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Broadening Ocean

Brad Leithauser, 3 March 1988

Natural Causes 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 57 pp., £4.95, August 1987, 9780701132712
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A Short History of the Island of Butterflies 
by Nicholas Christopher.
Viking, 81 pp., $17.95, January 1986, 0 670 80899 7
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... in this country, though an unfamiliar name to most readers of verse in America. The other, Nicholas Christopher, is one of the most celebrated of America’s younger poets but – I suspect – an unknown figure in England, at least as a poet (his novel, The Soloist, was published by Pan last year). In each case, this disparity in reputation ...

Diary

Christopher de Bellaigue: Getting married in Iran, 5 July 2001

... of Tehran where a bus will pick us up, I feel a mild sensation of dread. My people – my father, Nicholas (brother), Rory (oldest friend), Christina (cousin) and Camilla (relieved ex-girlfriend) – are undeniably different from the Ghezelayagh family and appendages. It would be foolish to expect the two families to bond instantly when the son of a retired ...

Hallo Dad

Christopher Ricks, 2 October 1980

Mr Nicholas Sir Henry and Sons Daymare 
by Thomas Hinde.
Macmillan, 271 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 333 29539 0
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... The last word of the reissue of Mr Nicholas, Thomas Hinde’s exquisitely glum and fearingly funny novel of 1952, is probably a misprint. At least, it is minutely different from the last word in the Penguin book in 1962, the issue which brought Hinde’s consummate first novel to an even more widely appreciative public ...

Dark Tom

Christopher Ricks, 1 December 1983

Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley 1933-1980 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 323 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 28852 4
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Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Fontana, 274 pp., £2.50, October 1983, 0 00 636644 9
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... be, as every son is but momentously more so, the victim-beneficiary of being his father’s son. Nicholas Mosley wanted when young to believe in his father; he moved on to wanting to believe his father; he moved on again to wanting to believe that his father – well, many things, but mostly that his father was not a monster and that his survival into an old ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... a portrait of Glazebrook, he chose to represent him with Hollis’s 1970 catalogue in his lap. Christopher Wilson’s excellent Richard Hollis Designs for the Whitechapel, the final book from Hyphen Press, is not only a detailed analysis of the work of Hollis, with whom Wilson collaborated from 1999 to 2004, but a story of aesthetic and social change as ...

Nicky, Willy and George

Christopher Clark: The Tsar, the Kaiser and the King, 22 October 2009

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One 
by Miranda Carter.
Fig Tree, 584 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 670 91556 9
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... almost to the point of fusion. Wilhelm II and George V were both grandsons of Queen Victoria. Tsar Nicholas II’s wife, Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt, was Victoria’s granddaughter. The mothers of George V and Nicholas II were sisters from the house of Denmark. Wilhelm and Nicholas II ...

Open Book

Nicholas Spice, 4 September 1986

A Simple Story 
by S.Y. Agnon, translated by Hillel Halkin.
246 pp., £13.10, March 1986, 0 8052 3999 5
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At the Handles of the Lock: Themes in the Fiction of S.Y. Agnon 
by David Aberbach.
Oxford, 221 pp., £18, November 1984, 0 19 710040 6
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Snakewrist 
by Christopher Burns.
Cape, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 224 02351 9
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... and its ways, seem simply to have been found, not made. And how simply. These are arts which Christopher Burns has yet to master. There are others, however, of which he already has an impressive command. Snakewrist, a first novel of unusual promise, is far too concerned with getting across a message to sustain over its full length the illusion of ...

Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy, 14 December 2006

Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... Compared to boring old Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, we think, had a short life and a gay one. When not writing his sonorous verse, he was spying, preaching atheism, fighting and getting murdered. Park Honan has done one of the two already, and now has done the other. Coming shortly after David Riggs’s solid, even too-solid The World of Christopher Marlowe, his Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy feels a little lightweight ...

