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Are you a Spenserian?

Colin Burrow: Philology, 6 November 2014

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities 
by James Turner.
Princeton, 550 pp., £24.95, June 2014, 978 0 691 14564 8
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... at once be turned into facts. We should so learn them that words may become deeds. In Philology James Turner attempts a heroic defence of this misunderstood breed. He argues that philology lies at the heart of all the academic disciplines currently called ‘humanities’. He suggests that subjects as apparently diverse as ...

Cruelty to Animals

Brigid Brophy, 21 May 1981

Reckoning with the Beast 
by James Turner.
Johns Hopkins, 190 pp., £7.50, February 1981, 0 8018 2399 4
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The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes 
by S. Zuckerman.
Routledge, 511 pp., £17.50, March 1981, 0 7100 0691 8
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... Blake died a decade before Victoria came to the throne. I am bound therefore to think that James Turner (who ‘teaches history’, the back flap says, ‘at the University of Massachusetts, Boston’) is mistaken in his central thesis that the Victorians witnessed ‘the emergence of a new, distinctively modern sensibility’ about animals. His ...

Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander Pope: A Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... Reuben Brower for his allusive links to the tradition, Leo Damrosch for his imaginative modernism, James Turner for his ‘libertine self-fashioning’, Douglas Brooks-Davies for his concealed Jacobite allegory. In both these books, Pat Rogers displays an exemplary eclectic attention to Pope’s life and works, but no one scholar can hope to do justice to ...

E.S. Turner shocks the sensitive

E.S. Turner, 20 August 1992

Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma 
by George MacDonald Fraser.
Harvill, 255 pp., £16, June 1992, 0 00 272660 2
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Tyrants and Mountains: A Reckless Life 
by Denis Hills.
Murray, 262 pp., £19.95, June 1992, 0 7195 4640 0
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... of Tyrants and Mountains, is the man who in 1975 was rescued from Idi Amin’s death squads by Mr James Callaghan, then Foreign Secretary, who flew to Uganda for that purpose. As a serving officer in World War Two and its immediate aftermath, Hills himself exercised what amounted to the power of life or death over thousands of persons who had ended the war on ...

Whose Body?

Charles Glass: ‘Operation Mincemeat’, 22 July 2010

Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War Two 
by Ben Macintyre.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 7475 9868 8
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... parachute that had failed.’ In September 1942, however, the real corpse of Paymaster Lieutenant James Turner, ‘with despatches in his pockets’, turned up in Spanish waters when his RAF seaplane crashed. The Spanish authorities, despite the Falangist government’s debt to the Axis for aiding its victory in the civil war, returned the body to the ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... Randall Jarrell’s possible suicide, Bill’s own depression. And I talked to him about William James’s own breakdown and his resuscitation through faith. What in hell am I doing with all these theatre types? Alfred Kazin’s journals, 26 December 1986 Discount Kazin’s weary, load-bearing sigh in this characteristic entry from his journals, which ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... Mr Turner is my favourite Edwardian. He sits in a chair under the window. He doesn’t waste a lot of words. And when he laughs he rocks a little. The sky is busy and blue over Richmond. Every few minutes a plane goes by. They seem to enter the window-frame just about head height; each one passes through the ears of E ...

Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... on the mob in the Gordon Riots, had another claim to notice. As a sheriff of London, Sir Barnard Turner was instrumental in abolishing Tyburn as a place of execution. In so doing he ended the tumultuous turnout of ruffians, whores and honest citizens who cheered, or execrated, the deathcart on its way from Newgate along Tyburn Road, now Oxford Street, to the ...

Short Legs

E.S. Turner, 24 January 1980

Eminent Edwardians 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 255 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 436 06810 9
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... and ‘in the last resort’ dealt ‘not with facts but with truth’. One thinks also of James Agate, who described not what happened but what he thought should have happened and called it ‘the higher truth’. Strachey, it seems, was not above inventing a ‘fact’ – he gave Dr Arnold short legs to make him look sillier. In Eminent Edwardians ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner, 29 August 1991

The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... child was Georgiana’s (the event has echoes of the ‘warming-pan affair’ which embarrassed James II’s Queen). Having given her husband a long-wanted male heir, the Duchess naturally expected him to pay off her prodigious gambling debts. This he failed to do. Soon she became pregnant again, this time by a future prime minister, Earl Grey, who in years ...

She’s a tiger-cat!

Miranda Seymour: Birds’ claw omelettes with Vernon Lee, 22 January 2004

Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography 
by Vineta Colby.
Virginia, 387 pp., £32.50, May 2003, 0 8139 2158 9
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... on to his young half-sister. For the most part, however, she was left to her own devices. Henry James’s story ‘The Pupil’ was partly based on the unsettled childhood of his friend John Singer Sargent, but he might as well have been describing Violet Paget’s youth. It was Mrs Sargent, encountered when Violet was ten, who became the first of a series ...

At the Fitzwilliam

Ian Patterson: A tidying-up and a sorting-out, 11 August 2016

... its history, the directorship of Sydney Cockerell from 1908 to 1937. Cockerell, who followed M.R. James in the post, had been library cataloguer and acquisitions assistant to William Morris during the 1890s, and his taste was formed by Morris and Ruskin and their circles. He seems to have been relentlessly acquisitive, mostly on behalf of the Fitzwilliam, and ...

Educating Georgie

E.S. Turner, 6 December 1984

Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 462 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 340 24465 8
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... that identifies Prince Eddy, the Queen’s first fiancé, as Jack the Ripper? Indeed it can. James Pope-Hennessy did not find room to discuss this matter in his 685-page life of Queen Mary published in 1959, possibly because the hue and cry after Prince Eddy had not then gained its full impetus, possibly for other reasons. What can Anne Edwards tell us ...

The Rainbow

Lawrence Gowing, 17 March 1983

Rubens and the Poetics of Landscape 
by Lisa Vergara.
Yale, 228 pp., £29, November 1982, 0 03 000250 8
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James Ward’s Gordale Scar: An Essay in the Sublime 
by Edward Nygren.
Tate Gallery, 64 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 905005 93 7
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... Constable than the effects of art, more than the Claudian schema that served for Dedham Vale. With Turner, although he would have denied it, it was the other way about. At dinner with Samuel Rogers (who owned the Moonlight Landscape now in the Princes Gate Collection), Turner ‘broke out, to the annoyance of all, against ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... life was an absolute mess. In his thorough and entertaining authorised biography of Cash, Steve Turner establishes a suitably saintly tone on the first page. ‘It was doubtful,’ he writes of his subject, ‘whether he had a bodily organ that hadn’t been operated on, an area of skin that hadn’t been gashed, or a significant bone that hadn’t been ...

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