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Citizens

David Marquand

20 December 1990
Citizenship and Community: Civic Republicanism and the Modern World 
by Adrian Oldfield.
Routledge, 196 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 415 04875 3
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Community and the Economy: The Theory of Public Co-operation 
by Jonathan Boswell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £30, October 1990, 0 415 05556 3
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Encouraging citizenship: Report of the Commission on Citizenship 
HMSO, 129 pp., £8, September 1990, 0 11 701464 8Show More
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... reasons for thinking they can achieve it when so many others have failed are swathed in obscurity and self-deception. Adrian Oldfield’s eloquent evocation of the civic republican tradition and JonathanBoswell’s path-breaking analysis of the links between the values of community and the imperatives of an advanced economy should be read against this background. They exemplify the same tentative ...

Brother-Making

James Davidson

8 February 1996
The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe 
by John Boswell.
Fontana, 412 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 00 686326 4
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... the bourgeois sexual order it is buying a cottage together, not cottaging, that has historically been the more militant gesture for gay men. Likewise books that glorify homosexuals as outlaws, like Jonathan Dollimore’s Sexual Dissidence, have caused scarcely a ripple outside the literary critical lagoon, but when John Boswell, a rather old-fashioned medieval historian, claimed to have discovered ...

Candle Moments

Andrew O’Hagan: Norman Lewis’s Inventions

25 September 2008
Semi-Invisible Man: The Life of Norman Lewis 
by Julian Evans.
Cape, 792 pp., £25, June 2008, 978 0 224 07275 5
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... Until recently, the art of modern biography was too little influenced by the man who invented it, James Boswell, and, even today, many of those who set out to write the lives of authors seem to be led by a suspicion that everything of interest about the subject might already have been said by the subject ...
6 February 1986
Literature and Popular Culture in 18th-Century England 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 215 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0981 6
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Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Studies in Literature and Society in the Age of Walpole 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 173 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0986 7
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Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in 18th-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper 
by Claude Rawson.
Allen and Unwin, 431 pp., £30, August 1985, 0 04 800019 1
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Jonathan​ Swift 
edited by Angus Ross and David Woolley.
Oxford, 722 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 19 281337 4
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... century. Both books are gatherings of essays in which Rogers comes to a culture by asking what people did to pass the time, what they thought about Italian opera, why they were so fascinated with Jonathan Wild, what exactly went wrong in the South Sea Bubble, and why Swift’s Laputa has more to do with money-making gadgetry than with the Royal Society and its proceedings. Rogers’s trust in facts is ...

Cultivating Cultivation

John Mullan: English culture

18 June 1998
The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century 
by John Brewer.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £19.99, January 1997, 0 00 255537 9
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... here is every absurdity of appetite posing as elegance; or, here are the delights and excitements of a fashionable metropolis. Pleasure gardens were real places, visited by Fanny Burney and James Boswell as well as by characters in novels. They were also places of the imagination, whether that imagination was appalled or enraptured. They were the inventions of a society of conspicuous consumption ...

Unhoused

Terry Eagleton: Anonymity

22 May 2008
Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
Faber, 374 pp., £17.99, January 2008, 978 0 571 19514 5
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... might have saved his life. Between the 16th and the 18th century, printers were fined, imprisoned and pilloried for publishing supposedly treasonable works whose authors remained concealed. Being Jonathan Swift’s printer was not a job for the faint-hearted. John Locke fearlessly inscribed his name on the title page of his Essay concerning Human Understanding, but went to great and fearful lengths to ...

A Scene of Furniture

Rosemary Hill: Hogarth

4 February 1999
Hogarth: A Life and a World 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 794 pp., £14.99, September 1998, 0 571 19376 5
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... led only to debt and disappointment, Hogarth was born in Smithfield in 1697. He was unusual among the men who made London culture in his lifetime in being a native – Johnson and Garrick, Smollett, Boswell and Samuel Richardson were all incomers. Uglow makes telling use of Hogarth’s progress across the capital, from Smithfield to Covent Garden, from the city to ‘the town’ and from trade to art ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian

10 September 1992
The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan​ Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... in the World it is very difficult to make out what is going on at all, or why.There are those who took no delight in the sea. Johnson’s views on the sailor’s life are well known, and here Boswell, describing their voyage from Skye to Coll, states that he was ‘quite in a state of annihilation’. Coleridge, going to sea for the first time (he had already written ‘The Ancient Mariner ...

