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Viva la trattoria

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 9 October 2003

Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Her Sister Arabella 
edited by Scott Lewis.
Wedgestone, $300, October 2002, 0 911459 29 4
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... on EBB’s fondness for her sister to say that the collection as a whole suffers accordingly. Scott Lewis may be right to contend that she ‘felt no fear or constraint in writing to Arabella’, but the absence of pressure does not necessarily result in greater pleasure for the reader. Between the breathlessly associative style of these ...

Diary

Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... War in a fashion incomprehensible to those who view it only through the writings of the war poets. Lewis Hastings, born in 1880, had run away from Stonyhurst to South Africa aged 18, and roamed that country thereafter as hunter, policeman, prospector, star rugby player and not unsuccessful part-time politician. In 1914 he led a national recruiting campaign for ...

Against the Same-Old Same-Old

Seamus Perry: The Brownings, 3 November 2016

The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 21 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 432 pp., $110, April 2014, 978 0 911459 38 8
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The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 22 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 430 pp., $110, June 2015, 978 0 911459 39 5
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Robert Browning 
edited by Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan.
Oxford, 904 pp., £95, December 2014, 978 0 19 959942 4
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Browning Studies: Being Select Papers by Members of the Browning Society 
edited by Edward Berdoe.
Routledge, 348 pp., £30, August 2015, 978 1 138 02488 5
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... Romanticism​ bequeathed a good many things to the beleaguered modern imagination, one of the most provoking of which was the thought that it should get out more. That bit of advice proved all the more challenging because it contradicted the other basic idea which the Romantics left behind – namely, that what mattered was staying inside, wrapped in the private world of subjectivity and ‘mental space ...

Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 September 1980

C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... York. He tells us in an introduction: ‘Now several societies exist for the purpose of studying Lewis’s thoughts; film rights to several of his books have been purchased, and filmed documentaries of his life have been produced; both popular and scholarly books on Lewis are being published with increasing frequency (so ...

Enfield was nothing

P.N. Furbank: Norman Lewis, 18 December 2003

The Tomb in Seville 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 150 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 224 07120 3
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... but resisted, the temptations that Lévi-Strauss is so caustic about, telling Sir Walter Scott that he would not render his travels more marvellous by introducing ‘circumstances which, however true, were of little or no moment, as they related solely to his own personal adventures and escapes’ – the very things which, for good or evil, Evelyn ...

Among the Picts

John Sutherland, 18 August 1994

Stained Radiance: A Fictionist’s Prelude 
by J. Leslie Mitchell.
Polygon, 219 pp., £7.95, July 1993, 0 7486 6141 7
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The Speak of the Mearns 
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Polygon, 268 pp., £8.95, June 1994, 0 7486 6167 0
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... Lewis Grassic Gibbon (the pen-name of James Leslie Mitchell) is put forward as his country’s great 20th-century novelist: the Scottish D.H. Lawrence. Gibbon’s reputation substantially rests on A Scots Quair (‘quire’ – or ‘gathering of sheets’), also called ‘The Mearns Trilogy’, Mearns being an ancient name for Kincardineshire, now itself an ancient name after the county reorganisation of 1975 ...
Jeremy Thorpe: A Secret Life 
by Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater and David May.
Fontana, 371 pp., £1.50
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... an account of a trial and its background. If it is a biography of anyone, it is of Bessell and of Scott, who come alive on the page in a way that Mr Thorpe does not. If Mr Thorpe has had a secret life, it was presumably a social and political one, and it is not to be found here. His dazzling success in Society, and the difficulties he met in leading the ...

The Atheists’ Picnic

Julian Bell: Art and Its Origins, 10 June 2010

Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion 
by David Lewis-Williams.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £18.95, March 2010, 978 0 500 05164 1
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... of Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion, the archaeologist David Lewis-Williams examines the earliest records of symbolic behaviour. It is unlikely we will ever pinpoint just when the human habit of investing objects with significance took hold. But for the moment, until fresh discoveries arrive, the most striking evidence we ...

Lost Mother

Michael Dobson, 17 February 2000

In My End Is My Beginning: A Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by James Mackay.
Mainstream, 320 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 84018 058 7
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Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation 
by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis.
Routledge, 259 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 0 415 11481 0
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Ancestry and Narrative in 19th-Century British Literature: Blood Relations from Edgeworth to Hardy 
by Sophie Gilmartin.
Cambridge, 281 pp., £37.50, February 1999, 0 521 56094 2
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... of oppression, are among our permanent national characteristics. So wrote one of Sir Walter Scott’s anonymous competitors in the preface to The Court of Holyrood: Fragments of an Old Story (1822), neatly describing the emotional dynamic by which narratives about Mary Queen of Scots, such as this historical romance itself, could be used to serve ...

Operation Backfire

Francis Spufford: Britain’s space programme, 28 October 1999

... communications, had been growing increasingly irritated by the theological science fiction of C.S. Lewis, who saw space travel as a sinful attempt by fallen humanity to overstep its God-given place. In Reflections on the Psalms (1958), for example, Lewis had described it as learning ‘(which God forbid) to … distribute ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 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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Gillespie 
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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... 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 S. Swan, Sir Compton Mackenzie and a thousand others: the subject is God’s own gift to the sifter of anecdotes and ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... of Zélide (Benjamin Constant’s mistress, Mme de Charrière) by Wharton’s friend Geoffrey Scott – Mainwaring’s Mysteries is the product of long and deep digging in all kinds of likely and unlikely places. And in this dogged quest, she has been driven by motives quite as mixed and dark as anything in Eugène Sue’s sensational Mystères de ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach, 25 June 1987

Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... subject of increasing critical interest. In her lifetime she was praised by H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Louise Bogan, but Edmund Wilson said that One of Ours,* her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was a complete failure and that My Antonia ended on the level of a Ladies Home Journal serial. Lionel Trilling called The Professor’s House ‘lame’ and Ernest ...

Like Heaven

Lorna Scott Fox, 22 May 1997

Texaco 
by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis.
Granta, 401 pp., £15.99, March 1997, 1 86207 007 5
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School Days 
by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Nebraska, 156 pp., $13, March 1997, 0 8032 6376 7
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... as sources of inspiration, severed from the great signifying trunk of European culture: Montaigne, Lewis Carroll, La Fontaine and the debauched Rabelais, who is disapproved of by Ti-Cirique yet strongly reminiscent of Marie-Sophie’s father Esternome’s amalgam of fine French and hill Creole, and indeed of Chamoiseau’s. What would an English translator ...

Last Man of Letters

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1983

The Forties: From the Notebooks and Diaries of the Period 
by Edmund Wilson, edited and introduced by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 369 pp., £14.95, August 1983, 0 333 21212 6
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The Portable Edmund Wilson 
edited by Lewis Dabney.
Penguin, 647 pp., £3.95, May 1983, 0 14 015098 6
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To the Finland Station 
by Edmund Wilson.
Macmillan, 487 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 333 35143 6
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... Lewis Dabney, editor of the Portable Edmund Wilson, makes the slightly surprising claim that Wilson’s ‘reputation continues to grow’. I had supposed that it was, at least temporarily, in abeyance, and for reasons that Wilson would have easily understood. Mr Dabney remarks that Wilson’s work ‘reminds students of literature and history of their heritage from a time when these were the joint concerns of educated men rather than separated fields in the academy ...

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