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The road is still open

David Wootton: Turpin Hero?

3 February 2005
Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 258 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 1 86197 418 3
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... Turpin hero, I am the great Dick Turpin Ho.’ ‘Turpin Hero’ is the source of Joyce’s title for the forerunner to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ‘Stephen Hero’. Turpin is no hero to JamesSharpe, who sets out to cut him down to size, just another ‘callous, brutal and violent’ criminal, an ‘unpleasant thug’, hardly distinguishable from so many others, so that when The Lives of ...

Brutish Babies

David Wootton: Witchcraft

11 November 1999
Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms of the Night 
by Wolfgang Behringer, translated by H.C.Erik Midelfort.
Virginia, 203 pp., £14.50, September 1998, 0 8139 1853 7
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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe 
by Stuart Clark.
Oxford, 845 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 820001 3
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Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Routledge, 368 pp., £55, April 1999, 0 415 19611 6
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The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Football, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 256 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 9781861970480
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... Were there people who believed themselves to be witches?’ has thus long been excluded from consideration. But it seems that this self-denying ordinance is becoming increasingly hard to sustain: JamesSharpe’s Bewitching of Anne Gunter includes the story of Elizabeth Stile, executed in 1579, told, for what is I think the first time in modern scholarly literature, as if she believed herself to be ...
21 February 1980
Sir Robert Cotton 1586-1631: History and Politics in Early Modern England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Oxford, 293 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198218777
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... antiquarian research and political conflict. History, an anchor in the choppy seas of political and social change, became to monarchs and parliaments alike the arbiter of controversy: Cotton, as Mr Sharpe shows, became to monarchs and parliaments alike the arbiter of controversial historical evidence. A distinguished 18th-century antiquary recalled without exaggeration that Cotton had been ...
10 June 1993
The Personal Rule of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 983 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 300 05688 5
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... This is a big book, not only in the sense that it runs to 954 pages, but also in that it contains a prodigious amount of work. All the familiar sources are here, but Dr Sharpe also draws on many manuscript collections which are less familiar because they are newly available or in remote places. He gives us many valuable ‘unconsidered trifles’. I will not soon forget ...

Masters of Art

John Sutherland

18 December 1980
Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James​ Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... author when I say that one could not wish it much longer than the accomplished novella she has given us. By an accident of the publishing season, Tennant’s morsel of national whimsy coincides with James Michener’s brick-sized The Covenant. At 873 pages (costing a mere £7.95 – compare Alice fell’s 124 for £5.50), this can claim to be the only Great American South African novel. Michener’s ...

Tough Morsels

Peter Rudnytsky

7 November 1991
The Freud-Klein Controversies 1941-45 
edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner.
Routledge, 958 pp., £100, December 1990, 0 415 03170 2
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... In addition to Sylvia Payne, whose wisdom and leadership made her what in an unpublished letter to Klein she disavowed being – the Karl Abraham of the British Society – there were Ella Sharpe and Marjorie Brierley. Sharpe stands out for her evocative clinical writing and her ‘Memorandum on Technique’, which eloquently highlights the importance of pace and process in analytic treatment ...
21 January 1988
Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 317 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 436 42512 2
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Archbishop William Laud 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 272 pp., £25, December 1987, 0 7102 0463 9
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Clarendon and his Friends 
by Richard Ollard.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £15, September 1987, 0 241 12380 1
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Anti-Calvinists 
by Nicholas Tyacke.
Oxford, 305 pp., £30, February 1987, 0 19 822939 9
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Criticism and Compliment: The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £27.50, December 1987, 0 521 34239 2
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... fangled High Churchmanship which was awarded political ascendancy by Charles I. Then, opposed to it, there is the old-fashioned Calvinism of that doyen of Puritan scholars, the Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher. Although the first system was less dogmatic than the second, both of them closed their adherents’ minds. Between them lay the third, altogether healthier response: the sceptical, rational ...
3 July 1986
Melanie Klein: Her World and her Work 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hodder, 516 pp., £19.95, June 1986, 0 340 25751 2
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Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James​ and Alix Strachey 1924-1925 
edited by Perry Meisel and Walter Kendrick.
Chatto, 360 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7011 3051 2
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... letters) of Apfeltorte under lashings of cream, was a then little-known child-analyst of Polish-Slovakian extraction named Melanie Klein. It was largely thanks to the efforts of Alix and her husband James in bringing Klein to the attention of the British Psycho-Analytical Society that she moved to London in 1926 after the death of Abraham. He had been Klein’s mentor and analyst, and without him she ...
20 December 1984
Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... and that as a result many of his original views may have been challenged by the recent wave of ‘revisionism’. The revisionist historians of the Stuart period, led by Conrad Russell with Kevin Sharpe in support, have sought to persuade us that, contrary to what most English historians have led us to believe, the first two Stuart kings were on the whole a good thing, the Parliamentarians a bad ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter

