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His Father’s Children

Sissela Bok, 5 April 1984

Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. Vol. I: Autobiography and Literary Essays 
edited by John Robson and Jack Stillinger.
Toronto, 766 pp., £35, March 1982, 0 7100 0718 3
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... author of The History of British India.’ The father-author thus announced at the beginning of John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography dominated his life from early childhood on. Did he in any sense author his son’s life as he authored his books? John Stuart Mill wrote his own Life in large part to work out an answer to ...

John Stuart Mill’s Forgotten Victory

Alasdair MacIntyre, 16 October 1980

An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy 
by John Stuart Mill, edited by J.M. Robson.
Routledge, 625 pp., £15.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0178 9
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... great traditions of philosophy ... Sometimes he would wander into irrelevant invectives against John Stuart Mill, who in a footnote had once referred to Bowen ... as ‘an obscure American’. It was Bowen who twenty years earlier had within two years of Mill’s publishing the Examination instituted an elective course at Harvard entirely devoted to it. In ...

Cambridge Theatre

Donald Davie, 19 August 1982

Swansongs 
by Sue Lenier.
Oleander Press, 80 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 9780906672044
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Collected Poems 
by Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 351 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 10573 4
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Devotions 
by Clive Wilmer.
Carcanet, 63 pp., £3.25, June 1982, 0 85635 359 0
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... when they have been the intimidated colleagues of the late F.R. Leavis. ‘Unashamedly,’ says John Rathmell of Christ’s College, ‘a lyric and romantic poet in the tradition of Blake and Shelley’, thus grossly maligning both Blake and Shelley. (‘Unashamedly’, however, is correct.) Either the Times or the Telegraph had advance knowledge of the ...

Goethe In Britain

Rosemary Ashton, 19 March 1981

Goethe’s Plays 
translated by Charles Passage.
Benn, 626 pp., £12.95, July 1980, 0 510 00087 8
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The Classical Centre: Goethe and Weimar 1775-1832 
by T.J. Reed.
Croom Helm, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1979, 0 85664 356 4
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Goethe on Art 
translated by John Gage.
Scolar, 251 pp., £10, March 1980, 0 85967 494 0
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The Younger Goethe and the Visual Arts 
by W.D. Robson-Scott.
Cambridge, 175 pp., £19.50, February 1981, 0 521 23321 6
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... a conscious programme to fill a cultural vacuum. Lessing and Herder consciously played the part of John the Baptist, and Herder, for one, recognised in Goethe the fulfilment of the prophecy. But the picture is not quite so clear and simple as this may suggest. If Reed is right to associate Classicism with ‘ideas of literary status and authority’, ‘ages ...

Charles and Alfred

J.I.M. Stewart, 17 December 1981

Studies in Tennyson 
edited by Hallam Tennyson.
Macmillan, 229 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 27884 4
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... of the most perfect poems in the language. What is puzzling about it is its perfection. As W.W. Robson observed in an essay published 11 years ago, ‘there is a radical discrepancy between the strenuousness aspired to, and the medium in which the aspiration is expressed.’ But precisely in this the magic of the poem inheres. Professor ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... Harding, L.G. Salingar, Peter Ure, Ian Watt, J.C. Maxwell, L.C. Knights, D.J. Enright, Roy Strong, John Broadbent, Arthur Humphreys, Philip Collins, Pat Rogers, D.W. Jefferson and John Preston. What is disturbing is that everyone made his reputation elsewhere, often in the format which is properly Leavisian, the ...

He shoots! He scores!

David Runciman: José Mourinho, 5 January 2006

Mourinho: Anatomy of a Winner 
by Patrick Barclay.
Orion, 210 pp., £14.99, September 2005, 0 7528 7333 4
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... own presence may have been to that initial success. Ramsey, Busby, Shankly, Revie, Stein, Clough, Robson, Dalglish, Graham, now Ferguson, and possibly Wenger too: the careers of the great managers, like those of politicians, tend to end in tragedy, or at least in bitter disappointment, as they cling on for too long. Mourinho believes not only that he ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Watching the World Cup, 12 July 1990

... about names – he has been known to refer to Liam Brady as ‘Ian’, to Paul McGrath as ‘John’, and during the World Cup described Egypt’s best players as ‘the boy with the beard, the dark lad who played in midfield, the sweeper, the goalkeeper, the little dark lad who played in midfield and the very coloured one’. Political pressure from the ...

