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George Steiner, 24 November 1988

Joseph de Maistre: An Intellectual Militant 
by Richard Lebrun.
McGill-Queen’s University Press, 366 pp., £30.35, October 1988, 0 7735 0645 4
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... meditative, fundamental critique of French Revolutionary ideals and practices. Professor Richard Lebrun’s monograph on Joseph de Maistre is, at many points, a pioneering effort. Burke’s indictment, with its complexly diverse legacy in Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, in Carlyle, in Yeats, and in Orwell’s riposte (both to Dickens and ...

For the duration

John McManners, 16 June 1983

The Oxford Book of Death 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 351 pp., £9.50, April 1983, 0 19 214129 5
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Idéologies et Mentalités 
by Michel Vovelle.
Maspéro, 264 pp., £7.15, May 1982, 2 7071 1289 5
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... Ariès’s contribution to historical knowledge, however.) The other contemporary historian is Richard Cobb. For once, I am one up on him, for he rates only a single entry. Admittedly, it is a marvellous passage, his reflections on the suicides recorded in Box D4U17 in the Archives de la Seine, the dossiers of the morgue in the old Châtelet of Paris from ...


Colm Tóibín: Sex Lives of the Castrati, 8 October 2015

The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds 
by Martha Feldman.
California, 454 pp., £40, March 2015, 978 0 520 27949 0
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Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani 
by Roger Freitas.
Cambridge, 452 pp., £22.99, May 2014, 978 1 107 69610 5
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... In fact, some of the best-known roles for castrati were the alpha males Alexander the Great, Richard I, Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar. Boys were castrated to make them better and stronger singers, not to make them girls. On the other hand, while living in the house of a Russian prince the castrato Balatri ‘gained unheard of access to the sexually ...

Bonkers about Boys

James Davidson: Alexander the Great, 1 November 2001

Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction 
edited by A.B. Bosworth and E.J. Baynham.
Oxford, 370 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 19 815287 6
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... Ptolemaic propaganda which fits only one brief historical moment: 309/8 BC. This is also possible. Richard Billows, on the other hand, tries to discover the sources for the scattered references to Alexander in Polybius. It used to be thought Polybius got his information from Callisthenes, whom he quotes at length, but Billows settles on Demetrius of Phalerum ...

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