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A Magazine of Wisdom

Linda Colley, 4 September 1997

Edmund Burke: A Life in Caricature 
by Nicholas Robinson.
Yale, 214 pp., £30, October 1996, 0 300 06801 8
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. III: Party, Parliament and the American War 1774-80 
edited by Warren Elofson and John Woods.
Oxford, 713 pp., £75, September 1996, 0 19 822414 1
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Edmund Burke and India: Political Morality and Empire 
by Frederick Whelan.
Pittsburgh, 384 pp., £39.95, December 1996, 0 8229 3927 4
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... as a ‘magazine of wisdom’, as Gladstone put it. They are not Burke. One of the strengths of Nicholas Robinson’s highly original and attractive survey is that it conveys the controversial, fallible man rather than the icon, the way that Burke struck irreverent observers in his own time, over time. The British Museum possesses 293 satires of Burke ...

At the National Gallery

Nicholas Penny: El Greco, 4 March 2004

... John Charles Robinson, perhaps the greatest connoisseur Britain has ever known, was turned down on four occasions for the post of director of the National Gallery. He was thought to be too closely associated with the trade (‘little better than a dealer’), and was known to have operated with scant respect for officialdom when employed by the South Kensington museum ...

Journey to Arezzo

Nicholas Penny: The Apotheosis of Piero, 17 April 2003

Piero della Francesca 
by Roberto Longhi, translated by David Tabbat.
Sheep Meadow, 364 pp., £32.50, September 2002, 1 878818 77 5
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... the National Gallery. Piero della Francesca was a figure of special interest for both John Charles Robinson, an agent for South Kensington as well as for private collectors, and Charles Eastlake, the first director of the National Gallery, because of the extreme rarity of his portable pictures. There was only one work by him in any public – or indeed any ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby, 9 February 1995

Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... had been founded as a haven by and for outsiders. In 1917 the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, dismissed several professors for protesting against America’s entry into World War One. This precipitated the resignations of two leading historians, Charles Beard and James Robinson, both of whom had ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... imposing a government task force. Not everyone in the new Government was happy, however. Geoffrey Robinson, the Paymaster General, was obliged to resign when it was revealed that Peter Mandelson had borrowed around £400,000 from him to buy a house in Notting Hill. Robinson stayed out in the cold while Mandelson, the man ...

Diary

Julian Girdham: Mansergh v. Arnold, 21 June 1984

... a particularly vitriolic review in the Sunday Tribune by one Martin Mansergh. Mansergh’s father, Nicholas, is the distinguished Cambridge historian, and Mansergh fils (a Protestant) is Head of Research in the opposition Fianna Fail party. ‘Research’ is Fianna Fail code for ‘Northern Ireland’, and English readers will get some idea of Mansergh’s ...

Wordsworth’s Crisis

E.P. Thompson, 8 December 1988

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 306 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 19 812868 1
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... marginalised. A new study was needed, consolidating and reviewing the evidence, and this is what Nicholas Roe offers. He claims no startling discoveries, but he brings together in one place much scattered information and a few new details from Godwin’s papers. His treatment of the tradition of Dissent in Cambridge fills out what Schneider, Chard and others ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... and periodically subject to extreme physical abuse, the Marlowe of the novels, unlike Edward G. Robinson’s insurance investigator in Double Indemnity, is trapped in the dark underside of American life and never acquires the insurance man’s protective armour, his forceful, single-minded menace. But whereas in Woman in the Window Lang directed ...

As read by Ronald Reagan

David Rieff, 3 September 1987

Red Storm Rising 
by Tom Clancy.
Collins Harvill, 652 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 9780002230780
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... basically a book about an undersea chase of the sort that occurs in the books of C.S. Forester or Nicholas Monsarrat: Red Storm Rising is about the Third World War. Not that the theme is in itself a novelty in best-seller-land. Indeed, novels about the Third World War began to appear only a few years after the second one had ended. Reread thirty or ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour, 5 April 2001

Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... Bower has concentrated his efforts on Robert Maxwell and (the intimately connected) Geoffrey Robinson, many more are encompassed by the allegations he raises – it is not just a matter of Peter Mandelson but of Bernard Donoghue, Gordon Brown, Helen Liddell, Alistair Campbell and Charlie Whelan. Stephen Byers and ...

Dun and Gum

Nicholas Jose: Murray Bail, 16 July 1998

Eucalyptus 
by Murray Bail.
Harvill, 264 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 1 86046 494 7
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... if he painted at night it would be with the erratic assistance of a hurricane lamp ... like Robinson Crusoe he could report that he had “managed to achieve almost complete solitude”.’ Fairweather is easy to mythologise, particularly if you envy the lifestyle. Bail peers through a connoisseur’s magnifying-glass – with a sensuous, sharp ...

Cradles in the Portego

Nicholas Penny: Renaissance Venice, 5 January 2006

The New Palaces of Medieval Venice 
by Juergen Schulz.
Pennsylvania State, 368 pp., £61.50, July 2004, 0 271 02351 1
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Private Lives in Renaissance Venice 
by Patricia Fortini Brown.
Yale, 312 pp., £35, October 2004, 0 300 10236 4
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... to establish a collection of historic Venetian glass on Murano; and above all when John Charles Robinson bought ceramics, metalwork, glass and textiles from Venice for South Kensington, the ‘products of the artisan’ were receiving plenty of ‘serious scholarly attention’. As for the ‘full social and historical context’, that was surely what ...

Mr Who He?

Stephen Orgel: Shakespeare’s Poems, 8 August 2002

The Complete Sonnets and Poems 
by William Shakespeare, edited by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 750 pp., £65, February 2002, 9780198184317
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... the young, or the literate classes, or – extraordinarily – the Roman Catholic Church. Thomas Robinson, a lapsed friar, in a pamphlet published in 1622 called The Anatomy of the English Nunnery at Lisbon, described the comfortable life of a father confessor to the nuns there: ‘Then after supper it is usual for him to read a little of Venus and ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... Cunningham’s hands, less so in a Guardian report, ‘The Beowulf at Oxford’s door’, in which Nicholas de Jongh presented the Oxford Medievalists as a force of reaction, Cunningham’s proposal as ‘the spirit of revolt’: ‘his attack is nothing less than the raising of a revolutionary call,’ ‘Professor Norman [sic] Godden, the new Rawlinson and ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... than it might appear to deserve. Before he became a successful SF novelist himself, Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a doctoral thesis on Dick, which was published in 1984. For Robinson the discovery of discoveries, in Dick, is simply entropy, the fact that everything – individuals, civilisations, solar systems – will run ...

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