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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 ...

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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... with Virgilian cadences: ‘I write of stone. I write of Italy where stone is habitual.’ The reader is invited to fall in with a persona of Baedekered cosmopolitanism and sensual self-assurance. ‘We are prepared to enjoy stone in the South. For, as we come to the southern light of the Mediterranean, we enter regions of coherence and of settled ...

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 ...

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 ...
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 blessedness of ...

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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... volume 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 ...

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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... who starved his wife and baby son to death to obtain an inheritance, the novelist Charles Reade led a strenuous campaign in the Daily Telegraph which successfully pushed the Home Secretary into remitting the sentence. Riots were feared in Liverpool after the conspicuously unsound conviction and death sentence passed on Florence Maybrick in 1889; but ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Cobbery

Julian Barnes, 2 May 1985

A Classical Education 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 7011 2936 0
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Still Life: Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 161 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 7012 1920 3
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... the next book in’). A cool £100,000, whisked away in a few seconds by this modern Raffles. Reading A Classical Education, I would occasionally start, and think: ‘Hey, this guy stole my snooker table. And my air tickets.’ Odd, then, to keep returning to the book with benevolence and admiration. Kingsley Amis has admitted – with only a measure of ...

Satisfaction

Julian Loose, 11 May 1995

The Information 
by Martin Amis.
Flamingo, 494 pp., £15.99, March 1995, 0 00 225356 9
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... Clearly, for Martin Amis, enough is nothing like enough. To read him is to discover an author as voracious as his characters: like Terry in Success, who specifies that ‘I want all that and I want all that. And I want all that and I want all that. And I want all that and I want all that.’ Or like the fast-food, fast-sex junkie John Self of Money, who always gets less than he bargains for, yet keeps going back for more: ‘I would cheerfully go into the alchemy business, if it existed and made lots of money ...

Philoponia

Jonathan Barnes, 9 July 1987

Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science 
by Richard Sorabji.
Duckworth, 253 pp., £29.50, February 1987, 0 7156 2089 4
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... cause and espousing tritheism. As a philosopher, he was most remarkable – as the title of Richard Sorabji’s splendid book indicates – for his rejection of various parts of the dominant Aristotelian view of the physical universe. According to Aristotle, the heavens are made of ‘ether’, a fifth element distinct from the four sublunary stuffs ...

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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... out that some of her facts were invented and characters conflated – and wasn’t much better for readers, who found the autobiographical story continually interrupted by textbook descriptions of country life. Lark Rise considers each aspect in turn: houses, childhood (school and games), men in the fields, women’s lives, the village ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren, 5 November 1981

Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... It is not easy to determine which is the better book. Richard Burton was printed by Butler and Tanner Limited, Peter Sellers by the Fakenham Press, and since the one establishment is in Somerset and the other in Norfolk, it is fair to absolve both of them from the sort of catchpenny opportunist hustling which these days has the publishing world of London by the throat ...

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