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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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... Earlier this summer, during two and a half days of sun, I was persuaded to join 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 ...

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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... energy in their erudition and into the wound up spring of their prose. It’s an exercise in making words heave weights into the air. The tension has its roots in his intellectual education and, as RichardRead 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 ...
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 ...

Bookcase for the OED

Richard​ Murphy

24 January 1980
... in this thing of wood you made            Of solid pine mortised and glued                 Not 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 ...

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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... This is the first 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 ...

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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... philosophical being. He then worked out a stoic-like ethical system in which the highest good for man 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 ...

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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... Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to readRichard 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 ...
6 November 1980
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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... charitable. And charity, unfortunately, is exactly what this hilarious little book requires of me: Lord 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 ...
15 November 1984
... he went back to Australia, Peterley kept an extensive diary, rewriting the personal passages so as to 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 ...

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 ...

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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... As a theologian, he was embroiled in the doctrinal disputes of the time, championing the monophysite 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 ...

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 ...

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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... 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 self-parody – that he doesn’t want to read any more books that don’t begin: ‘A shot rang out.’ Richard Cobb’s second volume of autobiography, nominally about Shrewsbury and Oxford, opens with a man getting off the boat train at the ...
4 September 1997
Richard​ II 
by Nigel Saul.
Yale, 528 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 300 07003 9
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... Each generation fashions its own image of Richard II. To his contemporaries, Richard’s fate was an admonitory instance of changing fortune: the King fell in the midst of his glory and was delivered into the hands of his enemies. To historians of the Tudor age, Richard’s ...

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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... her that success, coming so late, was determined by her childhood recollections rather than her ‘proper’ 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 ...

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