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Arctic Habits

Tony Tanner

25 May 1995
Emerson: The Mind on Fire 
by Robert Richardson.
California, 668 pp., £27, June 1995, 0 520 08808 5
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... of life has been so routinary, that the keenest eye for point or picture would be at fault before such remediless commonplace. We will really say no more on a topic so sterile.’ Not so, responds RobertRichardson; we will say 670 pages more on the topic. By the end you might wonder whether Emerson wasn’t rather in the right of it. An unremarkable, rather spartan, childhood; average performances ...

Understanding Forwards

Michael Wood: William James

20 September 2007
William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism 
by Robert Richardson.
Mariner, 622 pp., £15, September 2007, 978 0 618 43325 4
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... truth, and a firm bet on what hasn’t happened yet. Many of the virtues as well as the limitations of James’s philosophical practice are caught in this swift picture. I take these quotations from RobertRichardson’s William James, the most recent in a long run of biographies. Its predecessors were by Ralph Barton Perry (1935), Gay Wilson Allen (1967) and Linda Simon (1998). There are also fine ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Django Unchained’

24 January 2013
Django Unchained 
directed by Quentin Tarantino.
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... Klan riding out for a night’s work of cleansing: torches, hoods, racing horses, a whole cavalcade swooping through the dark and coming up over a hill. Beautifully shot, as the whole movie is, by RobertRichardson, a welcome Oscar nominee. Then the riders pause. In spite of the apparent evidence of the previous shots, they can’t see. There is something wrong with the placing of the eyeholes in ...

Richardson, alas

Claude Rawson

12 November 1987
Samuel Richardson 
by Jocelyn Harris.
Cambridge, 179 pp., £22.50, February 1987, 0 521 30501 2
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... Richardson is the Hugo, hélas! of the 18th-century English novel, as Coleridge might have said: ‘I confess that it has cost – still costs my philosophy some exertion not to be vexed that I must admire – ...

London Review of Crooks

Robert​ Marshall-Andrews

15 July 1982
Rough Justice: The Extraordinary Truth about Charles Richardson​ and his Gang 
by Robert​ Parker.
Fontana, 352 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 00 636354 7
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Web of Corruption: The Story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith 
by Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor.
Granada, 282 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 246 10915 7
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Inside Boss: South Africa’s Secret Police 
by Gordon Winter.
Penguin, 640 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780140057515
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Crime in Wartime: A Social History of Crime in World War II 
by Edward Smithies.
Allen and Unwin, 219 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 04 364020 6
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... The first of these books, Rough Justice, is 350 pages of documentary journalism on the rise and fall of the notorious Richardson gang, which operated a reign of terror, extortion and fraud in parts of London from the late 1950s to the famous torture trial of 1967. These operations were restored to topicality after Charles ...

Dishonoured

Michael Wood

5 May 1983
The Rapes of Lucretia: A Myth and Its Transformation 
by Ian Donaldson.
Oxford, 203 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 812638 7
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The Rape of Clarissa 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 109 pp., £10, September 1982, 0 631 13031 4
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Samuel RichardsonA Man of Letters 
by Carol Houlihan Flynn.
Princeton, 342 pp., £17.70, May 1982, 0 691 06506 3
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... is not the defect he may fear it is. The parts of the book are unequal, since Lucretia has all the thunder (St Augustine, Cranach, Botticelli, Veronese, Titian, Tie-polo, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Richardson, Pushkin), and Brutus only the lighter cavalry (Mlle de Scudéry, Voltaire, Alfieri, Nathaniel Lee, Gavin Hamilton, J.-L. David). However, Donaldson sharply registers the enormous popularity of the ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... her ‘researches have turned up more than one hundred women novelists before Jane Austen and no more than thirty men’. Then follows a remarkable passage: ‘Among the neglected men I have found Robert Bage, Henry Brooke, John Bunyan, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Delaney [sic], Emanuel Ford, William Godwin, Richard Graves, Robert Greene, Robert Henryson, Charles Johnstone, Charles Lever, M.G. Lewis ...
6 March 1997
A Life of Picasso. Vol. II: 1907-1917 
by John Richardson and Marilyn McCully.
Cape, 500 pp., £30, November 1996, 0 224 03120 1
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Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 398 pp., £25, November 1996, 0 316 88173 2
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Picasso and the Spanish Tradition 
edited by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 208 pp., £30, November 1996, 0 300 06475 6
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... with the equally forbidden realm of the sexual. I go on at such length about my first encounter with the Demoiselles because the painting figures so prominently in the second volume of John Richardson’s magisterial Life of Picasso, whose first chapter, and part of the second, are devoted to its genesis, sources, formal innovations and iconography, and the ways in which Picasso’s experiences at ...

