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Patrick Mauriès: Halfway between France and Britain, 3 November 1983

... made it easier for me, in my innocence, to read them. One must acknowledge, however, that Richard Cobb is not Frank Kermode, nor Angus Wilson D.P. Walker. I had come knowing what Britain’s preconceived ideas were: her pragmatism and refusal of abstraction, her solitary traditions and diehard taste for erudition and travail honnête, however ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan, 16 December 2004

Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... Man are the two ‘foundation texts’ of the English working-class movement. It is above all in John Bunyan, he argues, that we find ‘the slumbering Radicalism’ which was preserved through the 18th century, and broke out again and again in the 19th. Bunyan was born in a cottage on the edge of Elstow, a village near Bedford, in November 1628. His father ...

Tribute to Trevor-Roper

A.J.P. Taylor, 5 November 1981

History and Imagination: Essays in honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper 
edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Valerie Pearl and Blair Worden.
Duckworth, 386 pp., £25, October 1981, 9780715615706
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... English nobility in the later 14th century, if only because in the 15th century religion led Sir John Fastolf to beaueath most of his war booty to Magdalen College. With Braudel on ‘The Rejection of the Reformation in France’ we are getting on. As a parting thought, Braudel throws in the suggestion that the Reformation halted wherever it ran into the ...

Short Cuts

Inigo Thomas: At the Ladbroke Arms, 22 February 2018

... for the bank holiday weekend festival. ‘Committed historians’ was a phrase Richard Cobb used in The Police and the People to describe the police in France at the time of the Revolution. Their reports on crime and violence, in Cobb’s view, made them reliable witnesses, able to state what they had seen and ...

Calcutta in the Cotswolds

David Gilmour: What did the British do for India?, 3 March 2005

Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India 
by Elizabeth Buettner.
Oxford, 324 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 19 924907 5
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... in the Public Works Department, while their sister married two civil servants in succession. John Lawrence, the future viceroy, was one of five brothers working simultaneously in India; John Nicholson, the hero of the siege of Delhi, was one of four brothers who died there. No family, however, sent as many members to ...

Lunch Pumphrey, Skeets Benvenuti and a Gang of Other Vicious Tush Hogs

Christopher Tayler: Daniel Woodrell, 10 June 1999

Tomato Red 
by Daniel Woodrell.
No Exit, 225 pp., £10, March 1999, 0 19 019822 2
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... Powerlessness, his 1980 study of quiescence and rebellion among Appalachian ‘mountaineers’, John Gaventa noted that where ‘a positive self-image is not portrayed for a particular group, that group may develop a sense of inadequacy about itself, reinforced by how other groups project their media stereotypes on them’ – and he isn’t talking about ...

Hitler’s Belgian Partner

Robert Paxton, 27 January 1994

Collaboration in Belgium: Léon Degrelle and the Rexist Movement 
by Martin Conway.
Yale, 364 pp., £30, October 1993, 0 300 05500 5
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... by what was usually the least abusive type of occupation regime, a military government. As Richard Cobb has told us, the governor, General von Falkenhausen, was happy enough in Brussels to return there in 1952 to marry his Belgian mistress. Falkenhausen’s assistant, General Reeder, who conducted day-to-day affairs, was a reasonably correct professional ...


Gabriele Annan, 7 June 1984

Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild 
edited by Joan Littlewood.
Cape, 247 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 224 02208 3
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I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir 
by Jean MacGibbon.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 575 03412 2
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... She fosters nostalgie de la banlieue, the feeling that made one wish V. S. Pritchett and Richard Cobb would never get to the last page of their childhood memories. You could adapt the famous remark about religious sects and say that England has sixty kinds of suburb and only one sauce – except that sixty would be an underestimate and all of them now have ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... of the 18th and 19th centuries, most of the land enclosed was added to existing farms, but in 1809 John Hulton used the land allotted to him from the enclosure of Marske Moor in Swaledale to create a new farm, Cordilleras. The farm and most of the fields round about were named after places in South America, Valparaiso, Cotopaxi, Sierra Pedragosa and so ...