Royal Anxiety

Gabriele Annan, 9 June 1994

The Queen 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 341 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 297 81211 4
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Divine Right: The Inglorious Survival of British Royalty 
by Richard Tomlinson.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 316 91119 4
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... My favourite recent book about the Queen is called The Queen’s Knickers by Nicholas Allan. It is a picture book for small children. The centre spread presents several rows of knickers for every royal occasion: Union Jack knickers for state visits, black knickers for state funerals, tartan for Balmoral, knickers printed all over with corgis for home, and appliquéd with real holly for Christmas, ‘which is why she keeps her Christmas message very short ...

In Praise of Follett

John Sutherland, 16 October 1980

The Key to Rebecca 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 241 10492 0
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Joshua Then and Now 
by Mordecai Richler.
Macmillan, 435 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 333 30025 4
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Loosely Engaged 
by Christopher Matthew.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 09 142830 0
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Imago Bird 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 185 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 9780436288463
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A Quest of Love 
by Jacquetta Hawkes.
Chatto, 220 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 7011 2536 5
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... sweep gives, in passing, thirty years’ worth of social change in Canada, Britain and Ibiza. Christopher Matthew’s Loosely Engaged is a sequel to Diary of a Somebody. For those who are at work by nine o’clock of a weekday morning this information will mean less than it should. For Matthew’s original Diary was a big success in a small way ...

Paintings about Painting

Nicholas Penny, 4 August 1983

The Art of Describing 
by Svetlana Alpers.
Murray, 273 pp., £25, May 1983, 0 7195 4063 1
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... a piece of exquisite pornography by Jan Steen belonging to the Queen (and admirably discussed in Christopher White’s recent catalogue of Dutch pictures in the Royal Collection*). Through the frame we see a woman seated on a bed putting on her stockings. There are some emblems suggesting danger on the threshold or sill, but there is no harm in looking, and ...

Fit for a Saint

Nicholas Penny, 6 April 1995

The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice 
by Peter Humfrey.
Yale, 382 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 300 05358 4
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Italian Altarpieces 1250-1550: Function and Design 
edited by Eve Borsook and Fiorella Superbi Gioffredi.
Oxford, 296 pp., £45, September 1994, 0 19 817223 0
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... we find one of Bellini’s greatest paintings, his late altarpiece of Saint Jerome between Saints Christopher and Louis of Toulouse, which is reproduced on the jacket of The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice. The book opens with a consideration of which elements in this painting were conditioned by its setting. The church interior is illustrated in ...

Ach so, Herr Major

Nicholas Horsfall: Translating Horace, 23 June 2005

Horace: Odes and Epodes 
edited by Niall Rudd.
Harvard, 350 pp., £14.50, June 2004, 0 674 99609 7
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... drunk at the same fountains long before,’ Leigh Fermor explains. In Classics Transformed (1998), Christopher Stray reveals (citing a letter from Leigh Fermor) that they went on to discuss heatedly their rival pronunciations of Latin. That shared culture may actually be dead, and that story’s significance may live on only in the eye of sentiment, but I feel ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens, 28 June 1990

Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... from the laws of libel. (I happen to be travelling in the opposite direction.) More than half of Nicholas Garland’s book is given over to an account of demoralisation and defection at the Telegraph, and the whole of Watkins’s effort is an education in the nightmare of the Queen’s Bench. Garland approaches the relationship between politics and ...

With Great Stomack

Simon Schaffer: Christopher Wren, 21 February 2002

His Invention so Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 463 pp., £25, July 2001, 9780224042987
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... Christopher Wren, England’s best known architect and one of its greatest natural philosophers, experimented with everything: stone and wood, cones and domes, animals and men. He liked to depart from revered authorities. Under his hands plans for a church steeple or an academic hall would turn into a bold revision of Vitruvian schemes, the twitches of an anatomised dog into a startling challenge to Galenic orthodoxy, the motion of a planetary model into liberation from the ‘tyranny’ of ancient astronomy ...

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