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Love in the Ruins

Nicolas Tredell, 8 October 1992

Out of the Rain 
by Glyn Maxwell.
Bloodaxe, 112 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 1 85224 193 4
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Body Politic 
by Tony Flynn.
Bloodaxe, 60 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 129 2
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by Linda France.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 178 0
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Red-Haired Android 
by Jeremy Reed.
Grafton, 280 pp., £7.99, July 1992, 9780586091845
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by Peter Robinson, with an essay by Peter Swaab.
Robert Jones, 36 pp., £9.95, July 1992, 0 9514240 2 5
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... and economy and that can encompass and evoke a range of themes and moods. The poetic register of Linda France in Red is no less disciplined but more copious and conversational. It enables her both to explore the everyday and to enter more esoteric zones, as at the start of ‘Dutch Interior’: Let’s say this light-filled space is the Netherlands And ...

Napoleon’s Near Miss

Linda Colley, 18 April 1985

Napoleon: The Myth of the Saviour 
by Jean Tulard, translated by Teresa Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 470 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 297 78439 0
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Alexis: Tsar of All the Russias 
by Philip Longworth.
Secker, 319 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 436 25688 6
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... One may be able to take a white horse anywhere: how far Napoleon can still be taken – even in France – is less clear. Up to the First World War, the strength or weakness of Bonapartism was usually a potent indicator of how French men and women responded to their nation. Thus Napoleon’s improved reputation in the 1830s (his body was brought back in ...

The point of it all

Linda Colley, 1 September 1988

The Duel in European History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Oxford, 360 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 822566 0
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History, Classes and Nation-States: Selected Writings of Victor Kiernan 
edited by Harvey Kaye.
Blackwell, 284 pp., £27.50, June 1988, 0 7456 0424 2
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... in the 16th century. There were two reasons for this. First, newly-powerful princes in Italy, France, Spain and England wanted to reduce large-scale aristocratic violence to more manageable proportions, and promoting a cult of single combat achieved exactly that. Secondly, only then did technology allow for the manufacture of light and mobile swords. The ...

Blame it on the French

John Barrell, 8 October 1992

Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 
by Linda Colley.
Yale, 429 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 0 300 05737 7
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... Linda Colley’s new book is an attempt to discover and analyse the ingredients of British national identity as it was forged in the 18th century – ‘forged’ in the double sense of made up (for communities are imagined and imaginary things) and fashioned in the fire of battle. It is also an attempt to recover and understand the patriotism of ‘ordinary British people’, a patriotism she refuses to regard simply in terms of ideology, or as the result, for many, of variously mediated and unmediated forms of coercion, or as a primarily irrational response by the British to the experience of finding themselves members of the new nation created by the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 ...

Sweet Homes and Tolerant Houses

Linda Colley, 16 August 1990

A History of Private Life. Vol IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War 
edited by Michelle Perrot, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 713 pp., £29.95, April 1990, 0 674 39978 1
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Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Harvard, 478 pp., £31.50, April 1990, 0 674 95543 9
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... people: these have been the objects of desire for the most influential post-war historians of France. The tactical benefits of this have been enormous. By its very nature, political history can easily seem highly specific, illuminating the past of one state but very little else. But to the extent that we are all blessed or burdened with ...

Last Farewells

Linda Colley, 22 June 1989

Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution 
by Simon Schama.
Viking, 948 pp., £20, May 1989, 0 670 81012 6
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The Oxford History of the French Revolution 
by William Doyle.
Oxford, 466 pp., £17.50, May 1989, 0 19 822781 7
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The Shadow of the Guillotine: Britain and the French Revolution 
by David Bindman.
British Museum, 232 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 7141 1637 8
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... and violent manifestations. In particular, from Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France onwards, conservatives employed stories of actual or invented human suffering (Marie Antoinette’s plight, for instance) to undermine enthusiasm for any political or social virtues the Revolution might possess. The result, David Bindman writes in his ...


Linda Colley: Global History, 26 September 2013

The French Revolution in Global Perspective 
edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson.
Cornell, 240 pp., £16.50, April 2013, 978 0 8014 7868 0
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... Mao. It has also long been accepted that the revolution was influenced by developments outside France. The central thesis of R.R. Palmer’s Age of the Democratic Revolution (1959-64) was that 1776 and 1789 – along with other late 18th-century upheavals – were linked, and should be treated in tandem. And while Palmer concentrated on white ...


