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Masters or Servants

Conrad Russell, 5 July 1984

The Young Richelieu: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Leadership 
by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick.
Chicago, 276 pp., £27.20, December 1983, 0 226 50904 4
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Richelieu and Olivares 
by J.H. Elliott.
Cambridge, 189 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 521 26205 4
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... to the historian. In the 19th century, in the age which, in their different ways, Freud and Peter Gay have made their own, sheer bulk of documents may to some extent compensate for this difficulty. In the 17th century, the problem of psychological interpretation is altogether more intractable. That 17th-century characters had psychologies, as much as ...

Just one of those ends

Michael Wood: Apocalypse Regained, 13 December 2001

Apocalypse Now Redux 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
August 2001
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Marlon Brando 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 297 84284 6
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... just as American mythology loses the Vietnamese as anything other than shadows in a psychodrama. Conrad’s Kurtz is the emissary of light who discovers the ancient darkness in himself – or in the less primitivist reading the novella also allows, discovers that within himself there is nothing at all, that he is entirely hollow, has no interior. His last ...

Ejected Gentleman

Norman Page, 7 May 1987

John Galsworthy’s Life and Art: An Alien’s Fortress 
by James Gindin.
Macmillan, 616 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 333 40812 8
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... himself was, long before his death, an uneasy survivor from a vanished age. Younger than Conrad or Yeats or Kipling, his mind and outlook seem fixed, as theirs do not, in an epoch that itself did not survive his prime – and this in spite of the reputation he enjoyed, in his heyday, as an enlightened propagandist. Half a century on, the main ...

Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell, 6 December 1984

The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... in ‘want of well pronouncing shibboleth’. Rochester, perhaps, would have agreed with Lord Peter Wimsey (another post-war figure) that ‘a principle has no claim to be called a principle until it’s killed someone.’ In the end, Rochester may have become a prisoner of his own disbeliefs. Much of what he wrote may appear to have no discernible ...

Radical Heritage

Conrad Russell, 1 September 1988

Bertrand Russell: A Political Life 
by Alan Ryan.
Allen Lane, 226 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 7139 9005 8
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... on the belief that the word ‘history’ stood for ‘hiss-Tory’, but the recent work of Peter Clarke, for example, has shown how much these difficulties were part of the central experience of a generation. The other great refuge of liberal optimism, in 1914 as in 1867, was education. It is hard to read Russell On Education without seeing that the ...

Manly Love

John Bayley, 28 January 1993

Walt Whitman: From Moon to Starry Night 
by Philip Callow.
Allison and Busby, 394 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 85031 908 0
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The Double Life of Stephen Crane 
by Christopher Benfey.
Deutsch, 294 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 233 98820 3
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... the first anything – unstudied, unelaborated, untouched by rules.’ That would be horribly like Peter Pan if it were not for the slyness in the sweetness. It shows how crafty the most ‘spontaneous’ art invariably is – if it succeeds as art. At the same time Whitman’s jottings and MS do reveal more disturbed and even distracted feelings and ...

Shoulder-Shrugging

Julian Critchley, 11 December 1997

Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... as an editor thought of him as a politician who had wandered into newspaper management. At the pre-Conrad Black Telegraph, responsibility was divided in three ways: Deedes edited the opinion pages; the appalling Peter Eastwood, the news pages; while Lord Hartwell played the grand old Duke of York. The Deedes/Eastwood duo was ...

The German Ocean

D.J. Enright: Suffolk Blues, 17 September 1998

The Rings of Saturn 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 296 pp., £15.99, June 1998, 1 86046 398 3
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... skull had subsequently been buried with the rest of Browne’s body in the Norwich church of St Peter Mancroft. There follows a disquisition on the life and work of Sir Thomas, a man close to Sebald’s heart, and his nearest precursor in cast of mind, lightly (if arcanely) learned and enormously curious, including the possibility or probability of his ...

