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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 ...

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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... are more good writers per square mile in Montana and Idaho than anywhere else in the States. The irony is that the writers themselves are often obscured by the area’s remoteness from the rest of the country. Montana and Idaho took off in the late Sixties, when real estate was cheap, plentiful and luring the likes of Tom McGuane, Tim Cahill, Jeff ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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... the least jokey about the Wednesfield A to Z. It is a painstaking tribute to the blacksmiths and ironfounders of a Staffordshire town who for generations took on the duty of regulating the more tiresome elements of the brute creation; or as Stuart Haddon-Riddoch puts it, producing ‘an ecological balance in our ever-changing countryside’; or, as the ...

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 ...

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 ...
... 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 ...

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 ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... to register some of the odd consequences of a 1990 book which battens on an 1887 one, consider the ironical dedication by Byron to the renegade Southey. It made cultural sense for Wheatley, in a Victorian world endemically hostile to verse satire, to judge that Byron’s brilliantly scathing dedication of Don Juan was ‘discreditable’: ‘It does no credit ...

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 ...

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 ...

Consider the lions

Peter Campbell, 22 July 1993

The House of Gold 
by Richard Goy.
Cambridge, 304 pp., £60, January 1993, 0 521 40513 0
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The Palace of the Sun 
by Robert Berger.
Pennsylvania State, 232 pp., £55, April 1993, 0 271 00847 4
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... in Paris, but it is still the most impressive and among the most magisterially consistent. Richard Goy and Robert Berger, in their respective accounts of the construction of the Cà d’Oro and of Louis XIV’s Louvre, remove ambiguities which hang around the word ‘built’. They ask who made decisions, who paid, and how much, and why each building ...

Baring his teeth

Peter Clarke, 25 June 1992

The Macmillans: The Story of a Dynasty 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 370 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 17502 1
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... the chairman corrected her. ‘ “Mr Harold” has.’ Here, in a nutshell, is the theme of Richard Davenport-Hines’s book. Its early chapters form a heroic chronicle of upward social mobility. We first encounter an earlier Daniel Macmillan as a mid 18th-century crofter, scratching a living from the desolate but sublime landscape of the Isle of ...

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