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Abiding Memories of Christian Zeal

John Burnside, 18 February 2016

... The body as the sum of all nostalgias. Empire of footfalls; Mother as Script and Ideal – and love no chance event, no accidental stir of wings, or blueprint spiked with hospice. What hymn tunes come to mind at Candlemas, the fence wires rimmed with ice, our plum trees medieval in the first blue gloaming? What carol for the kill-site, sodden plumage scattered in the grass, and beautiful? Always, the meadow is now: the chill after dusk, hunter and hunted pausing in the fog to listen, summer barbering the skin ...

Fancy Dress

Peter Campbell: Millais, Burne-Jones and Leighton, 15 April 1999

Millais: Portraits 
by Peter Funnell and Malcolm Warner.
National Portrait Gallery, 224 pp., £35, February 1999, 1 85514 255 4
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John Everett Millais 
by G.H. Fleming.
Constable, 318 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 09 478560 0
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Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer 
by Stephen Wildman and John Christian.
Abrams, 360 pp., £48, October 1998, 0 8109 6522 4
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Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity 
edited by Tim Barringer and Elizabeth Prettejohn.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, March 1999, 0 300 07937 0
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... In 1886 there was an exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery of the work of John Everett Millais (Sir John, in fact: he had recently been made a baronet). There were pictures from his Pre-Raphaelite infancy, like Isabella and Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop; anecdotal ones, like My First Sermon (a child portrait in the Bubbles line); landscapes (Chill October); pictures with stories (The Proscribed Royalist) and pictures from stories (Mariana ...

Catching the Prester John Bug

John Mullan: Umberto Eco, 8 May 2003

Baudolino 
by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 522 pp., £18, October 2002, 0 436 27603 8
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... Somewhere in the skirts of the fabled land of Prester John, late in the 12th century, Baudolino, the protagonist of Umberto Eco’s latest novel, encounters a pygmy. He discovers that ‘the greeting to exchange with him was Lumus kelmin pesso desmar lon emposo, which means that you pledged not to make war against him and his people ...

Christina and the Sid

Penelope Fitzgerald, 18 March 1982

Christina Rossetti: A Divided Life 
by Georgina Battiscombe.
Constable, 233 pp., £9.50, May 1981, 0 09 461950 6
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The Golden Veil 
by Paddy Kitchen.
Hamish Hamilton, 286 pp., £7.95, May 1981, 0 241 10584 6
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The Little Holland House Album 
by Edward Burne-Jones and John Christian.
Dalrymple Press, 39 pp., £38, April 1981, 0 9507301 0 6
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... pay for a suitable room large enough to accommodate her needs,’ or Gabriel adding, ‘Perhaps John and I should talk it over. See if we can come up with a plan that will please you,’ or (about his model Annie Miller): ‘I merely want to state that I have not seen her since you came to Bath and other than inadvertently will not do so in the ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... of the IWW, the Communist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Louis Tikas (a union leader gunned down in John D. Rockefeller Jr’s ‘Ludlow Massacre’ of striking copper miners and their families), but also recognises the corporate and state industrial violence and denial of labour freedom that was a distinctive feature of the ‘American ...

Chastity

John Barton, 16 March 1989

The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity 
by Peter Brown.
Faber, 504 pp., £32.50, February 1989, 0 571 15446 8
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Adam, Eve and the Serpent 
by Elaine Pagels.
Weidenfeld, 189 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 297 79326 8
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Heaven: A History 
by Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang.
Yale, 410 pp., £16.95, November 1988, 0 300 04346 5
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... our ways of thought are many conceptions of heaven that we thought were just like ours. Thus early Christian hopes make sense against an entire system of eschatology which has passed away; the fact that the New Testament can be translated into modern English does not make it a modern book. There is also much good material on Victorian ideas of heaven, and a ...

Be Rapture Ready! The end times are nigh!

