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Straight Talk

Mary Beard, 9 February 1995

Marginal Comment 
by Kenneth Dover.
Duckworth, 271 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7156 2630 2
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... say that you once had a wank in 1947.’ Alan Bennett’s remark is quoted with obvious feeling by Kenneth Dover in a late-inserted footnote to his autobiography, Marginal Comment. Someone, he explains, had leaked part of the typescript of his book to the Evening Standard, who, on the scent of celebrity masturbation, had splashed (under the headline ...

Facing both ways

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 19 August 1993

Bisexuality in the Ancient World 
by Eva Cantarella, translated by Cormac O Cuilleanain.
Yale, 284 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 0 300 04844 0
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... World appeared in 1988, and several new treatments of the topic have appeared since then. First, Kenneth Dover published in The Greeks and their Legacy, the second volume of his collected papers, an article in which he put the case against the theory, lately revived, that the favourable Greek attitude to homosexuality derived from a phase of history in ...

Being on top

John Ryle, 20 February 1986

Sexual Desire 
by Roger Scruton.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.95, February 1986, 9780297784791
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Pantheon, 293 pp., $17.95, December 1985, 0 394 54349 1
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Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times 
by Philippe Ariès and André Béjin, translated by Anthony Forster.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 9780631134763
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No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 
by Allan Brandt.
Oxford (New York), 245 pp., £18.50, August 1985, 0 19 503469 4
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by Nancy Friday.
Collins, 593 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 00 217587 8
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... of the erotic life of Romans and Greeks by such ancient historians as Paul Veyne and Kenneth Dover (whose authoritative book on Greek homosexuality Roger Scruton oddly, and without authority, dismisses as ‘trivialising’), but his interest is strictly in the origin of particular kinds of moral scruple, not in the incidence of their ...


Stephen Smith: Make sure you sound British, 22 December 1994

... with our European partners, along the lines of the harmonisation of alcohol duty – something Kenneth Clarke alluded to when making his Budget speech at the first time of asking. Bang would go Dave’s percentage on ESP lager, and the matchlessly marqued Wappenbrau, which he sells for as little as £3.70 for a case of 24 bottles. He is shifting 180,000 ...

Anglophobe Version

Denton Fox, 2 February 1984

The New Testament in Scots 
translated by William Laughton Lorimer.
Canongate, 476 pp., £17.50, October 1983, 0 900025 24 7
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Scotland and the Lowland Tongue 
edited by J. Derrick McClure.
Aberdeen University Press, 256 pp., £17, September 1983, 0 08 028482 5
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... an attempt to rehabilitate Scots. His prejudices, apparent in his annotations and confirmed by Sir Kenneth Dover’s excellent memoir in the Proceedings of the British Academy, were a dislike of the English and a hatred of Catholicism (Anglo- as well as Roman, I suspect). Dover records that ‘he often spoke as if he ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... non-sodomitical same-sex love was deleted from the history of ‘Greek homosexuality’ by Kenneth Dover and David Halperin, as if the fact that a spectacularly homosexualising culture produced some of the most spectacular (but non-sodomitical) lesbian love poetry and has a spectacular (but non-sodomitical) homosexual relationship at the centre of ...


John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold, 19 March 1998

A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... reports!’) when he began it in 1960. The complete Poems, edited, tidied up and annotated by Kenneth and Miriam Allott, were revised and reissued in 1979. A new edition is on the way from Nicholas Shrimpton. Cecil Lang is up to the second instalment of the Letters (despite fierce crossfire from rival scholars in the letters pages of the TLS). Following ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... estates, but forgot to tell the Commissioners that he was a director of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway and an eager speculator in railway shares. To pay for his prodigious share purchases, he intercepted and converted for his own use Church money drafts to the value of nearly a quarter of a million pounds in today’s money. In 1849, he was found ...

Cures for Impotence

James Davidson, 19 October 1995

Foucault’s Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality 
by Simon Goldhill.
Cambridge, 194 pp., £30, January 1995, 0 521 47372 1
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... constructionist treatise, but in a ten-page section on ‘Dominant and Subordinate Roles’ in Kenneth Dover’s normally sober work on Greek homosexuality. Here, at the point where it was perhaps most needed, Dover abandons his painstaking philology, turning instead to pornographic vase-paintings elucidated with ...


Peter Green: Love in Ancient Greece, 8 May 2008

The Greeks and Greek Love: A Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece 
by James Davidson.
Weidenfeld, 634 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 297 81997 4
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... physiological terms.’ Passive homosexuality in fact figures as a stock target for comic insults. Kenneth Dover’s obsession with buggery, both real and metaphorical, in Greek Homosexuality (1978), gave rise to misleading sexual generalisations of the worst sort; but the social realities behind the concept were not pure fantasy. In other words, even ...


Iain Sinclair: At Bluewater, 3 January 2002

... At first, Bluewater provokes such impulses: the transit point becomes a destination. Folkestone, Dover. The same grid of cars. The same concern about getting into the right stream. White cliffs – with visible evidence of wartime activity, tunnels, huts, gun emplacements. Security (discreet but firm). The dizzy sense of not being where you are; exhausted ...

The Fred Step

Anna Swan: Frederick Ashton, 19 February 1998

Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton 
by Julie Kavanagh.
Faber, 675 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 0 571 19062 6
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... Margot Fonteyn once said, explaining what it was like to have Ashton watching her dance. Sent to Dover College at the age of 14, Ashton’s response to a teacher’s request to ‘Turn to page 54 in your geometry textbook,’ was: ‘What’s geometry?’ He claimed that he had been unteachable and got through school by cheating. He blamed his failure to ...

Shandying It

John Mullan: Sterne’s Foibles, 6 June 2002

Laurence Sterne: A Life 
by Ian Campbell Ross.
Oxford, 512 pp., £25, March 2001, 0 19 212235 5
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... post boy gave a crack with his whip--off I went like a cannon, and in half a dozen bounds got into Dover.’ Writing was life itself, realised in the speed of narration. ‘Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen.’ Sterne’s punctuation – those stretched dashes showing the narrator changing his ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... rustics eating crustless Ruskets’; the strip cartoon by Jules Feiffer; the witty reviews by Kenneth Tynan of plays that we had next to no chance of seeing; the house adverts by the subversive estate agent Roy Brooks that my brother read aloud (‘The décor is revolting … rain drips sadly onto the oilcloth … sacrifice £3500’). As Jeremy Lewis ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... was at Holland Park School and had been commended by her teachers recently for a recitation of ‘Dover Beach’. Just across the corridor from the El Wahabis, Helen Gebremeskel cooked supper and her daughter, Lulya, watched a movie. Helen was so proud of her all-white flat with its little prayer room and its deep purple cushions. An asylum-seeker from ...

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