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Moll’s Footwear

Terry Eagleton: Defoe, 3 November 2011

Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of a Myth 
by Katherine Frank.
Bodley Head, 338 pp., £20, June 2011, 978 0 224 07309 7
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Moll: The Life and Times of Moll Flanders 
by Siân Rees.
Chatto, 224 pp., £18.99, July 2011, 978 0 7011 8507 7
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... had clapped him in jail. Frank argues that Defoe’s novel is primarily based on the career of Robert Knox, a 19-year-old seaman whose ship was badly damaged off the coast of India in 1659. He and his crew put ashore in Dutch-occupied Ceylon, where they were welcomed by the Tamil people but feared as imperial interlopers by the king of Kandy, a region ...

Before Darwin

Harriet Ritvo, 24 May 1990

The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London 
by Adrian Desmond.
Chicago, 503 pp., £27.95, March 1990, 0 226 14346 5
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... underpinnings of their science. Controversy arose in the 1830s, when the radical anatomist Robert Grant dissented, claiming instead that the fossils were reptilian. What was at stake was transmutation, which in the version subscribed to by Grant required a gradual ascent of organic forms in a single continuous series; the appearance of an anachronistic ...

Desmondism

John Sutherland, 23 March 1995

Huxley: The Devil’s Disciple 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 474 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7181 3641 1
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... flamboyant John Elliotson’, ‘the one-eyed, gold-waistcoated, civic-skewering Robert Knox’, ‘the humane mad-doctor John Conolly’, ‘the bombastic Ernst Haeckel’. If Desmond gave us time to think about it, one might wonder whether ‘civic-skewering’ is a branch of anatomy (Knox was Burke ...

Burke and Smith

Karl Miller, 16 October 1980

Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... landed on top of his victim in a terminal embrace, after which the body was sold to the anatomist Robert Knox. Hare turned King’s evidence, and after a trial which ended early on Christmas morning 1828, his confederate was hanged. The woman Burke lived with, Helen MacDougal, received a verdict of not proven: she had been ably defended by Henry ...

Carved Cosmos

Tom Lowenstein, 5 August 1993

Amaravati: Buddhist Sculpture from the Great Stupa 
by Robert Knox.
British Museum, 247 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 7141 1452 9
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... the Wolfson Foundation and the British Government. I have condensed this latter-day story from Robert Knox’s 1992 monograph, which for the first time gives a detailed description of the whole Amaravati collection, including the pieces still in storage. The publication of Knox’s beautifully illustrated ...

To the crows!

James Davidson, 27 January 1994

The Oldest Dead White European Males, and Other Reflections on the Classics 
by Bernard Knox.
Norton, 144 pp., £12.95, September 1993, 0 393 03492 5
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... London in the late Twenties finds himself over sixty years later an American citizen, described by Robert Fagles as ‘arguably the finest Classicist of our day’, by Peter Green as one his nation ‘ought to bronze’, and by Jasper Griffin as a man ‘one would like to have as a friend’. In his long career he has written on many subjects: scholarly ...

Camera Obscura

Robert Crawford, 8 January 2015

... randy as the barrel of Mons Meg, All brass bells unpolished, Magdalenism, Darwinian butchery, Knox-talk, broderie, Brodies, bestial vennels, Drug deals done under far too many bridges, Midges, lost Provosts, the whole Botanic jing-bang, Rhododendrons and ducks, fresh pasta and spliced Paolozzis, Ramparts, rampant kirks, laddies’ and ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... handles polarities of ideology and thought – between appalling racists, such as Carlyle and Robert Knox, and enlightened liberals, such as Mill and James Mursell Phillippo – but also manages to connect these bodies of thought to the changing circumstances of location, climate, daily life and general social history. Partly because the reader has ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... it was hardly surprising she took the remarkable for granted in later life. Her father was Edmund Knox, editor of Punch and one of four brothers. Her uncles were Dillwyn, the classicist and cryptographer, one of the most important code-breakers of both world wars; Wilfred, the Anglo-Catholic priest and theologian; and Ronald, who became a Roman Catholic ...

Bad Shepherd

Robert Crawford: James Hogg, 5 April 2001

The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. VIII: The ‘Spy’ 
edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 641 pp., £60, March 2000, 9780748613656
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... lets rip through the rat-a-tat of Blind Hary’s Wallace; and in the brassy Reformation of John Knox it blares even in the sophisticated George Buchanan’s over-the-top ‘Elegy for Jean Calvin’. The volume remains high in some of Robert Fergusson’s sophistic-performative street-talk, Burns’s on-off, rip-roaring ...

God’s Own

Angus Calder, 12 March 1992

Empire and English Character 
by Kathryn Tidrick.
Tauris, 338 pp., £24.95, August 1990, 1 85043 191 4
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Into Africa: The story of the East African Safari 
by Kenneth Cameron.
Constable, 229 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 09 469770 1
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Burton: Snow upon the Desert 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 428 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 0 7195 4818 7
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From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton’s Travels in the Americas, 1860-69 
by Frank McLynn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 258 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 7126 3789 3
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The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles 
by Nigel Barley.
Viking, 276 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 670 83642 7
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... feeling were threatened by crazy prophets who were acquiring disastrously wide influence – by Robert Knox, the anatomist who published in 1850 a book. The Races of Man, which identified black people as natural slaves, and by Thomas Carlyle, whose ravings about ‘the Nigger Question’ came out around the same time. The Indian Mutiny of 1857, as ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... fictional character of his age. What was practised as a diversion by Andrew Lang and Ronald Knox has turned into a full-scale critical apparatus. It’s a mock apparatus, and not really engaged with criticism; and yet not just a joke, since it does elucidate something – those aspects of another way of life that for us have now become fantasy. The ...

Simile World

Denis Feeney: Virgil’s Progress, 4 January 2007

Virgil: Georgics 
translated by Peter Fallon, with notes by Elaine Fantham.
Oxford, 109 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 0 19 280679 3
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Penguin, 486 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 7139 9968 3
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... like the hapless charioteer in the terrifying simile that closes the first book of the Georgics. Robert Fagles comes to the task of translating the Aeneid with a lifetime of experience as a translator behind him, but the Aeneid is the first Latin text he has translated.* Until now he has worked on Greek texts, and is particularly admired for his translations ...

Impossibility

Robert Crawford, 18 September 1997

... I heard his voice calling, ‘The sea! The sea!’ Hollowly into a shell As if he could contact Robert Louis Verne Or all the impossible, massed, forlorn spirits Edinburgh exiled, waving from twenty thousand leagues Under force eights the Lusitania, Hood, Tirpitz, Mary Rose lie barnacled, Cell-like binnacles of another life Lost to the world above but ...

Possessed

A.N. Wilson, 14 May 1992

Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... did not ideally suit him to army life. Nor did things improve when his friend Major-General Sir Robert Laycock arranged for his transfer from the Commandos to the Guards. If anything, his time in the Guards was even less happy than his spell as a Marine. When his superior officer, Lord Lovat, who had seen him drunk in the bar at White’s every day of the ...

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