Female Heads

John Bayley

27 October 1988
Woman to Woman: Female Friendship in Victorian Fiction 
by Tess Cosslett.
Harvester, 211 pp., £29.95, July 1988, 0 7108 1015 6
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Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century 
by John Mullan.
Oxford, 261 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 19 812865 7
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The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. Vol. I: 1768-1773 
edited by Lars Troide.
Oxford, 353 pp., £45, June 1988, 9780198125815
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... consciousness has become an absorbing masculine activity, a sex-in-the-head game. It is in the male head that Clarissa scribbles and Molly Bloom muses. For many male novelists, like the Austrian Robert Musil, erotic self-metamorphosis becomes mystical, a kind of religious substitute. The sphinx has her mystery, but in the final and most subtle analysis it is that of having no secret at all. One of ...

I whine for her like a babe

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: The Other Alice James

25 June 2009
Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbens James 
by Susan Gunter.
Nebraska, 422 pp., £38, March 2009, 978 0 8032 1569 6
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... to him and took off for a summer in Canada. In a gesture that goes unmentioned here, she nonetheless seems to have left him a parting gift: a small compass that William’s most recent biographer, RobertRichardson, takes as a hint that her lover orient himself in her direction.* This may be over-reading – William was an enthusiastic hiker – but the temptation is understandable: both before the ...

Fan-de-Siècle

Brigid Brophy

6 October 1983
Murasaki Shikibu: Her Diary and Poetic Memoirs, A Translation and Study 
by Richard Bowring.
Princeton, 290 pp., £21.70, August 1982, 0 691 06507 1
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Evelina 
by Fanny Burney.
Oxford, 421 pp., £2.50, April 1982, 0 19 281596 2
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The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney 
edited by Peter Hughes and Warren Derry.
Oxford, 624 pp., £37.50, September 1980, 0 19 812507 0
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Colette 
by Joanna Richardson.
Methuen, 276 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 413 48780 6
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Letters from Colette 
translated by Robert​ Phelps.
Virago, 214 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 86068 252 8
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... For the most part he writes to her wholly in French. It was with a comparable linguistic chauvinism that Colette greeted a cat in the United States as, at last, someone who spoke French. Joanna Richardson maintains the myth of Colette’s sympathy with animals. It would be easier to swallow had Colette abandoned swallowing the corpses of killed animals. The whole blather about Colette’s ‘passion ...

In the field

Nigel Hamilton

5 November 1981
Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert​ Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... at them in depth. Nor does he lack a sense of balance or humour. I consider Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals one of the most interesting books I have read this year. General Richardson was a decorated Army doctor (DSO and OBE). He writes with such intelligence, conversational elegance and compassion that his remark, in his Acknowledgments, that he is only an amateur author, seems ...

Bransonism

Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London

17 March 2005
Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... When The Dunciad in Four Books hit the stands in the autumn of 1743, making The New Dunciad old hat after barely eighteen months, Samuel Richardson grumbled in a letter to his friend and sometime client of his printing house, the poet and cultural factotum Aaron Hill, that ‘I have bought Mr Pope over so often, and his Dunciad so lately before ...

Win-Win

Peter Howarth: Robert​ Frost’s Prose

6 November 2008
The Collected Prose of Robert​ Frost 
edited by Mark Richardson.
Harvard, 375 pp., £25.95, January 2008, 978 0 674 02463 2
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The Notebooks of Robert​ Frost 
edited by Robert​ Faggen.
Harvard, 809 pp., £25.95, January 2007, 978 0 674 02311 6
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... when I’m sitting up but I never waver.’ These declarations of independence sound reassuringly like the Frost of the anthologies, the author of ‘guidebooks for the spirit of individualism’, as Robert Faggen puts it, attracted to empty woods and roads less travelled, and suspicious of New Deals and other easy offers of a lift. But real individualists don’t read guidebooks, and Frost wasn’t ...
5 April 1990
Henry Fielding: A Life 
by Martin Battestin and Ruthe Battestin.
Routledge, 738 pp., £29.50, October 1989, 0 415 01438 7
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New Essays 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin.
Virginia, 604 pp., $50, November 1989, 0 8139 1221 0
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The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. The True Patriot, and Related Writings 
edited by W.B. Coley.
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An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and Related Writings 
edited by Malvin Zirker.
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The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register Office 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Bertrand Goldgar.
Oxford, 446 pp., £50, December 1988, 0 19 818511 1
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Fielding and the Woman Question: The Novels of Henry Fielding and the Feminist Debate 1700-1750 
by Angela Smallwood.
Harvester, 230 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 7108 0639 6
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... of their literary sympathies and even antithetical to them. His first two works of prose fiction, Shamela and Joseph Andrews, were triggered by his dislike of one of the earliest English novels, Richardson’s Pamela, and both treated its author as a low vulgarian, in a manner plainly derived from the older satirists’ treatment of the dunces and Grub Street hacks. One of the piquancies of the case ...

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