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Richard Jenkyns: George Grote’s ‘A History of Greece’, 9 August 2001

A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 BC 
by George Grote, edited by J.M. Mitchell and M.O.B. Caspari.
Routledge, 978 pp., £60, September 2000, 0 415 22369 5
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... heaped on them; and his challenge to the most potent name in Greek historiography provoked from Richard Shilleto, a Cambridge don, a riposte entitled simply Thucydides or Grote? That may be a more complex question than Shilleto realised. Thucydides argued that the Athenian Empire was hated by its subject peoples; admirers of Athenian democracy are naturally ...

Coaxing and Seducing

Richard Jenkyns: Lucretius, 3 September 1998

Lucretius: ‘On the Nature of the Universe’ 
translated by Ronald Melville.
Oxford, 275 pp., £45, November 1998, 0 19 815097 0
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... Lucretius is unique among the great poets of the world – and he ranks with the greatest – in having failed completely in his central purpose not only in his own time but ever since. For he is an evangelist, and his aim is to save us; unmistakably, he is a man who has been through a conversion experience, and he now wants to convert us, too. If we will only accept the truth of the philosophy of Epicurus, and live in accordance with its precepts, we shall be freed from the fear of death – indeed, death will become a matter of indifference to us – and enjoy a life worthy of the gods ...

A Mile or Two outside Worthing

Richard Jenkyns: Edward Trelawny, 26 November 1998

Lord Byron’s Jackal: A Life of Trelawny 
by David Crane.
HarperCollins, 398 pp., £19.99, July 1998, 0 00 255631 6
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... And shall Trelawny die? It seems not, since David Crane’s book is the fourth life of him to have been published in the last sixty years. Yet it is an odd sort of immortality which leaves a man with someone else’s name in the title of his biography. It was Joseph Severn, the amiable artist whose kindness sweetened Keats’s last months, who referred to Trelawny as ‘Lord Byron’s jackal ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns, 11 December 1997

Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... He discriminates between both periods and authors, drawing out the ‘passion for Heaven’ in Richard Baxter, the ‘clarity and assurance’ characteristic of Watts, Addison’s gentlemanliness, Charles Wesley’s ‘physicality’, Montgomery as ‘the greatest hymn-writer on the difficult subject of prayer’, the whisper and privacy in Keble’s ...


Richard Jenkyns, 3 April 1997

Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity 
by Dianne Sachko Macleod.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £65, October 1996, 0 521 55090 4
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... Dianne Sachko Macleod’s Art and the Victorian Middle Class opens up a new world: it answers some questions that have hitherto been asked in vain and others which we may not have thought of asking at all. What sort of people collected paintings in the 19th century? How far did they specialise, or were their tastes catholic? What were their motives? Did they buy from artists or dealers, or did they commission works to their own specifications? Who earned the most? How did prices fluctuate? Despite some substantial faults, Macleod’s book has notable virtues also, the first and foremost being that it is a splendid work of research ...

Common Sense and the Classics

Dinah Birch, 25 June 1992

Dignity and Decadence: Victorian Art and the Classical Inheritance 
by Richard Jenkyns.
HarperCollins, 363 pp., £20, November 1991, 0 00 223843 8
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... is a continuing faith that it represented something well worth having in their own benighted age. Richard Jenkyns has been one of the liveliest and most persuasive interpreters of the Classical legacy in Victorian culture. The Victorians and Ancient Greece, published in 1980, was a book that mattered. Cogent and formidably well-informed, it examined an ...

Eminent Athenians

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 1 October 1981

The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain 
by Frank Turner.
Yale, 461 pp., £18.90, April 1981, 0 300 02480 0
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... It is natural to contrast this book with The Victorians and Ancient Greece, by Richard Jenkyns, reviewed by me in the issue of this journal for 21 August-3 September 1980 (Vol. 2, No 16). Mr Jenkyns is a Classical scholar and a smooth and polished writer; I wrote that he ‘offers a great deal of information, clearly and pleasingly ...

Princes and Poets

Niall Rudd, 4 August 1983

The Augustan Idea in English Literature 
by Howard Erskine-Hill.
Arnold, 379 pp., £33.50, May 1983, 0 7131 6373 9
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by G.P. Goold.
Duckworth, 266 pp., £24, January 1983, 0 7156 1435 5
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Three Classical Poets: Sappho, Catullus and Juvenal 
by Richard Jenkyns.
Duckworth, 242 pp., £24, May 1982, 0 7156 1636 6
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... of Catullus for years to come. As readers of The Victorians and Ancient Greece will know, Richard Jenkyns is an accomplished literary critic with the professional training of a Classicist. The preface to his new book is slightly misleading. One might infer from his attack on one-sidedness and reductivism that he intended to employ a variety of ...


Colin Burrow: Virgil, 2 March 2000

Virgil’s Experience: Nature and History; Times, Names and Places 
by Richard Jenkyns.
Oxford, 712 pp., £50, November 1988, 0 19 814033 9
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... but exhilaratingly willing to enjoy variety in landscape and in peoples. The best thing about Richard Jenkyns’s book is its readiness to shift critical attention away from Virgil’s politics towards his treatment of places and their relation to history. As he shows, place in Virgil is charged with emotion, with complex political affiliations, and ...

Feet on the mantelpiece

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 21 August 1980

The Victorians and Ancient Greece 
by Richard Jenkyns.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £15, June 1980, 0 631 10991 9
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... In England also, the second half of the 18th century saw a new enthusiasm for Greek culture. Mr Jenkyns devotes most of his first chapter to the travellers in Greek lands and the effect of their work upon the arts, especially architecture. The Classical style provided the reaction against the baroque and the rococo with exact principles: here Greek ...

Aspasia’s Sisters

Mary Lefkowitz, 1 September 1983

The Family, Women and Death: Comparative Studies 
by Sally Humphreys.
Routledge, 210 pp., £15, March 1983, 0 7100 9322 5
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The Golden Lyre: The Themes of the Greek Lyric Poets 
by David Campbell.
Duckworth, 312 pp., £28, February 1983, 0 7156 1563 7
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... and political events for which little evidence exists other than the poems themselves. Unlike Richard Jenkyns in his recent essay on Sappho, Campbell interposes as little of himself as possible. Succinct comments on style and word choice (Campbell is especially acute about Homeric resonances) help to convey to the reader who knows no Greek nuances ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... the Oxford Movement pullulated with passionate attachments; two of the most frank avowals, which Richard Jenkyns quotes in his masterly study of the Victorian conception of Ancient Greece, came from Disraeli. Of course there were in the Nineties the Uranians and the aesthetes, disciples of Cory or Symonds or Carpenter, who justified their inclinations ...

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