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Necessary Bishop

John Robinson, 3 July 1980

Ahead of his Age: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham 
by John Barnes.
Collins, 487 pp., £12.95, November 1979, 0 00 216087 0
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... the inferior evidence’ – in its acceptance, for example, of the early martyrdom of the Apostle John. At other times, its judgment is strikingly uncritical for a trained scientist. Thus, he regards the Didache as primitive (as I believe on other grounds it is) because it ‘appeals especially to the modern Christian humanist’ in that it contains no ...

Out of the closet

Tom Paulin, 29 October 1987

Emily Dickinson 
by Helen McNeil.
Virago, 208 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 0 86068 619 1
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Emily Dickinson: Looking to Canaan 
by John Robinson.
Faber, 191 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13943 4
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Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar 
by Christanne Miller.
Harvard, 212 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 674 25035 4
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Emily Dickinson: The Poet on the Second Story 
by Jerome Loving.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £20, April 1987, 0 521 32781 4
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... that she radically undermines traditional masculine values. In another centenary study, however, John Robinson insists that she is a timeless lyric poet whose work is not ‘centrally representative of women’. Robinson’s refusal to consider Dickinson’s polemical and subversive imagination is disappointing, but ...

Pound and the Perfect Lady

Donald Davie, 19 September 1985

Pound’s Artists: Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts in London, Paris and Italy 
by Richard Humphreys.
Tate Gallery, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 946590 28 1
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Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1909-1914 
edited by Omar Pound and A. Walton Litz.
Faber, 399 pp., £25, January 1985, 0 571 13480 7
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... and thereafter in Italy. Carpenter, predictably, finds the three essayists – Richard Humphreys, John Alexander and Peter Robinson – ‘taking a rather solemn approach to the whole thing’; whereas, he assures us, Pound’s exertions on behalf of these arts partook ‘more than a little of the amiable joke’. Before it ...

At the National Gallery

Nicholas Penny: El Greco, 4 March 2004

... John Charles Robinson, perhaps the greatest connoisseur Britain has ever known, was turned down on four occasions for the post of director of the National Gallery. He was thought to be too closely associated with the trade (‘little better than a dealer’), and was known to have operated with scant respect for officialdom when employed by the South Kensington museum ...

Bereft and Beruffed

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Last Plays, 6 June 2019

Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage: Myth, Music and Poetry in the Last Plays 
by Seth Lerer.
Chicago, 276 pp., £20.50, November 2018, 978 0 226 58254 2
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... the 20-year-old actor Gabriel Spencer instead of being killed by him), but Thomas Middleton and John Fletcher both died in their mid-forties, Francis Beaumont at thirty, while Henry Porter (whose Two Angry Women of Abingdon influenced The Merry Wives of Windsor) may have been still younger when he was killed in a duel by ...

Journey to Arezzo

Nicholas Penny: The Apotheosis of Piero, 17 April 2003

Piero della Francesca 
by Roberto Longhi, translated by David Tabbat.
Sheep Meadow, 364 pp., £32.50, September 2002, 1 878818 77 5
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... and the National Gallery. Piero della Francesca was a figure of special interest for both John Charles Robinson, an agent for South Kensington as well as for private collectors, and Charles Eastlake, the first director of the National Gallery, because of the extreme rarity of his portable pictures. There was only ...

Rongorongo

John Sturrock: The Rosetta Stone, 19 September 2002

Keys of Egypt 
by Lesley Atkins and Roy Atkins.
HarperCollins, 335 pp., £7.99, September 2001, 0 00 653145 8
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The Rosetta Stone: The Story of the Decoding of Hieroglyphics 
by Robert Solé and Dominique Valbelle, translated by Steven Rendall.
Profile, 184 pp., £7.99, August 2002, 1 86197 344 6
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Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts 
by Andrew Robinson.
McGraw Hill, 352 pp., £25.99, June 2002, 0 07 135743 2
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The Man who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris 
by Andrew Robinson.
Thames and Hudson, 168 pp., £12.95, April 2002, 0 500 51077 6
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... better to read the summary expertly given in The Rosetta Stone, or, best of all, in Andrew Robinson’s lucid and well illustrated chapter on hieroglyphics in Lost Languages (whose many line drawings are at once valuable and deceptive, since they make the signs displayed look a great deal easier to identify than they are in the worn and ...

