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Against Belatedness

Richard Rorty, 16 June 1983

The Legitimacy of the Modern Age 
by Hans Blumenberg, translated by Robert Wallace.
MIT, 786 pp., £28.10, June 1983, 0 262 02184 6
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... long books in German only if they absolutely have to, non sine ira et studio) owe a great deal to Robert Wallace. He has translated eight hundred pages of very tough German as lucidly as literalness permits. (We also owe a lot to the MIT Press series ‘Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought’, which promises more Blumenberg books in the ...

Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce, 10 September 2014

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... for the Telegraph of a Treasury aide who’d said to him that ‘Alex Salmond wants to be William Wallace.’ ‘No,’ Martin corrected him. ‘Alex Salmond wants to be Robert the Bruce.’ Wallace has been cast as ‘the people’s champion’, a role he played in the 1975 novel The ...

Woman in Love

Brigid Brophy, 7 February 1985

The Life of Jane Austen 
by John Halperin.
Harvester, 400 pp., December 1984, 0 7108 0518 7
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... she lived in the age of ‘Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven’. I do not believe that the parallels Robert Wallace draws, in Jane Austen and Mozart (1983), between her fictional and his orchestral structures can be sustained in the detail Mr Wallace proposes, but he does indicate how small an opportunity Jane Austen had ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... inauthentic unionists. Nevertheless, some revisionist historians have recently shown that William Wallace and Robert Bruce, icons of Scotland’s War of Independence against England in the late 13th and early 14th century, became unionist heroes in 19th-century Scottish culture. Without ...

Photo-Finish

John Hedley Brooke, 23 May 1985

Just Before the Origin: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Theory of Evolution 
by John Langdon Brooks.
Columbia, 284 pp., $39, January 1984, 0 231 05676 1
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China and Charles Darwin 
by James Reeve Pusey.
Harvard, 544 pp., £21.25, February 1984, 0 674 11735 2
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... Duhem, the historian can never suppress his astonishment. But the sociologist could and did. Robert Merton argued that independent simultaneous discoveries should be pereceived as the rule, not the exception. It was the singletons, not the ultiples, that required explanation. Among the more plausible arguments in defence of his inversion, Merton observed ...

Four Poems

Robert Crawford, 16 November 2000

... Bawheid, rampant, hair fizzin, sheepsheared, Scrummin doon, pally wi their out-of-town allies, Wallace fae Califaustralia, Big Mac, an Apple Mac, Back from the backwoods, wi Rob Fergusson, Hume, Sawney Bean – See how yon lot yawn and yell and stretch Right owre from Blantyre tae Blantyre, Perth to subtropical Perth! Wait till ye catch the whites o their ...

Helio-Hero

J.E. McGuire, 1 June 1989

The Genesis of the Copernican World 
by Hans Blumenberg, translated by Robert Wallace.
MIT, 772 pp., £35.95, November 1987, 0 262 02267 2
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... Nicolas Copernicus’s reform of astronomy delivered a formidable blow to our sense of self in nature. In its effects, Copernicanism probably affected human consciousness more deeply than Darwinism. Published in 1543, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres argued that our earthly globe is not the unique and motionless centre of the great cosmic sphere ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paul Foot has a shocking story to tell, the story of Colin Wallace. It is, quite literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful about the difficulty of getting a fair hearing in this country ...

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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... Latin. The percussive, masculinist Scottish muse 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 ...

Connections

Colin Wallace, 8 October 1992

The Red Hand: Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland 
by Steve Bruce.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 215961 5
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... activities of the Mid-Ulster UVF. One of his most contentious allegations has been that Captain Robert Nairac, who was murdered by the IRA in 1977, told him in 1975 that on one occasion he had crossed the Border into the Republic of Ireland and shot dead a well-known member of the IRA, John Francis Green, at a remote farmhouse. Holroyd also said that Nairac ...

How to Catch a Tortoise

A.W. Moore: Infinity, 18 December 2003

Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞ 
by David Foster Wallace.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 64567 6
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A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable 
by Brian Clegg.
Constable, 255 pp., £8.99, September 2003, 1 84119 650 9
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The Art of the Infinite: Our Lost Language of Numbers 
by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan.
Allen Lane, 324 pp., £20, August 2003, 0 7139 9629 3
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... As you’ve probably begun to see,’ David Foster Wallace writes in Everything and More, ‘Aristotle manages to be sort of grandly and breathtakingly wrong, always and everywhere, when it comes to infinity.’ A much milder version of this antagonism towards Aristotle appears in both Brian Clegg’s Brief History of Infinity and Robert and Ellen Kaplan’s The Art of the Infinite ...

Saved for Jazz

David Trotter, 5 October 1995

Modernist Quartet 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, November 1994, 0 521 47004 8
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... There are some curious aspects to Frank Lentricchia’s study of four Modernist poets: T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens. For a start, it’s a book about poets which doesn’t seem much interested in poems. Lentricchia has written a lengthy chapter on each member of his quartet ...

Showers of Hats

Robert Baird: ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’, 29 March 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, March 2017, 978 1 4088 7174 4
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... sentiment’. The shape of that sentiment became increasingly clear. In a eulogy for David Foster Wallace, who killed himself in 2008, Saunders explained his friend’s accomplishment in terms that made it hard not to imagine he was also describing his own aspirations: ‘Something about the prose itself was inducing a special variety of openness that I might ...

Behind the Veil

Richard Altick, 6 March 1986

The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England 1850-1914 
by Janet Oppenheim.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 521 26505 3
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... the Continent with a succession of séances, two or three of which were attended by Elizabeth and Robert Browning. On the first occasion, an unseen hand lowered a clematis wreath (laurel was hard to come by) on Elizabeth’s brow. She believed in spiritual manifestations, but Robert, though he shared her dislike of ...

Standing at ease

Robert Taubman, 1 May 1980

Faces in My Time 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 230 pp., £8.50, March 1980, 0 434 59924 7
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... All That, as one literary man’s war memoirs with another’s, I’m struck by the contrast with Robert Graves’s modernity. It doesn’t seem to matter that his was an earlier war, or a different kind of war – Mr Powell’s being much more the contemporary kind we know about – but Graves was modern in that his personal involvement is so much more vivid ...

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