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Michael Neve

8 November 1990
The Double in 19th-Century Fiction 
by John Herdman.
Macmillan, 174 pp., £35, August 1990, 9780333490242
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Romanticism and the Sciences 
edited by Andrew Cunningham and Nicholas Jardine.
Cambridge, 345 pp., £40, June 1990, 0 521 35602 4
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Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? 
by Mary Boyle.
Routledge, 248 pp., £35, September 1990, 0 415 04096 5
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... whose exponents were wishy-washy and confused, and realists (Griesinger, Kraepelin) whose realism consisted precisely in their having expunged ‘Romantic’ ideas from their psychology. Part of MaryBoyle’s study of schizophrenia consists in examining quite why the category is used in the way it is: as a taxonomic catch-all that cannot hold, in any useful scientific sense, the varieties of ...
9 May 1991
Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Vol. I: The Poetry of Desire, 1749-1790 
by Nicholas Boyle.
Oxford, 827 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 19 815866 1
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... Not to know Goethe,’ A.W. Schlegel wrote poetically, ‘is to be a Goth.’ Nicholas Boyle begins the preface to Volume One of his biography of the great man by stating, altogether correctly alas, that more must be known, ‘or at any rate there must be more to know’, about him than ...

Making strange

John Sutherland

19 March 1981
Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... subtitled ‘A Mystery Story’, though the blurb somewhat nervously qualifies the description with the term ‘metaphysical’). But Amis is less concerned with reconstituting the mysterious past of Mary Lamb (as she arbitrarily calls herself) than with exploiting her as a centre of deranged consciousness. For Mary the common world is defamiliarised. Thus, for instance, she tackles the telephone ...
23 March 1995
Frameworks for the Future 
Northern Ireland Office, 37 pp., February 1995Show More
Northern Ireland: The Choice 
by Kevin Boyle and Tom Hadden.
Penguin, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 023541 8
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... Just beneath this secular and European veneer dwells the ancestral dark: ‘God Land is in there, deep down. It whispers to us in the watches of the night. Our ancestors, faithful to God and Mary, once held this whole island before the foreign heretic took it from us.’ And they will have it back again come what may. The long-awaited Framework Document for a new Northern Ireland states that ...

Had I been born a hero

Helen Deutsch: Female poets of the eighteenth century

21 September 2006
Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 514 pp., £43.50, January 2006, 0 8018 8169 2
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... shape to my guilty thoughts about the relationship of women – as both critics and poets – to the masculine canon was a drawing, a doodle really, by Dorothy, Lady Burlington, the wife of Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, a great patron of art and architecture to whom Pope dedicated the last of his Moral Essays. Lady Burlington sketched Pope at a game of cards – perhaps ombre (aptly enough, an ...


Edward Pearce

26 July 1990
A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... impressive for what it tells us both about the parent, a model of old, Scottish-shaped Protestant rectitude, and about the son who without affectation loved his father. The account of his second wife Mary is the finest thing in the book. Again the real feelings are out. He loved and was loved by his wife, and in a cruel accident she died. He quotes C.S. Lewis very aptly: ‘Talk to me about the truth ...


Gillian Darley: John Evelyn and his gardens

8 June 2006
... in Paris. A stream of admiring visitors continually went down to Deptford, having negotiated the tricky piers of London Bridge, to enjoy the delights of Sayes Court and the hospitality of John and Mary Evelyn. The king and Clarendon, the lord chancellor, made the journey, so did Henrietta Maria, old Constantyn Huygens from The Hague as well as Louis XIV’s expert vegetable gardener from Versailles ...
30 November 2017
... on occasion, heckled at public meetings by the mothers of his illegitimate children – not unlike William Wilde, who by the time of his marriage had had two further illegitimate children, Emily and Mary, born in 1847 and 1849, who were taken care of as wards by William’s eldest brother, Ralph. (John Butler Yeats believed that the mother of these two girls kept a ‘black oak shop’ in Dublin ...
12 October 1989
Keith Joseph: A Single Mind 
by Morrison Halcrow.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 333 49016 9
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... one year, junior minister after two more, the Cabinet less than three years after that. He was regarded at the time as one of the Tory Party’s brightest hopes for the future. When he and Sir Edward Boyle were brought into the Cabinet by Macmillan on ‘the Night of the Long Knives’, it was with a flourish – the old showman’s theatrical salute to youth and brains. Joseph, as Minister of Housing ...

How to Perfume a Glove

Adam Smyth: Early Modern Cookbooks

5 January 2017
Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen 
by Wendy Wall.
Pennsylvania, 328 pp., £53, November 2015, 978 0 8122 4758 9
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... Food work’, as Wendy Wall calls it, was a subset of the care of the body, and this intertwining is everywhere in the recipe culture Wall describes. Thus the manuscript recipe book of Mary Birkhead from about 1680 now in the British Library (which Wall cites but doesn’t discuss) moves easily between recipes ‘To make Lemmon Cakes’, ‘for a cold a sirup of turnups’, and for ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self

5 February 2004
Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... Dybeck, Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Stone and Amy Tan. Those writers known partly for formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected, engage with the question of how a story convinces us of its reality. This is not to say that the stories Wolff selected were not interesting stories ...
21 August 1997
... that each is able to work without interfering too much with the positive aspects of the other school’s research. First, then, the constructionist attitude to schizophrenia. I take, for my example, MaryBoyle’s 1990 book, Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? Critics like Boyle argue that the criteria for diagnosis of schizophrenia have varied enormously from decade to decade, yet psychiatry still ...

My God, the Suburbs!

Colm Tóibín: John Cheever

5 November 2009
Cheever: A Life 
by Blake Bailey.
Picador, 770 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 330 43790 5
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... But it was torment, crushing torment and frustration. I was caught under the weight of some great door. The feeling always was that if I could express myself erotically I should come alive. Later, Mary Cheever would report that she knew that there was something wrong with her marriage. ‘I sensed that he wasn’t entirely masculine.’ When asked if she discussed it with Cheever, she said: ‘Oh ...

Grail Trail

C.H. Roberts

4 March 1982
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 
by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Cape, 445 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 224 01735 7
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The Foreigner: A Search for the First-Century Jesus 
by Desmond Stewart.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 241 10686 9
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Satan: The Early Christian Tradition 
by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
Cornell, 258 pp., £14, November 1981, 0 8014 1267 6
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... and the Merovingian kings) or men, often famous, whose interest in heterodoxy or the occult is well-known. A few belong to both categories; those in the second include Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo; others, however, are nonentities. The temptation to dismiss the list out of hand is, as the authors agree, almost irresistible. They have, however, succeeded in ...

Reader, he married her

Christopher Hitchens

10 May 1990
Tom Driberg: His Life and Indiscretions 
by Francis Wheen.
Chatto, 452 pp., £18, May 1990, 0 7011 3143 8
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... him is that there is, as Wheen points out disgustedly and in detail, not a shred of supporting empirical evidence for them. None of the pimps for Curzon Street – not Pincher, not ‘West’, not Boyle, not Costello – has ever dredged up more than an innuendo, and even those were third hand and posthumous. Pincher didn’t even bother with the sub-Freudian niceties of an Abse, preferring to sink ...

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