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Religion is a sin

Galen Strawson: Immortality!

2 June 2011
Saving God: Religion after Idolatry 
by Mark Johnston.
Princeton, 198 pp., £16.95, August 2009, 978 0 691 14394 1
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Surviving Death 
by Mark Johnston.
Princeton, 393 pp., £24.95, February 2010, 978 0 691 13012 5
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... Saving God and Surviving Death: MarkJohnston has gone for the double, and I’m tempted to think he has succeeded, on his own terms, many of which seem about as good as terms get in this strange part of the park. I don’t, however, agree with ...
20 December 1979
Poems and Journeys 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 97 pp., £3.90
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Eugene Onegin 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Charles Johnston.
Penguin Classics, 238 pp., £1.50
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... Appearing unannounced in 1977, Charles Johnston’s verse rendering of Eugene Onegin established itself immediately as the best English translation of Pushkin’s great poem there had yet been. It was an impressive performance even to those who ...

The Shoreham Gang

Seamus Perry: Samuel Palmer

5 April 2012
Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer 
by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Bloomsbury, 382 pp., £25, June 2011, 978 0 7475 9587 8
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... quite strong by ‘quaintness’, a powerful and indecorous idiosyncrasy, which is certainly what you see in pictures such as The Magic Apple Tree and In a Shoreham Garden – works, Rachel Campbell-Johnston says in her new biography, ‘of mad splendour’. ‘In a Shoreham Garden’ (c.1830). Palmer has generally been well served by his modern biographers. The landmark in the field is Geoffrey ...

Beastliness

John Mullan: Eric Griffiths

23 May 2019
If Not Critical 
by Eric Griffiths, edited by Freya Johnston.
Oxford, 248 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 880529 8
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The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry 
by Eric Griffiths.
Oxford, 351 pp., £55, July 2018, 978 0 19 882701 6
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... Dante. This was not an output to impress today’s REF bureaucrats. His thinking, and his efforts to describe the intricate working of literary texts, was largely contained in his lectures. Now Freya Johnston, one of his former students, has edited a collection of ten of them, selected from ‘hundreds’. As she explains in her introduction, this was possible because Griffiths, unlike many lecturers ...

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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... as Related in Her Letters and Journals (‘a Reticence in three volumes’, Gladstone called 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 ...

Outfox them!

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Stalin v Emigrés

8 March 2012
Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union 1921-41 
by Michael David-Fox.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, January 2012, 978 0 19 979457 7
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Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-41 
by Katerina Clark.
Harvard, 420 pp., £25.95, November 2011, 978 0 674 05787 6
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Being Soviet: Identity, Rumour and Everyday Life under Stalin 
by Timothy Johnston.
Oxford, 240 pp., £55, August 2011, 978 0 19 960403 6
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Stalin’s Last Generation: Soviet Postwar Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism 
by Juliane Fürst.
Oxford, 391 pp., £63, September 2010, 978 0 19 957506 0
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All This Is Your World: Soviet Tourism at Home and Abroad after Stalin 
by Anne Gorsuch.
Oxford, 222 pp., £60, August 2011, 978 0 19 960994 9
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... many disagreements, lots of tutelary lectures from Stalin, and never anything resembling a blank cheque. Perhaps the same was true of the Westernising intellectuals.The Great Purges of the late 1930s mark a shift in both Clark’s book and David-Fox’s. Many of the Stalinist Westernisers (including Koltsov, Tretiakov and Arosev) were killed, along with Comintern functionaries, German literary exiles ...

Catastrophe

Claude Rawson

1 October 1981
The Sinking of the Titanic 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Carcanet, 98 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 85635 372 8
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Paul Celan: Poems 
translated by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 307 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85635 313 2
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Talk about the Last Poet 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 78 pp., £4.50, July 1981, 0 370 30434 9
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... is given to a somewhat riddling manner, and found Brecht too ‘explicit’. His own ‘inexplicitness’ is not an ornament for the horror but the exact measure of its unspeakability. Sir Charles Johnston, a distinguished retired diplomat, is probably best-known to readers as the translator of the recently Penguined Eugene Onegin, said to be the best English version of Pushkin’s poem. The title of ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Handwriting

8 November 2012
... here. Yet there’s some sense in children pottering up to the workstation before they form their first character. Joined-up writing is not the only way to acquire literacy skills and the mechanical mark inscribed by depressing a key is easier to execute than the sign traced with a pen or pencil. Our predecessors were never faced with the possibility, which haunts the thinking of people like Hamilton ...

