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Dangerously Amiable

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal: Lafayette Reconsidered, 16 February 2017

The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered 
by Laura Auricchio.
Vintage, 432 pp., £11.99, August 2015, 978 0 307 38745 5
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... or its principles, and the feeling was mirrored on the other side of the ocean. John Adams told James Madison in 1798 that ‘there was not a single principle the same in the American and French Revolutions.’ Even Jefferson, one of the great American admirers of France, had lost his enthusiasm for its revolution. Many influential modern interpreters of ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... see so little of Mr Blake now,’ his wife once complained: ‘He is always in Paradise’), and James Pierrepont Greaves (damned by Carlyle as a ‘blockhead’ and an ‘imbecile’), preferred to leave the world rather than to understand or change it, renouncing (inter alia) religion, property, profit or prostitutes, tobacco, alcohol or flesh (sometimes ...

Enjoying every moment

David Reynolds: Ole Man Churchill, 7 August 2003

Churchill 
by John Keegan.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £14.99, November 2002, 0 297 60776 6
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Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend since 1945 
by John Ramsden.
HarperCollins, 652 pp., £9.99, September 2003, 0 00 653099 0
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Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography 
by Mary Soames.
Doubleday, 621 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 385 60446 7
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Churchill at War 1940-45 
by Lord Moran.
Constable, 383 pp., £9.99, October 2002, 1 84119 608 8
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Churchill’s Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy 
by Klaus Larres.
Yale, 583 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 300 09438 8
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... with Keegan, John Ramsden shifts our attention firmly to the postwar decades. Like Robert Rhodes James thirty years ago, he argues that if Churchill had died in 1939, his life would probably have been construed as a spectacular failure – more promise than performance. Gallipoli, 1915, was still held against him; since 1929 he had been railing in the ...

Beyond the Cringe

John Barrell: British Art, 2 June 2016

Art in Britain 1660-1815 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 367 pp., £55, October 2015, 978 0 300 21556 4
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... Richard Wilson and Sawrey Gilpin, all of whom are adjudged to be of ‘good family’, and Sir James Thornhill, who came from ‘good Dorset stock’, a phrase more at home in a book on country cooking than in a serious work of scholarship. Why pedigree mattered to him is rarely clear, as by his own account it seems to have no particular influence on the ...

Return to the Totem

Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... bleeding face, and if we are as severe as these editors, and if we want to keep that moment (Peter Brook, for example, didn’t), we have really to accept a version of the play that lacks over a hundred lines found only in the Folio. The General Introduction ably defends these editorial principles, and along the way gives a very lucid and engaging account of ...

Noisomeness

Keith Thomas: Smells of Hell, 16 July 2020

Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times 
by Robert Muchembled, translated by Susan Pickford.
Polity, 216 pp., £17.99, May, 978 1 5095 3677 1
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The Clean Body: A Modern History 
by Peter Ward.
McGill-Queen’s, 313 pp., £27.99, December 2019, 978 0 7735 5938 7
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... place in church because it put her next to someone with ‘a strong breath’. The chaplain to James I’s wife, Queen Anne, held that of ‘all the noisome scents, there is none so rammish and so intolerable as that which proceeds from man’s body … I will not speak of his filth issuing from his eares, his eyes, nostrils, mouth, navel, and the uncleane ...

Populist Palatial

Rosemary Hill: The View from Piccadilly, 4 March 2021

London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 19 882341 4
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Survey of London: Volume 53, Oxford Street 
edited by Andrew Saint.
Paul Mellon Centre, 421 pp., £75, April 2020, 978 1 913107 08 6
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... West End, with its salubrious air and proximity to the Houses of Parliament and the Court of St James’s, was more attractive than ever. Its rise was unstoppable, its nature always mutable. There was no crisis from which it did not emerge invigorated. John Nash designed Piccadilly Circus as a rond-point for his great picturesque town plan leading up Regent ...
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 
edited by T.F. Hoad.
Oxford, 552 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780198611820
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Dictionary of Changes in Meaning 
by Adrian Room.
Routledge, 292 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7102 0341 1
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The Story of English 
by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert McNeil.
Faber/BBC, 384 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 563 20247 5
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Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. I: Introduction and A-C 
edited by Frederic Cassidy.
Harvard, 903 pp., $60, July 1985, 0 674 20511 1
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... stream’, is general throughout the United States, except in New England, where the usual word is brook. The noun clook, meaning a broody hen, you will find to be chiefly used in Pennysylvania, in north-central USA, and in the upper Midwest; chaparral, meaning ‘any of numerous thicket-forming shrubs or shrubby trees ... also the thicket itself’, occurs in ...

