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Modernity’s Bodyguard

Phil Withington: Hobbes, 3 January 2013

Leviathan 
by Thomas Hobbes, edited by Noel Malcolm.
Oxford, 1832 pp., £195, May 2012, 978 0 19 960262 9
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... hagiographies, and the starting point for all modern treatments, was written by the antiquarian John Aubrey towards the end of Hobbes’s long and eventful life (1588-1679). This became the fullest of the pen-portraits which make up Brief Lives, and from Aubrey we learn that Hobbes was, in many respects, a ...

Post-Scepticism

Richard Tuck, 19 February 1987

Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life 
by Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer.
Princeton, 475 pp., £40, February 1986, 0 691 08393 2
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... but many other sorts of workmen, will put in for, and get the prize.’ (Boyle’s supporter John Wallis retaliated by openly sneering at Hobbes’s plebeian-sounding surname.) Shapin and Schaffer were quickly led to realise that much wider issues were at stake in the controversy than merely the status of experiment. ‘Testifying’ about experiments to ...

Who wouldn’t buy it?

Colin Burrow: Speculating about Shakespeare, 20 January 2005

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Cape, 430 pp., £20, October 2004, 9780224062763
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... instead to provide scraps of gossip that might give insights into his character and conversation. John Aubrey related that Shakespeare was the son of a butcher who ‘when he killed a calf would do it in high style, and make a speech’. By the early 18th century, Shakespearean biography was turning into something of an industry, with an indiscriminate ...

Gobblebook

Rosemary Hill: Unhappy Ever After, 21 June 2018

In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter 
by Miranda Seymour.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 1 4711 3857 7
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Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist 
by Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice.
Bodleian, 128 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 1 85124 488 1
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... her relations with him would have a respectable front. Annabella wanted to reform him. His friend John Cam Hobhouse made strenuous efforts to stop the whole thing, while the Milbankes merely wanted their daughter settled. Thus the company assembled for the muted wedding ceremony at Seaham Hall on 2 January 1815 came with incompatible hopes and ...
The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes: Vols I-II 
edited by Thomas Hobbes and Noel Malcolm.
Oxford, 592 pp., £60, September 1994, 0 19 824065 1
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... of his life the only significant intellectual to write to Hobbes, apart from his faithful friend John Aubrey, was the freethinker, and far from respectable, Charles Blount, whose letter is display of learning which – as Blount’s work often does – turns out to have been plagiarised, on this occasion from a manuscript by Henry Stubbe. When they did ...

Cleaning up

Simon Schaffer, 1 July 1982

Explaining the Unexplained: Mysteries of the Paranormal 
by Hans Eysenck and Carl Sargent.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 297 78068 9
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Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts 
by R.C. Finucane.
Junction, 292 pp., £13.50, May 1982, 0 86245 043 8
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Hauntings and Apparitions 
by Andrew Mackenzie.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 0 434 44051 5
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Beyond the Body: An Investigation of Out-of-the-Body Experiences 
by Susan Blackmore.
Heinemann, 270 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 0 434 07470 5
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... power. To succeed in that goal, it has been necessary for Eysenck to break with patrons such as Aubrey Lewis, and to deny and then shrug off the exposure of Cyril Burt’s fraudulent work on IQ scores. More important, it has been necessary for Eysenck to convince his fellow scientists, as well as policy-makers and funding agencies, that the particular ...
In the Tennessee Country: A Novel 
by Peter Taylor.
Chatto, 226 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 7011 6253 8
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... all that old art of settling us down, making us feel at home. The man who disappears is Cousin AubreyAubrey Tucker Bradshaw – the natural son of a maternal great-uncle, whose acquaintance the author first makes on a special funeral train, bearing the body of his grandfather, a celebrated senator, from Washington ...