Redesigning Cambridge

Sheldon Rothblatt, 5 March 1981

Cambridge before Darwin: The Ideal of a Liberal Education 1800-1860 
by Martha McMackin Garland.
Cambridge, 196 pp., £14.50, November 1980, 0 521 23319 4
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... Network’ – men like William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, Charles Babbage, George Airy, John Herschel and John Henslow. Some half-dozen pieces on the Cambridge Apostles, not the oldest but certainly the longest-lived of student secret societies, have made readers familiar with a whole generation of ...

Being two is half the fun

John Bayley, 4 July 1985

Multiple Personality and the Disintegration of Literary Character 
by Jeremy Hawthorn.
Edward Arnold, 146 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 7131 6398 4
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Doubles: Studies in Literary History 
by Karl Miller.
Oxford, 488 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 9780198128410
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The Doubleman 
by C.J. Koch.
Chatto, 326 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780701129453
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... Tieck, who coined the phrase ‘romantic irony’ for the artistic apprehension of human duality; John Paul Richter, who invented the term ‘doppelgänger’; Schlegel, for whom, as for Coleridge, Shakespeare was a Proteus, and who wrote that dualism ‘is rooted so deeply in our consciousness that even when we are, or at least think ourselves, alone, we ...

The Price of Pickles

John Lanchester: Planet Wal-Mart, 22 June 2006

The Wal-Mart Effect: How an Out-of-Town Superstore Became a Superpower 
by Charles Fishman.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £12.99, May 2006, 0 7139 9825 3
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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price 
directed by Robert Greenwald.
November 2005
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... and attended the state university, then gone on to a clerical job during the war. He married Helen Robson, borrowed some money from her lawyer-banker father, then opened his Ben Franklin ‘variety store’. The life-changing pair of panties appeared in a list of goods sold by a garment-industry middleman in New York. The pants were ‘two-barred, tricot satin ...

Hail, Muse!

Seamus Perry: Byron v. Shelley, 6 February 2003

The Making of the Poets: Byron and Shelley in Their Time 
by Ian Gilmour.
Chatto, 410 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 7110 3
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Byron and Romanticism 
by Jerome McGann.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £47.50, August 2002, 0 521 80958 4
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... precedence. ‘His Lordship affected more aristocracy than befitted his years or the occasion,’ John Galt thought, and Hazlitt agreed: ‘He may affect the principles of equality, but he resumes his privilege of peerage, upon occasion.’ Gilmour is nearer the mark to see in Byron’s touchiness and bumptiousness not the toff reverting to type, but rather a ...

Snarling

Frank Kermode: Angry Young Men, 28 November 2002

The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 7139 9532 7
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... when the whole company of Angry Young Men was assembled. Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and John Wain knew one another at Oxford, but had little to do with autodidacts like Colin Wilson, John Osborne and Alan Sillitoe – this last name less often mentioned in this context than might have been expected, doubtless ...

The Power of Des

Ian Hamilton: The screen rights to English Premier League Football, 6 July 2000

... Saturdays, so as to catch the kiddies before bedtime, or clubtime, or drugtime, or whatever, but John Birt’s non-sporting apparatchiks kept on shoving the show further and further towards midnight. And Des was cross, too, about the BBC’s failure to secure the rights to various big games – internationals, FA cup ties, European Champions League fixtures ...

Born of the age we live in

John Lanchester, 6 December 1990

Stick it up your punter! The Rise and Fall of the ‘Sun’ 
by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 434 12624 1
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All played out: The True Story of Italia ’90 
by Pete Davies.
Heinemann, 471 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 434 17908 6
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Gazza! A Biography 
by Robin McGibbon.
Penguin, 204 pp., £3.99, October 1990, 9780140148688
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... the World Cup. Davies is good on Gascoigne’s impact on the tournament and on much else. Bobby Robson turns in a brilliant comic cameo as himself, with an especially lyrical passage about Terry Butcher: We have very white hot nights, the tension is white hot, the hysteria, the volatile, hostile atmosphere away from home – you can come up and feel it and ...

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