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Englishmen’s Castles

Gavin Stamp, 7 February 1980

The Victorian Country House 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 470 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 300 02390 1
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The Artist and the Country House 
by John Harris.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp., £37.50, November 1980, 0 85667 053 7
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National Trust Studies 1980 
edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 85667 065 0
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... for, doubtless with an eye to their principal business, Messrs Sotheby Parke Bernet have carried John Harris’s research in a heavy and lavish volume with 419 plates – some a little grey, alas, but there are 26 good ones in colour. This may not be the first book on the subject, but it is a scholarly work of great scope and interest. As Mr ...

Eating animals is wrong

Colin McGinn, 24 January 1991

Animal Liberation 
by Peter Singer.
Cape, 320 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 03018 3
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... path-breaking book, Animals Men and Morals (1971), edited by Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch and John Harris. Singer acknowledges his debt to this pivotal work as well as to personal contact with some of the contributors, and his own 1975 book, of which there is now a welcome second edition, is largely a sustained working-out of the moral perspective ...

Perpetual Sunshine

David Cannadine, 2 July 1981

The Gentleman’s Country House and its Plan, 1835-1914 
by Jill Franklin.
Routledge, 279 pp., £15.95, February 1981, 0 7100 0622 5
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... has withered and the sunshine faded. The death toll recorded by Roy Strong, Marcus Binney and John Harris in The Destruction of the English County House tops nine hundred, and few writers set contemporary novels in country houses as they did only a generation ago. One gratifying consequence is that it has finally become possible to view country ...

Babylon

William Rodgers, 30 March 1989

European Diary 1977-1981 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 698 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 00 217976 8
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... his Presidential years. ‘To lunch at the Wyatts at Connock. Clarissa Eden, the Weinstocks and John Harris ... the Weinstocks and Clarissa all being surprisingly agreeable.’ ‘Drive to Isleworth and dinner with the Gilmours ... an enjoyable and interesting dinner.’ But if these were sometimes occasions for tittle-tattle and of no great interest ...

Slapping the Clammy Flab

John Lanchester: Hannibal by Thomas Harris, 29 July 1999

Hannibal 
by Thomas Harris.
Heinemann, 496 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 434 00940 7
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... tiny points.’ Brrrrr. Is it chilly in here, or is it me? All this happens in Red Dragon, Thomas Harris’s second novel, his first being the, in retrospect, remarkably undistinguished all-Palestinians-are-terrorists thriller Black Sunday. Red Dragon’s back story, as these things are called in Hollywood, is that Graham is the man who caught Dr ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... port, Chilean wine and so forth. One of the number could never get enough of the joke. This was John Braine, whose special party-trick was the skipping of ironic bits. When he said that England these days was run by the trade unions and the pansies, he meant it. When he went on about treason and the intellectuals there was grim, literal relish in his ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... Moderns, her provocative critical survey of English cultural life between 1930 and 1945, Alexandra Harris points to Eliot’s lines in ‘East Coker’ about ‘Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth/Mirth of those long since under earth/Nourishing the corn.’ Harris argues that the poet was thinking about the dead ...

Remembering the taeog

D.A.N. Jones, 30 August 1990

People of the Black Mountains. Vol. II: The Eggs of the Eagle 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 330 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3564 6
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In the Blue Light of African Dreams 
by Paul Watkins.
Heinemann, 282 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 09 174307 9
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Friedrich HarrisShooting the hero 
by Philip Purser.
Quartet, 250 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 7043 2759 7
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The Journey Home 
by Dermot Bolger.
Viking, 294 pp., £13.99, June 1990, 0 670 83215 4
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Evenings at Mongini’s 
by Russell Lucas.
Heinemann, 262 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 434 43646 1
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... War. There were Kipling’s vivid stories of Sussex life through the ages, and then there was John Buchan’s The Path of the King, tracing ancestral virtues and vices from a Viking prince to Abraham Lincoln, taking in the depravities of Titus Oates. Even before reading these quite gripping books, we were vaguely acquainted, through schools, comics and ...

Marvellous Boys

Mark Ford, 9 September 1993

The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... we are as the double almond concealed in one shell,’ he broods in ‘Colloquy with John Keats’, going on to predict his own equally untimely demise in harsh demotic terms – ‘Look! My number is up!’ After his cremation at Rookwood Cemetery Ethel opened his trunk and set about disposing of his pitiably meagre possessions; in the process ...

Immoralist

José Harris, 1 December 1983

John Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed 1883-1920 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Macmillan, 447 pp., £14.95, November 1983, 0 333 11599 6
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... John Maynard Keynes, grandson of the minister of the Bunyan chapel at Bedford, was born into a religious tradition that for two hundred years had stopped its ears against the blandishments of Mr Worldly Wiseman and sought only the Celestial City of Eternal Life. The City was to be found, as all readers of Pilgrim’s Progress knew, not by piety or public-spiritedness or good works or moral behaviour, but by that indefinable state of inner consciousness known as Salvation by Faith ...

Tuesday Girl

Colin Burrow: Seraphick Love, 6 March 2003

Transformations of Love: The Friendship of John Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 330 pp., £25, January 2003, 0 19 925257 2
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... John Evelyn was a dry old stick – and here that metaphor has an almost literal force, since his first and greatest love was for trees. In Fumifugium (1661) he argued that smoky workshops should be banished from London, and that the environs of the city should be planted with ‘such Shrubs, as yield the most fragrant and odoriferous Flowers’ to sweeten its stench ...

Things that are worth naming

Linda Colley, 21 November 1991

A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 820224 5
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... Among the illustrations in this book is a painting by John Closterman of the Marlborough family which hangs today in Blenheim Palace. On its right-hand side, as convention dictates, sits the head of the family, John Churchill, at the time of the painting, first Earl of Marlborough ...

Strangers

John Lanchester, 11 July 1991

Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... the sexes and alert one to the way violence against women is routinely used in fiction. Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs is a thriller which achieves similar effects of defamiliarisation by avoiding some of the stock themes of the genre, and by embracing others with a convert’s enthusiasm. For instance, the woman-in-peril motif, which has been ...

Hitler’s Common Market

Philip Purser, 6 August 1992

Fatherland 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 372 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 09 174827 5
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... than art to art, or fiction to fiction. In two respects, unfortunately, Fatherland by Robert Harris makes artistic comparisons inescapable. It belongs, first, to that select genre of fiction which deals in the Alternative Present, or in this case an alternative recent past. It is set in 1964 in the vast, imperial, intimidating Berlin of an undefeated ...

Making My Moan

Irina Dumitrescu: Medieval Smut, 7 May 2020

Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain 
by Carissa Harris.
Cornell, 306 pp., £36, December 2018, 978 1 5017 3040 5
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... be used to explain the error of a poor line of verse.In her meticulously argued new book, Carissa Harris shows that obscenity was used to convey vastly different lessons about sex and ethics in medieval literature. Focusing on sexual language in Middle English and Middle Scots, her study explores the way texts deployed for (heterosexual) erotic education ...

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