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Holy Padlock

Pat Rogers, 6 October 1983

The Religious Life of Samuel Johnson 
by Charles Pierce.
Athlone, 184 pp., £12.50, March 1983, 0 485 30010 9
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... Entering Mexico at the start of The Lawless Roads, Graham Greene saw among the peasant women of Monterrey the signs of a real religious life about him – ‘the continuous traffic of piety’. One of the most striking things about Samuel Johnson is the depth of his urge towards piety: not spirituality at every moment, but what we might today call ‘mere’ piety ...

Street Wise

Pat Rogers, 3 October 1985

Hawksmoor 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 241 11664 3
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Paradise Postponed 
by John Mortimer.
Viking, 374 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 670 80094 5
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High Ground 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 156 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13681 8
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... It takes no time to see that Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor is a book wrought with extreme cunning. A slower discovery arrives, that this virtuosity on the surface goes with imaginative density and profundity of inquiry. Inquiry into many related topics: the vagrancy of youth, the corruption of obsession, the permanence of evil. Allusive throughout, the text (though it contains a character named Eliot) does not utter the passage from The Waste Land which seems to underlie its themes, the one on the ‘unreal city’ at dawn: I had not thought death had undone so many ...

Public Life

Pat Rogers, 1 April 1982

A Model Childhood 
by Christa Wolf, translated by Ursule Molinaro and Hedwig Rappolt.
Virago, 407 pp., £8.95, April 1982, 0 86068 253 6
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The Safety Net 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Secker, 314 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 9780436054549
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The Country of her Dreams 
by Janice Elliott.
Hodder, 186 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 340 27830 7
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The Soul’s Gymansium and Other Stories 
by Harold Acton.
Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 241 10740 7
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... The original title of Christa Wolf’s novel, Kindheitsmuster, could mean something like ‘a pattern of childhood’, but her translators have rightly gone for a more idiomatic expression. In turning the noun into an attributive adjective, they’ve stressed the idea of an exemplary upbringing, and that is wholly apt. The career of Nelly Jordan is normative, within a certain German (though here specifically Nazi) tradition ...

Pooh to London

Pat Rogers, 22 December 1983

The Other Side of the Fire 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 7156 1809 1
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London Tales 
edited by Julian Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 241 11123 4
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Londoners 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 413 49350 4
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Good Friends, Just 
by Anne Leaton.
Chatto, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2710 4
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... might suggest, but its blend of surface social realism and fairy-tale comes out a little too pat in the end. G. Cabrera Infante has a good deal of fun with the Phantom of the Opera, with film-buff jokes strewn thickly and some do-da typographical tricks. Other items are routinely confessional, and seem to take the putative splendeurs et misères of ...

Ambassadors

Pat Rogers, 3 June 1982

The Samurai 
by Shusaku Endo, translated by Van C. Gessel.
Peter Owen, 272 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 7206 0559 8
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The Obedient Wife 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 230 pp., £7.50, May 1982, 9780713914672
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Pinball 
by Jerzy Kosinski.
Joseph, 287 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 7181 2133 3
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Brother of the More Famous Jack 
by Barbara Trapido.
Gollancz, 218 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 575 03112 3
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... By the Western calendar, the events chronicled in Shusaku Endo’s latest novel take place between 1613 and 1624. But of course that is an artificial way of looking at the matter. Half the book takes place in Mexico and Europe; Endo has the cosmopolitan range of a partly ‘Westernised’ figure, educated in the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, the heart of the issue concerns Japan, ‘a wall with windows no larger than gunports, windows to keep an eye on those coming in, not to look out upon the wider world ...

Tristram Rushdie

Pat Rogers, 15 September 1983

Shame 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 287 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02952 5
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Scandal 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 233 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 241 11101 3
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Love and Glory 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Secker, 252 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 06716 1
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The Complete Knowledge of Sally Fry 
by Sylvia Murphy.
Gollancz, 172 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 575 03353 3
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... Four titles, and an abstract noun apiece – well, Melvyn Bragg has two, but it’s the well-known coupling as in (exactly as in, that’s rather the trouble) a fight for love-’n’-glory. Salman Rushdie’s word is a real operative concept, indeed a kind of virtue insistently contrasted with shamelessness. A.N. Wilsons term is more ironic and oblique, suggestive of the British public in a fit of morality: you get the sense that maybe too much of a fuss is about to be made of something ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... Is stage-history much use finally? Finally, that is, beyond all this fiddle over plans and parterres and side-boxes, the cost of nails and packthread, the greenroom gossip? I concede straight away that if you are mounting a performance, as they say, ‘in period’, then you need the basic historical dimensions and data, just as when you are playing ‘authentic’ baroque music you have to tune your strings to the right pitch ...

