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The Candidate of Beauty

Alexander Stille: D’Annunzio and the Pursuit of Glory, 2 July 1998

Gabriele D’Annunzio: Defiant Archangel 
by John Woodhouse.
Oxford, 420 pp., £25, February 1998, 0 19 815945 5
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... of a fine new biography, Gabriele D’Annunzio: Defiant Archangel. Perhaps immodestly, its author, John Woodhouse, who teaches Italian at Oxford, says in his Preface: ‘This is the first fully documented biography of Gabriele D’Annunzio in any language, and, within the limits of reason, given the bizarre nature of D’Annunzio’s career, the first ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Football slang, 2 December 2004

... the clichés’. The compilers of this enjoyable sortie into metalinguistics are called Leigh and Woodhouse, the one a Sheffield Wednesday fan, driven to authorship it may be in the hope of taking his mind off the poignant decline in the standing of that pleasingly named old club, the other a supporter of Aston Villa, or the ‘claret and blues’, as some of ...


Zvi Jagendorf: In Jerusalem, 7 March 1991

... is the novel with two of the greatest stay-at-homers in English literature. Mr Knightley and Mr Woodhouse both make staying at home the summum bonum of life, different from all windy ideals in that it is eminently attainable and totally practicable. Going out, says Mr John Knightley, is unnatural behaviour ‘in defiance ...

Denying Dolores

Michael Mason, 11 October 1990

Children’s Sexual Encounters with Adults 
by C.K. Li, D.J. West and T.P. Woodhouse.
Duckworth, 343 pp., £39.95, July 1990, 0 7156 2290 0
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Child Pornography: An Investigation 
by Tim Tate.
Methuen, 319 pp., £14.99, July 1990, 0 413 61540 5
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... It falls into two quite separate sections: the first part, written by Professor West and Mr Woodhouse, reports research into adult males’ recollections of their juvenile sexual encounters with grown-ups, of both sexes, and the second part, by Dr Li, which is more ambitious and novel, centres on a series of interviews with 20 male paedophiles. I hasten ...


John Bayley, 10 December 1987

John Keats 
by John Barnard.
Cambridge, 172 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 521 26691 2
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Keats as a Reader of Shakespeare 
by R.S. White.
Athlone, 250 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 485 11298 1
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... detail and come up with a host of fresh examples and insights. His book makes a good complement to John Barnard’s more general but also innovative study in the new Cambridge introductions to ‘British and Irish Authors’, a high-quality series which includes Patrick Parrinder on James Joyce and John Batchelor on ...

Why always Dorothea?

John Mullan: How caricature can be sharp perception, 5 May 2005

The One v. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel 
by Alex Woloch.
Princeton, 391 pp., £13.95, February 2005, 0 691 11314 9
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... to certain traits often display, in Austen’s fiction, irrepressible resourcefulness. Mr Woodhouse in Emma may be narrowed to a few habits and preoccupations, but he comes alive through his appropriation of topics and events. His ‘gentle selfishness’ is incorrigible; his hypochondria is a business of real, lugubrious improvisation. He can turn ...

Textual Harassment

Nicolas Tredell, 7 November 1991

by Christine Brooke-Rose.
Carcanet, 182 pp., £12.95, October 1991, 0 85635 952 1
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The Women’s Hour 
by David Caute.
Paladin, 272 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 586 09142 4
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Look twice 
by John Fuller.
Chatto, 255 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 7011 3761 4
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... of character in fiction; David Caute harks back to the Sixties and the heyday of radical hopes; John Fuller conjures a world in which stories can still enchant. But these novelists are all, in their respective ways, nervous about the power of fiction to enthrall, and they live on the frontiers of representation, constantly checking their credentials, never ...

A Piece of Single Blessedness

John Burrows, 21 January 1988

Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... smacks of excess. But, compared with Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Jane Austen (1979) and John Halperin’s The Life of Jane Austen (1984), the work under review is in so many ways the best that it deserves to make its mark. The three authors, moreover, approach their subject (or subjects) from quite different directions and differ greatly in their ...


Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street, 3 February 1983

... drink(s) in exchange for a mint copy of Giles Goatboy, or of swopping some multi-volume reissue of John Cowper Powys for a night out on the town. The Chancery Lane idea is (or used to be) that you can sell off review copies for half their published price. The books had to be in really good condition (hence the loving care with which one would sometimes see a ...

Pushing on

John Bayley, 18 September 1986

The Old Devils 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 09 163790 2
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... her characters’ lives were, she liberated us from the tedium they endured and embodied. Mr Woodhouse and Miss Bates are as tiresome as Amis’s Old Devils, but this is transcended, so far as the reader is concerned, by Jane Austen’s ability to make them entertaining. The same thing happens in Patrick Hamilton’s Twenty Thousand Streets under the ...

Maschler Pudding

John Bayley, 19 October 1995

À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... he pursued and devoured in prodigious quantity. Being an invalid, even if a self-made one, Mr Woodhouse’s interest in food in Emma is specially keen. One of his chief pleasures in life is recommending dishes to his friends, such as lightly boiled eggs, but only as they are done by his own housekeeper. Another of his pleasures is sending away from the ...

Yawning and Screaming

John Bayley, 5 February 1987

Jane Austen 
by Tony Tanner.
Macmillan, 291 pp., £20, November 1986, 0 333 32317 3
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... are in real sympathy, and can thus complement one another. In a celebrated inaugural lecture, John Carey suggested nonetheless that the process had gone too far, and that even giants like Empson and C.S. Lewis could be guilty in this way of serious distortions of a text: he instanced a bravura passage in The Allegory of Love on Spenser’s ‘Bower of ...

The Great Fear

William Lamont, 21 July 1983

Charles I and the Popish Plot 
by Caroline Hibbard.
North Carolina, 342 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 8078 1520 9
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Charles I: The Personal Monarch 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 426 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 9780710094858
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The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County 
by William Hunt.
Harvard, 365 pp., £24, April 1983, 0 674 73903 5
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... studies which linked Protestant religious attitudes to the coming of the Civil War. Titles such as Woodhouse’s Puritanism and Liberty or Haller’s Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution pay homage to this tradition. Gardiner, Woodhouse and Haller, in different ways, were showing how Protestant ideals influenced ...

Fat and Fretful

John Bayley, 18 April 1996

Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... rewards might have come from speaking out. Certainly not true. Hartley, like Jane Austen’s Mr Woodhouse, was discomposed when close friends got married; but the amitié was not in the least amoureuse on either side and he always remained on the closest and most affectionate terms with both Cecil and his wife Rachel. There was indeed something Austenish in ...

In Pursuit of an Heiress

Nicholas Penny: Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, 16 June 2016

Letters of a Dead Man 
by Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, edited and translated by Linda Parshall.
Dumbarton Oaks, 753 pp., £55.95, May 2016, 978 0 88402 411 8
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... extraordinary Chinese dairy at Woburn, approached through massed azaleas and rhododendrons, and of John Nash’s elegant gallery in Regent Street with its models and plaster casts – two other buildings that no longer survive. When Pückler retells stories told him by others we begin to suspect that some scepticism might have been appropriate. At ...

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