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Diary

Richard Wollheim: On A.J. Ayer, 27 July 1989

... à fait troisème programme, by which she meant that its intellectual content was diluted. T.S. Gregory, another producer, an ex-priest, requisitioned great swathes of studio time, then of broadcasting time, for unscripted, unrehearsed discussions of the going philosophical issues, in the belief that the public not only wanted to hear philosophy, they ...

What he did

Frank Kermode, 20 March 1997

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 640 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 19 211735 1
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... and to fail to acquire French a great disappointment. His friendships with such as Lady Gregory and Arthur Symons offered him only limited access to either language. Despite his wretched start and these persistent incapacities, he became a remarkably well-read intellectual, with a passion for Nietzsche, for Plato and Neoplatonism, for learned ...

By All Possible Art

Tobias Gregory: George Herbert, 18 December 2014

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert 
by John Drury.
Penguin, 396 pp., £9.99, April 2014, 978 0 14 104340 1
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... all be going to hell. That’ll answer them. Herbert has influenced poets from Henry Vaughan and Richard Crashaw to Dylan Thomas and Geoffrey Hill. And not only poets; reading Herbert has made converts, even in modern times. While reciting ‘Love (III)’, the famous last poem in The Temple, Simone Weil felt that ‘Christ himself descended and took ...

The Sword is Our Pope

Alexander Murray: Religion in Europe, 15 October 1998

The Conversion of Europe: From Paganism to Christianity, 371-1386 AD 
by Richard Fletcher.
HarperCollins, 562 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 00 255203 5
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... is this ensemble, stretching across a millennium and round thousands of miles of coastline, that Richard Fletcher has taken as his subject in The Conversion of Europe. What concerns him is not the conversion of this or that people but all medieval conversions (including conversions between Christianity and its two rival monotheisms, Judaism and Islam, which ...

Freebooter

Maurice Keen: The diabolical Sir John Hawkwood, 5 May 2005

Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Faber, 366 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 9780571219087
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... between 1368 and 1372 principally in that of Bernarbò Visconti, between 1372 and 1377 in that of Gregory XI. In 1377 he returned to Bernarbò, when the latter was briefly in alliance with Florence, in the War of the Eight Saints. From 1380 on, he was more or less continuously in the pay of Florence, though he commanded armies also for the house of Durazzo in ...

Doing Some Measuring ahead of Time

Richard Davenport-Hines: Sade in Prison, 9 August 2001

Letters from Prison 
by the Marquis de Sade, translated by Richard Seaver.
Harvill, 401 pp., £20, October 2000, 1 86046 807 1
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De Sade's Valet 
by Nikolaj Frobenius, translated by Tom Geddes.
Marion Boyars, 242 pp., £9.95, November 2000, 0 7145 3060 3
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... I learned to ski in prison,’ Gregory Corso wrote, having discovered that there’s nothing much for prisoners to do except imagine, fantasise and, what often follows, masturbate. Although the chief interest in Sade’s Letters from Prison lies in tracing the stimulus incarceration gave to his literary imagination, one should honour in passing his phenomenal achievements in solitary vice ...

Instant Depths

Michael Wood, 7 July 1994

The Cryptogram 
by David Mamet.
The Ambassador's Theatre
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A Whore’s Profession: Notes and Essays 
by David Mamet.
Faber, 412 pp., £12.99, June 1994, 0 571 17076 5
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... plays, and he directed Oleanna in London; but other, more oblique influences now hover in the air. Gregory Mosher, the director of The Cryptogram, thinks Oleanna was ‘Shavian’, and the new play has undercurrents of Chekhov, even Ibsen. At the end, as in The Wild Duck, a child takes off to an attic to die, the victim of the games adults don’t quite know ...

At the V&A

Esther Chadwick: Opus Anglicanum, 5 January 2017

... and the Fleming Stephen Vyne, whose recommendation from the duc de Berry secured him work with Richard II. (The remarkable number of known names attests to these craftsmen’s prestige, although it’s rare that individual pieces can be attached to a particular maker. The case of an early 14th-century band embroidered with a text from the Litany of the ...

