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3 March 1988
‘Sur’: A Study of the Argentine Literary Journal and its Role in the Development of a Culture, 1931-1970 
by John King.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £27.50, December 1986, 0 521 26849 4
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... culture has ‘developed’ over those same years? Is there, indeed, such a thing as a clearly definable Argentine culture, and if so, what does it consist of? These questions are not discussed in JohnKing’s otherwise informative study of the Argentine literary journal Sur, from its inception in 1931 to its slow death in the Seventies and Eighties. Yet an answer to them, however approximate, is ...

How good is it?

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Inside the KJB

3 February 2011
The Holy Bible: King​ James Version, 1611 Text 
edited by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 1552 pp., £50, October 2010, 978 0 19 955760 8
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Bible: The Story of the King​ James Version 1611-2011 
by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 354 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 19 955759 2
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The King​ James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 
by David Norton.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 521 61688 1
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The King​ James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences 
edited by Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones.
Cambridge, 364 pp., £25, December 2010, 978 0 521 76827 6
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Begat: The King​ James Bible and the English Language 
by David Crystal.
Oxford, 327 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 958585 4
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... The quatercentenary commemorative King James Bible (KJB) sits on my desk as I write: a satisfying artefact in its chocolate livery enriched by opulently gilded top, tail and fore edges, with stout chocolate slipcase to match, impressive ...
19 November 1981
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Personal Recollections 
edited by Rush Rhees.
Blackwell, 235 pp., £9.50, September 1981, 0 631 19600 5
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... and personality, moral force, stunning intelligence. The contributions are by Wittgenstein’s sister, Hermine; Fania Pascal, who taught him Russian in the 1930s; F.R. Leavis, the literary critic; JohnKing, who attended Wittgenstein’s lectures and became a friend; M.O’C. Drury, a close friend over many years, who gives an unmatched account of Wittgenstein’s spiritual concerns; Rush Rhees ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood

22 July 2004
Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... in the DNB who is said never to have existed. Stephen Knight grants that ‘it seems highly improbable, or at least unprovable, that a Mr R. Hood ever existed,’ though, for some people, Robin Hood, King Arthur ‘and even God himself all existed because of their manifold presence in human life and culture’. Knight concludes that ‘Robin Hood’s biography is mythic in that the multiform figure ...

King​ shall hold kingdom

Tom Shippey: Æthelred the Unready

29 March 2017
Æthelred: The Unready 
by Levi Roach.
Yale, 369 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 300 19629 0
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... Levi Roach​ ’s book is an attempt to redeem the reputation of Æthelred II, king of England, with one interruption, from 978 to 1016. This is a hard task, as the book’s title concedes: Æthelred has been known as ‘the Unready’ for around a thousand years. Ever since 1066 ...

How to Be a Knight

Diarmaid MacCulloch: William Marshal

20 May 2015
The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones 
by Thomas Asbridge.
Simon and Schuster, 444 pp., £20, January 2015, 978 0 7432 6862 2
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... by the same persistent Frenchman, after the bibliophilic monster of the Cotswolds was safely dead (it is now in the library founded by a rather more public-spirited buccaneer of book collecting, John Pierpont Morgan). Paul Meyer’s career was a model of all that is best in academic rigour; he later helped analyse the documents which led to the acquittal of Alfred Dreyfus. The History of William ...

Love that Bird

Francis Spufford: Supersonic

6 June 2002
... Texan airline Braniff? Maybe, but Braniff went bust. Even on the core route from London to New York, income from ticket sales never came close to covering operating costs. Then in February 1981 Sir JohnKing was made chairman of BA, and suddenly – in the words of Bruce MacTavish, one of the civil servants who appeared with Lamont before the Select Committee – ‘it was “love that bird!” time ...

A Frisson in the Auditorium

Blair Worden: Shakespeare without Drama

19 April 2017
How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage: Power and Succession in the History Plays 
by Peter Lake.
Yale, 666 pp., £25, November 2016, 978 0 300 22271 5
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... time: the struggles of power and principle he sees reflected in the plays Shakespeare wrote under Queen Elizabeth. The greater part of the book explores the plays about English history: the six King Henry plays and two King Richard plays, which relate the origins and course of the Wars of the Roses, and KingJohn. But there are also extensive discussions of the contemporary political pertinence ...

