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Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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The Constant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... and in fact she had already contributed, on and off, to Punch and the Yellow Book. Now Grant Richards, who says in his Memories of a Misspent Youth that ‘an introduction to Mrs Ernest Leverson was one of the most important things that could happen to a young man,’ persuaded her to turn novelist. Her grandson, Francis Wyndham, has told us that she ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... wars, in opposition to its historical inheritance. The faculty’s polemical heavyweights, I.A. Richards and F.R. Leavis, had both given up an undergraduate history degree and taken against the subject. Richards recalled that he ‘couldn’t bear history’ and ‘didn’t think history ought to have happened’. Around ...

What is a pikestaff?

Colin Burrow: Metaphor, 23 April 2015

Metaphor 
by Denis Donoghue.
Harvard, 232 pp., £18.95, April 2014, 978 0 674 43066 2
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... metaphor towards the podium labelled Supreme Figure. For the father of practical criticism, I.A. Richards, the brain was ‘a connecting organ’, and metaphor – in which a ‘tenor’, or thing described, is presented via a ‘vehicle’, or a metaphorical expression of it – was the core figure for making connections between distinct entities. Metaphor ...

Paul de Man’s Proverbs of Hell

Geoffrey Hartman, 15 March 1984

... The death of Paul de Man at the age of 64 deprives us of a literary critic whose influence, already immense in the United States and on the Continent, was beginning to be received in England. This influence is not linked to a large body of published work. De Man’s career started late. His studies in philosophy at the University of Brussels were interrupted by the war; after the war, he emigrated to America, taught at Bard, participated in Harvard’s Society of Fellows, took his PhD only in 1959 (his thesis on Mallarmé and Yeats still awaits full publication), and served as a teacher at Cornell, Johns Hopkins and the University of Zurich before settling at Yale in 1970 ...

Epireading

Claude Rawson, 4 March 1982

Ferocious Alphabets 
by Denis Donoghue.
Faber, 211 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 571 11809 7
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... occasion for the encounter. Donoghue rejects the ‘communication’ models of Jakobson or Richards, with their idea of message or signal passing from ‘addresser’ to ‘addressee’ or ‘source’ to ‘destination’, and offers instead a model based on the traditional image of ‘conversation’. This ‘conversation’ is a play of uncompleted ...

Through Plate-Glass

Ian Sansom: Jonathan Coe, 10 May 2001

The Rotters’ Club 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 405 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 670 89252 1
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... cast-list, but in The Rotters’ Club, the characters include a Colin, a Sheila, a Benjamin, a Paul and a Lois Trotter, a Bill; an Irene and Doug Anderton; Barbara, Sam and Philip Chase, Malcolm, Roy Slater, Sean Harding, Steve Richards, Culpepper, Cicely Boyd, Donald, Claire and Miriam Newman, and Mr Plumb. And these ...

Breast Cancer Screening

Paul Taylor, 5 June 2014

... dismissing the consensus in favour of screening as a conspiracy of vested interests. In 2011, Mike Richards, the national cancer director at the Department of Health, commissioned a review of the evidence on breast cancer screening, to be conducted by experts with no prior involvement in the field. The panel, whose report was published in 2012, found that ...

Hawkesbiz

Frank Kermode, 11 February 1993

Meaning by Shakespeare 
by Terence Hawkes.
Routledge, 173 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 415 07450 9
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Shakespeare’s Professional Career 
by Peter Thomson.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £24.95, September 1992, 0 521 35128 6
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Shakespeare’s Mouldy Tales 
by Leah Scragg.
Longman, 201 pp., £24, October 1992, 0 582 07071 6
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Reading Shakespeare’s Characters 
by Christy Desmet.
Massachusetts, 215 pp., £22.50, December 1992, 0 87023 807 8
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Bit Parts in Shakespeare’s Plays 
by Molly Mahood.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £35, January 1993, 0 521 41612 4
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... as essential features of itself.’ About the same time, he adds, a Cambridge contemporary, I.A. Richards, was demonstrating in his Practical Criticism that the ‘initiative’ had now passed to the reader. In fact Richards was concerned to show how badly readers read, how often they got the meaning of the protocol poems ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Thatcher in Gravesend, 9 May 2013

... upstream neighbour, Dartford. Dartford is where Margaret Thatcher, like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, launched her career as a big-stage, big-dollar performer. With age, Thatcher and Keith Richards relocated their original identities, with fat biographies boosted as pure legend, bad behaviour sanctified by extreme ...

