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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.’ NicholasBoyle 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 ...

The Man without Predicates

Michael Wood: Goethe

20 July 2000
Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Volume II: Revolution and Reunciation, 1790-1803 
by Nicholas Boyle.
Oxford, 964 pp., £30, February 2000, 0 19 815869 6
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Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy 
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated by John Williams.
Wordsworth, 226 pp., £2.99, November 1999, 1 84022 115 1
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... to it, and this time I was quite happy to leave Italy.’ Used to his return, he means, and used to the absence from paradise. The words I have just quoted are the last words of the first volume of NicholasBoyle’s biography of Goethe. The date is June 1790, and other things have been happening in Europe, to which Boyle immediately turns in his new book. Germany at this time was far from a nation ...

Deliverance

Daniel Johnson

20 June 1996
The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... in order to demonstrate how a profound impoverishment of literary sensibility might result, for all Jünger’s intelligence, from a conceptual currency debased by moral idiocy. According to NicholasBoyle in his Foreword to The Dear Purchase, when this monograph appeared one of Stern’s older colleagues told him: ‘If you want to get on, do not write this sort of thing again.’ Stern, Boyle ...
7 February 1980
The Climate of Treason 
by Andrew Boyle.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 9780091393403
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... The worst that can happen now is abuse by newspapers, and that will only hasten the process of reconciliation with his friends. Newspapers are ‘they’ and we, after all, are ‘we’. As Andrew Boyle relates, it turned out that a great many old acquaintances of Burgess and Maclean were much more horrified – felt, indeed, much more betrayed – by the fact that the late Goronwy Rees gave a ...

Locke rules

Ian Hacking

21 November 1991
Locke. Vol. I: Epistemology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06406 6
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Locke. Vol. II: Ontology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06407 4
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... for three centuries of philosophising in English, and I’ll wager that it has at least another half-century to run. And that, too, is remarkable. For here is a Locke who collaborated with Robert Boyle, the man on whose premises (and in the hands of Robert Hooke) laboratory science arguably began. Here is the Locke who had significant if ill-understood relationships with Newton, our greatest ...

Rough Trade

Steven Shapin: Robert Hooke

6 March 2003
The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 
by Stephen Inwood.
Macmillan, 497 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 333 78286 0
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... twenties, Hooke was substantially responsible for devising the iconic experimental instrument of the Scientific Revolution – the air-pump, whose proprietorship by his employer and patron, Robert Boyle, caused it to be known as the Machina Boyleana. Towards the end of his life, Hooke dabbled in pharmacology, besotted with the medical and psychedelic virtues of marijuana. He also announced, but did ...

The First New War

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Crimea

25 August 2011
Crimea: The Last Crusade 
by Orlando Figes.
Penguin, 575 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 101350 3
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... cardinal point of British policy that Turkey should be protected for as long as possible, which plainly made Russia a potential antagonist. Shortly after the defeat of Napoleon, the young Grand Duke Nicholas had come to England. Lady Charlotte Campbell found him ‘devilish handsome’, while others, less frivolously, thought that he might one day put Russia on the Western path of enlightenment. Alas ...

Triples

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 Mary Boyle’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 behaviour ...

Sweet Fifteen

James Campbell

3 November 1983
Bad Blood: A Family Murder 
by Richard Levine.
Hutchinson, 351 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 09 152360 5
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The Glasgow Rape Case 
by Ross Harper and Arnot McWhinnie.
Hutchinson, 259 pp., £5.95, June 1983, 0 09 151731 1
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Notes from a Waiting-Room 
by Alan Reeve.
Heretic Books, 203 pp., £3.50, May 1983, 0 946097 09 7
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... are thick with failed attempts by individuals to take private proceedings, but Carol succeeded where most others had not. The case resulted in her attackers being punished and Solicitor-General Nicholas Fairbairn MP being forced to resign. McWhinnie, the journalist who pursued the case, and Harper, the woman’s lawyer, have written a readable, unfussy account of the story and its implications for ...

Diary

Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks

26 January 1995
... on a June night in a garden at Duddingston, under the crag of Arthur’s Seat. (I later found out that the garden belonged to the widow of Scotland’s first Freudian psychoanalyst and father of Nicholas Fairbaim MP.) Various academics, actors, politicians – Labour and Nationalist – were there: Godfrey Quigley, playing Captain Boyle at the Lyceum. Laurence Daly of the Miners’ Union, John ...

Quite a Gentleman

Robert Irwin: The invariably savage Tamerlane

19 May 2005
Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World 
by Justin Marozzi.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £25, August 2004, 9780007116119
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... Some years ago I wrote an account of the sanguinary career of Tamerlane for the Time-Life History of the World. After my editor, Charles Boyle, had read the first draft, he went home and dreamed a strange dream in which ‘Old Hoppity’ turned up at Time-Life’s London offices. The dream, in time, metamorphosed into a poem, which he ...

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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... observation, empiricism, personal experience, testimony, citation and inductive proof. And just as Gresham College, home of the Royal Society, was buzzing with the stooped mutterings of Robert Boyle, John Aubrey and Robert Hooke, so, Wall suggests, the unknown woman at home, experimenting with endive and plantin, or (in Partridge’s words) trussing woodcocks ‘into the Coffyn with swete larde ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999

20 January 2000
... reasoning having much to do with Wittgenstein’s homosexuality. So we have lists of Trinity men who were Apostles, which of them were homosexuals and so on, Cornish dodgily assuming, as did Andrew Boyle and John Costello before him, that homosexuality is itself a bond and that if two men can be shown to be homosexual the likelihood is that they’re sleeping together. So we trail down that road ...

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