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Splenditello

Stephen Greenblatt, 19 June 1986

Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy 
by Judith Brown.
Oxford, 214 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 503675 1
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... to solicit my expert opinion was Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith Brown, a social historian at Stanford University. The Times was particularly interested, the reporter explained, because another book about lesbian nuns in contemporary America had recently been published and was promptly banned from sale in ...

Enemies of Hindutva

Tariq Ali: The BJP defeat, 8 July 2004

Nehru: A Political Life 
by Judith Brown.
Yale, 407 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 300 09279 2
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Nehru 
by Benjamin Zachariah.
Routledge, 336 pp., £10.99, April 2004, 9780415250177
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... in Uttar Pradesh, a virtual certainty. Is it possible to say anything new about Jawaharlal Nehru? Judith Brown’s study, factually repetitive and analytically anorexic, is disappointingly conventional. Benjamin Zachariah’s book is far more useful, placing its subject in the international context of his times. The founding father of modern India was ...

A Visit to Reichenau

John Barton, 14 June 1990

The Formation of Christendom 
by Judith Herrin.
Fontana, 533 pp., £9.99, September 1989, 0 00 686182 2
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... Despite its enormous learning, Judith Herrin’s work is marked by small personal touches which humanise the intricate story it tells. In an Afterword, she recalls a visit to Reichenau, which will ring bells for anyone who has visited the great monastic centres there and elsewhere around Lake Constance. In this small, quiet, sunny spot in the foothills of the Alps all the sources of Carolingian culture, both literary and artistic, had been concentrated by the mid-ninth century ...

And That Rug!

Michael Dobson: Images of Shakespeare, 6 November 2003

Shakespeare’s Face: The Story behind the Newly Discovered Portrait 
by Stephanie Nolen.
Piatkus, 365 pp., £18.99, March 2003, 0 7499 2391 1
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Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions 
by Stephen Orgel.
Palgrave, 172 pp., £25, August 2003, 1 4039 1177 0
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Shakespeare in Art 
by Jane Martineau et al.
Merrell, 256 pp., £29.95, September 2003, 1 85894 229 2
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In Search of Shakespeare 
by Michael Wood.
BBC, 352 pp., £20, May 2003, 9780563534778
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... late Elizabethan doublet with an unusual semi-transparent lace collar. He has fashionably shortish brown hair, a fairly high forehead, bags under his eyes as if he hasn’t been sleeping well lately, and a lightweight, almost fluffy beard and moustache. The top right-hand corner of the painting gives a date – 1603, perfectly consonant with the clothes, the ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: Caravaggio, 8 February 2001

... at the turn of the 16th century, drove the stream of invention into furious eddies. Beverly Louise Brown, who edited the catalogue – seven of the 11 contributors are women: it seems proper that the critical eye cast on what is on the whole male peacocking should be female – cites a description of the atmosphere in Rome around 1604 from Karel van Mander’s ...

The Old Feudalist

D.A.N. Jones, 3 July 1986

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass 
by Karen Blixen.
Penguin, 351 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 008533 5
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Out of Africa 
by Karen Blixen.
Century, 288 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1016 2
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Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen 
by Judith Thurman.
Penguin, 511 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 9780140096996
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... the unsurprising movie was ‘based’ on this book. What it is really based on (very loosely) is Judith Thurman’s workmanlike biography of the Baroness, Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen, which Penguin Books has happily reissued, with a picture of ogling film stars on the cover. Judith Thurman was Associate Producer ...

The Straight and the Bent

Elaine Showalter, 23 April 1992

Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault 
by Jonathan Dollimore.
Oxford, 388 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 19 811225 4
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Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories 
by Diana Fuss.
Routledge, 432 pp., £40, March 1992, 0 415 90236 3
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... of sexual oppositions and identity politics. Feminist theorists including Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Marjorie Garber and Diana Fuss have called for more fluid work on questions of sexual difference which will address what Butler calls ‘gender trouble’. A number of recent studies focus on the radical potential of figures or practices at the ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... A new history of the British Empire might be expected to concern itself with such issues as the construction of military dictatorship through the imposition of martial law; the violent seizure and settlement of land; the genocidal destruction of indigenous peoples (and their culture and environment); the establishment of what is now called ‘institutional racism’; and the continuing coercion and induced movement of labour ...

No wonder it ached

Dinah Birch: George Eliot, 13 May 1999

The Journals of George Eliot 
edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston.
Cambridge, 447 pp., £55, February 1999, 0 521 57412 9
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George Eliot: The Last Victorian 
by Kathryn Hughes.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 85702 420 6
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... it), and some in Gordon Haight’s magisterial work as editor and biographer. Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston have now provided a very welcome and complete edition of all the diaries and journals, covering the years between Eliot’s union with Lewes in 1854, when she was 35, and her death in 1880. Only around a quarter of this text has not previously ...

At the V&A

Jenny Turner: Ballgowns, 5 July 2012

... were and in a weird way, loved. ‘The family provides the central structure of identification,’ Judith Williamson wrote in an essay on ‘Royalty and Representation’ in the 1980s. ‘They are at once like us and not like us … The ordinary held up for everyone to see.’ The dress that really made me gasp, though, was an off-the-peg number in mustard ...

A Blizzard of Tiny Kisses

Clive James, 5 June 1980

Princess Daisy 
by Judith Krantz.
Sidgwick, 464 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 283 98647 6
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... remains unread not because he is bad but because he is flat. On the evidence of Princess Daisy, Judith Krantz deserves her high place in the best-seller lists. This is the second time she has been up there. The first time was for a book called Scruples, which I will probably never get around to reading. But I don’t resent the time I have put into reading ...

Diary

Nicolas Freeling: On Missing the Detective Story, 11 June 1992

... Chesterton’s purple rhetoric and detect metaphysical value in the mannerist posturings of Father Brown. But it’s a rarity. As Hanaud says, ‘I deal with very great matters, the liberties and lives of people who have just that one life in that one body.’ Mrs Lassiter is a suburban housewife whose daydreams take the form of self-pity at her own arrested ...

Travelling Southwards

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, 19 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey 
by E.L. James.
Arrow, 514 pp., £7.99, April 2012, 978 0 09 957993 9
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... could be a soldier or a doctor or, heaven help us, a priest. But in the age of Jilly Cooper and Judith Krantz he had better be a polo player. Work is for pigs, and anyone without enough money to coat themselves in leisure had no place in a Krantz novel. There was something nouveau about the new bonkbusters that perfectly suited the times. A point made by ...

Faces of the People

Richard Altick, 19 August 1982

Physiognomy in the European Novel: Faces and Fortunes 
by Graeme Tytler.
Princeton, 436 pp., £19.10, March 1982, 0 691 06491 1
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A Human Comedy: Physiognomy and Caricature in 19th-century Paris 
by Judith Wechsler.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £18.50, June 1982, 0 500 01268 7
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... that the novelists often availed themselves of single traditional physiognomic correspondences: brown or black eyes are the sign of physical or moral strength; blue eyes belong to gentle characters; ‘strong characters are almost always dark-haired’ while ‘fair hair is often assigned to characters of an essentially gentle nature’ although it is ...

Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS, 21 April 2005

Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... and Democracy’ in his wonderfully measured new collection, Dennis Thompson quotes Judith Shklar, who described the politics of anti-hypocrisy as an ‘unending game of mutual unmasking’, in which everyone is bound to lose. Because democracy is a system of government that institutionalises distrust, as the price we pay for handing over so ...

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