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Dephlogisticated

John Barrell: Dr Beddoes, 19 November 2009

The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and His Sons of Genius 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 294 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 0 300 12439 2
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... the French Republic. Just before the arrests, an English medical student studying in Edinburgh, John Edmonds Stock, had been sent down to London by Watt with a letter to the London Corresponding Society inviting them to mount a similar insurrection. Hearing just in time that he was a wanted man, he disappeared, to resurface later in Philadelphia, where he ...

Shakespeare and the Stage

John Kerrigan, 21 April 1983

Elizabethan Popular Theatre: Plays in Performance 
by Michael Hattaway.
Routledge, 234 pp., £14.95, January 1983, 0 7100 9052 8
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Shakespeare the Director 
by Ann Pasternak Slater.
Harvester, 244 pp., £18.95, December 1982, 0 7108 0446 6
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... to engage intelligently with Titus Andronicus – handled so well by Michael Hattaway – King John, or indeed any of the plays which made Shakespeare’s reputation in Elizabethan London. And she does not know where to begin with Cymbeline. Yet her contempt for Shakespeare’s non-naturalism remains unwavering. ‘Rumour painted full of ...

Basismo

Anthony Pagden, 13 June 1991

The Cambridge History of Latin America. Vol. VII: 1930 to the Present 
edited by Leslie Bethell.
Cambridge, 775 pp., £70, October 1990, 0 521 24518 4
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Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America 
by John King.
Verso, 266 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 295 7
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Democracy and Development in Latin America: Economics, Politics and Religion in the Post-war Period 
by David Lehmann.
Polity, 235 pp., £29.50, April 1990, 0 7456 0776 4
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... then under Manuel Noriega (former friend of George Bush), is now firmly back in its control. (As John Major says in the Cambridge History, the Panama Canal has been the ‘outstanding symbol of Washington’s power to dominate the weaker states of the hemisphere’.) It still exercises direct colonial rule over Puerto Rico (an ‘unincorporated ...

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 disarmingly reminds us, there is worse literary company than Lovecraft, Leiber, Bloch, Matheson and Jackson. ‘I could, for example, be an “important” writer like Joseph Heller and publish a novel every seven years or so, or a “brilliant” writer like John Gardner and write obscure books for bright academics who eat macrobiotic foods and drive old Saabs with faded but still legible GENE McCARTHY FOR PRESIDENT stickers on the rear bumpers ...

Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 245 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780224017909
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No Country For Young Men 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1308 8
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The Girl Green as Elderflower 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 150 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 9780436497315
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The Sending 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7181 1872 3
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... day, the fable goes, it occurs to the Providers, who control their destinies, to arrange for the King of militaristic Zone Four to marry the Queen of gentle, intuitive Zone Three, and then in due course to marry the wild, anarchic Queen of Zone Five. These moves carry the suggestion of a game of chess, and they don’t indeed have any very subtle or original ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: King Charles the Martyr, 21 February 2019

... fond of bogus erudition – the Brexit white paper was, he said, ‘the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Philip II at Le Goulet in 1200’ – and he must have enjoyed expressing his hope that it would ‘not be necessary for Her Majesty’s stay at Sandringham to be interrupted by her in person having to prorogue ...

Hoo sto ho sto mon amy

Maurice Keen: Knightly Pursuits, 15 December 2005

A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry 
by Geoffroi de Charny, translated by Elspeth Kennedy.
Pennsylvania, 117 pp., £10, May 2005, 0 8122 1909 0
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The Master of Game: The Oldest English Book on Hunting 
by Edward, Duke of York.
Pennsylvania, 302 pp., £14.50, September 2005, 0 8122 1937 6
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... French defeat at Crécy (a battle he was lucky to miss), he was taken into the royal council of King Philip VI. With the next king, John II, who ascended the French throne in 1350, he came to be on very close terms. He was one of the Knights of the Order of the Star, founded by ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... John Taylor, the journalist, newspaper editor and poet, was born in 1757. His grandfather, the legendary ‘Chevalier’ Taylor, had been oculist to George II, and afterwards, so his grandson assures us, to ‘every crowned head in Europe’. He was as famous for his womanising as for his knowledge of ophthalmology, but most famous, perhaps, for his habit of prefacing every operation he performed with a long speech in praise of his own skill, composed in what he claimed was ‘the true Ciceronian’, with each main verb cunningly held back to the end of the sentence ...

Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... their families to the coast. The inspiration behind the scheme was George Lansbury, the subject of John Shepherd’s biography, a book as meticulous as it is generous. It is nonetheless timely: just as the prison service has brown-filled this pleasant site, so, too, New Labour has trampled on the radical socialism of which Lansbury was one of the finest ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... athletes in white flannels. Even the commentators are pros (some of them, like Cliff Drysdale and John McEnroe, excellent ones). In nearly every way tennis has become an alienated, albeit highly lucrative profession rather than a sport. The game’s most flamboyant and most gifted practitioner, Andre Agassi, has earned fabulous sums as an endorser of various ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII, 26 April 2012

Winter KingThe Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... Harrison told not one but two stories about Henry VII. ‘As the report goeth’, he wrote, the king had had all the mastiffs in England put to death because ‘they durst presume to fight against the lion, who is their king and sovereigne’. And again, ‘as some saie’, the king had ...

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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... 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 the portrait is viewed under infrared reflectography, the ...

Take a tinderbox and go steady with your canoe

John Bossy: Jesuits, 20 May 2004

The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories 
by Jonathan Wright.
HarperCollins, 334 pp., £20, February 2004, 0 00 257180 3
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... but I can’t quite see a Jesuit pulling off something similar – though on a smaller scale John O’Malley’s The First Jesuits (1993) isn’t a bad shot. I’m struck by the fact that the most powerful contribution made by an English historian to Jesuit history, Outram Evennett’s Spirit of the Counter-Reformation (1968) was written by a person who ...

A Tall Stranger in Hoxton

John Bossy, 3 July 1997

The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... In the spring of 1604, the English were adjusting to the arrival of King James from Scotland, attending to the doings of his first Parliament, and awaiting the arrival of envoys from the King of Spain to negotiate an end to twenty years of war. Peace, even with the Scots, was in the air ...

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell, 16 April 2020

Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820 
by Thomas Keymer.
Oxford, 352 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 19 874449 8
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... us in Justice rival ancient ROME;/Let NERO’s Vices meet with NERO’s Doom,/And speed’ly call King JAMES from Exile Home.’ Cookson spent a winter in Newgate Prison.Using a loathed historical or literary figure as a stand-in for an unpopular contemporary one was a favourite trick of early modern writers who wanted to print sedition and get away with it ...

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