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7 February 1980
The Victorian Country House 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 470 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 300 02390 1
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The Artist and the Country House 
by John Harris.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp., £37.50, November 1980, 0 85667 053 7
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National Trust Studies 1980 
edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 85667 065 0
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... I am glad I still have my copy. I am also very glad to have a copy of The Artist and the Country House for, doubtless with an eye to their principal business, Messrs Sotheby Parke Bernet have carried JohnHarris’s research in a heavy and lavish volume with 419 plates – some a little grey, alas, but there are 26 good ones in colour. This may not be the first book on the subject, but it is a ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot

3 February 2011
Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John​ Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... cut’ ever put his hand to a pitchfork, the incident has gone unreported. And yet in Romantic Moderns, her provocative critical survey of English cultural life between 1930 and 1945, Alexandra Harris points to Eliot’s lines in ‘East Coker’ about ‘Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth/Mirth of those long since under earth/Nourishing the corn.’ Harris argues that the poet was ...

Perpetual Sunshine

David Cannadine

2 July 1981
The Gentleman’s Country House and its Plan, 1835-1914 
by Jill Franklin.
Routledge, 279 pp., £15.95, February 1981, 0 7100 0622 5
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... years before. And, since the Second World War, even this Indian Summer has turned to autumn: the creeper has withered and the sunshine faded. The death toll recorded by Roy Strong, Marcus Binney and JohnHarris in The Destruction of the English County House tops nine hundred, and few writers set contemporary novels in country houses as they did only a generation ago. One gratifying consequence is ...

Slapping the Clammy Flab

John​ Lanchester: Hannibal by Thomas Harris

29 July 1999
Hannibal 
by Thomas Harris.
Heinemann, 496 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 434 00940 7
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... cell, the good doctor wakes up: ‘Dr Lecter’s eyes are maroon and they reflect the light redly in tiny points.’ Brrrrr. Is it chilly in here, or is it me? All this happens in Red Dragon, Thomas Harris’s second novel, his first being the, in retrospect, remarkably undistinguished all-Palestinians-are-terrorists thriller Black Sunday. Red Dragon’s back story, as these things are called in ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... Encounter. And so the afternoon wore on agreeably enough, with daring satirical calls for South African port, Chilean wine and so forth. One of the number could never get enough of the joke. This was John Braine, whose special party-trick was the skipping of ironic bits. When he said that England these days was run by the trade unions and the pansies, he meant it. When he went on about treason and the ...
24 January 1991
Animal Liberation 
by Peter Singer.
Cape, 320 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 03018 3
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... whatever for the human exploitation of animals. I was convinced of this principally by reading the path-breaking book, Animals Men and Morals (1971), edited by Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch and JohnHarris. Singer acknowledges his debt to this pivotal work as well as to personal contact with some of the contributors, and his own 1975 book, of which there is now a welcome second edition, is ...
9 September 1993
The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... He was 25 years and four months old, the same age at death as the most famous of all doomed Romantics: ‘Yet we are as the double almond concealed in one shell,’ he broods in ‘Colloquy with John Keats’, going on to predict his own equally untimely demise in harsh demotic terms – ‘Look! My number is up!’ After his cremation at Rookwood Cemetery Ethel opened his trunk and set about ...

Tuesday Girl

Colin Burrow: Seraphick Love

6 March 2003
Transformations of Love: The Friendship of John​ Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 330 pp., £25, January 2003, 0 19 925257 2
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... John Evelyn was a dry old stick – and here that metaphor has an almost literal force, since his first and greatest love was for trees. In Fumifugium (1661) he argued that smoky workshops should be ...
21 November 1991
A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 820224 5
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... Among the illustrations in this book is a painting by John Closterman of the Marlborough family which hangs today in Blenheim Palace. On its right-hand side, as convention dictates, sits the head of the family, John Churchill, at the time of the painting ...
30 August 1990
People of the Black Mountains. Vol. II: The Eggs of the Eagle 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 330 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3564 6
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In the Blue Light of African Dreams 
by Paul Watkins.
Heinemann, 282 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 09 174307 9
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Friedrich HarrisShooting the hero 
by Philip Purser.
Quartet, 250 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 7043 2759 7
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The Journey Home 
by Dermot Bolger.
Viking, 294 pp., £13.99, June 1990, 0 670 83215 4
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Evenings at Mongini’s 
by Russell Lucas.
Heinemann, 262 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 434 43646 1
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... be compared with other century-hopping collections, published just before and just after the First World War. There were Kipling’s vivid stories of Sussex life through the ages, and then there was John Buchan’s The Path of the King, tracing ancestral virtues and vices from a Viking prince to Abraham Lincoln, taking in the depravities of Titus Oates. Even before reading these quite gripping books ...
6 August 1992
Fatherland 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 372 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 09 174827 5
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... A useful maxim for reviewers would be one that encouraged them to relate art to life rather than art to art, or fiction to fiction. In two respects, unfortunately, Fatherland by Robert Harris makes artistic comparisons inescapable. It belongs, first, to that select genre of fiction which deals in the Alternative Present, or in this case an alternative recent past. It is set in 1964 in the ...

Strangers

John​ Lanchester

11 July 1991
Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... other books implicitly hate women. In that sense, it is an attempt to defamiliarise violence between the sexes and alert one to the way violence against women is routinely used in fiction. Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs is a thriller which achieves similar effects of defamiliarisation by avoiding some of the stock themes of the genre, and by embracing others with a convert’s enthusiasm ...

Immoralist

José Harris

1 December 1983
John​ Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed 1883-1920 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Macmillan, 447 pp., £14.95, November 1983, 0 333 11599 6
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... John Maynard Keynes, grandson of the minister of the Bunyan chapel at Bedford, was born into a religious tradition that for two hundred years had stopped its ears against the blandishments of Mr Worldly ...

Babylon

William Rodgers

30 March 1989
European Diary 1977-1981 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 698 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 00 217976 8
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... his congenial social round of lunches (often at his East Hendred home) and dinners continued during his Presidential years. ‘To lunch at the Wyatts at Connock. Clarissa Eden, the Weinstocks and JohnHarris ... the Weinstocks and Clarissa all being surprisingly agreeable.’ ‘Drive to Isleworth and dinner with the Gilmours ... an enjoyable and interesting dinner.’ But if these were sometimes ...

New Man from Nowhere

James Davidson: Cicero

4 February 2016
Dictator 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 09 175210 1
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... one of Cicero’s best-remembered ventriloquies: civis romanus sum (‘I am a Roman citizen,’ the futile phylactery shouted out by Verres’ victims pleading for a stay of crucifixion), recycled by John F. Kennedy with unavoidable bathos as ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’ This great and by no means guaranteed victory against the establishment, as well as the addition of an entire province to his list of ...

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