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Funny Mummy

E.S. Turner

2 December 1982
The Penguin Stephen Leacock 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 527 pp., £2.95, October 1981, 0 14 005890 7
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Jerome​ K. JeromeA Critical Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Orbis, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85613 349 3
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Three Men in a Boat 
by Jerome​ K. Jerome, annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green.
Joseph, 192 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 907516 08 4
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The Lost Stories of W.S. Gilbert 
edited by Peter Haining.
Robson, 255 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 86051 200 2
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... fall about laughing. In 1953 it may have caused hysteria on the Clapham omnibus as readers devoured the Pitman’s Advanced Shorthand version published (as Christopher Matthew reminds us) that year. Jerome would surely have relished such a spectacle; or would he have felt, as the Almighty may have thought when the Bible was first rendered into Pitman’s, that the finer elements of the text must ...
2 September 1982
... Chou and Mao. Hoxha dealt with some rather ill-informed British envoys, keeping them off-balance in their strange surroundings with jokes about Much Ado About Nothing and engaging in discussion about JeromeK.Jerome. He shows rich contempt for right-wing emissaries like Julian Amery and Lt-Col. Neil (‘Bill’) McLean who were trying to restore something like the prewar Zog regime. He also dismisses ...
24 April 1997
The Bicycle 
by Pryor Dodge.
Flammarion, 224 pp., £35, May 1996, 2 08 013551 1
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... at a guess, than the full-length portrait of the courtesan Blanche d’Antigny in her species of bloomer suit. Cycling girls were soon to be seen on posters everywhere, promoting all kinds of goods. JeromeK.Jerome noted that they were always portrayed being ‘wafted along by unseen heavenly powers’. It is a much-told tale how the bicycle helped to emancipate women; less familiar is the claim that ...

Broken Knowledge

Frank Kermode

4 August 1983
The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 383 pp., £9.50, March 1983, 0 19 214111 2
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The Travellers’ Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
Routledge, 1022 pp., £24.95, April 1983, 0 7100 0992 5
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... entries on countries, places and their inhabitants. It seems to have no practical purpose. If you are planning a visit to, say, Stuttgart, you will hardly be helped by the knowledge that in 1900 JeromeK.Jerome said it was ‘a charming town, clean and bright, etc’. When I read the many extracts on Cambridge, almost unrelievedly gloomy, I conjectured that Mr Yapp must have gone to Oxford – ...

Uses for Horsehair

David Blackbourn

9 February 1995
Duelling: The Cult of Honour in Fin-de-Siècle Germany 
by Kevin McAleer.
Princeton, 268 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 691 03462 1
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... injury, but not why they were so remorseless in the first place. McAleer offers three reasons. One is the role played by a distinctively German institution, the student duel or Mensur. Mark Twain and JeromeK.Jerome were among the foreigners who described this blood-drenched ritual with horrified fascination. Few students actually duelled: Catholics refused on principle, and there was never any ...

One Chapter More

Leah Price: Ectoplasm

6 July 2000
Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle 
by Daniel Stashower.
Penguin, 472 pp., £18.99, February 2000, 0 7139 9373 1
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... he was ‘a bit senile and therefore easily bamboozled’. Senile or not, Conan Doyle outlived Houdini, but waited in vain for a message from him recanting his unbelief. In contrast, the sceptical JeromeK.Jerome no sooner died than a medium received the order to tell Conan Doyle ‘that I know now that he was right and I was wrong’. Some of Conan Doyle’s characters proved equally persuadable ...

Blowing Cigarette Smoke​ at Greenfly

E.S. Turner: The Beastliness of Saki

24 August 2000
The Unrest-Cure and Other Beastly Tales 
by Saki.
Prion, 297 pp., £8.99, May 2000, 9781853753701
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... cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went’ – appears in the first tale of this selection, the latest in a series of Prion Humour Classics which includes Saki’s contemporaries Stephen Leacock,JeromeK.Jerome and the Grossmiths. Saki lends a caustic distinction to that company. His real name was Hector Hugh Munro and he was born in Burma in 1870, the son of an inspector-general of the Burma ...

Heart and Hoof

Marjorie Garber: Seabiscuit

4 October 2001
Seabiscuit: The Making of a Legend 
by Laura Hillenbrand.
Fourth Estate, 399 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 1 84115 091 6
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... the central figure’s consciousness is never as baldly anthropomorphic as this. The running subtitle on the jacket, ‘The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse’, while, on the one hand, evoking JeromeK.Jerome and the Marx Brothers, on the other describes the realist’s strategy of indirection: the story of the Biscuit is the story of his owner, his trainer, his jockey, their personal triumphs ...

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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... as members of the more aesthetic and Utopian Fellowship of the New Life until its demise in 1898; and that, at different times, their society was adorned by literati such as Wells, Shaw, Bennett, JeromeK.Jerome, Harley Granville-Barker, Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolf. Britain shows that the society sponsored lectures on a broad spectrum of arts subjects (with literature predominating), provided ...

My Books

Ian Patterson

4 July 2019
... last three volumes had been placed on top of a cupboard, and the dealer who’d bought it wouldn’t let me have them as he claimed they were part of his lot), a great deal of Thackeray, Macaulay, JeromeK.Jerome (first editions, those, I discovered later), Pardoe and Bartlett’s Beauties of the Bosphorus (seven out of eight quarto volumes of steel engravings), the works of Homer, Milton, Sir ...

Opus Operandi

Ciaran Carson

27 May 1993
... a formula for a petition to the Author. He’s working overtime just now, dismembering a goose for goose-quills. Tomorrow will be calfskin parchment, then the limitation clauses and the codicils. II Jerome imagined Babel with its laminates and overlapping tongues And grooves, the secret theatre with its clamps and vices, pincers, tongs. It’s like an Ark or quinquereme he prised apart, to find the ...
8 March 2018
... pope misuses the word ‘seduction’ in this context, it is worth looking for the source. He got it from the first letter from St Paul to Timothy as translated in the late fourth century by St Jerome, whose Latin Vulgate version survived to become the official Bible of the Catholic Church more than a thousand years later. The passage was often used to justify the bar on women priests. ‘I suffer ...

Things I Said No To

Michael Wood: Italo Calvino

17 April 2003
Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings 
by Italo Calvino.
Cape, 255 pp., £16.99, January 2003, 0 224 06132 1
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... lives, at least when viewed from the outside, and the same goes for writers. The chosen career flattens out the visible differences. If it wasn’t for the lion who traditionally accompanies St Jerome, Italo Calvino suggests in The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1973), you could hardly tell him from St Augustine. Both saints are often pictured as writers, and ‘a man at a desk resembles every other ...
5 July 2018
Albrecht Dürer: Documentary Biography 
by Jeffrey Ashcroft.
Yale, 1216 pp., £95, January 2017, 978 0 300 21084 2
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... Italian art, and to promote his name and reputation. Dürer was 34 and had a range of masterpieces behind him: woodcut series such as Apocalypse (1498); engravings like Adam and Eve (1504) and St Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness (c.1496); some paintings and altarpieces. In Venice he soon sold the small panel paintings he’d brought with him (‘Two I let go for 24 ducats, and the other three I ...

An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi

21 February 1985
The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome​ Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... and Imagination provided some interesting studies of particular autobiographies by eminent Anglophone or Continental writers but without much discussion of the nature of autobiographical form. Jerome Hamilton Buckley and A.O.J. Cockshut take the discussion further, in complementary studies of developments since 1800. After a brief backward glance to St Augustine and 17th-century writers of ...

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