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Hard Labour

Frank Kermode: Marvell beneath the Notes, 23 October 2003

The Poems of Andrew Marvell 
edited by Nigel Smith.
Longman, 468 pp., £50, January 2003, 0 582 07770 2
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... periodical articles, by no means all of which deserve his, or anybody else’s, attention. Nigel Smith, Marvell’s new editor, remarks that the serious annotation of Marvell’s works began only in 1927, with H.M. Margoliouth’s Oxford edition. That edition might never have been projected but for Eliot’s 1921 essay on the poet, itself the ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... despair. His work is claimed here as the first systematic treatise on its subject in English. With Nigel Smith’s study of the impact of Protestantism on some half-educated or self-taught but religiously-inspired men and women in the 1640s and 1650s, we come on to the nutcases and fruitcakes of the English Reformation – although these are descriptions ...

Double Tongued

Blair Worden: Worshipping Marvell, 18 November 2010

Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon 
by Nigel Smith.
Yale, 400 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 300 11221 4
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... a departure from, if not a betrayal of, his poetic calling. Now his reputation is changing again. Nigel Smith’s biography belongs to a series of early 21st-century publications which, aided by other recent scholarship, have brought the verse-writer and the prose-writer together. In 2003 there appeared fresh versions of Marvell’s writings: ...

Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997

New cloak, Old dagger: How Britain’s Spies Came in from the Cold 
by Michael Smith.
Gollancz, 338 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 575 06150 2
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Intelligence Power in Peace and War 
by Michael Herman.
Cambridge, 436 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 521 56231 7
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UK Eyes Alpha 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 320 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 571 17689 5
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... in the War Loan, to protect their finances against any postwar Labour government. As Michael Smith describes, these problems were exacerbated by the budget cuts which followed the end of hostilities. In 1919, MI5’s annual grant dropped from £100,000 to £30,000, forcing it into unsavoury alliances with the political Right. It recruited Maxwell ...

Walter Scott’s Post-War Europe

Marilyn Butler, 7 February 1980

Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination 
by David Brown.
Routledge, 239 pp., £9.75, August 1980, 0 7100 0301 3
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... novelist to represent the historical process, the first portrayer of society in terms that Adam Smith might and Karl Marx did approve. David Brown makes the academic case admirably. He begins by modestly disclaiming originality: he is developing insights put forward by others in recent years, and only applying them more carefully to a selection of the major ...

Nigels against the World

Ferdinand Mount: The EU Referendum, 19 May 2016

... rival Leave organisations. Leave.eu is financed by the insurance tycoon Arron Banks and blessed by Nigel Farage and Ukip. Vote Leave is led by Michael Gove, Gisela Stuart and Boris Johnson, with the support of other longstanding Eurosceptic ministers and former ministers, such as Iain Duncan Smith, ...

Incriminating English

Randolph Quirk, 24 September 1992

Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... and G.S. Rousseau on late 18th-century nerves could just as usefully have been a lot shorter. Nigel Smith is fascinating on ‘The uses of Hebrew in the English Revolution’ and Peter Burke’s little sketch of post-Medieval uses of Latin is wide-ranging and excellent. Other chapters suffer from being wide-ranging and bad. Victor Kiernan’s ...

They don’t even need ideas

William Davies: Take Nigel Farage ..., 20 June 2019

... end of May put both Labour and the Conservatives on 19 per cent, behind the Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. An Opinium poll subsequently put the Brexit Party out in front on 26 per cent. Farage’s outfit has adopted the model of a platform startup, as pioneered by the Italian Five Star Movement, to disrupt electoral politics at ...

Maastricht or no Maastricht

Peter Clarke, 19 November 1992

... to take Maastricht with John Major, or to have it – with social chapter knobs on – from John Smith.’ Maastricht and Major thus remain separate issues, with different opponents, who have contrasting motives and incompatible objectives. The Labour Party knows that it does not have a plausible alternative to Maastricht, still less one on which it could ...

Nostalgia for the Vestry

James Buchan: Thatcherism, 30 November 2006

Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts 
by Simon Jenkins.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 7139 9595 5
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... are certain contradictions he detects in Thatcher’s nature. While formally committed to Adam Smith’s understanding of liberty as the free disposal of labour, she did not really trust the British either to work or to be free. For all her talk of choice and competition, Thatcher left many public services unreformed – defence procurement, the security ...

Enemies of All Mankind

Stephen Sedley: Pirates, 24 June 2010

The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law 
by Nigel Rodley, with Matt Pollard.
Oxford, 697 pp., £85, August 2009, 978 0 19 921507 2
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The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations 
by Daniel Heller-Roazen.
Zone, 295 pp., £21.95, November 2009, 978 1 890951 94 8
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The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates 
by Peter Leeson.
Princeton, 271 pp., £16.95, May 2009, 978 0 691 13747 6
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... impact of this doctrine on the morality of state conduct can be gauged by the new edition of Nigel Rodley’s classic work on the treatment of prisoners, both lawful and de facto. Rodley, an academic lawyer and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, accepts that international law has been ‘decidedly ambitious in the limits it sets on the behaviour ...

Footing the bill

Jonathan Parry, 9 June 1994

Aspects of Aristocracy: Grandeur and Decline in Modern Britain 
by David Cannadine.
Yale, 321 pp., £19.50, April 1994, 0 300 05981 7
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... cadger and incorrigible scrounger’ who ‘ate, drank, gambled and spent to excess’. F.E. Smith was ‘a drunk, a gambler and a spendthrift ... rude ... and ruthless’. The second Baron Sackville was ‘lonely, unmarried, taciturn, disappointed and embittered’; the fifth Baron was ‘self-centred, ineffectual, delicate, neurotic, lonely and ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Anglocentric: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is in facing-page English, but Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith, for example, occur only in English, and there is no Welsh-language poetry at all. On the other hand, O’Brien’s selection of English-language poetry casts a wider and more ambitious net. ‘Even as we study it, the map changes and discloses a larger ...

Made for TV

Jenny Diski, 14 December 1995

Fight & Kick & Bite: The Life and Work of Dennis Potter 
by W. Stephen Gilbert.
Hodder, 382 pp., £18.99, November 1995, 0 340 64047 2
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Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen 
by John Cook.
Manchester, 368 pp., £45, October 1995, 0 7190 4601 7
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... basic human striving and dignity.’ The having it both ways was essential Potter. In Stand Up Nigel Barton the hero confesses to a public meeting that he has slept with 136 prostitutes; in the novel Hide and Seek the number of these encounters rises to 156. As Gilbert says, ‘Potter sought to create very bad persons – bad men, of course – who yet ...

They would have laughed

Ferdinand Mount: The Massacre at Amritsar, 4 April 2019

Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre 
by Kim A. Wagner.
Yale, 325 pp., £20, February 2019, 978 0 300 20035 5
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... Again and again, Dyer convicts himself out of his own mouth. As his friend Major General Nigel Woodyatt later told him, ‘he was bound to get the worst of it; not so much for what he had done, but for what he had said.’ As Nigel Collett declares in The Butcher of Amritsar (2005), his magisterial Life of ...

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