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The Adventures of Richard Holmes

Michael Holroyd, 1 August 1985

Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 340 28337 8
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... a Wordsworth and Coleridge pilgrimage in Somerset. One of the chief attractions was a rumour that Richard Holmes, currently working on a Life of Coleridge, would appear. For a day and a half there was much talk of Mr Holmes. How would he appear? Over what hill? Across what pond? From time to time messages would arrive which we carefully decoded. Then suddenly ...

The Rise of Richard Adams

Graham Hough, 4 December 1980

The Girl in a Swing 
by Richard Adams.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7139 1407 6
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... The remarkable literary career of Richard Adams began only eight years ago, but it has already reached substantial dimensions. Watership Down in 1972 was followed by two other works of mystery and imagination, relying more or less heavily on the animal world, and now by The Girl in a Swing, which is ostensibly about human beings ...

Into the Southern Playground

Julian Bell: The Suspect Adrian Stokes, 21 August 2003

'The Quattro Cento’ and ‘Stones of Rimini’ 
by Adrian Stokes.
Ashgate, 668 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 7546 3320 9
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Art and Its Discontents 
by Richard Read.
Ashgate, 260 pp., £35, December 2002, 0 7546 0796 8
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... words heave weights into the air. The tension has its roots in his intellectual education and, as Richard Read demonstrates in Art and Its Discontents, the books record a young writer gradually turning from the late-Victorian Hegelianism of his Oxford education towards the 20th-century aperçus of psychoanalysis. Stokes addresses his central ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... is panic-stricken at another fiendish crime a fourth victim of the maniac The text read: London lies today under the spell of a great terror. A nameless reprobate – half-beast, half-man – is at large . . . The ghoul-like creature, who stalks through the streets of London, stalking down his victim like a Pawnee Indian, is simply drunk with ...

Bookcase for the OED

Richard Murphy, 24 January 1980

... long before you died.                  Words you’ll never read         Are good for nothing but to spread Your greater love of craft in word and deed A gift to make your friends’ desires succeed         While inwardly with pain you bled              To keep your own pride ...
Nixon: A Study in Extremes of Fortune 
by Lord Longford.
Weidenfeld, 205 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77708 4
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... Longford having taken it upon himself to set in train a sequence of events designed to process Richard Milhous Nixon through redemption to beatification and ultimately, I suppose, to canonisation, it is essential that his persecutors must first be made to see him as a martyr and recant the error of their own ways in failing to appreciate the ...

The Excommunicant

Richard Popkin: Spinoza v. the Synagogue, 15 October 1998

The God of Spinoza: A Philosophical Study 
by Richard Mason.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £35, May 1997, 0 521 58162 1
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Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity 
by Steven Smith.
Yale, 270 pp., £21, June 1997, 0 300 06680 5
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... is to see the world from the aspect of eternity, and to achieve the intellectual love of God. As Richard Mason reminds us, Spinoza’s neglect of epistemology made him of little interest to those who insisted that the problem of knowledge as set out by Descartes defined what philosophy was properly about. Spinoza found a little room for that problem only at ...

Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone, 30 July 2020

... walk. His look of quizzical apprehension changed to an amiable apology when I explained I was the Richard Shone to whom he had sent a note a few days earlier asking me to ‘drop in’. ‘Yes, of course you are,’ he said. The note had been prompted by Nancy Ackerley, a friend of mine and the sister of Forster’s great friend J.R. Ackerley, who had written ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith, 9 October 1986

Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... of a projected three-volume ‘definitive’ biography of Robert Graves by his nephew, Richard Perceval Graves. It takes over where the author’s father, Robert’s younger brother John Graves, left off. John, who died in 1980, had been described by Robert as a ‘typically good pupil of a typically good school’ (to which he returned as ...

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching

Terry Eagleton: Richard Dawkins, 19 October 2006

The God Delusion 
by Richard Dawkins.
Bantam, 406 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 593 05548 9
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... of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson, 19 February 2015

Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... fiction. What she dreamed of escaping to is hard to say. One of the problems faced by Richard Mabey in his biography of Thompson, Dreams of the Good Life, is that Lark Rise to Candleford and its sequel, Heatherley, which wasn’t published until 1979, are almost the only sources we have. By the time she came to write them, the intervening ...

Down to the Last Flea

Richard Fortey: Resurrecting the mammoth, 23 May 2002

Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant 
by Richard Stone.
Fourth Estate, 242 pp., £14.99, January 2002, 1 84115 517 9
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... from their frozen obscurity and brought back to life, once more to browse the Arctic plains? Richard Stone assumes that attempts to revive mammoths are a practical possibility. Frozen mammoth sperm, so the theory goes, may yet be viable. Techniques are already used routinely in fertility treatment that allow defrosted sperm to fertilise living eggs, so ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... produce a ‘more or less continuous autobiographical narrative’ which, we are told, the editor Richard Pennington further abbreviated for publication. The first four years of this diary are dissolved into Mr Pennington’s Introduction, and Peterley Harvest, ‘the private diary of David Peterley now for the first time printed’, opened in June 1930 as ...

Blow-Up

Richard Fortey, 2 October 1997

Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change 
by Richard Fisher, Grant Heiken and Jeffrey Hulen.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, July 1997, 9780691012131
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... cast of mind saw it as a visitation on the sinful. Catastrophe is perversely attractive. As I read the statistics spewed out like pahoehoe lava in this book, it occurred to me that we may be drawn to these disturbances as instances of Armageddon. It is, after all, hellfire itself that bubbles up from magma chambers, destroying everything it touches. The ...

Bottom

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 ...

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