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English Butter

David Trotter

9 October 1986
Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... The editors of Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 emphasise continuity: ‘it is within the shadow of that period, and its meanings, that we still live.’ They choose as their epigraph Richard Shannon’s claim that ‘the characteristic “Englishness” of English culture was made then very much what it is now.’ The essays they have collected aim to describe the institutions, policies ...

#lowerthanvermin

Owen Hatherley: Nye Bevan

6 May 2015
Nye: The Political Life of Aneurin Bevan 
by Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds.
I.B. Tauris, 316 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 1 78076 209 8
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... left wing. In 1939 he was briefly expelled for advocating a popular front between Labour, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party; during the war he was, according to Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds, a ‘one-man opposition’ to the coalition government (Churchill called him a ‘squalid nuisance’). This didn’t dissuade Attlee from appointing him as minister of health (he also had ...

Models and Props

Nicholas Penny: Caravaggio in the Studio

10 August 2000
Caravaggio 
by Catherine Puglisi.
Phaidon, 448 pp., £24.95, May 2000, 0 7148 3966 3
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Caravaggio’s Secrets 
by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit.
MIT, 118 pp., £18.50, September 1998, 0 262 02449 7
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by Peter Robb.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7475 4599 5
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Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History 
by Mieke Bal.
Chicago, 305 pp., £28.50, October 1999, 0 226 03556 5
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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio 
by Atle Naess, translated by Anne Born.
Owen, 159 pp., £14.95, June 2000, 0 7206 1082 6
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Caravaggio: A Life 
by Helen Langdon.
Pimlico, 447 pp., £15, November 1999, 9780712665827
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... Caravaggio painted, consisting of pieces of armour and instruments of learning and music, objects and their shadows crossing and concealing each other at startling angles and with enticing effect. RichardSymonds, a couple of decades after Caravaggio’s death, wrote of the Cupid that ‘’twas the body & face of his owne boy or servant that laid with him’ and that his name was ‘Checco’ (that ...

In Praise of Mess

Richard​ Poirier: Walt Whitman

4 June 1998
With Walt Whitman in Camden. Vol. VIII: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891 
by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac.
Bentley, 624 pp., $99.50, November 1996, 0 9653415 8 5
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With Walt Whitman in Camden. Vol. IX: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891 
by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac.
Bentley, 624 pp., £99.50, November 1996, 0 9653415 9 3
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... asks that his great book be accorded the same reverence, the same deference that he wants shown to this immortal ‘me’. Discussing a study of 1883 entitled Walt Whitman and written by his friend Richard Bucke, he insists to Traubel that his endorsement of the book was never meant to extend to its interpretations: as to his explication – no, no, no – that I do not accept – for Leaves of Grass ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck

16 November 2000
The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... met any of them – whether through shyness or negligence or something else is not clear. Dickens called on Halleck on arrival in New York in 1842, but later wrote him off as a mere imitator. Richard Dana thought his ‘Marco Bozzaris’ was America’s best lyric poem. John Quincy Adams referred to one of his poems in a speech to the House of Representatives in 1836. Most inexplicable of all, on ...

Let in the Djinns

Maya Jasanoff: Richard​ Burton

9 March 2006
The Highly Civilised Man: Richard​ Burton and the Victorian World 
by Dane Kennedy.
Harvard, 354 pp., £17.95, September 2005, 0 674 01862 1
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... to exiles, unknown to almost everybody else. So it was an apt city to serve as the final home of a man regarded as one of the most unreal, isolated and timeless figures of the Victorian era. Richard Burton arrived in the Adriatic port in 1873 as Britain’s consul. He had pretty much seen everything. He had visited sacred centres from Benares to Salt Lake City, with a pilgrimage to Mecca in ...

Two Sharp Teeth

Philip Ball: Dracula Studies

25 October 2018
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ 
by David J. Skal.
Norton, 672 pp., £15.99, October 2017, 978 1 63149 386 7
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The Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ 
edited by Roger Luckhurst.
Cambridge, 219 pp., £17.99, November 2017, 978 1 316 60708 4
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The Vampire: A New History 
by Nick Groom.
Yale, 287 pp., £16.99, October 2018, 978 0 300 23223 3
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... day that the boundaries of sexuality started to be fixed – indeed, that the word ‘homosexual’ was coined. In 1897, the same year that Dracula was published, Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds argued in Sexual Inversion that same-sex desire was a common state with a long history, albeit an ‘inversion’ of the norm. Before sexuality began to be medicalised, it hadn’t been seen as a ...

Simply Doing It

Thomas Laqueur

22 February 1996
The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain 1650-1950 
by Roy Porter and Lesley Hall.
Yale, 414 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 300 06221 4
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... of Sex, as well as a host of more technical studies and the amateur anthropology of the Men and Women’s Club all brought sex under the sign of ‘science’. Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds presented homosexuality as an admirable inversion, a sort of in-between sex with many good features. Radical feminists like Elizabeth Wolstenholme argued that menstruation is the unnatural result of ...
4 March 1982
Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... young men. The most famous of all Victorian poems, In Memoriam, bore witness to such a friendship; the Oxford Movement pullulated with passionate attachments; two of the most frank avowals, which Richard Jenkyns quotes in his masterly study of the Victorian conception of Ancient Greece, came from Disraeli. Of course there were in the Nineties the Uranians and the aesthetes, disciples of Cory or ...

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