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Diarmaid MacCulloch: Inside the KJB

3 February 2011
The Holy Bible: King James Version, 1611 Text 
edited by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 1552 pp., £50, October 2010, 978 0 19 955760 8
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Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 
by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 354 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 19 955759 2
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The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 
by David Norton.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 521 61688 1
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The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences 
edited by Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones.
Cambridge, 364 pp., £25, December 2010, 978 0 521 76827 6
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Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language 
by David Crystal.
Oxford, 327 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 958585 4
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... jovial bisexuality would cause them apoplexy. The history of the KJB after it escaped King James’s England and Scotland is exhilaratingly explored by the essayists captained by Hannibal Hamlin and NormanJones, who scrutinise it severally from linguistic, historical and literary perspectives. What emerges is the importance of the British Empire in cementing the KJB’s reputation. During the later ...

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Thomas Jones: Unimpressed by good booking men

24 June 2004
... difficult to maintain. Nicholas Clee, the editor of the Bookseller, recently wrote in the Guardian that he ‘cannot condemn the hundreds of literary agents and publishers’ who turned down Gerard Jones’s ‘rather wonderful memoir’, Ginny Good (Monkfish, $16.95), because being ‘a gifted writer’ is a ‘hard quality to sell’. ‘There is also the matter of precedent . . . I’ve come ...

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Norman​ Dombey: False Intelligence

19 February 2004
... Iraq’s mobile biological weapons laboratories was immediately criticised by David Kelly, who recognised them as trucks bought from Marconi for filling balloons with hydrogen. David Kelly and Brian Jones were not the only ones to have doubts about the dossier: similar doubts were expressed by nuclear experts. We shall see what the Butler committee finds. Where were the bogus stories about Iraq’s ...

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Thomas Jones: War Talk

6 February 2003
... its prerequisite, complexity. Enoch Powell once said that Britain’s foreign policy was to do whatever America wanted before having to be asked – a view that’s still half appropriate, anyway. Norman Tebbit, capitalising on the current situation in characteristically odious fashion, has been gloating over Powell’s most famously repugnant views. ‘It is now becoming all too likely,’ he ...
6 February 1986
Jackdaw Cake: ‘An Autobiography’ 
by Norman​ Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 214 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 241 11689 9
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... Would we buy a used car from Norman Lewis? He certainly seems to know a lot about them. There is a picture on the dust-cover of the young Lewis (he was born in 1918) proudly at the wheel of a Bugatti, and he describes, too briefly, his ...

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Thomas Jones: Telly

9 August 2001
... who wasn’t Philip Hensher didn’t get hit by someone who wasn’t James Thackara, after Hensher, reviewing Thackara’s first novel, said he couldn’t ‘write “Bum” on a wall’. At least Norman Mailer did head-butt Gore Vidal. Anyway, two hours with the Yellow Dragons is all it takes, and that’s offered at the knock-down price of £10 (two-thirds off): ‘It’s not worth putting yourself ...

Doctor, Doctor

D.A.N. Jones

19 April 1984
The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 276 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 49734 4
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The Suburbs of Hell 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 165 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 436 49735 2
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Kingsley’s Touch 
by John Collee.
Allen Lane, 206 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1633 8
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A Suitable Case for Corruption 
by Norman​ Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11178 1
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... Three of these novels might almost be called thrillers, their plots resembling sensational news items. With Norman Lewis we read of plans to assassinate statesmen in Egypt and Libya, with evil American agents blackmailing honest Britishers. John Collee tells of a wonder cure for cancer devised by a Hindu mystic ...
11 June 1992
The Wreck of the Deutschland 
by Sean Street.
Souvenir, 208 pp., £15.99, March 1992, 0 285 63051 2
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Hopkins: A Literary Biography 
by Norman​ White.
Oxford, 531 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 19 812099 0
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... the shipwreck so briskly dealt with in the two recent biographies of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Robert Bernard Martin’s book, published last year, summarises the information in two competent pages. In Norman White’s Hopkins: A Literary Biography his comments on what happened, scattered passim through the relevant chapter, are even more cursory. Obviously neither of them is of the school which thinks ...

Plague Fiction

Charles Nicholl

23 July 1987
The Darker Proof 
by Adam Mars-Jones and Edmund White.
Faber, 250 pp., £3.95, July 1987, 0 571 15068 3
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... campaigns, slogans, pop songs. There were TV programmes, so many that at one point last year you couldn’t turn the telly on without seeing someone rolling a condom over their thumb. There was Norman Fowler in San Francisco. And there was Princess Di holding hands with a sufferer, as if even in the Eighties, kingship’s healing magic might still somehow work. It may be too much too late, but no ...

Pure TNT

James Francken: Thom Jones

18 February 1999
Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 312 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 9780571196562
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... criminal record and connections with organised crime, the press took his sullenness for the recalcitrance of an underworld brawler. The former heavyweight champion is no less threatening in Thom Jones’s two previous collections of short stories; though kept in the wings, he is mentioned frequently by the centre-stage characters: a doctor who is ‘about to smirk’ when walking in on a couple ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie

7 March 1985
The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... happened to or in our poetry, something of which the energies are not yet spent, three names are commonly brought up to show that the modernist impetus survived in the generation after Pound: David Jones, Anglo-Welshman; Basil Bunting, Northumbrian Englishman; and Hugh MacDiarmid, Lowland Scot. The claim for Jones seems the weakest: it is advanced by Jones’s admirers, not by the poet himself, who ...

The Third Suitcase

Thomas Jones: Michael Frayn

24 May 2012
Skios 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 278 pp., £15.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28141 1
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... metre swimming pool? The foundation’s front business culminates in an annual lecture, ‘one of the highlights of the Greek cultural calendar’. The guest speaker on this occasion is to be Dr Norman Wilfred, on the subject of ‘Innovation and Governance: The Promise of Scientometrics’. Booking him was the idea of Nikki Hook, Mrs Toppler’s PA, who thinks it was quite a coup, perhaps enough ...

Megalomaniac and Loser

Norman​ Hampson

21 March 1985
Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History 1794-1815 
edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas.
Cambridge, 276 pp., £22.50, October 1983, 0 521 25114 1
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Chouannerie and Counter-Revolution: Puisaye, the Princes and the British Government in the 1790s 
by Maurice Hutt.
Cambridge, 630 pp., £60, December 1983, 0 521 22603 1
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Britain and Revolutionary France: Conflict, Subversion and Propaganda 
edited by Colin Jones.
Exeter, 96 pp., £1.75, June 1983, 0 85989 179 8
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... buttered no parsnips, and good intentions, even if they could be understood by those who were very slow to learn the new language, were something for Sundays or, in 1793-94, for Décadis. Colin Jones shows how the noble intention of the revolutionaries to substitute a national policy of bienfaisance for the erratic charity of the Ancien Régime fell victim to the consequences of expropriating the ...

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Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man

10 May 2007
... from 4 per cent to 95.6 per cent, the bulk of The Iron Whim concerns itself with the likes of Paul Auster, Bram Stoker, William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested in typewriters as machines (once upon a time the word also referred to the people ...

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Thomas Jones: Flirtation, Seduction and Betrayal

5 September 2002
... by which he means those over forty – ‘make the best subjects,’ which would explain the contents (James Hewitt to Henry Kissinger by way of Geoffrey Boycott, Charlton Heston, Dave Lee Travis and Norman Tebbit), but you have to wonder how much of a coincidence it is that men over forty not only ‘make the best subjects’ but also make the best Telegraph readers. Farndale justifies his title by ...

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