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Canterbury Tale

Charles Nicholl, 8 December 1988

Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury 
by William Urry, edited by Andrew Butcher.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 571 14566 3
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John Weever 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 134 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 7190 2217 7
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Rare Sir William Davenant 
by Mary Edmond.
Manchester, 264 pp., £27.50, July 1987, 9780719022869
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... only five survived childhood. Christopher was the eldest son, and after the death of his sister Mary in 1568, the eldest child in the family. His father was ‘rowdy, quarrelsome, awkward, improvident, busy, self-assertive and too clever by half’, in Urry’s estimate. He appears often in the local records, sometimes in positions of minor responsibility ...

Plays for Puritans

Anne Barton, 18 December 1980

Puritanism and Theatre 
by Margot Heinemann.
Cambridge, 300 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 521 22602 3
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John Webster: Citizen and Dramatist 
by M.C. Bradbrook.
Weidenfeld, 205 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 297 77813 7
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... history. Nonetheless, it is striking how central the research done by Miss Heinemann – and by Mary Edmond, the genealogist who in 1976 uncovered the basic facts about Webster’s family and livery company connections – is to Professor Bradbrook’s latest book. The first half of John Webster attempts to provide a context for the citizen-poet in ...

Picture in Little

Charles Nicholl: Hilliard’s Trajectory, 19 December 2019

Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist 
by Elizabeth Goldring.
Yale, 337 pp., £40, February 2019, 978 0 300 24142 6
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... however. His family were staunchly Protestant, and during the turbulent Catholic ascendancy under Mary Tudor they sent him to the Continent. At the age of about ten he arrived in Calvinist Geneva, where he spent two years in the household of John Bodley, an Exeter merchant. From this experience he gained a good knowledge of French, an early familiarity with ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... not ‘brown’, John Carey crisply noted that, if Emilia was Italian, Rosaline was French, and Mary Edmond established the true name of Lanier’s husband: Alfonso. In the new text only ‘Will in overplus’ has Burgess-like prominence: ‘will to boot’, confidently declared an allusion to William Lanier in Rowse’s second edition, dwindles to a ...

Not in a Box

Julian Barnes: Mary Cassatt as Herself, 26 April 2018

Mary Cassatt, une impressioniste americaine a Paris 
Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, until 23 July 2018Show More
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... up against a giant bassoon, the next swirling round a ballerina dans les coulisses. Whereas Mary Cassatt, in paint as in person, was restricted to the view from the loge. This is what her painting In the Loge shows: a woman in black sitting in a theatre box, holding a fan, leaning on the balcony rail and training her opera glasses on the ...

Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb: Thomas Chatterton, 20 September 2001

Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture 
by Nick Groom.
Palgrave, 300 pp., £55, September 1999, 0 333 72586 7
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... the waste of beauty and genius. The autodidact poets discussed by Bridget Keegan – Ann Yearsley, Mary Robinson, Henry Headley and later John Clare – were all of one mind about this. Chatterton, they thought, had died by his own hand in poverty and despair, neglected by the metropolitan world. Michael Suarez’s account here shows that Chatterton’s ...

Men’s Honour, Women’s Lives

Peter Burke, 6 March 1986

Trial by Impotence: Virility and Marriage in Pre-Revolutionary France 
by Pierre Darmon, translated by Paul Keegan.
Chatto, 234 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 9780701129149
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The Boundaries of Eros: Sex, Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice 
by Guido Ruggiero.
Oxford, 223 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 19 503465 1
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The Tuscans and their Families: A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427 
by David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber.
Yale, 404 pp., £32, March 1985, 0 300 03056 8
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Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy 
by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 338 pp., £25.50, September 1985, 0 226 43925 9
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French Women in the Age of Enlightenment 
edited by Samia Spencer.
Indiana, 429 pp., $35, November 1984, 0 253 32481 5
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... sense of the problem posed for contemporaries by this kind of challenge to cultural boundaries. As Mary Douglas has observed of a similar case (Corbett v. Corbett, 1971), it is an example of a much more general process by which ‘physical nature is masticated and driven through the cognitive meshes to satisfy social demands for clarity.’ Some historians of ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... member of metropolitan literary circles from an early stage). But for Shapiro the real villain is Edmond Malone. The usual story is that Malone, as he himself claimed, swept away the accretion of anecdote and folklore around Shakespeare, and founded modern empirical scholarship, according to which all statements must be substantiated by reference to ...

Pinned Down by a Beagle

Colin Burrow: ‘The Tragedy of Arthur’, 1 December 2011

The Tragedy of Arthur 
by Arthur Phillips.
Duckworth, 368 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 0 7156 4137 8
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... and performance of Vortigern. But once heavyweight Shakespearean scholars, including the pitiless Edmond Malone, began to cast doubt on the authenticity of the manuscripts, Samuel came under suspicion. He wrote reproachful letters to his son asking for an explanation. When William Henry confessed that he had forged the documents and the play, Samuel didn’t ...

Bodily Waste

David Trotter, 2 November 1995

The Spectacular Body: Science, Method and Meaning in the Work of Degas 
by Anthea Callen.
Yale, 244 pp., £35, February 1995, 0 300 05443 2
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... a physiognomic reading. In his 1876 essay ‘Sur la physionomie’, Degas’s friend and critic Edmond Duranty had argued for the systematisation of traditional ideas about the relation between identity and appearance, then still associated primarily with the Swiss pastor Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801). Degas himself spoke of his ambition to ‘make of ...

My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... and at ease. There are no surviving exchanges with his wife, Frances, or with his sister, Mary, and no letters relating to his time at Wilton House in Wiltshire, where his most important writing was done. Apart from a single letter from Philip to his young brother, Robert, in Oxford, urging him to keep up his studies and promising to send him part of ...

Summarising Oneself

Julian Barnes: Degas’s Vanity, 19 November 2020

The Letters of Edgar Degas 
edited by Theodore Reff.
Wildenstein Plattner Institute, 1464 pp., £150, June, 978 0 9988175 1 4
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... that in the 1890s Faure sold out his entire Degas holdings.In 1884, Degas painted his friend Mary Cassatt, then in her thirties; she was aghast that he made her look twenty years older. Five years earlier, he had begun painting Madame Dietz-Monnin, a rich boiler heiress married to a prominent politician. But their interchange was called off after what ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities, 11 September 2003

Searching for John Ford: A Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... who have to leave their homeland in How Green Was My Valley or wander stateless like Ford’s Mary of Scotland and like every cowboy he put on the screen. The Quiet Man, a sentimental favourite with the Irish, promotes a central myth among tribes of that sort: the myth of the man returning home to reckon with what he is made of. As much a keynote of the ...

Hoarder of Malt

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 7 January 1999

Shakespeare: A Life 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 479 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 19 811792 2
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £11.99, December 1998, 0 7190 5425 7
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... Honan’s sounds at times like a Victorian carol: ‘In early life he must have been the focus of Mary’s very urgently watchful, intense love.’) If Shakespeare’s birthday belongs to a priesthood it isn’t Holy Trinity’s but the threefold local clerisy made up of the Shakespeare Institute, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace ...

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes: Loathed by Huysmans, 2 April 2020

Modern Art 
by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.
Dedalus, 313 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 910213 99 5
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... is clear from his attitude to the movement’s two women painters, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt. Malely, he describes the first as Manet’s pupil and the second as Degas’s – true in neither case. Morisot was one of the founder Impressionists of 1874 and Huysmans barely has an unpatronising word to say about her. The ...

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