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Leisure’s Utmost

Andrew Forge, 30 March 1989

Art and Politics of the Second Empire: The Universal Expositions of 1855 and 1867 
by Patricia Mainardi.
Yale, 288 pp., £30, September 1987, 0 300 03871 2
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Impressionism: Art, Leisure and Parisian Society 
by Robert Herbert.
Yale, 324 pp., £24.95, September 1988, 0 300 04262 0
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... in formal and stylistic terms. If the climate has now changed, it is due as much as to anyone to Robert Herbert, whose present book is long overdue. He has been teaching his revised view of Impressionism for a quarter of a century and his influence is widespread. In some ways, this is an old-fashioned book. ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... Gay and Arbuthnot. Thomson’s Seasons. For theology he went to Hooker, Tillotson, William Law and Robert South. For technical and ‘philosophic’ (i.e. scientific) expressions he went to John Ray’s Wisdom of God in the Creation, Grew’s Cosmologia Sacra, William Derham’s Physico-Theology, Thomas Burnett’s Theory of the Earth, Richard Bentley’s ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... spangles of diamonds, / a sparkling cover for earth’) to the carnivalesque Scots of Robert Fergusson, who hymns ‘Caller Oysters’ and harangues ‘the Principal and professors of the university of St Andrews, on their superb treat to Dr. Samuel Johnson’. When Fergusson rounds on his former teachers he subjects their Scotophobic guest to a ...

Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... No, I’ve heard of him.) Suspicion, once sown, is hard to uproot. Beverly Treasure? Chelsea Herbert? Lloriston Grant? Caroline Blackwood and Robert Lowell have a conversation about Ford Madox Ford? (Well, all right, but what’s it doing among ‘Traveller’s Tales’?)Chelsea ...

A Fue Respectable Friends

John Lloyd: British brass bands, 5 April 2001

The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History 
by Trevor Herbert.
Oxford, 381 pp., £48, June 2000, 0 19 816698 2
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... Brass bands were not originally working-class institutions. They were led at first by what Trevor Herbert calls ‘the socially superior classes’; they depended on a musical establishment with a taste for classical and religious music; they were formed into a network and encouraged to compete at open-air shows by entrepreneurs, instrument makers and music ...

Kiss and Tearle

Robert Morley, 2 June 1983

Godfrey: A Special Time Remembered 
by Jill Bennett.
Hodder, 186 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 340 33160 7
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... without a dry pocket did he manage the cigarette? Tearle once asked my ever discreet father-in-law Herbert Buckmaster where he and Jill could go for a quiet holiday. Buck recommended Fuengirola. Godfrey wanted to know if there was a good hotel, by which he meant a splendid one. Perhaps because of a youth spent in theatrical lodgings he shared Dirk Bogarde’s ...

No wonder it ached

Dinah Birch: George Eliot, 13 May 1999

The Journals of George Eliot 
edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston.
Cambridge, 447 pp., £55, February 1999, 0 521 57412 9
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George Eliot: The Last Victorian 
by Kathryn Hughes.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 85702 420 6
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... is that it has never been quite clear what it was. She began life as Mary Anne Evans, daughter of Robert Evans, a sturdy and prosperous land agent in Warwickshire. But Mary Anne sounds rather like a servant’s name (the White Rabbit’s housemaid is called Mary Ann). As the rising fortunes of the family gave her a lady’s education, she began to experiment ...

Blowing over the top of a bottle of San Pellegrino

Adam Mars-Jones: Protest Dance Pop, 15 December 2005

Plat du Jour 
by Matthew Herbert.
Accidental
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... Matthew Herbert’s Plat du Jour is an album of dance tracks united by the theme of food. Herbert has made a name for himself as a producer from collaborations with Róisín Murphy and Björk, but Plat du Jour is a different kettle of fish, a personal project that has taken a couple of years to devise and record ...

A Very Bad Case

Michael Brock, 11 June 1992

Herbert Samuel: A Political Life 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Oxford, 427 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 19 822648 9
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... This admirable biography answers nearly all the old questions about Herbert Samuel, but raises a few new ones. He was no more a ‘cold and dry person’ than Hugh Gaitskell was ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. These descriptions, by Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan respectively, reveal little more than the effects of personal irritation on imaginative Welsh politicians ...

Riparian

Douglas Johnson, 15 July 1982

The Left Bank: Writers in Paris, from Popular Front to Cold War 
by Herbert Lottman.
Heinemann, 319 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 434 42943 0
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... by the exiled Madame de Staël, that it was this street that she missed most of all – whilst Robert Brasillach lived in the more elongated ugliness of the Rue Lecourbe, not far removed. But when they were in Spain, at the time of the Civil War, they were on different sides, and the books they wrote about the war were in sharp contrast one to the ...

Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 245 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780224017909
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No Country For Young Men 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1308 8
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The Girl Green as Elderflower 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 150 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 9780436497315
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The Sending 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7181 1872 3
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... sources, which are printed at the end (one of them has evidently already served as the origin of Herbert Read’s The Green Child). The Sending is learned about shamans and the faculties of animals such as polecats, zebu bulls and eagle owls. But witches still seem unconvincing in a modern novel, especially when Geoffrey Household invests them with a kind of ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... Bunker Man and to Kathleen Jamie’s poetry collection The Queen of Sheba. It is insistent in W.N. Herbert’s poem ‘Featherhood’ and Janice Galloway’s Foreign Parts. It bridges writing as different as the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are ...

For the duration

John McManners, 16 June 1983

The Oxford Book of Death 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 351 pp., £9.50, April 1983, 0 19 214129 5
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Idéologies et Mentalités 
by Michel Vovelle.
Maspéro, 264 pp., £7.15, May 1982, 2 7071 1289 5
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... frondeur on the fringes of establishment piety and ought not to count). Bossuet, Bunyan and George Herbert equal me, but again, only Herbert comes into precise comparison, Popish prelates and Dissenters not qualifying. Robert Herrick has three mentions, but his poetic genius is too lofty ...

Defeated Armies

Scott Sherman: Castro in the New York Times, 5 July 2007

The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of the ‘New York Times’ 
by Anthony DePalma.
PublicAffairs, 308 pp., £15.99, September 2006, 1 58648 332 3
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... On the evening of 15 February 1957, the New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews stepped into a jeep with some anti-government activists and went to meet the young Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra. Castro was supposed to be dead: sailing from Mexico a few months earlier, he had arrived on the coast of Oriente province with 82 men, and was immediately bombarded by coastguard vessels and army aircraft ...

Drinking and Spewing

Sally Mapstone: The Variousness of Robert Fergusson, 25 September 2003

‘Heaven-Taught Fergusson’: Robert Burns’s Favourite Scottish Poet 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Tuckwell, 240 pp., £14.99, August 2002, 1 86232 201 5
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... Robert Fergusson died in Edinburgh’s Bedlam on 17 October 1774. He was 24 years old. He had been admitted to the asylum three months before, against his will, because his mother could no longer look after him. Having been persuaded by some friends that he was being taken out in a sedan chair to visit another acquaintance, he was conveyed instead to a cell in the asylum, a sepulchrous building abutting the old city wall ...

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