Freaks, Dwarfs and Boors

Thomas Keymer: 18th-Century Jokes

2 August 2012
Cruelty and Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental 18th Century 
by Simon Dickie.
Chicago, 362 pp., £29, December 2011, 978 0 226 14618 8
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... library stamps and personal inscriptions of strong demand among the elite for works of this kind. They were consumed not only by dilettantes or libertines, like Horace Walpole, John Wilkes and James Boswell, but also by landowners, clerics and society hostesses – Hester Thrale, Samuel Johnson’s confidante, owned several jestbooks and comic miscellanies. In this context it becomes easier – though ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: You had better look out

10 December 1998
... theme about power, propaganda and patronage (of which more anon). But I have neither the ambition nor the talent to be a serious chronicler de nos jours. The only time in my life I tried to do a Boswell was after an evening on which Elias Canetti had unexpectedly invited himself to supper with us alone. But when, the following morning, I looked through the notes of his conversation which I’d made ...

Robbing banks

George Melly

25 June 1992
Magritte 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £45, May 1992, 0 500 09227 3
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Magritte 
by Sarah Whitfield.
South Bank Centre, 322 pp., £18.95, May 1992, 1 85332 087 0
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... Inspired by the bourgeois ‘bad taste’ of Magritte’s house in the Rue des Mimosas in suburban Brussels, Jonathan Miller took off into one of his self-intoxicating fantasies. We were there together in the mid-Sixties to make a film for the BBC, and although I had forewarned him, Jonathan couldn’t believe that ...

Taking Sides

John Mullan: On the high road with Bonnie Prince Charlie

22 January 2004
The ’45: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Untold Story of the Jacobite Rising 
by Christopher Duffy.
Cassell, 639 pp., £20, March 2003, 0 304 35525 9
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Samuel Johnson in Historical Context 
edited by J.C.D. Clark and Howard Erskine-Hill.
Palgrave, 336 pp., £55, December 2001, 0 333 80447 3
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... the Hanoverian dynasty or of abjuration of the Stuarts. (There are also a couple of pieces that discuss Jacobite sympathies of the period without much involving Johnson.) The longest piece by far is Jonathan Clark’s essay on ‘Samuel Johnson as a Nonjuror’, which pursues further some of the evidence for Johnson’s true allegiances used in his 1994 book on the Great Cham. The key claim here is that ...
4 August 1988
Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... dirty word that has been banned from the vocabulary of 18th-century scholars. The workings of the Augustan establishment are presented as a perfect image of American business organisation. The Yale Boswell industry, for example, is described as an editorial project ‘on the model of American corporate enterprise’ funded by the Mellon banking fortunes. The American Society for 18th-Century Studies ...

Freaks of Empire

V.G. Kiernan

16 July 1981
Revolutionary Empire: The Rise of the English-Speaking Empires from the 15th Century to the 1780s 
by Angus Calder.
Cape, 916 pp., £16.50, April 1981, 0 224 01452 8
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... rest ‘so long as the meanest cottager in Ireland has a link of the British chain clanking to his rags.’ Calder might have appended to this quotation Dr Johnson’s objection, to the admiring Boswell: ‘Nay, Sir, don’t you perceive that one link cannot clank?’ There was no ‘human reason’, Calder holds, for Ireland not taking a full part in the Industrial Revolution; and he dwells on lack ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes

26 January 2012
The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... little part in the investigation of crime, and so didn’t figure much in the press. In fiction, however, they were paramount. Here they eclipsed outlaw heroes of folk tradition – Dick Turpin, Jonathan Wild, Dick Sheppard – and usurped the leadership of the police in the fight against delinquency and disorder. The prolific Stephen Knight has calculated that Sherlock Holmes had at least 13 ...

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