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Bang, Bang, Smash, Smash

Rosemary Hill: Beatrix Potter, 22 February 2007

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 584 pp., £25, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9560 2
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... that when it was destroyed by bombs during the Second World War she was ‘rather pleased’. Linda Lear suggests, plausibly, that the grimness of Potter’s childhood was exaggerated by her earlier biographers. Certainly it was materially comfortable but it was strikingly austere. The older Potters were affectionate in their way but their social ...
Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 634 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 7139 9236 0
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... a dramatic event, and the conflicts and crises it involved form the climax of the second half of Linda Lear’s excellent biography. One revelation is Carson’s fear that she would be sued. The chemical companies got wind of the book long before publication and, seeing the risk to their hugely profitable government contracts, tried some ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?, 30 April 2009

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... to appear and the largest volume of all, is the work of the general editor, Janet Todd, and of Linda Bree of the Cambridge University Press, which long ago set a standard for editing novelists with its multi-volumed D.H. Lawrence. The extent and minuteness of the labours of Todd and Bree, both in this volume and throughout the series, are almost painful to ...

That Night at Farnham

Anne Barton, 18 August 1983

Homosexuality in Renaissance England 
by Alan Bray.
Gay Men’s Press, 149 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 907040 16 0
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Comic Women, Tragic Men: A Study of Gender and Genre in Shakespeare 
by Linda Bamber.
Stanford, 211 pp., $18.50, June 1982, 0 8047 1126 7
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Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare 
by Lisa Jardine.
Harvester, 202 pp., £18.95, June 1983, 0 7108 0436 9
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... a woman’s tongue being a kind of penis, linked with her sensuality – was, for Jacobeans, Lear’s great moral mistake in the love trial. Presumably Don Pedro, who has just half-jestingly proposed marriage to Beatrice, and been tactfully refused, can congratulate himself on escaping disaster, despite having committed ...

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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... to describe the making of English culture as a national possession. In this respect he supplements Linda Colley’s compelling account of the forming of political and imperial nationhood in Britons (1992), which had room for Hogarth but not for Shakespeare, who was made into one of the nation’s guardian spirits during the 18th century. Brewer shows how ...

Travelling Text

Marina Warner: ‘The Arabian Nights’, 18 December 2008

The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, with Ursula Lyons.
Penguin, 2715 pp., £125, November 2008, 978 0 14 091166 4
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‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context: Between East and West 
edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum.
Oxford, 337 pp., £55, November 2008, 978 0 19 955415 7
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... I found that reading the Penguin edition was like going to a new production of Hamlet or Lear: memory stumbles, because bits are missing, dialogue is transposed, and scenes turn up in different places. Leaving out the story of ‘Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peri Banou’, for example, without a word of explanation, means that we lose the flying ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... more or less influenced manners in England.’ Yet co-existing with this French influence was what Linda Colley has called a ‘vast superstructure of prejudice’, directed generally against Catholics, but particularly Catholics of the French persuasion. ‘It should flatter us,’ wrote the French novelist Fougeret de Montbron in 1757. ‘Every foreigner in ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... is Piltdown Man (supp. fl. four million BC, ‘archaeological hoax’). Then comes Leir or Lear (supp. fl. c.820 BC, ‘king of Britain’), followed by several other equally doubtful types whose inclusion prompts the thought that although subjects must be dead to merit inclusion, there is no equally stringent requirement about having lived in the ...

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