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Incriminating English

Randolph Quirk, 24 September 1992

Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... or with hackneyed and misleading metaphors like ‘the language of clothes’. So I turn to Richard Bailey’s Images of English: exhilarating material drawn from the less gleaned acres of language history. On the controversies over post-Renaissance style, we have not only Gil, Bullokar and Puttenham but Camden, Carew and Verstegan. On the 19th-century ...

Scrapbook

Edward Pearce, 26 July 1990

A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... Two images of Quintin Hogg suggest themselves. Perched upon the horsehair seat known as the Woolsack is the Lord Chancellor, hands clasped at the top of his walking-stick, tricorn hat sitting on his full-bottomed wig. On such a formal occasion he looked totally a man of the 18th century, so much did the face and manner fit the rigout ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians’ Spouses, 11 June 2009

... like a good investment. For the moment the most notorious of the sub-prime other halves remains Richard Timney, husband and parliamentary aide to the home secretary. On the London Review blog last month Jenny Diski wrote that for the MPs involved, the expenses scandal is ‘like being a grown-up caught picking your nose and eating it’. For Jacqui ...

Spaced

Michael Neve, 3 September 1981

The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas de Quincey 
by Grevel Lindop.
Dent, 433 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 460 04358 7
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... night till Friday morning. Opium and its effects here receive the jawgrinding judgment of James Hogg, the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’, in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1823, soon after the appearance of Thomas de Quincey’s celebrated Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Hogg delivers what might be called the Scottish verdict ...

Shelley in Season

Richard Holmes, 16 October 1980

The Unacknowledged Legislator: Shelley and Politics 
by P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 312 pp., £16.50, June 1980, 0 19 812095 8
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Shelley and his World 
by Claire Tomalin.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 9780500130681
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... are always shrewd and highly personal. She prefers Peacock of all the close friends, and notes how Hogg was continually jealous of Shelley’s inexplicable success with the women in every household ‘from mistress to maidservant’. She sympathises with Mary’s dilemma, and justly observes the familiar pattern of ‘the benevolent man whose benevolence ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays, 8 November 2018

... in a letter to Murray III about Samuel Wilberforce’s hostile review of Origin of Species is Richard Owen, the palaeontologist who coined the word ‘dinosaur’, and who disagreed with Darwin about the transmutation of species. Hooker’s suggestion that Wilberforce, who is too often cast as merely a bigoted reactionary, had been ‘made a tool of’ by ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... judge would have sat comfortably in a tradition of Scottish eccentricity that includes James Hogg’s The Shepherd’s Calendar, John Galt’s ‘theoretical histories’ and Margaret Oliphant’s tales of terror. It’s common to think of Blackwood’s as a stolid redoubt of middlebrow English respectability, the kind of torpid organ invoked by Orwell ...

Hatching, Splitting, Doubling

James Lasdun: Smooching the Swan, 21 August 2003

Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self 
by Marina Warner.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2002, 0 19 818726 2
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... to Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno stories, taking in works by Michelangelo, Col-eridge, Hogg, Stevenson, Kafka, Jean Rhys and numerous others. It is a short book, but dense. Warner’s highly complex line of argument, winding around so much material, and so tightly, produces a compacted, even crabbed architecture. You feel like you’ve stepped ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories, 24 January 2013

The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... however deceptive at bottom – to be non-ideological. In The Case for Conservatism (1947) Quintin Hogg, later Lord Hailsham, had contended that whereas socialism was an all-encompassing philosophy of change, Conservatism was a disposition of relative contentment, and one, moreover, that accorded a very circumscribed place to politics in the range of human ...

How to Shoe a Flea

James Meek: Nikolai Leskov, 25 April 2013

‘The Enchanted Wanderer’ and Other Stories 
by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Vintage, 608 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 09 957735 5
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The Enchanted Wanderer 
by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Ian Dreiblatt.
Melville House, 256 pp., £8.99, August 2012, 978 1 61219 103 4
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... places the burden of compassion on the reader. It didn’t happen that way. In his introduction Richard Pevear makes the case that Russia’s liberal intelligentsia mistakenly labelled Leskov a reactionary on the basis of a carelessly worded editorial he wrote in the Northern Bee in 1862, seemingly linking radicals to a spate of suspicious fires in St ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley, 8 February 2001

Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... Richard Holmes published Shelley: The Pursuit in 1974. More than a decade later, in Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (1985), he recalled how obsessive his engagement gradually became, not just with Shelley, but with that whole group of English expatriates associated with him, as it moved from Geneva through Italy – Bagni di Lucca, Este, Venice, Rome, Naples, Ravenna, Pisa – shedding some members and adding others, before finally disintegrating when Shelley and Edward Williams were drowned off Leghorn in July 1822 ...

Old Europe

Jeremy Harding: Britain in Bosnia, 20 February 2003

Indictment at The Hague: The Milosevic Regime and the Crimes of the Balkan Wars 
by Norman Cigar and Paul Williams.
New York, 339 pp., $24.95, July 2002, 0 8147 1626 1
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Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia 
by Brendan Simms.
Penguin, 464 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 14 028983 6
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Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo 
by Fred Abrahams.
Human Rights Watch, 593 pp., £18, October 2001, 1 56432 264 5
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Milosevic: A Biography 
by Adam LeBor.
Bloomsbury, 386 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 7475 6090 0
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... of him at the end of the 1980s was his undoing a decade later. By the time the US negotiator Richard Holbrooke met him days before the bombing began, there was no going back. Holbrooke told Milosevic, ‘It will start very soon after I leave,’ and Milosevic told Holbrooke: ‘There is nothing more I can say.’ The most intriguing aspect of the bombing ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... nearest bushes, possessed by ‘a single unmixed instinct of fear for his young and happy life’. Richard Holmes’s impressive and absorbing Firing Line shows how accurately Tolstoy projected, in this episode and others, the psychology of troops in battle. Holmes quotes Lieutenant David Tinker on his first experience, during the Falklands War, of being ...

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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... and John Morris (both of whom wrote elegant memoirs of Orwell at the BBC); he employed Nye Bevan, Richard Acland, J.B.S. Haldane, T.S. Eliot, Quintin Hogg, Bernard Shaw; he led a BBC party, that included Guy Burgess, to a special de-briefing by Stafford Cripps on his abortive mission to India. Working for the BBC gave ...

A Pickwick among Poets, Exiled in the Fatherland of Pickled Fish

Colin Burrow: British Latin verse, 19 August 1999

The English Horace: Anthony Alsop and the Traditions of British Latin Verse 
by D.K. Money.
Oxford, 406 pp., £38, December 1998, 0 19 726184 1
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... the beached experiments, the gatherers of dust: the Latin translation of Paradise Lost by William Hogg, the versions of Spenser’s Shepeardes Calender by Theodore Bathurst and John Dove (both of which experiment vigorously with Latin metrical form), the stately Latin transformation of Absalom and Achitophel by Francis Atterbury. David Money’s learned book ...

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