John Sutherland: Armageddon - out of here, 5 June 2003

Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages 
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Tyndale House, 398 pp., £15.99, April 2003, 0 8423 3234 0
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... Cold War fantasised Mutually Assured Destruction, leaving the faint hope of permanent stalemate; Christian fiction prophesies the coming of the ‘end times’. There is no escape. Prepare. The novels will help. The first sign that the Apocalypse was approaching was the foundation of Israel in 1948. The Jewish ‘homecoming’ was both miraculous and ...

A Visit to Reichenau

John Barton, 14 June 1990

The Formation of Christendom 
by Judith Herrin.
Fontana, 533 pp., £9.99, September 1989, 0 00 686182 2
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... one of the most attractive emblems of the formation of Christendom.’ What went to form the Christian culture which Reichenau symbolises? Everyone knows that it took the careful preservation of Early Christian beliefs and practices through the so-called Dark Ages, and the maintenance along with them of the remnants of ...

In the Land of the Free

Christian Lorentzen, 22 November 2012

... a political vision centred on challenging racial inequality.’ These aren’t reasons to prefer John Bolton to John Kerry as the next secretary of state, but they aren’t nothing. Unless they pursue the annexation of Canada, the Republicans can no longer win national elections just by being the white ...

Elzābet of Anletār

John Gallagher, 21 September 2016

This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 
by Jerry Brotton.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 241 00402 9
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... her representatives casting the queen as ‘the most invincible and most mighty defender of the Christian faith against all kind of idolatries’, and constantly emphasised the iconomania of their Spanish rivals. Not everyone was convinced by these analogies between faiths: one observer of the Moroccan diplomatic delegation that visited London in 1600 wrote ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: Are books like nappies?, 2 August 2012

... of the Christ, the bestselling American novel until Gone with the Wind. Everyone seemed to be very Christian, more than half the books they printed were Bibles, and most of the press operators had served in the army. Liberals in town had started a rifle buy-back programme. I spent the night in the Holiday Inn watching television, which I didn’t have at ...

Saint John Henry

Richard Altick, 5 August 1982

John Henry Newman: His Life and Work 
by Brian Martin.
Chatto, 160 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 7011 2588 8
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Protestant versus Catholic in Mid-Victorian England 
by Walter Arnstein.
Missouri, 271 pp., £14, June 1982, 9780826203540
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... The unseen spectator who was most involved in Pope John Paul’s progress through Britain, formerly in partibus infidelium, was the spirit of John Henry Newman, dead these 92 years, who doubtless observed the proceedings with mixed feelings. Surely Newman, a man of retiring temperament, would have been horrified by the crowds and the publicity which for the moment turned the search for a Via Media into a media event ...
Possible Dreams: A Personal History of the British Christian Socialists 
by Chris Bryant.
Hodder, 351 pp., £25, July 1996, 0 340 64201 7
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... John Smith was ‘one of them’. Tony Blair is ‘one of them’. And so are Chris Smith and Jack Straw and half the Shadow Cabinet and many more on the backbenches including Frank Field, that one-man think-tank of the Labour Right. ‘They’ are the Christian socialists, architects of New Labour, ready to provide the movement with the ethical foundations which seem sorely missing ...

Half-Resurrection Man

Keith Hopkins, 19 June 1997

Paul: A Critical Life 
by Jerome Murphy O’Connor.
Oxford, 416 pp., £35, June 1996, 0 19 826749 5
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Paul: The Mind of the Apostle 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 274 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 1 85619 542 2
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... Paul is an icon of early Christianity, and of Western culture. His central significance for later Christian theology means that any interpretation of his thought is necessarily grounded in personal belief, or prejudice. Objectivity is neither achievable, nor perhaps desirable. And this problem is compounded for those who wish to write about his life and ...

Rebusworld

John Lanchester: The Rise and Rise of Ian Rankin, 27 April 2000

Set in Darkness 
by Ian Rankin.
Orion, 415 pp., £16.99, February 2000, 0 7528 2129 6
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... Ian Rankin’s novel Knots & Crosses introduced us to a tough Edinburgh Detective Sergeant called John Rebus. A series of local girls had been kidnapped and strangled. Rebus – 41-year-old drinker, ex-soldier, failed husband, absentee father, Christian, annual rereader of Crime and Punishment – begins receiving a series ...

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