Other People’s Rooms

Peter Campbell, 7 April 1994

Inside Culture 
by David Halle.
Chicago, 261 pp., £23.95, January 1993, 0 226 31367 0
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Michigan 
by Kathryn Bishop Eckert.
Oxford, 603 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506149 7
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Iowa 
by David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim.
Oxford, 565 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506148 9
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... The working class responded better to the letterhead of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. ‘In the end,’ Halle writes, ‘people allowed us into their homes’ – he had a female assistant – ‘because they allow properly credentialed strangers (such as repair people, delivery people) into their homes all the time. We too presented our ...

It’s the plunge that counts

Heathcote Williams: Waterlog by Roger Deakin, 19 August 1999

Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain 
by Roger Deakin.
Chatto, 320 pp., £15.99, May 1999, 0 7011 6652 5
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... fish by electro-fishing, even removing such essentials to the ecology of natural chalk streams as brook lampreys and bullheads. Besides all this, they cut and remove the weed that would naturally hold up the flow and maintain the depth of water, as well as harbouring the invertebrates that provide vital food in the rivers’ ecosystems. On one short stretch ...

The Caviar Club

Azadeh Moaveni: Rebel with a Hermès Scarf, 9 September 2021

The Empress and I: How an Ancient Empire Rejected and Rediscovered Modern Art 
by Donna Stein.
Skira, 277 pp., £38, March, 978 88 572 4434 1
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Epic Iran 
V&A, until 12 September 2021Show More
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... portraits, paintings by Van Gogh and Magritte, and a few more difficult works, such as James Ensor’s Mariage des masques.Paintings that documented the West’s preoccupation with the East were a productive theme: Matisse’s mysterious Persian Woman; Gauguin’s Still Life with Japanese Print; a photograph of Edward Lane in Persian ...

Alphabeted

Barbara Everett: Coleridge the Modernist, 7 August 2003

Coleridge’s Notebooks: A Selection 
edited by Seamus Perry.
Oxford, 264 pp., £17.99, June 2002, 0 19 871201 4
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works I: Poems (Reading Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1608 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00483 8
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works II: Poems (Variorum Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1528 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00484 6
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works III: Plays 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1620 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 09883 2
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... Homer and Virgil and Chaucer accompanied Stendhal and Jane Austen, Dickens and Tolstoy and Henry James; and near the end was one poem that certainly might, in its intensity, be described as ‘short’ – Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This almost token poem, a magnificent simple affair that most of us did at school, is the world’s most ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water, 31 July 2008

... savage torrents. The major obstacle between these suddenly angry watercourses – the Carrant Brook, the Tirlebrook, the Little Fid and the Swilgate – and the two big rivers of the valley was the town of Tewkesbury, its ten thousand inhabitants and the Mythe waterworks. Gloucestershire’s public servants – the councils, the health service, the police ...

Modern Brecht

Margot Heinemann, 5 August 1982

Bertolt Brecht in America 
by James Lyon.
Princeton, 408 pp., £11, January 1981, 0 691 06443 1
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Bertolt Brecht: Political Theory and Literary Practice 
edited by Betty Webber and Hubert Heinen.
Manchester, 208 pp., £15, February 1981, 0 7190 0806 9
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Brecht 
by Jan Needle and Peter Thomson.
Blackwell, 235 pp., £9, February 1981, 0 631 19610 2
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... enjoyment and the central means to political understanding and intervention. Peter Brook once said he himself had no sense of history as a reality: ‘History to me is a way of looking at things, and-not one that interests me very much’; the artist’s vision is concerned with the present. This view, whatever may be said for it, is very ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... a bit like contemplating Ophelia’s soaking garments and weedy trophies pulled from the weeping brook; they are cold, modern remnants of desire and the misfortunes of fortune; tokens of the 20th century’s obsession with the nuances of fame and public death. Madame Bovary. The Sun Also Rises. The Unnamable. The Fall. Marilyn’s auctioned books are like ...

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