Second Chances

Donald Davie, 22 July 1993

Collected Poems 
by Patricia Beer.
Carcanet, 216 pp., £18.95, July 1990, 9780856357886
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Friend of Heraclitus 
by Patricia Beer.
Carcanet, 59 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 026 3
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... his. The Carcanet list that houses Patricia Beer is a good deal more harmonious; but it features John Ashbery, of whom one has to say that if he is right, Beer is wrong, and vice versa. It is not a new phenomenon: eclecticism coming on as catholicity. But what results is a delusive fecundity that can’t be kept track of: with so many new starts, how to ...

Dark Knight

Tom Shippey, 24 February 1994

The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory 
by P.J.C. Field.
Boydell and Brewer, 218 pp., £29.50, September 1993, 0 85991 385 6
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... the case. If one goes by the records, slowly unearthed in the Twenties and Thirties by Edward Cobb, Edward Hicks and A.C. Baugh, the Malory of Newbold Revel was not ‘little better than a criminal’, he was a criminal, and probably by some way the most distinguished criminal ever to have won a place in English letters. Despite a reasonably secure and ...

That’s democracy

Theo Tait: Dalton Trumbo, 2 March 2000

Johnny Got His Gun 
by Dalton Trumbo.
Prion, 222 pp., £5.99, May 1999, 1 85375 324 6
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... Critics had some easy targets: the imbalance between their colossal earnings and their aims (John dos Passos was amused to find screenwriters putting aside tithes for the Party from their poker winnings); their tendency to confuse the studio system with the System; and, most important, their obliviousness to inconsistencies in the rigid Party line, to ...

Megalomaniac and Loser

Norman Hampson, 21 March 1985

Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History 1794-1815 
edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas.
Cambridge, 276 pp., £22.50, October 1983, 0 521 25114 1
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Chouannerie and Counter-Revolution: Puisaye, the Princes and the British Government in the 1790s 
by Maurice Hutt.
Cambridge, 630 pp., £60, December 1983, 0 521 22603 1
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Britain and Revolutionary France: Conflict, Subversion and Propaganda 
edited by Colin Jones.
Exeter, 96 pp., £1.75, June 1983, 0 85989 179 8
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... were all dead. The volume of essays, edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas in honour of Richard Cobb, deals mostly with the later years of the Revolution, between the fall of Robespierre and the advent of Bonaparte. The period has always been rather an embarrassment to historians who are looking for patterns. If the Terror represented some kind of ...

Here is a little family

Amit Chaudhuri, 9 July 1992

After Silence 
by Jonathan Carroll.
Macdonald, 240 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 356 20342 5
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The Law of White Space 
by Giorgio Pressburger.
Granta, 172 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 0 14 014221 5
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Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree 
by Tariq Ali.
Chatto, 240 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 7011 3944 7
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... marriages, television sets and cartons of milk. One thinks of Garrison Keillor, David Leavitt, and John Updike, whose most luminous descriptions are located in ‘the post-pill paradise’ of pleasure, estrangement and divorce. Thus the ‘normal’, whether a word, a category or a quality, loses its Larkinesque dullness and takes on an impossibly romantic ...

Rogue’s Paradise

R.W. Johnson: The Russians and the Anglo-Boer War by Apollon Davidson and Irina Filatova, 16 July 1998

The Russians and the Anglo-Boer War 
by Apollon Davidson and Irina Filatova.
Human and Rousseau/Combined Book Services, 287 pp., £17.99, June 1998, 0 7981 3804 1
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... style’, and whole new lines of children’s toys appeared glor-ifying the Boers and ridiculing John Bull. Even the pacifist Tolstoy was caught up in the wild enthusiasm for the war: ‘You know what point I’ve reached? Opening a paper every morning I passionately wish to read that the Boers have beaten the British.’ He knew that he ‘should not ...

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