Oddity’s Rainbow

Pat Rogers, 8 January 1987

Laurence Sterne: The Later Years 
by Arthur Cash.
Methuen, 390 pp., £38, September 1986, 0 416 32930 6
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Johnson’s Dictionary and the Language of Learning 
by Robert DeMaria.
Oxford, 303 pp., £20, October 1986, 9780198128861
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... John Wesley had a few words for Sterne: ‘For oddity, uncouthness, and unlikeness to all the world beside, I suppose the writer is without a rival.’ Well, something odd will do for ever if the sensation-seekers have their way; Tristram Shandy has outlasted Johnson’s Dictionary, even in the classroom. Sterne was the first author to come up with fully explicatable – as distinct from explicable – texts, in English fiction anyway ...

Dancing Senator

Pat Rogers, 7 November 1985

Memoirs of King George II: Vols I, II and III 
by Horace Walpole, edited by John Brooke.
Yale, 248 pp., £65, June 1985, 0 300 03197 1
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... With the irrelevant tidiness of an obsessive, Horace Walpole started his main series of memoirs in January 1751 – by one reckoning, the exact mid-point of the century. Actually he had already made one abortive stab with Memoirs from the Declaration of the War with Spain’, begun in 1746, now first published by John Brooke as an appendix to his edition ...

Heroes

Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... Sated with hermeneutics, weary of metacriticism? No head for the heights of abstraction – vertigo hits you as soon as you set foot on the gossamer constructions of current art theory? You get ringing in your ears when you read Norman Bryson, and fear you have caught Ménière’s disease off the page? Do not despair. There is a remedy. The second posthumous volume of Edgar Wind’s essays outdoes even its sumptuous predecessor in intellectual glitter and academic burnishing ...

Defoe or the Devil

Pat Rogers, 2 March 1989

The Canonisation of Daniel Defoe 
by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Yale, 210 pp., £20, February 1988, 0 300 04119 5
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The ‘Tatler’: Vols I-III 
edited by Donald Bond.
Oxford, 590 pp., £60, July 1987, 0 19 818614 2
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The ‘Spectator’: Vols I-V 
edited by Donald Bond.
Oxford, 512 pp., £55, October 1987, 9780198186106
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... Comically observant, admonitory, but not quite reproachful, very English in its good-humoured and long-suffering manner, The Canonisation of Daniel Defoe is in more ways than one a caution. The cautionary tale it tells concerns the unplanned growth of the canon of Defoe’s works, which has sprawled from a hundred items to something like six times that figure in the last two centuries ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... We shouldn’t need Dale Spender to remind us that the language of literary history is man-made, and the order it imposes on the past a male construct. We shouldn’t, but we probably do, and the truth remains salutary, even though Spender’s book is about as flawed in execution as it is possible to get without the pages flying apart as you read. Mothers of the Novel has a perfectly defensible, indeed defence-worthy, thesis ...

Pepys’s Place

Pat Rogers, 16 June 1983

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol X: Companion and Vol XI: Index 
edited by Robert Latham.
Bell and Hyman, 626 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 7135 1993 2
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The Diary of John Evelyn 
edited by John Bowle.
Oxford, 476 pp., £19.50, April 1983, 0 19 251011 8
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The Brave Courtier: Sir William Temple 
by Richard Faber.
Faber, 187 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 571 11982 4
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... The completion of the new Pepys edition is certainly a publishing event, and thanks to the 350th anniversary of the diarist’s birth it has turned into a media event as well. But is it a literary event, exactly? When the first volume appeared in 1970, the editors laid some stress on their author’s ‘essentially artistic gift’, and suggested that the work was written as though ‘by an alter ego, by another man in the same skin, one who watched understandingly but rather detachedly the behaviour and motives of his fellow-lodger ...
Literature and Popular Culture in 18th-Century England 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 215 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0981 6
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Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Studies in Literature and Society in the Age of Walpole 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 173 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0986 7
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Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in 18th-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper 
by Claude Rawson.
Allen and Unwin, 431 pp., £30, August 1985, 0 04 800019 1
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Jonathan Swift 
edited by Angus Ross and David Woolley.
Oxford, 722 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 19 281337 4
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... cats, but street-history is bound to show disproportion between actions and their social meaning. Pat Rogers’s approach to 18th-century literature is by way of popular culture. He agrees with other scholars that Augustan satire gets much of its vitality from its relation to Lucian and Juvenal, Rabelais and Erasmus, Scarron and Cervantes, but he ...

Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander Pope: A Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... Pope. With the publication of a collection of essays on Pope and a new edition of the poems, Pat Rogers might appear to be laying claim not only to a place in this succession, already assured by his frequent and illuminating articles on Pope, but to the role of chief priest, long filled by Maynard Mack. Professor Mack remains active: he published a ...

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