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Shorn and Slathered

Christine Smallwood: ‘Reynard the Fox’, 5 November 2015

Reynard the FoxA New Translation 
by James Simpson.
Liveright, 256 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 87140 736 8
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... The word​ for ‘fox’ in medieval France was goupil – until a set of allegorical tales about a fox called Reynard became so popular that renard started to be used instead. The characterisation of foxes as wily had already been established by Aesop, but Reynard himself first appeared in the tenth-century poem Ecbasis Captivi (‘The Escape of the Captive’), and he returned in the 12th-century Ysengrimus ...

According to A.N. Wilson

Patricia Beer, 3 December 1992

by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 269 pp., £15, September 1992, 1 85619 114 1
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... Wilson speaks of Jesus in the same breath and tone as he speaks of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, he is making a serious point about the traditional techniques of rhetoric as used by St Luke, who, in this instance, drops historical names such as Caesar, Herod and Quirinius into his narrative to make his main character sound more authentic; and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Servant’, 9 May 2013

The Servant 
directed by Joseph Losey.
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... newspapers. It seems empty when Bogarde gets there, but he finds the owner, Tony, played by James Fox, asleep in the kitchen after a few beers too many at lunch. What Bogarde wants is a job, and he gets one. But the house becomes part of his wanting on first sight. And it’s tempting to think the question, like so much of what happens in the movie, needs its ...

In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

The Shakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... us, Barton’s interest in the topic had first been excited by her reading of Ben Jonson’s Robin Hood play, The Sad Shepherd, for her monograph on Shakespeare’s great rival. Given this history, it may seem surprising that The Shakespearean Forest is not a longer book, but Barton became almost blind as a result of macular degeneration and was forced ...


V.G. Kiernan, 18 September 1986

What’s happening to India: Punjab, Ethnic Conflict, Mrs Gandhi’s Death and the Test for Federalism 
by Robin Jeffrey.
Macmillan, 249 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 333 40440 8
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Lions of the Punjab: Culture in the Making 
by Richard Fox.
California, 259 pp., £25.50, January 1986, 0 520 05491 1
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... in India in the next twenty years will take place from the bottom up.’ Professor Fox is an anthropologist, well-known in the field of northern Indian studies. His book, equally stimulating in a different way, is not directly concerned with the Punjab crisis, but provides a background that helps to explain it: the two works thus complement ...

Crusoe was a gentleman

John Sutherland, 1 July 1982

The Gentleman in Trollope: Individuality and Moral Conduct 
by Shirley Letwin.
Macmillan, 303 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 333 31209 0
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The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel 
by Robin Gilmour.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £10, October 1981, 0 04 800005 1
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... at Waltham Cross. Perhaps the Surtees Society will do something for ‘the novelist who hunted the fox’. It would be a mistake to surmise from this that Trollope’s actual fiction has gone the oblivious way of Surtees’s, or Mrs Oliphant’s or Charles Lever’s. The Penguin English Library, the Dover reprint series and the new paperback World’s Classics ...


James Fox: On Drum Magazine, 8 March 1990

... by preference. Dutch was the more violent: the terror of the dance halls, he saw himself as Robin Hood. He couldn’t sleep properly on a Saturday night, he told me, unless he’d had what he called ‘a speech’ – meaning a shoot-up, or a knifing. They all carried guns. Grudges went back years. Kick-off was Friday night when cars would scream ...

Bin the bric-à-brac

Joanne O’Leary: Sara Baume, 4 January 2018

A Line Made by Walking 
by Sara Baume.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.99, February 2017, 978 1 78515 041 8
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... her period of seclusion, she begins a grotesque photo-essay: a series of stills of dead animals (robin, rabbit, rat, mouse, rook, fox, frog, hare, hedgehog, badger), each of which provides the title for one of the novel’s ten chapters. Many of these grainy photographs are reproduced in the book; Frankie knows they’re ...

Brexit and Myths of Englishness

James Meek: For England and St George, 11 October 2018

... Of the two​ folk-myths bound up with Englishness, the myth of St George and the myth of Robin Hood, the myth of St George is simpler. Robin Hood is a process; St George is an event. Robin Hood steals from the rich, which is difficult, to give to the poor, which is trickier still, and has to keep on doing it over and over; but St George kills the dragon, and that’s it ...

The Fight for Eyeballs

John Sutherland: The Drudge Report, 1 October 1998

... own conclusions about what went on in Mr Clinton’s nooky hole. Drudge has a regular feature on Fox News. The cheesiest of the cable channels, Fox has embraced the ‘hard copy’ school of ‘sleazoid’ newscasting. Fox ran the tape (with Ms Jiggler’s face blurred) as an exclusive ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Melanie Phillips, 13 May 2010

... Richard Dawkins, liberation theologians, Princess Diana, Professor Nutt, someone called Matthew Fox, Madonna, Cherie Blair – and Barack Obama. Nor is our gratitude due for her elucidation of why human beings are not in any way responsible for climate change, which her selected ‘real’ evidence shows isn’t happening anyway. We don’t have to be ...

Unruly Sweet Peas

Alison Light: Working-Class Gardens, 18 December 2014

The Gardens of the British Working Class 
by Margaret Willes.
Yale, 413 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 0 300 18784 7
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... banished class condescension or made the neighbours less touchy. Gardening experts tut-tut at what Robin Lane Fox calls ‘exterior decorating’, and Jane Brown ‘a horticultural hell of instant plants’, just as their predecessors disparaged the ‘pastrywork’ of bedding out or frowned at ‘purse-gardening’. Willes ...

In a Garden in Milan

Adam Phillips: Augustine’s Confessions, 25 October 2018

Confessions: A New Translation 
by Augustine, translated by Peter Constantine.
Liveright, 329 pp., £22.99, February 2018, 978 0 87140 714 6
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... Paul) experienced; and that Confessions is, if anything, a series of conversion-like experiences (Robin Lane Fox called his recent book Augustine: Conversions and Confessions to suggest a sequence or an accumulation of experiences rather than a blinding revelation). And there is also a consensus among modern commentators ...

I am a false alarm

Robert Irwin: Khalil Gibran, 3 September 1998

Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet 
by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins.
One World, 372 pp., £18.99, August 1998, 1 85168 177 9
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Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran 
by Robin Waterfield.
Allen Lane, 366 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 7139 9209 3
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... and managed to be soupily soulful and vaguely prophetic in both languages. He also painted – Robin Waterfield’s biography is good on the recurring features of his art, including its ‘vague ectoplasmic figures, often female’ and the ‘veil of mist as a symbol for the dim access the normal human mind has to higher worlds’. Most of Gibran’s ...


Tariq Ali: In Cochabamba, 21 June 2007

... Blair sacked Greg Dyke and neutered the BBC. Bush has the luxury of uncritical news channels, and Fox TV as a propaganda network. I warned against an obsession with the power of the media at the conference. After all, Chávez won six elections despite near universal media opposition. Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador also won despite ...

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