994, 0 674 82527 6
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... of the heritage itself? The secessionist clergyman Benjamin Palmer, an old friend of pro-slavery James Henley Thornwell, Genovese’s favourite antebellum theologian, put the matter succinctly in 1860: ‘Must I pause to show how [slavery] has fashioned our modes of life, and determined all our habits of thought and feeling, and moulded the very type of our ...
... He had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it’: T.S. Eliot writing of Henry James in the Little Review of August 1918. I want to take exception, not to the truth of Eliot’s pronouncement (he was right about James), but to the set of lofty assumptions calmly towering behind it ...

During the war and after the war

J.R. Pole, 11 January 1990

Oxford History of the United States. Vol. VI: Battle Cry of Freedom, The Civil War Era 
by James McPherson.
Oxford, 904 pp., $35, June 1988, 0 19 503863 0
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Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 
by Eric Foner.
Harper and Row, 690 pp., $21.95, April 1988, 0 06 015851 4
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... rather as an early difficulty that had to be overcome – one of the Union’s teething troubles. James McPherson, who has spent most of his academic life in the study of abolitionism and the related struggles of the Civil War era, has written a narrative history that comes as close to being both comprehensive and definitive as seems possible in a single ...

A Pride of Footnotes

Robert M. Adams, 17 November 1983

The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. VII: ‘Biographia Literaria’ 
edited by James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate.
Routledge/Princeton, 306 pp., £50, May 1983, 0 691 09874 3
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... Bollingen edition of Coleridge’s collected works edges, with the Biographia Literaria edited by James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate, a bit past its halfway point. Nine of the projected 16 volumes are now in print. In addition, three of the projected five volumes of the private Notebooks have appeared. (They are a separate Bollingen project, though Kathleen ...

McTeague’s Tooth

David Trotter: Good Fetishism, 20 November 2003

A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature 
by Bill Brown.
Chicago, 245 pp., £22.50, April 2003, 0 226 07628 8
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... Park’s moral and physical comforts acutely, and expecting all the while to hear that Edmund Bertram has engaged himself to Mary Crawford, Fanny does a Belford on her own behalf: so effectively, indeed, that Austen, unable to tolerate the suspension of narrative, immediately supplies an event. The butter is not a moment greasier when her father ...


Elaine Jordan, 21 April 1983

The Viaduct 
by David Wheldon.
Bodley Head, 176 pp., £5.95, March 1983, 0 370 30519 1
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Rates of Exchange 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 310 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 436 06505 3
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by Maggie Ross.
Collins, 280 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 00 222602 2
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No Place on Earth 
by Christa Wolf, translated by Jan van Heurck.
Virago, 110 pp., £6.95, March 1983, 9780860683636
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Look at me 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 192 pp., £7.50, March 1983, 0 224 02055 2
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Not Not While the Giro and Other Stories 
by James Kelman.
Polygon, 207 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 9780904919653
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... of naming: the Frasers were old London friends of Mary Crawford, there’s a Maria here whom James (Henry Crawford and Edmund Bertram) goes off with, and there’s Fanny, as the Frasers call her, although she tells us at once that she does not like to be called this. What Fanny Price wins is what this Fanny ...

Wholly Given Over to Thee

Anne Barton: Literary romance, 2 December 2004

The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare 
by Helen Cooper.
Oxford, 560 pp., £65, June 2004, 0 19 924886 9
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... of All’s Well That Ends Well, the ‘stage presence’ of an actual baby fathered on Helena by Bertram ‘is not ruled out’. But it is ruled out, and doubly so, by Diana’s lines, ‘Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick./ So there’s my riddle: one that’s dead is quick,’ with their unequivocal emphasis on the unborn child stirring in ...

Excepting the Aristocratical

Ian Gilmour, 23 March 1995

Marriage, Debt and the Estates System: English Landownership 1650-1950 
by John Habakkuk.
Oxford, 786 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820398 5
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... substitute for brains, they were almost an embodiment of them. In Mansfield Park, whenever Edmund Bertram met Mr Rush-worth he used to say to himself: ‘If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.’ Of course, many of those with twelve thousand a year or more were far from stupid; but clever or foolish the landed interest ...

Lingering and Loitering

Benjamin Kunkel: Javier Marías, 3 December 2009

Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Chatto, 545 pp., £18.99, November 2009, 978 0 7011 8342 4
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... In one of literary history’s great instances of the pot calling the kettle black, Henry James complained of ‘the absence of spontaneity, the excess of reflection’ in George Eliot’s work. To other readers, of course, the proportion that Eliot – or even late James – sets up between narrative spontaneity (or action and event), on the one hand, and reflection or disquisition, on the other, seems harmonious and attractive, and it’s certainly easy enough to think of novels suffering from the opposite problem of lots of action and little thought ...

Six Scotches More

Michael Wood: Anthony Powell, 8 February 2001

A Writer's Notebook 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 169 pp., £14.99, February 2001, 0 434 00915 6
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... Harmonies). Powell was born in 1905 and died in 2000. Powell comments in the Notebook on ‘Henry James’s inability to invent good proper names’ – the inability may more properly belong to our culture, since James took a lot of his names straight from the Times – and certainly suffers from no such inability ...

Time for Several Whiskies

Ian Jack: BBC Propaganda, 30 August 2018

Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War 
by Edward Stourton.
Doubleday, 422 pp., £20, November 2017, 978 0 85752 332 7
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... almost everyone had access to a radio, though not in the gentlemen’s clubs of Pall Mall and St James, where they were banned, or in the Palace of Westminster, where MPs needed to gather around an MP’s car parked outside if they wanted to hear a horse race or a cup tie. Under the Presbyterian influence of its first director general, Lord Reith, until 1938 ...

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