Linda Colley, 1 November 1984

The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism 
edited by Margaret Jacob and James Jacob.
Allen and Unwin, 333 pp., £18.50, February 1984, 0 04 909015 1
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Insurrection: The British Experience 1795-1803 
by Roger Wells.
Alan Sutton, 312 pp., £16, May 1983, 9780862990190
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Radicalism and Freethought in 19th-Century Britain 
by Joel Wiener.
Greenwood, 285 pp., $29.95, March 1983, 0 313 23532 5
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For King, Constitution and Country: The English Loyalists and the French Revolution 
by Robert Dozier.
Kentucky, 213 pp., £20.90, February 1984, 9780813114903
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... that ‘every Briton decided one way or the other’ on the validity of Britain’s war against France and its revolution. It shows that Rowbottom hated the rich and wanted peace, but also that he relished British naval victories and dreaded insurrection at home. Wells’s own examination of those Irish sailors involved in the Spithead and Nore mutinies no ...

Clashes and Collaborations

Linda Colley, 18 July 1996

Empire: The British Imperial Experience, from 1765 to the Present 
by Denis Judd.
HarperCollins, 517 pp., £25, March 1996, 9780002552370
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Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire 
edited by P.J. Marshall.
Cambridge, 400 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 0 521 43211 1
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Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c.1500-c.1800 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 244 pp., £19.95, August 1995, 0 300 06415 2
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... desirably, are her books. Now that imperial history is no longer a monotonal tale of Britain or France or Spain or the Dutch against the rest, but rather a complex saga of the collisions, compromises and comings together of many different cultures, how is it to be chronicled so as to fit between the covers of monographs and become accessible to interested ...

North and South

Linda Colley, 2 August 2012

... sought to operate as a determinedly assimilationist nation state in the way post-Revolutionary France often tried to do. This does not mean the UK can be regarded merely as a multinational state, or (pace some post-colonialist commentators) as an English-constructed empire. Instead, the UK has most closely resembled what the Columbia political scientist ...

A Talented Past

Linda Colley, 23 April 1987

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. I: Survey 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 400 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. II: Constituencies 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 704 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. III: Members A-F 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 852 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. IV: Members G-P 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 908 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. V: Members P-Z 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 680 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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... begin one year after the outbreak of the French Revolution; they include Britain’s wars with France which lasted, almost without a break, from 1793 to 1815; they end just 12 years before the Great Reform Act. At no other time has Parliament experienced such a concentrated amalgam of trial, triumph and sheer, exhilarating talent. No fewer than 13 prime ...

The Guru of Suburbia

Elaine Showalter, 16 December 1993

My Father’s Guru: A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusionment 
by Jeffrey Masson.
HarperCollins, 174 pp., £16.99, August 1993, 0 00 255126 8
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... endlessly about illumination. Jeffrey grew up with a messiah complex, while his mother and sister Linda, about whom we do not hear nearly enough, wrestled with the minor roles for women in P.B.’s spiritual universe. Masson was aware that by the age of four he was ‘being raised as if I were the incarnation of a great Indian yogi’. At 13, he was ...


Linda Colley, 9 July 1987

Richard Cobden: A Victorian Outsider 
by Wendy Hinde.
Yale, 379 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 300 03880 1
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Richard Cobden: Independent Radical 
by Nicholas Edsall.
Harvard, 479 pp., £23.95, February 1987, 0 674 76879 5
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... Crimean War, and to the encouragement of free trade and peaceful co-existence between Britain and France. His private life was as worthy as his politics. He cherished his wife and children, though of necessity he was often absent from them; he attended Anglican church services regularly; and even his quirks and eccentricities were shared by many other ...

To the Manure Born

David Coward: An uncompromising champion of the French republic, 21 July 2005

Memoirs of a Breton Peasant 
by Jean-Marie Déguignet, translated by Linda Asher.
Seven Stories, 432 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 1 58322 616 8
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... of his angry poetry (Rimes et révoltes) and the uncut autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (2001). Linda Asher has now given Déguignet a splendidly faithful English voice: pugnacious, tetchy and opinionated. From the start Déguignet punctures the romantic myth of Brittany, land of dolmens, Arthurian legend and fairies. He regularly went hungry, never had a ...
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Granta, 516 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 86207 026 1
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan: A Life 
by Linda Kelly.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 366 pp., £25, April 1997, 1 85619 207 5
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Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley 
by Alan Chedzoy.
Allison and Busby, 322 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 7490 0264 6
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... carefully composed exploration of Sheridan’s career’. His biography comes hard on the heels of Linda Kelly’s, and it would be comforting to report that O’Toole’s was the rehash, but the Granta puff has it the right way round, while Alan Chedzoy’s life of the first Mrs Sheridan (the noted soprano and beauty Elizabeth Linley) is more boisterously ...

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