15 November 1984
Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... country walks, so ‘what the fuck did it have to do with Sefton Goldberg who was Jewish and who had therefore never taken a country walk in his life?’ Wrottesley Poly, however, is as much Tom Sharpe territory as a part of the Amis-Bradbury-Lodge world, and it is in the matter of comic plotting that Coming from Behind seemed to me to fail. Jacobson’s portrayal of Goldberg is flawless, but he ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones

1 March 1984
Modern Baptists 
by James​ Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... James Wilcox’s charming comedy is set in rural Louisiana, among people who read the Bible in an engagingly amateurish way, associating religion with the conventions about drinking and dancing enforced by ...

Diary

Mark Ford: Love and Theft

2 December 2004
... pondering all this while writing a poem about the demise of the passenger pigeon, which was published in the LRB (5 August). The idea for the poem came from a comment in an excellent book by Tony Sharpe on Wallace Stevens, in which he speculates on the flocks of pigeons mentioned in the last lines of ‘Sunday Morning’: And, in the isolation of the sky, At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make ...

On the highway

Jonathan Coe

24 March 1994
Desperadoes 
by Joseph O’Connor.
Flamingo, 426 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 224301 6
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Resurrection Man 
by Eoin McNamee.
Picador, 233 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 330 33274 0
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Stir-Fry 
by Emma Donoghue.
Hamish Hamilton, 232 pp., £9.99, January 1994, 0 241 13442 0
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... no dense, elliptical sentences to negotiate, no flights of figurative fancy: instead you’re more likely to find easy charm and an undercurrent of throwaway, slightly macho humour reminiscent of Tom Sharpe or Howard Jacobson. (A character called Smokes decides not to tell his girlfriend that he’s been unfaithful to her; after satisfying himself that he is morally justified in the deception, he ...

Manliness

D.A.N. Jones

20 December 1984
Last Ferry to Manly 
by Jill Neville.
Penguin, 165 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 14 007068 0
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Down from the Hill 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 218 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 246 12517 9
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God Knows 
by Joseph Heller.
Cape, 353 pp., £8.95, November 1984, 0 224 02288 1
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Wilt on High 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 236 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780436458118
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... takes even longer to read because one must turn up the Bible, every now and then, to see how he has defaced the beauties and distorted the stories. We have to imagine King David denouncing the King James Bible on the grounds that James was a ‘faggot’ and insisting that there was nothing faggotty about his own friendship with Jonathan. He quotes David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan, only to ...
16 October 1997
The Royals 
by Kitty Kelley.
Warner, 547 pp., $27, September 1997, 0 446 51712 7
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... of Wales, spending a fortune on clothes and colonic irrigation. And she gives cameo parts to the royal entourage and its hangers-on: Lord Snowdon, Raine Spencer, Major Ronald Ferguson, Koo Stark, James Hewitt, Madam Vasso and the rest. Thus described by Kelley, the House of Windsor is part Evelyn Waugh, part Tom Sharpe, wholly Spitting Image. It is not so much that she descends to personalities as ...

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