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Endearingness

Donald Davie, 21 March 1991

The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... reggae music, multi-media happenings, what have you. But bless me, it seems I was wrong. For if John Gross isn’t duplicating for a later generation what the Earl of Birkenhead did for mine, I don’t know what he and the marketing managers at Oxford University Press think they are doing. What readers can they think they are catering for, if not such ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 September 2017

... It​ was John who had the idea that I should say something about his professional life at his funeral. It was a very nice idea and I’m glad – not to say flattered – that he had it. But I found it a spookily hard thing to do. ‘Spooky’ because every time I thought I had a point to make I heard myself checking it with John – ‘Is that right?’ ‘Can I say that?’ ‘Does that make sense?’ – and then I began to understand what had happened to all of us ...

Differences

Frank Kermode, 22 October 1992

The Jew’s Body 
by Sander Gilman.
Routledge, 303 pp., £10.99, September 1992, 0 415 90459 5
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Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend 
by John Gross.
Chatto, 355 pp., £18, September 1992, 0 7011 3523 9
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Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading 
by Alan Sinfield.
Oxford, 365 pp., £27.50, September 1992, 0 19 811983 6
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... the fact that Matthew and Mark record the last words of Jesus as spoken in Aramaic, while Luke and John offer a different version, in Greek. But although Mark, followed by Matthew, offers various sayings in Aramaic he immediately translates them into Greek. The evangelists were addressing not only Gentiles but the large number of Jews whose ordinary language ...

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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... way things are all manner of discontinuous instrumentalities, and one of these is the aphorism. So John Gross’s Oxford Book of Aphorisms might, if properly used, be less a book to nod over than a neo-philosophical catena, an instance of the edifying that ousts the epistemological. As a matter of fact, it contains some strong anti-systematic ...

Diary

John Bayley: On V.S. Pritchett, the Man of Letters, 30 January 1992

... of assuming an audience ‘both universal and homogeneous’. The pamphlet was quoted recently by John Gross in an afterword to a new edition of his book The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters.* Gross assumed a combative stance, calling his piece ‘the man of letters in a closed shop’, and speaking of the ‘cold ...

Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy, 14 December 2006

Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... of the country. Riggs puts together Marlowe’s atheism and his spying to make of him (I quote John Gross) ‘the eternal rebel’; he reads the Tamburlaine plays, a wildly successful strip-cartoon in blank verse, as an engine of social criticism, and supposes that Marlowe’s death was personally procured by the queen, scandalised by his violation of ...

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini, 13 August 2020

... nurses and auxiliaries, scanning his patient details, would cheerily address him as ‘John’.) He was already using the name that was to become so familiar, the byline that launched a thousand pieces. Was he already that ‘Frank Kermode’, that effortlessly elegant, perceptive, slyly amusing, wide-ranging critic? Not really, not to judge by ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... air, and whose voice reminded me for some reason of the first person ever to give me a job, John Gross. One of Stephen’s favourite words was ‘collegiate’, and this seemed to be his model for the paper: it would be run by a few chaps who liked tossing around ideas with other chaps, and would be read by chaps in JCRs rather than JCBs. Over ...

How to Be Good

Elaine Showalter: Carol Shields, 11 July 2002

Unless 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 213 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 00 713770 2
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... to create perfect miniatures, to take no major risks.’ On the other hand, you could say, as John Gross has done, that the fault is in the eye of the beholder: ‘While Americans think we’re miniaturists, English people tend to think Americans suffer from gigantism.’ Shields responds to such charges more indignantly in her latest ...

The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... with a Cabinet Minister will know that it is not just the labourer who is thus incapable. John Buchan, whose grandson I am, was a late and flesh-and-blood representative of that lost epoch before economic expediency: a writer who not so much rejected the division of labour (Baudelaire and the Romantics do that) as overcame it. He fascinated his ...

Gargoyles have their place

A.N. Wilson, 12 December 1996

Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton 
by Joseph Pearce.
Hodder, 522 pp., £25, November 1996, 0 340 67132 7
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... with the ‘time of old sin’ – whether a fantastical Alma-Tadema-ish Ancient Rome, or a John Addington Symonds Athens, where pederasty was not merely permissible but praiseworthy – drifted, for those who survived their heady youth of Baudelaire and absinthe, into the Aesthetes’ religion, in which chalices and smoke played their part. ...

Kitty still pines for his dearest Dub

Andrew O’Hagan: Gossip, 6 February 2014

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... with rows of folding chairs and a simple table … Nikos told me later that the critic and editor John Gross, in the audience, seemed to be scowling at my presuming to speak about Sonia. Then Mary McCarthy spoke, her rectangular smile held rectangular and exposing her teeth as she spoke, and what she said about Sonia didn’t seem complimentary, except ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... the editors of the Times Literary Supplement (successively Alan Pryce-Jones, Arthur Crook and John Gross) and indeed held the whole London literary world in contempt as a self-serving clique. He became a lecturer in 1936, already over forty, and a full lecturer at 52. MacKillop deals with this scandalously slow ascent in great detail and with a ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... to Tariq Ali. Before my dismissal, I appeared on television to defend the paper against A.J. Ayer, John Gross and Colin Welch – with a chairman who accused me of being a disciple of Sorel, a writer of whom I had barely heard. (David Caute sardonically notes that ‘the allusion to Sorel was standard nonsense among professors of history and politics ...

Rich Soil, the Mechanism: A Farm Is Sold

John Kinsella, 3 September 1998

... entry in the Domesday book along with echidna tiger-snake tawny frogmouth commodities futures tare gross barometer. Rich soil drives the mechanism. Salmon gums bloom top-heavy like oracles with too much to say and the fox adjusts to the climate generation by generation. In the Paddock of the Killers the spectres of slaughtered sheep graze, die knife blunts in ...

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