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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 ...


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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


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 ...

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 ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... still rich in hints of the life savoured by its great authors, from Dunbar to Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch. The heyday of its literary, cultural and philosophic life lasted for a hundred years to the death of Scott and left its mark on Europe and America. An ancient city, a capital, with authors of all kinds, from Gavin Douglas to James Boswell to Annie ...

In the Potato Patch

Jenny Turner: Penelope Fitzgerald

19 December 2013
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 508 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 7011 8495 7
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... a flannelette nightie. Did that give licence to the next day’s BBC Book Programme, opened by Robert Robinson on the proposition that ‘the judges made the wrong choice’? A ‘favourite aunt’, ‘a jam-making grandmother’, ‘Pooterish’, ‘distrait’: this is the sort of thing people wrote about the figure Fitzgerald presented, finding a ...

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 ...

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 ...

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