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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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... money given me by the booksellers, much exceeded anything formerly known in England.’ But he hadn’t 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 ...

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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... in toxic investments, rejoices in its first song. Clearly, the discipline of the well-made play went against Fielding’s nicotine-fuelled muse, to say nothing of draining his patience. His friend JamesHarris 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 ...

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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... Duke of York’s succession reaffirmed in England and made statutory in Scotland, but his interest 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 ...
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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... on a substantial if haphazard scale, the question of why this wasn’t done by or for Fielding invites study.) Two important correspondences in particular have recently come to light: one with JamesHarris 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 ...

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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... and temperature, the stuff of art and conversation, weather would seem to be a relatively late development. 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 ...

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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... like Julius Caesar. Biographies of Cicero himself, however, have tended to be either dull or thin, the 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 ...

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 ...

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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... on a sound understanding of what people are really like, not on some fairy-tale version of 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 ...
9 September 1993
The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... clash’. No texts could illustrate this idea of literature more neatly than those of Ern Malley, whose 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 ...

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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... of the central Oppositionist clans of the 1920s, which would have been a real threat.) How matters came to a lethal climax in the Great Purges of 1937-38 is told in two versions. One, proposed by JamesHarris 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 ...
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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... burning all the letters she sent to both of them. For all these reasons, studies of this remarkable 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 ...
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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... glad I still have my copy. I am also very glad to have a copy of The Artist and the Country House for, 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 ...
27 February 1992
Song of Love: The Letters of Rupert Brooke and Noel Olivier 1909-1915 
edited by Pippa Harris.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £17.99, November 1991, 0 7475 1048 2
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... produced an authorised biography that was strictly economical with the truth. Only in 1967 did Michael Hastings start excavating the Brooke monument, in The Handsomest Young Man in England. Pippa Harris’s edition opens up a new area in our knowledge of Brooke and her introduction and notes provide useful background to the letters, without undue deference to the ‘Young Apollo’ mystique of ...
10 August 2000
In Search of Africa 
by Manthia Diawara.
Harvard, 288 pp., £17.50, December 1998, 0 674 44611 9
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... Towards the end of his Native Stranger: A Black American’s Journey into the Heart of Africa (1991), Eddy Harris spends two despairing weeks waiting at Lisala on the banks of the Zaire river for a steamer to take him to Kisangani. Behind him are North Africa, Francophone and English-speaking Africa, and a ...

Browning Versions

Barbara Everett

4 August 1983
Robert Browning: A Life within Life 
by Donald Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 334 pp., £12.95, August 1982, 0 297 78092 1
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The Elusive Self in the Poetry of Robert Browning 
by Constance Hassett.
Ohio, 186 pp., £17, December 1982, 0 8214 0629 9
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning. Vol. V 
edited by Roma King.
Ohio, 395 pp., £29.75, July 1981, 9780821402207
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. I 
edited by Ian Jack and Margaret Smith.
Oxford, 543 pp., £45, April 1983, 0 19 811893 7
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Robert Browning: The Poems 
edited by John Pettigrew and Thomas Collins.
Yale/Penguin, 1191 pp., £26, January 1982, 0 300 02675 7
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Robert Browning: ‘The Ring and the Book’ 
edited by Richard Altick.
Yale/Penguin, 707 pp., £21, May 1981, 0 300 02677 3
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... James Thurber’s best-known cartoon has an impassive little man introducing his spouse to a dazed friend with ‘That’s My First Wife Up There, and This Is the Present Mrs Harris.’ The first Mrs Harris seems to be crouched on all fours on the top of a very high (glazed) bookcase, just behind the second Mrs Harris. This image has found an appreciative audience even among those not particularly ...

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