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In such a Labyrinth

Jonathan Rée: Hume, 17 December 2015

Hume: An Intellectual Biography 
by James Harris.
Cambridge, 621 pp., £35, September 2015, 978 0 521 83725 5
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... confined himself to literature. In 1746 he accepted a post as secretary to Lieutenant General James St Clair, who was preparing to lead a force of several thousand in an assault on the French in Canada. He spent two or three months anticipating a ‘romantic adventure’ on the other side of the Atlantic, but owing to bad weather the expedition was ...

Cough up

Thomas Keymer: Henry Fielding, 20 November 2008

Plays: Vol. II, 1731-34 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Thomas Lockwood.
Oxford, 865 pp., £150, October 2007, 978 0 19 925790 4
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‘The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon’, ‘Shamela’ and ‘Occasional Writings’ 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin, with Sheridan Baker and Hugh Amory.
Oxford, 804 pp., £150
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... against Fielding’s nicotine-fuelled muse, to say nothing of draining his patience. His friend James Harris reports him inveighing against ‘the man who invented Fifth Acts’, and although his five-act comedies enjoyed long and lucrative runs (Fielding made nearly a thousand pounds from The Modern Husband, according to Aaron Hill, and lost it all at ...

Ironed Corpses Clattering in the Wind

Mark Kishlansky: The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, 17 August 2006

Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms 
by Tim Harris.
Penguin, 506 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 14 026465 5
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Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720 
by Tim Harris.
Allen Lane, 622 pp., £30, January 2006, 0 7139 9759 1
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... was secured through a well-planned purge of local Whig officeholders. He acceded to the throne as James II in 1685. The dreaded moment passed without incident and the new king promised to rule according to law and custom. A pathetic rebellion in Scotland led by the Earl of Argyll and one in England by the Duke of Monmouth were quickly and ruthlessly ...

Fielding in the dock

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1990

Henry Fielding: A Life 
by Martin Battestin and Ruthe Battestin.
Routledge, 738 pp., £29.50, October 1989, 0 415 01438 7
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New Essays 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin.
Virginia, 604 pp., $50, November 1989, 0 8139 1221 0
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The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. The True Patriot, and Related Writings 
edited by W.B. Coley.
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An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and Related Writings 
edited by Malvin Zirker.
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The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register Office 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Bertrand Goldgar.
Oxford, 446 pp., £50, December 1988, 0 19 818511 1
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Fielding and the Woman Question: The Novels of Henry Fielding and the Feminist Debate 1700-1750 
by Angela Smallwood.
Harvester, 230 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 7108 0639 6
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... invites study.) Two important correspondences in particular have recently come to light: one with James Harris of Salisbury, the author of Hermes, whom Johnson called ‘a prig, and a bad prig’, but who was a warm friend to Fielding, lent him money sometimes, and wrote an unpublished essay on his ‘Life and Genius’; the other concerned with ...

New Man from Nowhere

James Davidson: Cicero, 4 February 2016

Dictator 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 09 175210 1
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... authors either overwhelmed by the data or not properly engaging with his writings at all. Robert Harris​ is a former journalist who began by writing bestselling non-fiction about journalism, war and politics in the 20th century – Gotcha about the media and the Falklands War, Selling Hitler about the Sunday Times and the forged Hitler diaries – before ...

Bright Blue Dark Blue

Rosemary Hill: ‘Weatherland’, 5 November 2015

Weatherland 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 432 pp., £24.95, September 2015, 978 0 500 51811 3
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... Seasons, the overarching and background reality of life, are older, although as Alexandra Harris explains, ‘spring’ was invented only in the late Middle Ages. Before all that there was just climate and what people thought about it is all but unknowable. In the temperate zones, where the waxing and waning of the year is more noticeable than in the ...

It’s good to be alive

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Science does ethics, 9 February 2012

Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition and Complexity Are Revolutionising Our View of Human Nature 
by Douglas Kenrick.
Basic, 238 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 0 465 02044 7
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Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values 
by Sam Harris.
Bantam, 291 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 593 06486 3
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The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice 
by Peter Corning.
Chicago, 237 pp., $27.50, April 2011, 978 0 226 11627 3
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... what we would like them to be.’ That, at any rate, is what Douglas Kenrick has to tell us. Sam Harris begins The Moral Landscape in much the same way: ‘The more we understand ourselves at the level of the brain, the more we will see that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human values.’ Kenrick and ...