Radical Democrats

Ross McKibbin, 7 March 1991

Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977-80 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 675 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 09 174321 4
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Words as Weapons: Selected Writings 1980-1990 
by Paul Foot.
Verso, 281 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 310 4
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... When historians come to account for the dégringolade of modern British politics both Tony Benn and Paul Foot will find a place: Benn as actor, Foot as an observer. The two have much in common: both were born into very similar families; both see their lives as a continuing re-education, a casting aside of cultural baggage packed with the detritus of a worn-out social system; both have come to discover a superior morality within socialism and the organised working class ...

Kind Words for Strathpeffer

Rosalind Mitchison, 24 May 1990

The British Isles: A History of Four Nations 
by Hugh Kearney.
Cambridge, 236 pp., £17.50, March 1989, 0 521 33420 9
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Cromartie: Highland Life 1650-1914 
by Eric Richards and Monica Clough.
518 pp., £29.50, August 1989, 0 08 037732 7
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Jacobitism and the English People, 1688-1788 
by Paul Kléber Monod.
Cambridge, 408 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 521 33534 5
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... Hugh Kearney has written a book to assert the reality of the British Isles as an intercommunicating group of cultures with many features in common but also with strong regional or national differences. It is a timely reminder that the political dominance of these islands by England from the 17th century covers only a small part of their various histories ...

Race, God and Family

Dan Hancox: Francoism, 2 July 2015

Franco’s Crypt: Spanish Culture and Memory since 1936 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Vintage, 336 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 1 78470 115 4
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... patria’ – the words inscribed on monuments to the Nationalist war dead, as recorded in Michael Richards’s excellent monograph After the Civil War.* The defeated Republican half of Spain was commonly referred to in the press as ‘the Red horde’. Hundreds of thousands of them were killed by Nationalist paramilitaries in a largely planned attempt to wipe ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... plain to downright ugly, if you don’t count Glen Ford or Dana Andrews (who weren’t exactly Paul Newman or Montgomery Clift themselves). My generation have Cahiers du cinéma, Godard and Truffaut to thank for the earlier generation of movie stars we might have overlooked. More fundamentally, we have to thank Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, who ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... a framed still from a favourite film, A Hard Day’s Night; an essay by Eula Biss referring to Paul McCartney and ‘Norwegian Wood’; McCartney sporting a man bun during his lockdown vacation; rave reviews for McCartney’s new lockdown solo album; various reflections on the fiftieth anniversary of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass; various ...

Literature and the Left

Marilyn Butler, 18 August 1983

English Literature in History: 1730-80: An Equal, Wide Survey 
edited by Raymond Williams, by John Barrell.
Hutchinson, 228 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149820 1
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English Literature in History: 1350-1400: Medieval Readers and Writers 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Janet Coleman.
Hutchinson, 337 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 09 144100 5
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English Literature in History: 1780-1830: Pastoral and Politics 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Roger Sales.
Hutchinson, 247 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149830 9
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The Cambridge Guide to English Literature 
by Michael Stapleton.
Cambridge/Newnes Books, 992 pp., £15, April 1983, 9780521256476
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... the preferred word for capitalism – but also against “popular taste” and what Richards, in those early days, called “the more sinister potentialities of the cinema and the loudspeaker”. Actual history became, as in both F.R. and Q.D. Leavis, a kind of cultural history which traced the long fall and ratified the new minority.’ But ...

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