King​ Cling

Julian Bell: Kings and Collectors

5 April 2018
Charles I: King​ and Collector 
Royal Academy, London, until 15 April 2018Show More
Charles II: Art and Power 
Queen’s Gallery/London, until 13 May 2018Show More
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... Perched​ on one platform, King Charles I; perched on another, the Dutch painter Daniel Mytens; lowered in between them, a canvas some two feet taller than the king, who was reportedly of small stature. If, as an inscription on the finished portrait insists, the likeness was painted ad vivum, then this might have been the way to do it. Beneath the freshly ...

Back to Runnymede

Ferdinand Mount: Magna Carta

22 April 2015
Magna Carta 
by David Carpenter.
Penguin, 594 pp., £10.99, January 2015, 978 0 241 95337 2
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Magna Carta Uncovered 
by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge.
Hart, 222 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 1 84946 556 4
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Magna Carta 
by J.C. Holt.
Cambridge, 488 pp., £21.99, May 2015, 978 1 107 47157 3
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Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015 
by Nicholas Vincent.
Third Millennium, 192 pp., £44.95, January 2015, 978 1 908990 28 0
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Magna Carta: The Making​ and Legacy of the Great Charter 
by Dan Jones.
Head of Zeus, 192 pp., £14.99, December 2014, 978 1 78185 885 1
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... But when the Lord Protector slapped a tax on silk imports without the consent of Parliament, Mr Cony protested that this was the sort of arbitrary behaviour for which Cromwell had lambasted the late king, and demanded that the unjust tax be repaid to him. Cromwell first tried to browbeat Cony into submission, then threw him in prison. Cony’s lawyer, the eminent Sir John Maynard, demanded that he be ...

Bloodbaths

John​ Sutherland

21 April 1988
Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... Stephen King has occasionally raised a rueful protest against being typed as a horror writer – even with the consolation of being the best-selling horror writer in the history of the world. But, as he ...

Midwinter

J.B. Trapp

17 November 1983
Thomas More: History and Providence 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 271 pp., £19.50, September 1982, 0 631 13094 2
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The Statesman and the Fanatic: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More 
by Jasper Ridley.
Constable, 338 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780094634701
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English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition 
by John King.
Princeton, 539 pp., £30.70, December 1982, 0 691 06502 0
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Seven-Headed Luther: Essays in Commemoration of a Quincentenary, 1483-1983 
edited by Peter Newman Brooks.
Oxford, 325 pp., £22.50, July 1983, 0 19 826648 0
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The Complete Works of St Thomas More. Vol. VI: A Dialogue concerning Heresies. Part 1: The Text, Part 2: Introduction, Commentary, Appendices, Glossary, Index 
edited by T.M.C. Lawler, Germain Marc’hadour and Richard Marius.
Yale, 435 pp., £76, November 1981, 0 300 02211 5
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... not only that England was golden with the accession of Henry VIII, but also that Erasmus had been summoned. His lofty earlier debates on the Agony in the Garden and Cain and Abel with his friend John Colet would have remained unknown – Colet was not one to rush into print – if Erasmus had not written them up and got them into circulation. If Colet’s new St Paul’s School was known abroad ...

That Stupid Pelt

Helen King: Wolf’s retelling of Medea

12 November 1998
Medea: A Modern Retelling 
by Christa Wolf, translated by John​ Cullen.
Virago, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1998, 1 86049 480 3
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... as she kills her own children in a quest for revenge. Modern productions have tried to provide a reading of the play that makes sense of her appalling crime. The story of Medea, daughter of the King of Colchis, has a number of variants. In some versions, having fallen in love with Jason and used her magical powers to help him steal the Golden Fleece from her father, she murders her brother on ...
30 January 1992
... joke that could have been made yesterday. Less poignant, George III’s joke also occurred during his illness. He had an equerry, Colonel Manners, who, bringing him his dinner one day, discovered the King had hidden under the sofa. A Jeeves before his time, Manners imperturbably laid a place for His Majesty on the carpet and put down the plate. He was retiring discreetly when the King said (still sous ...

Go to the Devil

David Carpenter: Richard II

22 July 2010
Richard II: Manhood, Youth and Politics, 1377-99 
by Christopher Fletcher.
Oxford, 336 pp., £24.95, August 2010, 978 0 19 959571 6
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... By far the most striking image of Richard II is the one found in the great portrait of him, crowned and enthroned, which still survives in Westminster Abbey. Painted in the 1390s, when the king was in his twenties, it gives him a slightly boyish, even feminine appearance, with red cheeks, full lips and a small goatee beard. Much of this, however, is the work of 19th-century restorers: when ...

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