Dreadful Apprehensions

Clare Bucknell: Collier and Fielding, 25 October 2018

The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable 
by Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier, edited by Carolyn Woodward.
Kentucky, 406 pp., £86.50, November 2017, 978 0 8131 7410 5
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... truth is the point of language too. For Collier and Fielding – influenced by their close friend James Harris, author of a 1751 treatise on ‘language and universal grammar’ – words possess revelatory powers, elucidating ideas which would otherwise remain dark. Words aren’t abstractions from or mystifications of the external world but intimately ...

Whose person is he?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: ‘Practising Stalinism’, 20 March 2014

Practising Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars and the Persistence of Tradition 
by J. Arch Getty.
Yale, 359 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 0 300 16929 4
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... came to a lethal climax in the Great Purges of 1937-38 is told in two versions. One, proposed by James Harris some years ago in his book The Great Urals, focuses on central pressure on the regions to meet high production targets, leading the regions to take defensive action, enforcing a united front (which included the local police chief) under the ...

Scarsdale Romance

Anita Brookner, 6 May 1982

Mrs Harris 
by Diana Trilling.
Hamish Hamilton, 341 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 241 10822 5
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... Mrs Jean Harris, a trim widow of 56, was a woman who had reason to congratulate herself on making a success of her life. She had risen from undistinguished but respectable suburban beginnings to the position of headmistress of the select Madeira School for girls, in McLean, Virginia. She had married young and had two fine sons ...

Warfield

José Harris, 24 July 1986

Wallis and Edward: Letters 1931-1937 
edited by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 308 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 297 78804 3
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Rat Week: An Essay on the Abdication 
by Osbert Sitwell.
Joseph, 78 pp., £7.95, May 1986, 0 7181 1859 6
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... redeemed and ruined by a single quixotic fixation, recurs again and again in the plots of Henry James. Events and situations continually arose which seem to cry out for fictional treatment: one example is the threatened arrival in the midst of it all of a ten-year-old stepdaughter whom Wallis had never met (‘You can imagine the discomfort it will cause in ...

Greatest Genius

Frances Harris, 23 July 1992

Charles James Fox 
by L.G Mitchell.
Oxford, 338 pp., £25, June 1992, 0 19 820104 4
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... Charles James Fox was early hailed as ‘the phenomenon of the age’: an Infant Phenomenon like his chief opponent and perfect foil, William Pitt, who, Fox’s mother is said to have predicted, would be ‘a thorn in Charles’s side as long as he lives’. David Hume, encountering Fox at 16 during one of his formative visits to Paris, was startled by his intellectual power and maturity and already foresaw him as ‘a very great acquisition to the publick’, if the lure of a life of cosmopolitan dissipation, already strong on him, did not distract him ...

Englishmen’s Castles

Gavin Stamp, 7 February 1980

The Victorian Country House 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 470 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 300 02390 1
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The Artist and the Country House 
by John Harris.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp., £37.50, November 1980, 0 85667 053 7
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National Trust Studies 1980 
edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 85667 065 0
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... doubtless with an eye to their principal business, Messrs Sotheby Parke Bernet have carried John Harris’s research in a heavy and lavish volume with 419 plates – some a little grey, alas, but there are 26 good ones in colour. This may not be the first book on the subject, but it is a scholarly work of great scope and interest. As Mr ...

Marvellous Boys

Mark Ford, 9 September 1993

The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... complete works were concocted in a single afternoon and evening by two young Australian poets, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, as part of a plot to expose the obscurantism and meaninglessness of what passed for poetry under the aegis of Modernism. The Malley oeuvre was composed, they were later to reveal, with the aid of a chance collection of books ...

Things that are worth naming

Linda Colley, 21 November 1991

A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 820224 5
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... woman have in the past been numerous but in the main soft-centred, preoccupied – as Frances Harris puts it – with her ‘tempestuous personal relationships’. Harris’s own book, by contrast, is founded on careful research in some twenty-five different archives on both sides of the Atlantic. As a curator of the ...

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