Canterbury Tale

Charles Nicholl, 8 December 1988

Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury 
by William Urry, edited by Andrew Butcher.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 571 14566 3
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John Weever 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 134 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 7190 2217 7
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Rare Sir William Davenant 
by Mary Edmond.
Manchester, 264 pp., £27.50, July 1987, 9780719022869
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... signature – was born in the parish of St George, Canterbury, in February 1564. He was the son of John Marlowe, shoemaker, and Katherine née Arthur, a Dover woman. They had nine children, though only five survived childhood. Christopher was the eldest son, and after the death of his sister Mary in 1568, the eldest child in the family. His father was ...

Bardism

Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... sunrise at Stonehenge. How was that image created? The Stonehenge connection goes back to John Aubrey, who first recognised the monuments at Avebury in 1649 and then spent nearly fifty years writing and talking about, but never quite finishing, his projected Templa Druidum. He was followed by William Stukeley, Anglican clergyman and ‘pagan ...

Picture in Little

Charles Nicholl: Hilliard’s Trajectory, 19 December 2019

Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist 
by Elizabeth Goldring.
Yale, 337 pp., £40, February 2019, 978 0 300 24142 6
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... in a little: ‘A hand or eye/By Hilliard drawn is worth an history/By a worse painter made,’ John Donne wrote in 1597. By a ‘history’ he means one of those big, populous, often Italian paintings much in demand among Elizabethan collectors – paintings you stand back from to see the drama of some mythological or biblical episode unfold. No one stands ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer, 2 December 1982

Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... In works with titles such as The Occult Philosophy, wise men and magi like Cornelius Agrippa and John Dee outlined in general and axiomatic form the elements of a high and secret knowledge which they claimed to have inherited from the past. This is exactly what O’Keefe has accomplished for his own misty past, instead of Orpheus, Hermes and Simon Magus, we ...

Reviewers

Marilyn Butler, 22 January 1981

Three-Quarter Face 
by Penelope Gilliatt.
Secker, 295 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436179587
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Show People 
by Kenneth Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77842 0
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When the lights go down 
by Pauline Kael.
Boyars, 592 pp., £8.95, August 1980, 0 7145 2726 2
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... Montaigne. To the bonfire with William Hazlitt, closely followed by Max Beerbohm, Sainte-Beuve and John Aubrey. A brusque kiss-off to Francis Bacon, Charles Lamb, La Bruyère and the best of Mencken, not to mention Svetonius’s Lives of the Caesars; and into the garbage goes Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, perhaps the finest book of profile-essays ...

Killing Stones

Keith Thomas: Holy Places, 19 May 2011

The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland 
by Alexandra Walsham.
Oxford, 637 pp., £35, February 2011, 978 0 19 924355 6
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... sin; and a variety of peculiar rock formations were attributed to the activities of the devil. St John’s Well at Lutterworth in Leicestershire became Wyclif’s Well. Other sites were associated with the Protestant martyrs of Mary’s reign or with later evangelical leaders. A well in Shropshire was said to be holy because ...

Exasperating Classics

Patricia Craig, 23 May 1985

Secret Gardens 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 235 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 04 809022 0
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Reading and Righting 
by Robert Leeson.
Collins, 256 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780001844131
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Pipers at the Gates of Dawn 
by Jonathan Cott.
Viking, 327 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80003 1
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... contains innumerable engaging asides – for example, the allusion to an old servant, known to John Aubrey, who had at his fingertips a complete history of England’s kings in ballad form. He is good on the vicissitudes of the old folk tale, which aroused deprecation, during the rational 18th century, on account of its outlandish elements (we find ...

Stone’s Socrates

Alan Ryan, 27 October 1988

The Trial of Socrates 
by I.F. Stone.
Cape, 282 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 224 02591 0
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... Hobbes’s influence on the ‘briske witts’ of Charles II’s court was of the same order, and John Aubrey reported that that, too, provoked a move to ‘have the old man burned as an heretic’. The Athenians may anyway not have meant to do more than frighten Socrates out of the city. According to Plutarch, many Athenians were ready to ostracise ...

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