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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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... the need to provide something comparable for the lyrics sends the editor off on a hunt through a thousand periodical articles, by no means all of which deserve his, or anybody else’s, attention. NigelSmith, 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 ...

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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... suicide, revealed a prescient understanding – as MacDonald shows – of secular causes of suicidal despair. His work is claimed here as the first systematic treatise on its subject in English. With NigelSmith’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 ...

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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... especially his lyric verse, now relegated or even despised his political career, which they viewed as a departure from, if not a betrayal of, his poetic calling. Now his reputation is changing again. NigelSmith’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 ...

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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... so strong that in 1918 the Prime Minister was advised to grant the secret services £1,000,000 invested 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 ...
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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... Historical Novel in 1962, has seen him as an intellectual of quite a different cast: the first 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 ...

Nigels against the World

Ferdinand Mount: The EU Referendum

18 May 2016
... a vote for Exit on 23 June? That’s far from clear, not least because of the bad blood between the 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 ...

They don’t even need ideas

William Davies: Take Nigel​ Farage ...

20 June 2019
... the past century of national politics are in crisis; an astonishing YouGov poll conducted at the 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 ...
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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... Bentham. Roy Porter on the language of sickness in Georgian England could usefully have been longer and G.S. Rousseau on late 18th-century nerves could just as usefully have been a lot shorter. NigelSmith 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 ...
19 November 1992
... Major. A senior minister came out with it at the last moment: ‘The choice for the rebels is either 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 ...

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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... and resolve the dialectical antinomies of the first two. At the heart of Jenkins’s argument 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 ...

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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... Welsh, Irish or Scottish Gaelic, accompanied by parallel English translations. O’Brien is more 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 ...

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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... It’s important but it’s not that important’ because still ‘you’re left with your 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 ...

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, 978 0 300 20035 5
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... of inquiry led by Lord Hunter, who had been solicitor general for Scotland in the Asquith government. 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 ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher

16 November 2006
Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... about the impending coup and talk leaked into mercenary circles. A regime like Obiang’s depends heavily on mercenary bodyguards, even for intelligence; and Obiang was very dependent on one Johann Smith, a South African special forces veteran, who repeatedly warned him of possible plots to impose Moto. Smith had teamed up with Nigel Morgan, an Irish-Brit who had trained to be a Jesuit priest, worked ...
2 December 1982
The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James GoldsmithThe Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... highly permeable organisation. Where once its politics were leftish, its stance investigative, and its key influence Paul Foot, now its politics are rightish, its stance prurient, and its key figures Nigel Dempster, Peter McKay and Auberon Waugh. The radical lampoon has become required reading on the magazine syllabus of every Sloane Ranger. Moreover, the Eye, that fearless exposer of the faintest ...

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