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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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Red 
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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Leaf-Viewing 
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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... Politic demonstrates that Flynn has developed a poetic register that is admirable in its discipline and economy and that can encompass and evoke a range of themes and moods. The poetic register of LindaFrance 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 ...
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 ...

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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... other titles have appeared under Déguignet’s name: a book of Breton folk-tales, a selection 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 ...
27 November 1997
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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... any intelligent new insights to the task’. By contrast, O’Toole has written a ‘gripping, 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 ...
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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... fêting and feasting on the legend. ‘I have beheld the Weltgeist upon a white horse’: thus Hegel. 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 ...

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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... by combat and the chivalric joust. But the duel proper, a private combat between two men, only emerged 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 ...

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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... travelling, the Masson family took baths together, weighed and monitored bowel movements, and talked 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 ...
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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... sexuality, the family, the body, the senses, the symbols and language of everyday life and ordinary 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 ...

Counter-Factuals

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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... ambivalent than his own thesis. The diary of the Oldham weaver, William Rowbottom, does not suggest 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 ...

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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... success by shifting the public’s attention from the causes of the Revolution to its more unpleasant 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 ...

Wide-Angled

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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... a verdict endorsed by many later commentators, from critics like Carlyle to modern revolutionaries like 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 ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers

7 May 1981
The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda​ Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... theatrical historian. In many ways The Kemble Era is a less ambitious work. On the face of it, the aim is to chronicle the career of the Kembles, brother and sister (the later dynasty is outside Linda Kelly’s scope). However, as the subtitle hints, it is also, in some indeterminate degree, a study of theatrical life in the period. It could also be described as group biography, since the ...
14 September 1989
Namier 
by Linda​ Colley.
Weidenfeld, 132 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79587 2
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Hume 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79592 9
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... neurosis resulted from an arrested fixation in the memory, so, collectively, the pressure of history could exert a crippling hold which only the historian, as therapist, could break. One of Linda Colley’s many triumphs is to encompass the immense complexity of Namier’s personality in such a brief space. Another is to tread with tact over many sensitive areas: the matter of academic anti ...

North and South

Linda​ Colley

2 August 2012
... has always retained significant differences. Moreover, Great Britain (and still more the UK) never 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 ...

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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... biography? In the case of these volumes one obvious reason lies in the period that they cover. They 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 ...

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