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Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... find it hard to do so – for instance, when Falstaff disappears, or rather turns into Sir John Oldcastle, since it is known that in early performances (though not in any printed form of the plays) that is what he was called. Oldcastle’s descendants protested, and the consequence was the presumably unique disclaimer in the Epilogue to 2 Henry IV. The ...

Old Dad dead?

Michael Neill: Thomas Middleton, 4 December 2008

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 2016 pp., £85, November 2007, 978 0 19 818569 7
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Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 1183 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 818570 3
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... from the appearance of the new Oxford Middleton. Even as the blurb declares that Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino’s monumental collection is ‘based on the award-winning design of the Oxford Shakespeare’, the binding and dust jacket defiantly proclaim its difference from that distinguished model. The Shakespeare was bound in the press’s traditional ...

Wall of Ice

Peter Thonemann: Pattison’s Scholarship, 7 February 2008

Intellect and Character in Victorian England: Mark Pattison and the Invention of the Don 
by H.S. Jones.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £50, June 2007, 978 0 521 87605 6
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... It was very unfair to those young men.’ John Henry Newman’s conversion to the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 shattered the intellectual credit of the Oxford Movement. The long struggle – first from the pulpit of the University Church of St Mary, later through the radical pages of Tracts for the Times – to state the case for the Apostolic authority of the Anglican church had ended, as the Movement’s critics had always predicted, in total surrender to Catholic dogma ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... always been a few who took an interest in their pupils. In the first years of the century, Joseph Jowett of Trinity Hall (who arranged the setting from Handel which became famous as the chime of Big Ben) was noted ‘for the perennial freshness of his interest in young men’ – though he, like Simeon, was drawn to them by his evangelical faith in their ...

Clive’s Clio

Hugh Tulloch, 8 February 1990

Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History 
by John Clive.
Collins Harvill, 334 pp., £15, October 1989, 0 00 272041 8
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... Both here and in his earlier study of the Edinburgh Review and his first volume on Macaulay, John Clive shows no desire to use or manipulate the Victorians. He merely wants to understand them better. And what he comes to understand, as G.M. Young did before him, is that the Victorian resolutely refuses to behave in the way we think Victorians ...

Devolution Doom

Christopher Harvie: Scotland’s crisis, and some solutions, 5 September 2002

... You don’t hate us in Scotland, Master?’ said Professor John Stuart Blackie, the Teuto-Gaelic classicist, to Jowett of Balliol. ‘We never think of you at all,’ came the lapidary reply. Drafting a sketch for a BBC radio programme on devolution, I was rung by Professor Phil Williams, a colleague at Aberystwyth who is also Plaid Cymru’s spokesman on energy ...

Athenian View

Michael Brock, 12 March 1992

Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 383 pp., £40, September 1991, 0 19 820173 7
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... such authority on the moral ambitions it represented. This branch-to-branch search is centred on John Stuart Mill, Henry Fawcett and Leslie Stephen. He then traces the change in style and tone which came as the academic profession and the public service spread their tentacles. He discusses three legal theorists who epitomised this transition – Henry ...

Pork Chops

John Bayley, 25 April 1991

Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 00 217662 9
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... to the Eigentumlicheit of the German romantic philosophers, which Hopkins would have absorbed via Jowett and Balliol, than to his later devotion to Duns Scotus. The first biographer to have full access to all the materials, Martin is particularly interesting on Hopkins’s background, and his life as a young man. His extremely able and in some degree ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones, 8 November 2018

... Scott had embarked was perhaps more central to Victorian high culture (the culture that produced Jowett, Matthew Arnold and Housman) than the Oxford English Dictionary itself. There was humour in Liddell and Scott, or so we were told, but it was donnish to the point of desiccation. The entry explaining how σῡκοφάντης, literally ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson, 20 January 2011

The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
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... expected to approve), and he regularly kept company with some of the forbidding brains of the age. Jowett of Balliol sent the Tennysons a copy of his revered Hegel’s Philosophy of History. They read it to each other after dinner. So what was Auden on about? For a start, he wasn’t bluffing about his fondness for Tennyson: his essay is full of ...

The Great Mary

Dinah Birch, 13 September 1990

Mrs Humphry Ward: Eminent Victorian, Pre-Eminent Edwardian 
by John Sutherland.
Oxford, 432 pp., £16.99, August 1990, 0 19 818587 1
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... an eating insecurity, a covetous desire to earn acceptance and approval from those in authority. John Sutherland points to this paradox as the driving force behind Mary Ward’s extraordinary career. He isn’t inclined to condone the various obstinacies that made ‘The Great Mary’ (Pound’s term) so scorned among the writers who followed her. Her moral ...

Labouring

Blake Morrison, 1 April 1982

Continuous 
by Tony Harrison.
Rex Collings, £3.95, November 1982, 0 86036 159 4
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The Oresteia 
by Aeschylus, translated by Tony Harrison.
Rex Collings, 120 pp., £3.50, November 1981, 0 86036 178 0
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US Martial 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, £75, November 1981, 0 906427 29 0
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A Kumquat for John Keats 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, £75, November 1981, 0 906427 31 2
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... a full complement of characters who in Harrison’s hands avoid becoming ‘characters’: Ethel Jowett, next door, who loved the D’Oyly Carte and gave young Tony The Kipling Treasury; the feuding Sharpes (‘Through walls I heard each blow, each Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!’); grampa Harrison, who ‘carried cane and guineas, no coin baser’, and grampa ...

After High Tea

John Bayley, 23 January 1986

Love in a Cool Climate: The Letters of Mark Pattison and Meta Bradley 1879-1884 
by Vivian Green.
Oxford, 269 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 19 820080 3
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... but in his instinct for the paramount importance of such things in the life of a university. As John Sparrow and others have pointed out, and as Dr Green exhibits, Patti son was the champion of a university not as a training ground – ‘a school for young men who have outgrown school’, as he put it – but a place where learning really mattered, and one ...

Being there

Ian Hamilton, 7 October 1993

Up at Oxford 
by Ved Mehta.
Murray, 432 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 0 7195 5287 7
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... And these were just the students. Next he had to face the Master, heir to the fabled Jowett. At a welcoming interview, Mehta was asked, ‘Do you play games?’ and when he reminded the Master that blindness barred him from most sports, the question was determinedly pressed home: ‘What games do you play? Cricket, Rugby, Tennis?’ Such ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley, 11 July 2002

Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... signals the critical thrust of Murray’s book. He opposes the ‘new orthodoxy’ expounded by John Carey in his 1992 polemic, The Intellectuals and the Masses. This biography aims to vindicate Huxley as a humane thinker and artist rather than the crypto-fascist, eugenicist, public-school snob, or (in later life) the ‘fully fledged, fuzzy-brained ...

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