An Attic Full of Sermons

Tessa Hadley: Marilynne Robinson, 21 April 2005

Gilead 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 282 pp., £14.99, April 2005, 1 84408 147 8
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... In 1980, when she was in her late thirties, Marilynne Robinson published her first novel, Housekeeping. Her way of seeing things seemed to have sprung from nowhere and was like no one else’s. The novel won awards, high praise from critics, and the devotion of readers, and it has not been forgotten: its fame has spread in a slow aftershock, passed on by word of mouth, cropping up on lists of the best contemporary novels ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’, 28 January 2010

The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... for an unwieldy and dangerous entity created from ill-assorted bits and pieces. As Charles Robinson notes in his new edition of the novel, such confusion set in soon after the book’s first publication in 1818. In October 1823, at a masked ball in Liverpool, a local newspaper reported: ‘Mr Harris, of Preston, personated (we are ...

Kitchen Devil

John Bayley, 20 December 1990

Emily Brontë: A Chainless Soul 
by Katherine Frank.
Hamish Hamilton, 303 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 9780241121993
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... it is made here; and still more interesting is the hypothesis that Branwell’s trouble with the Robinson family, where he went as tutor to the son, and where Anne was already governess, was not quite what he claimed. Did Branwell invent his fatal passion for Mrs Lydia Robinson, a solid matron nearly twenty years older ...

Doctor No

John Sturrock, 2 February 1989

Journey to the end of the night 
by Louis Ferdinand Céline, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Calder, 448 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7145 3800 0
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La Vie de Céline 
by Frédéric Vitoux.
Grasset, 597 pp., frs 190, May 1988, 2 246 35171 5
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... plotted. It has a love-plot, with a sadistic outcome. Bardamu has a double in the book, called Robinson, who turns up regularly but more or less at random, in Flanders, in Africa, in America and then back in France, and who is Bardamu’s callous tutor in human iniquity: he has no saving graces at all. Yet a girl, Madelon (the name is suggestive: ‘La ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Mrs Robinson Repents, 28 January 2010

... Iris Robinson is, at the time of writing, under acute psychiatric care in a Belfast hospital, after a BBC Northern Ireland documentary revealed that she had, at the age of 59, solicited £50,000 from two property developers to help fund a business run by her 19-year-old lover, Kirk McCambley. She has some experience of the mental health profession ...

Ultimate Place

Seamus Deane, 16 March 1989

Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage 
by Tim Robinson.
Viking, 298 pp., £12.95, February 1989, 0 670 82485 2
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... folklore, flora and fauna, is the book’s subject, it is oddly elusive. Despite the fact that Tim Robinson’s account is the story of a pilgrimage, exhaustively detailed and loyal to every intimation, there is no ultimate moment or place of devotion. The quest is an end in itself, and it is not perhaps a quest for Aran but a quest to which Aran gives shape ...

Double Doctrine

Colin Kidd: The Enlightenment, 5 December 2013

The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters 
by Anthony Pagden.
Oxford, 436 pp., £20, May 2013, 978 0 19 966093 3
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... him in the 1750s. So too, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, agnostic clerics such as John Robinson, the author of Honest to God, David Jenkins, the controversial bishop of Durham, the Scots Episcopalian bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, and the Anglican atheist Don Cupitt belong more convincingly in liberal ranks than with authentic ...

Secret Purposes

P.N. Furbank, 19 September 1985

Defoe and the Idea of Fiction: 1713-1719 
by Geoffrey Sill.
Associated University Presses, 190 pp., £16.95, April 1984, 0 87413 227 4
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The Elusive Daniel Defoe 
by Laura Curtis.
Vision, 216 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 85478 435 7
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Dofoe’s Fiction 
by Ian Bell.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £17.95, March 1985, 0 7099 3294 4
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Realism, Myth and History in Defoe’s Fiction 
by Maximillian Novak.
Nebraska, 181 pp., £21.55, July 1983, 0 8032 3307 8
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... We owe a large debt to the famous chapter on Robinson Crusoe in Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel. Watt really made us use our wits about that novel and forced us to relate it to our most serious interests. Reread after twenty years, moreover, the chapter still has all of its intellectual impact and verve. The trouble is, I now find myself wanting to quarrel with almost every sentence in it ...

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