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War on the Palaces!

Ritchie Robertson, 19 October 1995

Georg Büchner: The Shattered Whole 
by John Reddick.
Oxford, 395 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 19 815812 2
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Complete Plays, ‘Lenz’ and Other Writings 
by Georg Büchner, translated by John Reddick.
Penguin, 306 pp., £6.99, September 1993, 0 14 044586 2
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... When the 23-year-old Georg Büchner died of typhus in February 1837, his acquaintances knew him mainly as a brilliant medical scientist who had just been appointed to a lectureship in anatomy at the University of Zurich, and as a revolutionary whose attempts to stir up revolt among the peasants of his native province of Hesse had obliged him to flee Germany and pursue a career in exile ...

Modernity

George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... to cite, with almost breathless admiration, Auden’s commendation of ‘the necessary murder’. Ritchie Robertson is concise and authoritative on the Zionist impulse in Herzl and Roth. The difficulty, however, is this: in its Bismarckian model, in its espousal of 19th-century nationalism, the Zionist blueprint was almost antithetical to modernity, to ...

What did Freud want?

Rosemary Dinnage, 3 December 1992

Freud’s Women 
by Lisa Appignanesi and John Forrester.
Weidenfeld, 563 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 297 81244 0
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Psychoanalysis in its Cultural Context 
edited by Edward Timms and Ritchie Robertson.
Edinburgh, 209 pp., £30, August 1992, 9780748603596
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... The sharpest comment in Freud’s Women – a huge book, but consistently readable – comes at the end. It would be eccentric, say the authors, to conclude after five hundred-odd pages that Freud’s significance for women lies in his having been the first equal-opportunities employer. Eccentric, but rather tempting because, in his famously ambivalent way, he left such a paradox behind ...

Impossible Wishes

Michael Wood: Thomas Mann, 6 February 2003

The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann 
edited by Ritchie Robertson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £45.50, November 2001, 9780521653107
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Thomas Mann: A Biography 
by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 7139 9500 9
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... too rollicking either. In his preface to the new Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann, Ritchie Robertson says the novels ‘were often understood with dutiful awe as intellectual fiction of a high order, top-heavy with German philosophy and history’, and continues: ‘Over-attention to this aspect of Mann’s fiction often distracted ...

Written out of Revenge

Rosemary Hill: Bowen in Love, 9 April 2009

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie Letters and Diaries 1941-73 
edited by Victoria Glendinning, by Judith Robertson.
Simon and Schuster, 489 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 1 84737 213 0
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People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen 
edited by Allan Hepburn.
Edinburgh, 467 pp., £60, November 2008, 978 0 7486 3568 9
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... business and the story that unfolds in the letters and diaries of Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, the Canadian diplomat with whom she was in love for more than thirty years, is not a happy one. This was not so much what the publishers are pleased to call on the dust jacket ‘the love affair of a lifetime’, more like a fight to the death. Not that ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 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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... the obsequies of George II. ‘Chamberlain was very dapper indeed, George Curzon looks well again, Ritchie looks the wickedest of the human race ... as if writhing under a load of disreputable guilt ... I forgot to mention the sight of Kay-Shuttle-worth, pale, with the tears running down his face, consumed with curiosity to see who was there, peering ...

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