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29 September 1988
The Satanic Verses 
by Salman Rushdie.
Viking, 547 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 670 82537 9
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The Lost Father 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 277 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3220 5
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Nice Work 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 277 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 436 25667 3
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... Britain, and, above all, to the global resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism. The title refers to a much-disputed incident in the life of the Prophet. Mohammed used to meet and converse with the angel Gabriel on a mountain near Mecca, and the verses of the Koran were dictated to him on these occasions. But one day, as a ninth-century historian tells us, while Mohammed was negotiating with the rulers of ...


James Wolcott: Updike should stay at home

1 January 2009
The Widows of Eastwick 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2008, 978 0 241 14427 5
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... uncritical celebration of this self-absorption both in themselves and in their characters.’ A decade later, Wallace is no longer with us, but two of the Great Male Narcissists he cited, Updike and Philip Roth, are still displaying their self-absorbency and depriving tender young empaths of valuable column inches. With an almost audible sigh, Updike concedes that the pups have a point. ‘He or she ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury

31 October 2002
... perhaps most to the point) ‘dangerous’. Charges of atheism and heresy against Marlowe filled the air at this time. Hints had appeared in print, in the loquacious pamphlets of Robert Greene and Gabriel Harvey and Thomas Nashe, but more damagingly precise were the reports of Government informers – a flourishing trade in the police-state atmosphere of late Elizabethan London. There are two key ...

Born to Network

Anthony Grafton

22 August 1996
The Fortunes of ‘The Courtier’: The European Reception of Castiglione’s ‘Cortegiano’ 
by Peter Burke.
Polity, 209 pp., £39.50, October 1995, 0 7456 1150 8
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... Northampton, studied the text closely, attending to Castiglione’s discussions of the arts as well as to his definition of the artless art of conversation. Others understood it more pragmatically. Gabriel Harvey, an ambitious Elizabethan policy wonk whose beautifully written marginalia offer some of the richest information we have about Early Modern ways of reading, annotated The Courtier in minute ...

Suffocating Suspense

Richard Davenport-Hines

16 March 2000
Cult Criminals: The Newgate Novels 1830-47 
by Juliet John.
Routledge, 2750 pp., £399, December 1998, 0 415 14383 7
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... based on the banker Henry Fauntleroy, who had been hanged for forgery before a crowd of 100,000 people at Newgate in 1824. The central male figure in Lucretia is an artist, murderer and forger called Gabriel Varney, who was reworked from elements in the life of the forger-poisoner Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. Bulwer-Lytton was the most distinguished of the sensationally popular Newgate novelists. His ...

Great Instructor

Charles Nicholl

31 August 1989
Ben Jonson: A Life 
by David Riggs.
Harvard, 399 pp., £27.95, April 1989, 0 674 06625 1
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... and tookst mad Jeronimoes part to get service amongst the mimickes.’ He must have been good: Hieronimo in Kyd’s evergreen Spanish Tragedy was a plum part. His first mention in the accounts of Philip Henslowe, manager of the Rose theatre, is the loan of £4 in ‘redey mony’ to ‘Bengemen Iohnson, player’. I wish he was here to pass comment on latest developments at the Rose. He would hardly ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell

11 October 1990
On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... appeared in print, in now-vanished magazines which he discusses interestingly – certainly future cultural historians should consult his remarks on X, Catacomb, and the New English Weekly edited by Philip Mairet, a man of integrity and enthusiasm whom Sisson affectionately evokes: ‘his eyes would light up as visibly as the bulbs on a pin-table, as the ideas rattled round.’ The bohemian world of ...

Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’

22 April 2010
Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... m out of touch. I read in the papers that Phil Archer, or at least Norman Painting, who played him, died recently, but is Jill still around? Where’s Shula? What’s with Eddie Grundy? Old Walter Gabriel must be long gone, but what happened to his scapegrace son, Nelson? Are the village shop and post office still open, or does everyone in Ambridge have to drive to Borchester to shop at Tesco? Is The ...
12 November 1987
The Poems of Tennyson 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Longman, 662 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 582 49239 4
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Tennyson’s ‘Maud’: A Definitive Edition 
edited by Susan Shatto.
Athlone, 296 pp., £28, August 1986, 0 485 11294 9
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The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Vol.2: 1851-1870 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 585 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 19 812691 3
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The New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 654 pp., £15.95, June 1987, 0 19 214154 6
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... Poe (in Emily Tennyson’s journal) refers to poems, not stories, and that there is no evidence that Tennyson knew this particular story. Do you read through every book given to you as a present? Philip Larkin, reviewing Ricks’s 1969 edition, singled out the lines ‘O why have they not buried me deep enough’ as shapeless and unrhythmical; he managed to find a Larkinesque side of Tennyson to ...


Jonathan Rée: Automata

9 May 2002
Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen 
by Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak.
Getty, 416 pp., £30, February 2002, 0 89236 590 0
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The Secret Life of Puppets 
by Victoria Nelson.
Harvard, 350 pp., £20.50, February 2002, 0 674 00630 5
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Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life 
by Gaby Wood.
Faber, 278 pp., £12.99, March 2002, 0 571 17879 0
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... Nelson has Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft rubbing shoulders with Kafka and Bruno Schulz, and Will Self and Lars von Trier with Carrington and Anna Kavan, as well as St Augustine, Giordano Bruno, Philip K. Dick, Walt Disney and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her cast of ‘imagined puppets’ ranges from the entertainers in Ben Jonson’s Bartholemew Fair, through E.T.A. Hoffmann’s weird Olympia to Karel Capek ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair

22 December 1994
Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... Romanticism, out there in the Fens, a John Piper with backbone, silhouetted against lowering skies, fretting to escape the inconvenience of some vulgar stiff and get at those rough flint churches. Philip Larkin (sans bicycle clips) with a Byronic makeover. Larkin reimagined by Barbara Cartland, all scowls and flashing coattails, piercing glances. This wholesome, outdoorsy Englishness, bracing weather ...
10 July 2003
... and Mountjoy, ‘in whose actions yet the image shines/Of ancient honour near worn out of date’. Yet Daniel – whose account of Bolingbroke’s usurpation, according to the Elizabethan writer Gabriel Harvey, was admired by Mountjoy – represents the coup as a ‘sin’. In words recalling Hayward’s assessment of its consequences, he explains that he wrote the poem ‘to show the deformities of ...

Wilderness of Tigers

Michael Neill: Shakespeare’s Latin

19 March 2015
Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity 
by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 281 pp., £16.99, September 2013, 978 0 19 968479 3
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... he pushed this sly generic mixture to violent extremes, deforming his epic subject by yoking it to snarling satire and romantic tragedy. It was such violations of classical decorum that so affronted Philip Sidney and caused him to rail against his contemporaries’ taste for ‘mongrel tragi-comedy’. Shakespeare liked nothing better than to tease or confound his audience’s expectations: he renders ...


Barbara Everett

31 March 1988
... the seven years that allowed first for the BA, then, for those who stayed on, the MA. Aristocrats and Roman Catholics went to the university earlier; sometimes much earlier; only eccentrics like Gabriel Harvey stayed for ever. These are the norms, and Hamlet’s intellectual youth, high in nuisance value, indicates that he adhered to these norms. Even the black of his mourning garments must have ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson

14 January 2002
... you sole editor of the ‘Review’ or was John Fuller a coeditor? No, I was the editor. We had a committee consisting of John Fuller, Francis Hope, Martin Dodsworth, Colin Falck, Michael Fried and Gabriel Pearson. We never had meetings or anything like that. There was a lot of correspondence, because John went to Buffalo for a year. So he wrote to me a lot from there. And Michael and Colin had already ...

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