They rudely stare about

Tobias Gregory: Thomas Browne, 4 July 2013

‘Religio Medici’ and ‘Urne-Buriall’ 
by Thomas Browne, edited by Stephen Greenblatt and Ramie Targoff.
NYRB, 170 pp., £7.99, September 2012, 978 1 59017 488 3
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... would have been fascinated by the scientific methods that enabled the recent identification of Richard III’s bones and would not have been surprised that the remains of the last Plantagenet king should be discovered beneath a Leicester car park. ‘Grave-stones tell truth scarce fourty years.’ Nor should we bet on the posthumous survival of our ...

‘Turbot, sir,’ said the waiter

E.S. Turner, 4 April 1991

After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse 
by Richard Usborne.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £15.99, February 1991, 0 09 174712 0
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... restlessness in After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse. Readers of this journal may recall a Diary by Richard Usborne (LRB, 4 October 1984) in which a determined investigation into the origins of Wodehouse’s use of ‘exquisite Tanagra figurine’ led to an evocation of the days when cut-price Boeotian coroplasts cluttered the shops of St Tropez. That Diary is ...

Megawoman

Penelope Fitzgerald, 13 October 1988

Olive Schreiner: Letters. Vol. 1: 1871-1899 
edited by Richard Rive.
Oxford, 409 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 19 812220 9
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... Her lover rides a hundred miles to see her, and her dull cousin’s fiancé, Gregory Rose, leaves everything to follow her. ‘What makes you all love me so?’ she asks. But Olive, by her own account, had read, at this stage, no other fiction at all. And the African Farm, as it goes on, is a very strange book. Lyndall, in the end, is ...

The Powyses

D.A.N. Jones, 7 August 1980

After My Fashion 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 286 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 330 26049 9
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Weymouth Sands 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 567 pp., £2.95, June 1980, 0 330 26050 2
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Recollections of the Powys Brothers 
edited by Belinda Humfrey.
Peter Owen, 288 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 7206 0547 4
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John Cowper Powys and David Jones: A Comparative Study 
by Jeremy Hooker.
Enitharmon, 54 pp., £3.75, April 1979, 0 901111 85 6
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The Hollowed-Out Elder Stalk 
by Roland Mathias.
Enitharmon, 158 pp., £4.85, May 1979, 0 901111 87 2
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John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest 
by Morine Krissdottir.
Macdonald, 218 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 354 04492 3
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... to life, unusual in a man in his late forties. The hero of After My Fashion is a self-portrait. Richard Storm has returned to Sussex from Paris, where he has made a name for himself with his critical appreciations of modern French writers. The first man he meets is a young painter, Robert Canyot, a traditionalist who thinks ...

Dining with Ivan the Terrible

Malcolm Gaskill: Seeking London’s Fortune, 8 February 2018

London’s Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City 
by Stephen Alford.
Allen Lane, 316 pp., £20, April 2017, 978 0 241 00358 9
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... His family had been established in Norfolk since the late 14th century; his father, Sir Richard, was a cloth merchant (or mercer), who had thrived first on the patronage of Cardinal Wolsey and then of Thomas Cromwell, and had been knighted for his success in procuring foreign loans. Richard even had the nerve to ...

Terkinesque

Sheila Fitzpatrick: A Leninist version of Soviet history, 1 September 2005

The Soviet Century 
by Moshe Lewin, edited by Gregory Elliott.
Verso, 416 pp., £25, February 2005, 1 84467 016 3
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... That said, Verso surely published Lewin’s manuscript – and went to the trouble of getting Gregory Elliott to edit it – out of respect for a man who is not only a major scholar of Soviet history but also a figure of distinction in the world of radical historians. On the assumption that many people will approach the book wanting to know how he has ...

How to Twist a Knife

Colin Burrow: Wolf Hall, 30 April 2009

Wolf Hall 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 653 pp., April 2009, 978 0 00 723018 1
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... that when Sir Henry Wyatt, father of the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, was imprisoned in the Tower by Richard III he was fed by a cat which brought him a dead pigeon. In Wolf Hall this piece of family mythology becomes a tale that Sir Henry, on the edge of retirement, relates himself, with a rheumy twinkle of unreliability in his eye. A factually implausible ...

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