Diary

Mike Kirby: Discharged

30 July 2014
... the first generation of air-droppable bombs and warheads, though they were being phased out. They were the direct descendants of Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Real monsters. You saw the Mark 5 and Mark 7 bombs and you knew they weren’t fire-crackers. The Mark 7 was about two and a half feet in diameter, about 15 feet long and weighed 1700 pounds. We didn’t have to assemble the TNT ...
1 August 1985
Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and their Experiences 
by Lewis Coser.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, October 1984, 0 300 03193 9
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The Viennese Enlightenment 
by Mark​ Francis.
Croom Helm, 176 pp., £15.95, May 1985, 0 7099 1065 7
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The Jews of Vienna, 1867-1914: Assimilation and Identity 
by Marsha Rozenblit.
SUNY, 368 pp., $39.50, July 1984, 0 87395 844 6
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... of the period has long been in exile and its politics subjected to benign neglect. The bulk of the scholarly research on both in the post-war period has been in English, as the names of William Johnston, William McGrath, Carl Schorske, Allan Janik, Stephen Toulmin, Andrew Whiteside and John Boyer testify.* There are a number of plausible reasons for this. The first and most obvious is the great ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck

5 August 2010
Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... thing Hugh was on hand to bring his knowledge of the country to bear. Four of the ‘schoolhouse Greenes’, as they were known (to distinguish them from the ‘Hall Greenes’), made enough of a mark on history to merit extended discussion in this book. Raymond, the eldest brother, became a leading doctor and mountaineer, taking part in the 1933 Everest expedition. Graham became a writer. Hugh ...
9 April 1992
... of philosophic explanation in the ruins of empiricism. Davie’s account is classically liberal in his sense of the autonomy of ideas – suggesting the style of that last of the literati, Mark Pattison – but if we reify Scottish wissenschaft with the political history of the place we can go far towards accounting for the power of present intellectual developments. One element of this is ...

Opprobrious Epithets

Katrina Navickas: The Peterloo Massacre

20 December 2018
Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre 
by Jacqueline Riding.
Head of Zeus, 386 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 1 78669 583 3
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... deluded: and pray what is it you are deluded by? – Why, by the truth. On 10 March 1817, hundreds of marchers led by the more militant Manchester reformers – John Bagguley, Samuel Drummond, John Johnston and William Benbow – set off from St Peter’s Field for London to petition the prince regent to dismiss his ministers. The radicals went out of their way to demonstrate their knowledge of legal ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream

23 October 2013
Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... repair. Shortly after Duncan’s death, from kidney failure and heart disease, Gunn wrote that ‘there were many who considered him the best poet we had.’ Three years earlier, Mark Rudman, reviewing Ground Work for the New York Times, had declared Duncan’s long serial poem ‘Passages’ to be ‘among the finest written in our time’. Today neither proposition seems insane ...

Living like a moth

Michael Ignatieff

19 April 1990
The Other Russia: The Experience of Exile 
by Michael Glenny and Norman Stone.
Faber, 475 pp., £14.99, March 1990, 0 571 13574 9
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Inferences on a Sabre 
by Claudio Magris, translated by Mark​ Thompson.
Polygon, 87 pp., £9.95, May 1990, 0 7486 6036 4
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... part in that abduction – are missing from Glenny and Stone’s introduction. The Other Russia will not help us to understand anything about the politics of émigré groups. Better to turn to Robert Johnston’s excellent New Mecca, New Babylon: Paris and the Russian Exiles 1920-19451, which has languished in neglect, just possibly because it appeared from a Canadian university press. Both Johnston and ...

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