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My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... rhetorical currency required for any respectable courtship or commercial transaction. As a boy, Philip Sidney – whose works Richardson was later to publish, and to study with attention – was carefully trained in the art of letter writing. His bedroom, according to his early biographer Thomas Moffet, ‘overflowed with elegant epistles’ which he had ...

Walking like Swinburne

P.N. Furbank, 12 July 1990

Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... It is worth stating a few facts about Stephen Tennant, the subject of this excellent biography by Philip Hoare, in case some readers may not have heard of him. He was born in 1906, the son of a rich industrialist, Edward Tennant, who became Lord Glenconner in 1911, and of Pamela Wyndham, one of the Wyndham sisters immortalised by Sargent in his painting The Three Graces ...

This is the new communism

Mark Philip Bradley: Modern Vietnam, 15 December 2016

The Penguin History of Modern Vietnam 
by Christopher Goscha.
Allen Lane, 634 pp., £30, June 2016, 978 1 84614 310 6
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... the 15th century, many of them educated in Buddhist pagoda schools, practised a form of rule that drew simultaneously on Chinese statecraft, charismatic familial leadership and Buddhism. The move towards Confucian models of governance came very late, most intensively under the 19th-century Nguyen dynasty, and were no match for the French colonial ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... works hard and artily to allegorise what happened in 1979 (‘When approached by a visitor, he drew back as if a deadly fear gripped him’), and sets the book up as the real story of a great storyteller: ‘Gradually, a complex image appeared, more mysterious than any of the stories he chose to film.’ John Russell Taylor is more modest, and more ...

Going on the air

Philip French, 2 May 1985

Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... in a vast institution, upon which as a creative writer with a somewhat limited imagination he drew for Nineteen Eighty-Four. Exhausting and exasperating this may have been, but it wasn’t, as West concludes, ‘soul-destroying work’. We can set aside the excessive claims West makes for individual pieces, as well as the illfounded suggestion that Orwell ...

Something about Mary

Diarmaid MacCulloch: The First Queen of England, 18 October 2007

Mary Tudor: The Tragical History of the First Queen of England 
by David Loades.
National Archives, 240 pp., £19.99, September 2006, 1 903365 98 8
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... with a country beyond the sea, or rather a dynasty beyond the sea. She married Charles’s son Philip, and once she was married she was desperate to secure a Catholic future by having his child. That child might with the right quirks of genealogy have ruled half the known world, and a good deal of it not then known: an empire combining Spanish and ...

Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson, 30 March 2000

Philip Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... offered the Polish crown: absurd, but can there be smoke without any fire whatsoever? In May 1575, Philip Sidney returned to Little England. If England was small beer, so was he, no baron but plain Mr Sidney. He was 20 years of age. Sidney’s career makes a bizarre episode in that endless saga which is Britain-in-Europe. To understand why so much was ...


Stephen Walsh: Philip Glass, 7 May 2015

Words without Music: A Memoir 
by Philip Glass.
Faber, 416 pp., £22.50, April 2015, 978 0 571 32372 2
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... Words without Music​ is Philip Glass’s second book about himself, and it inevitably includes some of the same information, or the same kind of information, as its predecessor, published in 1987 in New York as Music by Philip Glass and in London as Opera on the Beach. But the differences are significant ...

Abortion, Alienation, Anomie

Peter Medawar, 2 December 1982

Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary 
by Robert Nisbet.
Harvard, 318 pp., £12.25, November 1982, 0 674 70065 1
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... physis and nomos, and this made me think the antithesis a premonition of the one which Galton drew between nature and nurture. I liked this and was pleased to see that my children’s edition of Liddell and Scott renders nomos as a ‘feeding-place for cattle, pasture’. Nisbet enfolds the history and literary usage of ‘anomy’ with the degree of ...

In the City

Peter Campbell: Public sculpture, 22 May 2003

... Philip Ward-Jackson’s Public Sculpture of the City of London* is the seventh volume of Public Sculpture of Britain. It does for public sculpture (but not sculpture inside churches or galleries) what Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner do for the buildings the sculpture is on (or near) in The Buildings of England volume on The City of London ...

Cheerful weather for the wedding

Ann Schlee, 20 August 1981

... taken a tentative step into day one of Ever After and look back at this generous distraction, like Philip Larkin’s Whitsun wedding guests: free at last and loaded with the sum of all we have seen. There has been a feast of seeing. The handsome commemorative books setting this event in its context of past and recent history are dominated by photographs and ...

Braudel’s Long Term

Peter Burke, 10 January 1983

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: Vol. I. The Structures of Everyday Life 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Collins, 623 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 00 216303 9
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Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: Vol. II. The Wheels of Commerce 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Collins, 670 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 9780002161329
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Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècle: Vol. III. Le temps du monde 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 607 pp., frs 250, May 1979, 2 253 06457 2
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... Braudel is different. His thesis, on The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, was certainly long enough and ambitious enough – the first edition of the book ran to some six hundred thousand words, and it has since been considerably enlarged. As a result of the war, most of which he spent in a German prisoner-of-war camp near ...

God’s Iceberg

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 December 1986

The ‘Titanic’: The Full Story of a Tragedy 
by Michael Davie.
Bodley Head, 244 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780370307640
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The IT Girls: Elinor Glyn and Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon 
by Meredith Etherington-Smith and Jeremy Pilcher.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11950 2
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... the world’s markets’: these were the deaths that interested them. The English journalist Sir Philip Gibbs drew up a list of known millionaires. At the top of the league were Colonel Astor (£30 million), Ben Guggenheim, Peggy Guggenheim’s father (£20 million) and Isidor Straus, the owner of Macy’s (£10 ...

The Whole Secret of Clive James

Karl Miller, 22 May 1980

Unreliable Memoirs 
by Clive James.
Cape, 171 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 224 01825 6
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... suppose miss even now’. His mother’s life was gravely wounded by her husband’s death, and it drew the two survivors together in a bond which is movingly evoked. She is characterised in terms of her proximity to the author, while becoming, on such terms, a leading presence in the book: boastfully pleased with her bright, impressionable, exhibitionist ...

What would Plato have done?

Christopher Krebs: Plutarch’s Lives, 29 June 2017

The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives 
by Plutarch, translated by Pamela Mensch.
Norton, 393 pp., £28, March 2017, 978 0 393 29282 4
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... Chaeronea, a town in Boeotia in central Greece, was the site of a showdown in 338 bc between Philip II of Macedon and a coalition led by Athens and Thebes, Boeotia’s biggest city. Philip won the day. Three years later, Thebes was sacked by Philip’s son Alexander, and under Roman ...

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