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Michael Wood: Émigré Words, 1 April 2021

Émigrés: French Words that Turned English 
by Richard Scholar.
Princeton, 253 pp., £25, September 2020, 978 0 691 19032 7
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... sais quoi’ with ‘tra-la-la’.Diski’s thoughts are in part a response to an earlier work by Richard Scholar, The Je Ne Sais Quoi in Early Modern Europe, and she’s the first person he talks about on the acknowledgments page of his new book. ‘Her piece brilliantly demonstrated,’ he writes, ‘in a way I could not have imagined, that the ...


Jenny Diski: The Je Ne Sais Quoi, 15 December 2005

... riveting book, The Je Ne Sais Quoi in Early Modern Europe: Encounters with a Certain Something*, Richard Scholar (a name that could only lead to a life in libraries and the production of volumes of academic volumes) traces the phrase from its early use by Montaigne, before it became a word of its own, to describe the friendship between him and La ...

Homer’s Skill

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 2 September 1982

Homer, Iliad XXIV 
by Colin Macleod.
Cambridge, 161 pp., £15, March 1982, 9780521243537
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... seven plays of Sophocles published during the last quarter of the 19th century by the Cambridge scholar, Sir Richard Jebb, had certain technical deficiencies, even when they were new, and the writer’s taste was naturally that of a man of his own time. But they are a singular, if not a unique, example of a commentary ...

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 ...

Defence of poetry

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 3 July 1980

Enemies of Poetry 
by W.B. Stanford.
Routledge, 181 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0460 5
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The Idea of a Theatre: the Greek Experience 
by M.I. Finley.
British Museum, 16 pp., £95, February 1980, 0 7141 1267 4
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... poets for not getting their facts right. The most notable of these is the great Classical scholar Richard Bentley (1662-1742), who judged the poets by the standards of his own rigorous 18th-century rationalism; a good many people have remarked that his edition of Paradise Lost, in which he used the theory that the text has been interpolated by an ...

Buffed-Up Scholar

Stefan Collini: Eliot and the Dons, 30 August 2012

Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. III: 1926-27 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 954 pp., £40, July 2012, 978 0 571 14085 5
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... more than individual taste is involved. He put the point more emphatically in a letter to Richard Aldington, who had initially been a very close collaborator but who by this date was showing signs of the touchiness and divergence of views which would eventually lead him to break with Eliot. Aldington had submitted a wayward, impressionistic essay on ...


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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... a fame and a following that he has never quite achieved. This is partly because he sought to be a scholar rather than a sage, partly because his work has not been easily accessible. Routledge’s reissue of an Edwardian abridgment of his 12-volume History of Greece, prefaced with an illuminating new introduction by Paul Cartledge, provides the best chance ...

Glittering Fiend

Ian Hamilton: John Berryman, 9 December 1999

Berryman's Shakespeare 
edited by John Haffenden.
Farrar, Straus, 396 pp., $35, February 1999, 0 374 11205 3
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John Berryman’s Personal Library: A Catalogue 
by Richard Kelly.
Lang, 433 pp., £39, March 1999, 0 8204 3998 3
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... the fame-lust and so on – Berryman to the end liked to present himself as a Housman-style scholar-poet, as one who in a kinder, duller world might easily have achieved straight-arrow academic stardom. As late as 1971, a year before he killed himself, Berryman was still seeking grant-support for the heavily academic book on Shakespeare that he had ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... The most interesting book of first poems in many years’, Richard Howard proclaimed in 1981. James Merrill, John Hollander and John Ashbery spoke in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for many,’ David Kalstone wrote, ‘in saying it appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South ...

Finding out about things

Alan Bell, 18 December 1980

Montague Rhodes James 
by Richard William Pfaff.
Scolar, 438 pp., £15, May 1980, 0 85967 554 8
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... and an authoritative assessment of his achievement in all of them is a remarkably difficult task. Richard Pfaff has courageously undertaken the assignment and has produced a long and painstaking study which deals with James’s work in commendable detail. The life is never neglected, but Pfaff has correctly conceived of his biography as that of a ...

Pissing on Idiots

Colin Burrow: Extreme Editing, 6 October 2011

Richard Bentley: Poetry and Enlightenment 
by Kristine Louise Haugen.
Harvard, 333 pp., £29.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05871 2
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... well, I might as well pick up this old thing too.’ I hoped the volume was going to be Richard Bentley’s 1711 edition of Horace, which is full of his sometimes inspired and sometimes not so inspired conjectural emendations. When I got it home I found it was an English translation of Bentley’s notes on Horace’s Odes, along with ‘Notes upon ...

When in Rom

John Sutherland, 9 June 1994

The English Poetry Full-Text Database 
editorial board: John Barnard, Derek Brewer, Lou Burnand, Howard Erskine-Hill and Danny Karlin et al.
Chadwyck-Healey, £30,000, June 1994
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... the Chadwyck-Healey Rossetti texts in their raw form and McGann’s ‘analogue computer’, any scholar would choose the second. There are similar attractions in the MIT-based ‘Shakespeare Interactive Video Archive’, an ingenious package which – when perfected – will enable the student or teacher to weave into the discussion not just secondary ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Da Vinci Code’, 8 June 2006

The Da Vinci Code 
directed by Ron Howard.
May 2006
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... novel, among much ponderousness, has some good gags. The name of Leigh Teabing, his grail scholar who wishes the all-too-human secret of Christ’s straightness to be revealed, alludes directly and by anagram to the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail: Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, who recently sued ...

Japanese Power

Richard Bowring, 14 June 1990

God’s Dust: A Modern Asian Journey 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 267 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 224 02493 0
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol V: The 19th Century 
edited by Marius Jansen.
Cambridge, 828 pp., £60, October 1989, 0 521 22356 3
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol. VI: The 20th Century 
edited by Peter Duus.
Cambridge, 866 pp., £60, June 1989, 0 521 22357 1
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... him, as it does many of us. The light touch with which he describes a disastrous meeting with the scholar Watanabe Shoichi belies the seriousness of the subject: the Japanese assumption of cultural superiority. This particular altercation is just one of a series that Buruma has recently had with luminaries in the Japanese intellectual establishment. He has ...
Wagner in Performance 
edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 214 pp., £19.95, July 1992, 0 300 05718 0
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Wagner: Race and Revolution 
by Paul Lawrence Rose.
Faber, 304 pp., £20, June 1992, 9780571164653
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Wagner Handbook 
edited by Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski, translated by John Deathridge.
Harvard, 711 pp., £27.50, October 1992, 0 674 94530 1
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Richard Wagner’s Visit to Rossini and An Evening at Rossini’s in Beau-Séjour 
by Edmond Michotte, translated by Herbert Weinstock.
Quartet, 144 pp., £12.95, November 1992, 9780704370319
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... passes for it) is congenitally resistant to study.’ Thus John Deathridge, the leading Wagner scholar of the English-speaking world, at the beginning of his chapter on Wagner research in the Wagner Handbook. If so learned and au courant a scholar as Deathridge is daunted by trying to make sense of Wagner research and ...

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