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Chemical Soup

James Meek: Embalming Lenin’s body, 18 March 1999

Lenin's Embalmers 
by Ilya Zbarsky and Samuel Hutchinson.
Harvill, 215 pp., £12.99, October 1998, 1 86046 515 3
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... What comes across strongly in the book, written with the Moscow-based French journalist Sam Hutchinson, is the sheer, offensive stupidity of the Soviet authorities, and the pettiness of their motives. One of the easiest ways to add lustre to your place in history is by decorating it with innocent corpses: in a way Stalin and his minions are still ...


Linda Colley, 21 September 1995

All the Sweets of Being: The Life of James Boswell 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Mainstream, 238 pp., £17.50, May 1995, 1 85158 702 0
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’ 
edited by Marshall Waingrow.
Edinburgh, 518 pp., £75, March 1995, 0 7486 0471 5
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Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 245 pp., £30, April 1995, 0 19 818259 7
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... a young literary lion, an acquaintance of Rousseau and Voltaire, the close friend, not just of Samuel Johnson, but of a broad sample of London’s cultural and fashionable élite, the celebrated biographer of the Corsican nationalist, Pasquale Paoli, a man, or so it seemed, to watch. Yet Boswell repeatedly failed. He failed to get into the Guards. He ...
The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £25, December 1996, 0 631 18746 4
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Coleridge: Selected Poems 
edited by Richard Holmes.
HarperCollins, 358 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 00 255579 4
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Coleridge’s Later Poetry 
by Morton Paley.
Oxford, 147 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 19 818372 0
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A Choice of Coleridge’s Verse 
edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.99, March 1996, 0 571 17604 6
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... was destroyed, his dependence on opium crippling, his marriage all to pieces, his love for Sara Hutchinson frustrated, his collaboration with Wordsworth curdling into a matter of jealous resentment, the poetry for which we chiefly remember him all in the past, his hopes and his reasons for hope decayed. He was not yet at the worst, however. His tears could ...

A Pride of Footnotes

Robert M. Adams, 17 November 1983

The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. VII: ‘Biographia Literaria’ 
edited by James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate.
Routledge/Princeton, 306 pp., £50, May 1983, 0 691 09874 3
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... says nothing; with even better reason, he drops not a hint of his deep and painful love for Sarah Hutchinson. As a biographical narrative, Coleridge’s book of self-explanation is most notable for the things it omits entirely, or alludes to only remotely and in passing. Finally, there is the scandal of the unacknowledged borrowings or unidentified ...


Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... are writing as though it mattered, as though they meant it, as though they meant it to matter ... Samuel Beckett (of course), John Berger, Christine Brooke-Rose, Brigid Brophy, Anthony Burgess, Alan Burns, Angela Carter, Eva Figes, Giles Gordon, Wilson Harris, Rayner Heppenstall, even hasty, muddled Robert Nye, Ann Quin, Penelope Shuttle, Alan Sillitoe (for ...

A University for Protestants

Denis Donoghue, 5 August 1982

Trinity College Dublin 1592-1952: An Academic History 
by R.B. McDowell and D.A. Webb.
Cambridge, 580 pp., £35, June 1982, 0 521 23931 1
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... share, including Berkeley, Swift, Rowan Hamilton, Lecky, Dowden, Bury, Douglas Hyde, J.M. Synge, Samuel Beckett. Since 1952, and beginning with McConnell, Trinity has gradually acknowledged its responsibility not only to the past but to Irish taxpayers. It has opened its gate for more students. For many years the student population numbered a happy 2500 or ...

Bumming and Booing

John Mullan: William Wordsworth, 5 April 2001

Wordsworth: A Life 
by Juliet Barker.
Viking, 971 pp., £25, October 2000, 9780670872138
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The Hidden Wordsworth 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Pimlico, 690 pp., £15, September 2000, 0 7126 6752 0
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Disowned by Memory: Wordsworth’s Poetry of the 1790s 
by David Bromwich.
Chicago, 186 pp., £9.50, April 2000, 0 226 07556 7
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... before leaving for the church – is strange enough. Barker also gives Mary’s sister, Sara Hutchinson, usually renowned only for being the object of Coleridge’s obsessive attentions, room to breathe and speak. After a stay at Rydal Mount in 1816, Henry Crabb Robinson told Mary Lamb that ‘he never saw a man so happy in three wives as Mr Wordsworth ...

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