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At the Saatchi Gallery

Peter Campbell: London’s new art gallery, 8 May 2003

... having your attention, and is then often vague or crass about what to do with it. Only one piece, Richard Wilson’s 20:50, a room-sized tank of sump oil, borrows much force from the building. It is even more effective here, reflecting wood panelling, windows and the sky beyond, than it was in the collection’s former gallery in St John’s Wood, where it ...

A Smile at My Own Temerity

John Barrell: William Hogarth, 16 February 2017

William Hogarth: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings 
by Elizabeth Einberg.
Yale, 432 pp., £95, November 2016, 978 0 300 22174 9
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... of this definition seem to tell a different story. They include a letter of 1829 by Charles Lamb, in which he speaks of ‘true broad Hogarthian fun’, and an essay by Carlyle of 1837: ‘There is nothing more Hogarthian comic.’ Next comes Swinburne, fifty years later, speaking of ‘an excellent Hogarthian comedy, full of rapid and vivid ...

Suffocating Suspense

Richard Davenport-Hines, 16 March 2000

Cult Criminals: The Newgate Novels 1830-47 
by Juliet John.
Routledge, 2750 pp., £399, December 1998, 0 415 14383 7
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... of the mother as a Vernon.’ After an infatuation at 16, and a later scandal with Lady Caroline Lamb, Bulwer-Lytton married in 1827 an Irishwoman, Rosina Wheeler. His mother severed his allowance as a mark of her displeasure. This forced him to write for money and increased the attraction for him of déclassé men. The life of Bill Gawtrey, in Night and ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester: A Memoir, 5 July 2001

... for confidences about money. My mother used his mollycoddling of me – whom he called his ‘pet lamb’ – as her excuse for favouring my sister, saying that my father had so totally appropriated me, their first-born, with his adoration that, when they had a second child, she had no alternative to loving her more than he did and more than she did me. She ...

Worse than Pagans

Tom Shippey: The Church v. the Fairies, 1 December 2016

Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church 
by Richard Firth Green.
Pennsylvania, 285 pp., £36, August 2016, 978 0 8122 4843 2
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... or, alternatively, a bastard – both accusations could get you into trouble. The word was used of Richard II as well, another less-than-royal king. In Piers Plowman, Dame Study calls the Dreamer a ‘conyon’ – an impostor, Green suggests, pretending to be a proper clerk. The most striking instances of people being described as changelings, however, are to ...

Alphabeted

Barbara Everett: Coleridge the Modernist, 7 August 2003

Coleridge’s Notebooks: A Selection 
edited by Seamus Perry.
Oxford, 264 pp., £17.99, June 2002, 0 19 871201 4
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works I: Poems (Reading Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1608 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00483 8
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works II: Poems (Variorum Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1528 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00484 6
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works III: Plays 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1620 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 09883 2
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... function, she thinks of verse as private and therefore inconsiderable, grouping Coleridge with Lamb (in many ways the best literary critic of his age) as a pair of malingerers: ‘Like Coleridge in “Kubla Khan” . . . Lamb values literature as fantasy, otherness; in some sense magical. It is the mal du siècle.’ In ...

Magnanimity

Richard Altick, 3 December 1981

The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 312 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 300 02739 7
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... countenance even when describing the ‘ardent and inspired nuttiness’ of figures like Charlie Lamb, the Earl of Eglinton’s half-brother, who peopled his ‘Camelot of battlemented hutches’ with several hundred guinea pigs which he transformed into knights, counts and dukes and further dignified with elaborate coats-of-arms, and Sir Kenelm Digby, a man ...

The Old Corrector

Richard Altick, 4 November 1982

Fortune and Men’s Eyes: The Career of John Payne Collier 
by Dewey Ganzel.
Oxford, 454 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 212231 2
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... and skilfully argued review is that Collier was not guilty as charged. Granted that he was no lamb among the wolves, was he the victim of an outright conspiracy? Although Ganzel uses the word, there was never a conspiracy in the sense that a whole cabal, a veritable mutton-chop mafia, merging their individual grievances into a common hatred of ...

Prophet in a Tuxedo

Richard J. Evans: Walter Rathenau, 22 November 2012

Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman 
by Shulamit Volkov.
Yale, 240 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 300 14431 4
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... frugality of his dinners, where, the writer Franz Blei complained, one could expect only ‘fish, lamb cutlets and dumplings … a tiny glass of champagne, never refilled by the servant’ and ‘that bottomless pot of black coffee, intended to keep the guests awake till the early morning’, while Rathenau delivered speeches, in Kessler’s ...

Angels and Dirt

Robert Dingley, 20 November 1980

Stanley Spencer RA 
by Richard Carline, Andrew Causey and Keith Bell.
Royal Academy/Weidenfeld, 239 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 297 77831 5
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... the material world remains essentially his own, a mode of seeing akin to that detected by Charles Lamb in the comic actor Joseph Munden: ‘A tub of butter, contemplated by him, amounts to a Platonic idea. He understands a leg of mutton in its quiddity. He stands wondering, amid the commonplace materials of life, like primaeval man with the sun and stars ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... pseudo-archaic ‘unhand me, grey-beard loon’, and by parodies; but now, having just finished Richard Holmes’s admirable Coleridge: Early Visions, I read it again, and very glad I am that I did so. The sea, the ship and her company may not belong to this world in any literal sense, but at times they blaze with a most uncommon splendour.And how ...

Mr Lion, Mr Cock and Mr Cat

Roger Lonsdale, 5 April 1990

A Form of Sound Words: The Religious Poetry of Christopher Smart 
by Harriet Guest.
Oxford, 293 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 811744 2
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... of Christ (1729) was written when he was still a schoolboy at Winchester, and the much-derided Sir Richard Blackmore. Johnson later respected Blackmore’s The Creation (1712), which for Guest illustrates the route to divine wisdom through demystifying natural philosophy. Guest wisely doesn’t dwell too long on these individual cases, but her categories may ...

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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... being right, of understanding your tantrums almost before they happen. Into this hotbed comes Mary Lamb, whose memory sucks and whoops and sinks – the daughter of Nathan and his long-since-estranged wife Maura, whom he still adores. Mary is a promising writer and also a promising daughter, golden-haired and golden-skinned, irreverently witty and physically ...

American Manscapes

Richard Poirier, 12 October 1989

Manhood and the American Renaissance 
by David Leverenz.
Cornell, 372 pp., $35.75, April 1989, 0 8014 2281 7
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... vengefulness, the compulsive penis envy, and the desire to be whipped, of Captain Ahab. Only Richard Henry Dana in Two Years Before the Mast and, in The Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman, whose homosexual proclivities deserve more attention here, come forward as relatively standard cases of the urge to ‘be a man’. Leave it to the genteel types ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... the youthful Southey and Coleridge alone, together, or in conjunction with friends such as Lamb – account for most of the modern English poets lampooned for their radicalism in the Government-funded satirical magazine, The Anti-Jacobin, from November 1797 to July 1798. By adding the implicitly genteel ‘Lyrical’ to the plebeian ‘Ballad’, the ...

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