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Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy

14 December 2006
Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... with a capital ‘R’, means Calvinist. The historian of the Jews in England was Cecil Roth, not Philip. Stephen Gosson never became a Catholic monk. Michel de Castelnau, the French ambassador, did not ‘trust’ that Elizabeth could be assassinated, and his secretary, Courcelles, did not become an English mole. (I confess that I said he did, but withdrew ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May

16 March 2017
Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... Farmhouse, a members’ club, a little piece of the metropolis that is a haven for the Chipping Norton set. Both May’s maternal and paternal grandmothers were in service and one of her great-grandfathers was a butler. As Rosa Prince writes, perhaps unnecessarily, Cameron’s ancestors ‘were more likely to employ maids than to work as servants’.May ...

I gotta use words

Mark Ford: Eliot speaks in tongues

10 August 2016
The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume I: Collected & Uncollected Poems 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 1311 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23870 5
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The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume II: Practical Cats & Further Verses 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 667 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23371 7
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... reference to ‘anaesthetic tables’), William James, James Thomson, William Acton, Charles-Louis Philippe, W.R. Burnett (a crime novelist in whose High Sierra – published in 1940 – the phrase ‘She was … a one-night-stand type’ occurs), Edward Winslow Martin (author of The Secrets of the Great City, 1868, which mentions ‘cheap hotels’), the ...
9 October 1986
The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... thought much about it’. After this avowal of broad-mindedness (the tale has already been told in Philip Williams’s Hugh Gaitskell) she was fit to be introduced to (Sir) Maurice Bowra and all the other intellectual roisterers. Was it really as simple and half-baked as this? Gaitskell, we learn, was ‘eager to fix his own identity through instructing others ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder

17 April 1986
Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... States, thanks to the inclusion of a short story of his, ‘The Babysitter’, in the appropriate Norton anthology. (I have taught it myself, and it is splendid seminar material.) The principal characters of ‘The Babysitter’ are a married couple going out to an evening party, their children, the babysitter, Jack (her boyfriend) and Jack’s buddy ...

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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... to Elizabeth which repeated the language of the play and which one of its authors, the MP Thomas Norton, was delegated to read to her. The second episode produced the meditations on tyranny and misgovernment in Sidney’s Arcadia and Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender and Mother Hubberds Tale. Michelle O’Callaghan’s essay in The Crisis of 1614 ...

Distraction v. Attraction

Barbara Everett: Ashbery, Larkin and Eliot

27 June 2002
... American-born Eliot (who hated Whitman, though he, too, was haunted by his rhythms), in ‘Burnt Norton’, the first of his Quartets, took his fellow London Tube-travellers through their usual endless Inner Circle of non-being. Five years later, these travellers would reappear in ‘East Coker’ on a more spiritual journey ‘into the dark’: the vacant ...

In the Tart Shop

Murray Sayle: How Sydney got its Opera House

5 October 2000
The Masterpiece: Jørn Utzon, a Secret Life 
by Philip Drew.
Hardie Grant, 574 pp., AUS $39.95, October 1999, 1 86498 047 8
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Jørn Utzon: The Sydney Opera House 
by Françoise Fromonot, translated by Christopher Thompson.
Electa/Gingko, 236 pp., £37.45, January 1998, 3 927258 72 5
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... the Danish master Jørn Utzon; the inside by a confused committee, or, as the Australian critic Philip Drew sourly calls them, ‘a conspiracy of nobodies’. It is a bittersweet story, and one that goes far to explain why most modern architecture is so awful. Like Sydney, the Opera House was a British idea. Sir Eugene Goossens, the violinist and ...

Gobsmacked

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare

16 July 1998
Lyric Wonder: Rhetoric and Wit in Renaissance English Poetry 
by James Biester.
Cornell, 226 pp., £31.50, May 1997, 0 8014 3313 4
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Reason Diminished: Shakespeare and the Marvellous 
by Peter Platt.
Nebraska, 271 pp., £42.75, January 1998, 0 8032 3714 6
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Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder 
by T.G. Bishop.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £32.50, January 1996, 0 521 55086 6
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The Genius of Shakespeare 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 386 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 330 35317 9
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... by the sword, taking rhetorical risks sometimes almost as fatal (in career terms at least) as Sir Philip Sidney’s neglect of his thigh-armour at Zutphen. He is particularly good on the dangers young would-be courtiers ran into in the 1590s when the dominant literary modes for pursuing advancement shifted from love poetry and pastoral to a mock-rebellion ...
1 May 1980
Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... They were supplied forthwith: Titian’s ‘Rape of Europa’; Rembrandt’s 1636 self-portrait; a Philip IV by Velazquez; Rubens’s Earl of Arundel – all for what seemed at the time phenomenal, that is to Say, ‘American’ prices. The proceeds from this stupendous bonanza enabled Berenson and his wife to instal themselves in I Tatti, already dreaming ...
21 May 1987
William Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1456 pp., £75, February 1987, 9780198129196
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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1432 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 19 812926 2
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... edition of that play in five years, following hard upon Harold Jenkins’s magisterial Arden and Philip Edwards’s serious Cambridge version.1 It may well be asked by non-Shakespearians and non-publishers whether all this editorial activity is needed, and by whom, and the Oxford team anticipates the question by asserting the boldness as well as the ...

Saint Shakespeare

Barbara Everett

19 August 2010
... of his half-sister Mary Tudor, who died childless (though married to the Spanish Catholic Philip II, some 30 years before the Armada). And Mary was succeeded by her half-sister, the Protestant Elizabeth Tudor (held by Rome to be a bastard well deserving execution and displacement by her cousin, the Catholic Mary Stuart of Scotland). Only 30 or 40 ...

The Politics of Translation

Marina Warner: Translate this!

11 October 2018
This Little Art 
by Kate Briggs.
Fitzcarraldo, 365 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 910695 45 6
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Translation as Transhumance 
by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz.
Les Fugitives, 150 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 0 9930093 3 4
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Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto 
by Mark Polizzotti.
MIT, 168 pp., £17.99, May 2018, 978 0 262 03799 0
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The 100 Best Novels in Translation 
by Boyd Tonkin.
Galileo, 304 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 903385 67 8
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The Work of Literary Translation 
by Clive Scott.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £75, June 2018, 978 1 108 42682 4
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... three years ago, or in Oliver Taplin’s recent, rhythmic and musical translation (published by Norton). At first, the rather self-satisfied claims of these accomplished artist-translators struck me as typical of the age of the selfie and the inflated CV, even when expressed with the verve of Polizzotti and the delicacy of Briggs’s aphoristic ...

Half-Fox

Seamus Perry: Ted Hughes

29 August 2013
Poet and Critic: The Letters of Ted Hughes and Keith Sagar 
edited by Keith Sagar.
British Library, 340 pp., £25, May 2013, 978 0 7123 5862 0
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Ted and I: A Brother’s Memoir 
by Gerald Hughes.
Robson, 240 pp., £16.99, October 2012, 978 1 84954 389 7
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... revolutionary and poetic’. He said he devoted thousands of hours to astrology. He once cast Philip Larkin’s horoscope, probably an underappreciated service. All of which implies cultural history painted with the broadest of brushes: the villain of the piece is the Renaissance, that catastrophe of individualism, which gave birth at once to the hubris ...

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