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Bad Nights at ‘The Libertine’

Keith Walker, 8 October 1992

Handel’s ‘Messiah’: A Celebration 
by Richard Luckett.
Gollancz, 258 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 575 05286 4
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The Rise of Musical Classics in 18th-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology 
by William Weber.
Oxford, 274 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 816287 1
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... the virtual extinction of original English music for more than a hundred years’. Richard Luckett will have no truck with cultural snobbery of this sort, even if he fastidiously forgets ‘Hallelujah’ when he writes that in ‘For now is Christ risen’ Christ is ‘named for the first time in Messiah’. His quirky, learned, acerbic book ...

Diary

Richard Wollheim: In South Africa, 3 July 1986

... what looked like the embers of an Australian bush fire. Charred wood, broken bits of corrugated iron, grass long trodden to dust, and pools of water the colour of milk chocolate. At regular intervals young fair-haired soldiers peered out of their troop-carriers to see if somewhere in this scene of desolation there was still the threatening presence of ...

Homage to the Provinces

Peter Campbell, 22 March 1990

Wright of Derby 
by Judy Egerton.
Tate Gallery, 294 pp., £25, February 1990, 1 85437 038 3
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... is similar to the one Ingres put M. Bertin the banker in) would be used again in the portrait of Richard Arkwright. Miss Cracroft from the same year is a tumble of satin and lace; a veil blows from her shoulder and flowers garland her bosom, but despite the mobile stuffs her face is as still, her back as rigid, as Anne Bateman’s. The catalogue suggests ...

Who’s Got the Moxie?

A. Craig Copetas, 23 March 1995

The Mexican Tree Duck 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 247 pp., £15.99, May 1994, 0 330 32451 9
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One to Count Cadence 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 338 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 330 32450 0
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... is all plastic surgery and cholesterol-free restaurants, the North Country is veterinarians and iron skillets. Over a hundred years ago, the North Country was the last stepping stone to the fulfilment of America’s manifest destiny. Vietnam turned the Great American Dream of the 19th century into the Great American Scheme, leaving Montana and Idaho to be ...

Lancastrian Spin

Simon Walker: Usurpation, 10 June 1999

England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399-1422 
by Paul Strohm.
Yale, 274 pp., £25, August 1998, 0 300 07544 8
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... Six hundred years ago this summer, Richard II lost his throne. Preoccupied by the attempt to shore up his failing Irish peace settlement, Richard unwisely delayed his return to the mainland in order to confront a rumoured uprising, and landed to find his kingdom already slipping from his grasp ...
... shall all be a lot wiser – and sadder too, quite likely. Either we shall have found out that the Iron Lady is impregnable or she herself will have been found out. Margaret Thatcher is the favourite politician of those who like an exciting life. Her maxim in politics – she has claimed it as Thatche’s Law – is that the unexpected always ...

We stop the words

David Craig: A.L. Kennedy, 16 September 1999

Everything you need 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 567 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 224 04433 8
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... masochistic fantasies, puts Glenn Gould on his CD player, and gets ready to hang himself from an iron hook in the central beam of his cottage, or almost hang himself – well, just enough to give himself ‘that big, blank, hot-mouthing, hair-lifting, sexy, sexy fear that he only ever met at times like this’. Must I read this? ‘You must know ...

Catchers in the Rye

E.S. Turner: Modes of Comeuppance, 3 August 2006

Rural Reflections: A Brief History of Traps, Trapmakers and Gamekeeping in Britain 
by Stuart Haddon-Riddoch.
Argyll, 416 pp., £40, April 2006, 1 902831 96 9
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... slaughter meted out by uncaring landowners that eventually provoked outrage. The victims of the ‘iron wolf’, as Richard Jeffries called it, included not only poachers but maidservants, clergymen, courting couples, botanisers and bird-nesting boys as well as members of the owner’s family and his absent-minded ...

Save us from saviours

Thomas Pavel: E.M. Cioran, 27 May 2010

Searching for Cioran 
by Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston.
Indiana, 284 pp., £18.99, March 2009, 978 0 253 35267 5
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A Short History of Decay 
by E.M. Cioran, translated by Richard Howard.
Penguin, 186 pp., £9.99, May 2010, 978 0 14 119272 7
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... message. Violence was also essential. The Legion’s paramilitary branch, appropriately called the Iron Guard, was responsible for several assassinations in the 1930s. The government answered in kind, arranging for the murder of the Iron Guard’s early leaders. But far from weakening the Legion’s influence, the mixture of ...

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 ...

Mystery and Imagination

Stephen Bann, 17 November 1983

The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge Luis Borges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... the Modernist text. For Blatty, the extreme degree of metaphysical licence is kept in check by the iron hand of a traditional narrative strategy. It is actually very well done, if you submit yourself willingly to this kind of manipulative grasp. But what has been lost is any sense that the writer is more than an accomplished technician, for whom even Lucifer ...

Keep your eye on the tide, Jock

Tom Shippey: Naval history, 4 June 1998

The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol. I, 660-1649 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HarperCollins, 691 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 00 255128 4
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Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe 
by Bert Hall.
Johns Hopkins, 300 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 8018 5531 4
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... even now by memories from school. Till I read N.A.M. Rodger’s book I could not have placed Richard Grenville and the Revenge within twenty years, nor had any idea what he was doing ‘at Flores in the Azores’; nor do I know even yet (for Rodger is certainly not going to mention it) who wrote the poem about him, but I can remember whole stanzas of ...

Raised Eyebrows

Eleanor Birne: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 5 October 2006

Half of a Yellow Sun 
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Fourth Estate, 433 pp., £14.99, August 2006, 0 00 720027 7
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... Odenigbo; Olanna, rich and beautiful, who is Odenigbo’s girlfriend, and later his wife; and Richard, a white Englishman and Olanna’s sister’s lover. It spans the decade to the end of the Biafran war of 1967-70, in which more than a million people died. Its focus is the impact of the war on these characters and the characters they interact with. The ...

Advantage Pyongyang

Richard Lloyd Parry, 9 May 2013

The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future 
by Victor Cha.
Bodley Head, 527 pp., £14.99, August 2012, 978 1 84792 236 6
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... eventually, rebellion. The dungeon in which North Koreans languish is more impenetrable than the Iron Curtain ever was, and Choco Pies alone will never have the allure of Levis and Audis. But seeds have germinated at Kaesong which could not have been sown in any other way. Far from the surrender to extortion which their enemies made them out to be, the ...

Done for the State

John Guy: The House of York, 2 April 2020

The Brothers York: An English Tragedy 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 688 pp., £12.99, April, 978 0 7181 9728 5
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Richard III: The Self-Made King 
by Michael Hicks.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21429 1
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... claim was by lineal descent from Edward III, and was a strong one if you ignored the deposition of Richard II in 1399. In the mid-1450s, Richard, Duke of York, Edward’s father and England’s pushiest peer, had twice attempted to sideline Henry VI, who suffered from lengthy spells of mental illness and was repelled by the ...

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