My Feet Are Cut Off

Barbara Newman: Lives of the Saints, 3 December 2009

Gilte Legende Vol. I 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 496 pp., £65, November 2006, 0 19 920577 9
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Gilte Legende Vol. II 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 1036 pp., £65, August 2007, 978 0 19 923439 4
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... in these pains … as one who has found great treasures.’ After her breasts are cut off, St Peter heals them (over her protests) so that she can survive to face new torments. A kind of double vision is required of the spectator: where pagan kings and their minions see only unbearable pain, martyrs experience the invisible power of God. Their legends ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 7 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... A friend​ who teaches in New York told me that the historian Peter Lake told him that J.G.A. Pocock told him that Conrad Russell told him that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in Parliament during the Napoleonic Wars, and that Pitt had this curious way of talking, a particular mannerism that the sixth Duke of Bedford had imitated to Lord John Russell who imitated it to Bertrand Russell who imitated it to Conrad Russell who imitated it to J ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: From ‘Alien’ to ‘Covenant’, 14 June 2017

Alien: Covenant 
directed by Ridley Scott.
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... start a beautiful friendship. The new work takes its title, and its spaceship’s name, not from Conrad or Greek myth but from Abraham: they are called Covenant. (It’s not clear that this title has to do with anything other than the agreement between the film’s producers and the eager audience that there will be lots of squirming, bloody creatures who ...

A Whale of a Time

Colm Tóibín, 2 October 1997

Roger Casement’s Diaries. 1910: The Black and the White 
edited by Roger Sawyer.
Pimlico, 288 pp., £10, October 1997, 9780712673754
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The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement 
edited by Angus Mitchell.
Anaconda, 534 pp., £40, October 1997, 9781901990010
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... Jessie Conrad remembered his visit: Sir Roger Casement, a fanatical Irish protestant, came to see us, remaining some two days our guest. He was a very handsome man with a thick, dark beard and piercing, restless eyes. His personality impressed me greatly. It was about the time when he was interested in bringing to light certain atrocities which were taking place in the Belgian Congo ...

Love in the Ruins

Nicolas Tredell, 8 October 1992

Out of the Rain 
by Glyn Maxwell.
Bloodaxe, 112 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 1 85224 193 4
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Body Politic 
by Tony Flynn.
Bloodaxe, 60 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 129 2
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Red 
by Linda France.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 178 0
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Red-Haired Android 
by Jeremy Reed.
Grafton, 280 pp., £7.99, July 1992, 9780586091845
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Leaf-Viewing 
by Peter Robinson, with an essay by Peter Swaab.
Robert Jones, 36 pp., £9.95, July 1992, 0 9514240 2 5
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... of the British state at the turn of the 19th century, was not necessarily a wholly savoury one. Conrad had already imagined the great imperial waterway as leading to – and from – the heart of darkness, and by 1922, The Waste Land was to find by the Thames the signs of an imperium in full decadence. Glyn Maxwell, in 1992, offers his own vision of ...

Unreasoning Vigour

Stefan Collini: Ian Watt, 9 May 2019

Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic 
by Marina MacKay.
Oxford, 228 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 882499 2
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... and more. In his preface he thanks Adorno, Henry Nash Smith, I.A. Richards, Talcott Parsons and Peter Laslett, among others. The standard caricature of the Cambridge-influenced criticism of the postwar years represents it as blunderingly empirical and cosily parochial: these stereotypes wilt and shrivel when confronted by Watt’s ambitious, analytical and ...

Knights of the King and Keys

Ian Aitken, 7 March 1991

A Dubious Codicil: An Autobiography by 
by Michael Wharton.
Chatto, 261 pp., £15.99, December 1990, 0 7011 3064 4
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The House the Berrys built 
by Duff Hart-Davis.
Hodder, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 3 405 92526 6
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Lords of Fleet Street: The Harmsworth Dynasty 
by Richard Bourne.
Unwin Hyman, 258 pp., £16.95, October 1990, 0 04 440450 6
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... was a fairly junior member of the Telegraph’s staff for some years. As the author of the ‘Peter Simple’ column for thirty-odd years, Wharton must be regarded as immortal. As far as I know, I never met either, although I may have swapped punches or half-pints with one or other in the mid-Fifties, when I was one of the Daily Express interlopers in the ...

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