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Englamouring the humdrum

Rosemary Ashton, 23 November 1989

Arguing with the past: Essays in Narrative from Woolf to Sidney 
by Gillian Beer.
Routledge, 206 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 415 02607 5
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Samuel RichardsonTercentenary Essays 
edited by Margaret Anne Doody and Peter Sabor.
Cambridge, 306 pp., £35, July 1989, 0 521 35383 1
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... with the past, a collection of essays published in recent years (with one, on Richardson and Milton, dating from as long ago as 1968), is richly written, contains many sharp critical insights, and shows the author to have a good ear for nuances of language in the literary works she chooses to discuss. At the same time, she reveals some ...

‘I can scarce hold my pen’

Clare Bucknell: Samuel Richardson’s Letters, 15 June 2017

The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson with Lady Bradshaigh and Lady Echlin 
edited by Peter Sabor.
Cambridge, three vols, 1200 pp., £275, November 2016, 978 1 107 14552 8
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... the winter from her country seat in Lancashire; the man she was trying to spot in the crowd was Samuel Richardson, who had supplied her with a description and promised to be in the park on sunny days. ‘I passed you four times last Saturday in the Park; knew you by your own description, at least three hundred yards off,’ she wrote to him a few days ...

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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... 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 myth across the centuries, and the ways in which ...

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 – aye, greatly, very greatly, admire Richardson/his mind is so very vile a mind – so oozy, hypocritical, praise-mad, canting, envious, concupiscent ...

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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... Walpole ... twenty, plus the recognised fathers of the novel ... Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, Tobias Smollett and Lawrence [sic] Sterne; generosity indeed to double the number!’ A list so nakedly daft obviates detailed scrutiny. It may be worth asking how Lever (born 1806) contrived to predate Jane Austen. If Spender wants to ...

High-Meriting, Low-Descended

John Mullan: The Unpolished Pamela, 12 December 2002

Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded 
by Samuel Richardson, edited by Thomas Keymer and Alice Wakely.
Oxford, 592 pp., £6.99, June 2001, 0 19 282960 2
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... Samuel Richardson’s account of a servant girl’s defence of her virtue against the advances of her lascivious master (‘Mr B’), given in her own letters, made what we now call ‘the Novel’ (though Richardson never attached this label to his book) respectable. Pamela caused an unprecedented stir, exciting something like a national argument about the purposes and value of fiction ...

Rogering in Merryland

Thomas Keymer: The Unspeakable Edmund Curll, 13 December 2007

Edmund Curll, Bookseller 
by Paul Baines and Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 388 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 19 927898 5
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... Samuel Johnson would not have had the term ‘Curlism’ in mind when he expressed regret that, even as his dictionary was being printed, ‘some words are budding, and some falling away.’ Yet it is a good enough instance of the shifts that Johnson deplored. ‘Bowdlerism’ still survives in the vocabulary of publishing to denote prudish expurgation; Curlism, which meant the opposite (and more besides), was already fading from the language when the figure who inspired the term, the flamboyant bookseller Edmund Curll, had been dead for less than a decade ...

Allergic to Depths

Terry Eagleton: Gothic, 18 March 1999

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Fourth Estate, 438 pp., £20, December 1998, 1 85702 498 2
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... that they fail to see in it a reflection of the particular social conditions of modernity. For Samuel Johnson, it was the socially typical which was imaginatively enthralling, and aberration which was boring. Johnson had a proudly populist trust in the robustness of routine meanings, and saw language as embodying the common experience distilled from ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... wrong house. At No. 9, a more accurately sited plaque marks where, in 1764, Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson founded the Literary Club, or simply the Club, which met weekly to dine in an upstairs room at the Turk’s Head until the landlord died and the dinners moved elsewhere. The building now houses New Loon Moon, one of London’s best-known Chinese ...

Knowledge Infinite

D.J. Enright, 16 August 1990

The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... Clarissa for its seductive subtlety and humour, and to what degree Mill’s reproach applies to Samuel Richardson, whose heroine she describes as ‘so idealised a man’s woman that a woman reader may be forgiven for wondering whether she can be read as a woman at all’, I am not sure, but fear that further argument might result in men being warned ...

Pay me for it

Helen Deutsch: Summoning Dr Johnson, 9 February 2012

Samuel Johnson: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Faber, 415 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22636 8
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Selected Writings 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Peter Martin.
Harvard, 503 pp., £16.95, May 2011, 978 0 674 06034 0
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The Brothers Boswell: A Novel 
by Philip Baruth.
Corvus, 336 pp., £7.99, January 2011, 978 1 84887 446 6
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The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. 
by John Hawkins, edited by O.M. Brack.
Georgia, 554 pp., £53.50, August 2010, 978 0 8203 2995 6
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... is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge.’ How can we know Samuel Johnson without summoning him through the reanimating power of James Boswell’s Life? For the many scholars, writers, readers and collectors who call themselves Johnsonians, this is the near impossible task. Boswell first met Johnson in 1763, in the ...

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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... 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 his last new-vampt one, that I am ...

Fat is a manifest tissue

Steven Shapin: George Cheyne, 10 August 2000

Obesity and Depression in the Enlightenment: The Life and Times of George Cheyne 
by Anita Guerrini.
Oklahoma, 304 pp., $25.95, February 2000, 0 585 28344 3
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... Religion, an exercise in Newtonian natural theology in the style pioneered by the Reverends Samuel Clarke, Richard Bentley and other pious Boyle Lecturers, but this attempt to appear in the person of a metaphysical moralist was largely ignored. All authors are sad after composition, but finishing a book made Cheyne physically sick. Late in his life, he ...

A Scene of Furniture

Rosemary Hill: Hogarth, 4 February 1999

Hogarth: A Life and a World 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 794 pp., £14.99, September 1998, 0 571 19376 5
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... London culture in his lifetime in being a native – Johnson and Garrick, Smollett, Boswell and Samuel Richardson were all incomers. Uglow makes telling use of Hogarth’s progress across the capital, from Smithfield to Covent Garden, from the city to ‘the town’ and from trade to art. Not that the distance between the latter was so great. In ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?, 30 April 2009

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... the need for them), there are some prayers of unsettled authorship, a dramatisation of part of Samuel Richardson’s novel Sir Charles Grandison, admittedly of little interest in itself, and some poems of which the same might be said. The 100-page introduction is lovingly minute in its coverage of early commentary, and the annotations are careful and ...

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