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Mastering the Art of Understating Your Wealth

Thomas Keymer: The Tonsons, 5 May 2016

The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... Lord Sommers loved Perry,’ Newcastle wrote with heavy underlining. Many​ of the letters in Stephen Bernard’s meticulous edition owe their survival to Tonson’s Victorian heirs, who began auctioning off the most saleable manuscripts in the 1870s, as the family fortune dwindled. The rump of the archive was pulped for newsprint during World War ...

Doctors’ Orders

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 18 February 1982

‘All that summer she was mad’: Virginia Woolf and Her Doctors 
by Stephen Trombley.
Junction, 338 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 9780862450397
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... In the summer following the death of Leslie Stephen in 1904, his daughter Virginia lay in bed, listening to the birds singing in Greek and imagining King Edward lurking naked in the azaleas, shouting obscenities; that same summer she apparently attempted to kill herself by leaping out of the window. ‘I have never spent such a wretched 8 months in my life,’ she wrote to a friend when the crisis had passed ...

An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi, 21 February 1985

The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... Milne and Lord Berners, and ‘The Child at Home’, discussing Victor Gollancz, Augustus Hare, Stephen Spender, Winifred Foley and Neville Cardus. These categories are speculative instruments rather than immutable structures, and they might give way if pressed too hard: but they provide a genuinely helpful way of organising the material. Cockshut ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism, 22 June 2006

The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... decisions and turning-points of the reign, is often scarce and open to interpretation. George Bernard’s argument frequently proceeds by assertion rather than argument and proof, but, knowing how difficult the record is to interpret, he always asserts what is, in his view, plausible, rather than certain. For example, there is no record of the royal ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue, 20 December 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... for the new complete edition of Orwell, and has a critical Introduction and annotations by Bernard Crick. Davison reports that Orwell wrote about fifty pages of the book in the summer of 1946: the novel in its first form was typed in the summer of 1947 and completed by October. Between the middle of May 1948 and early November 1948 Orwell revised the ...

From Notre Dame to Cluny, via a Beehive Hut

John Bossy: Abelard’s Final Fling, 2 July 1998

Abelard: A Medieval Life 
by M.T. Clanchy.
Blackwell, 416 pp., £45, January 1997, 0 631 20502 0
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... from Peter Burke, is thick narrative. First he sets up his characters: Abelard himself; his enemy Bernard of Clairvaux, saint and, on Clanchy’s showing, insufferable rhetorician; his lover, short-lived wife and long-lived correspondent Heloise, niece or daughter and ward of Canon Fulbert of Notre Dame. Then we have the story, which, unlike weaker-minded and ...

Keep the baby safe

Stephen Sedley: Corrupt and Deprave, 10 March 2022

A Matter of Obscenity: The Politics of Censorship in Modern England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Princeton, 320 pp., £28, September 2021, 978 0 691 19798 2
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... to the Home Office by the Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship, chaired by the philosopher Bernard Williams, which advances a case for moral pluralism. The Labour-appointed committee found itself addressing a newly elected Conservative administration which dispatched its findings swiftly into the long grass.It is not obvious why Hilliard takes this as ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Anonymity, 19 January 2017

... in order to establish a common style and tone, couldn’t resist announcing that Sidney Webb and Bernard Shaw would be writing for it. In 1925 the Spectator, after not quite a hundred years of unsigned articles, abandoned anonymity, and the New Statesman followed. Articles in the TLS remained anonymous until 1974, and obituaries in the Times and Telegraph ...

Ah, la vie!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Lytton Strachey’s letters, 1 December 2005

The Letters of Lytton Strachey 
edited by Paul Levy.
Viking, 698 pp., £30, March 2005, 0 670 89112 6
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... The manifest ambivalence of the proposal recalls his well-known offer of marriage to Virginia Stephen some seven years before: an offer no sooner made, he told Leonard Woolf, than ‘I saw that it would be death if she accepted.’ On that occasion, he had immediately followed up his abortive proposal by suggesting that Leonard marry her instead; and he ...

Who was the enemy?

Bernard Porter: Gallipoli, 21 May 2015

Gallipoli 
by Alan Moorehead.
Aurum, 384 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78131 406 7
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Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story 
by Arthur Beecroft.
Robert Hale, 176 pp., £12.99, March 2015, 978 0 7198 1654 3
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Gallipoli 1915 
by Joseph Murray.
Silvertail, 210 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 909269 11 8
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Gallipoli: The Dardanelles Disaster in Soldiers’ Words and Photographs 
by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers.
Bloomsbury, 344 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 4088 5615 4
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... thanked me a thousand times’). Then there is the splendid book edited by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers, which consists mainly of soldiers’ and sailors’ letters and diaries, British, Anzac and Turkish – no French or Indian, apart from a couple of Indian officers in the British army – arranged chronologically, with an editorial commentary ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve, 1 December 1983

Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... about it, and an orgiastic one, where one is cosmically-life-affirmingly-overwhelmed by it, as Bernard Levin is. What we are talking about when we talk about opera becomes an intriguing moral moment. People who talk about it well seem to do it very well, to be able to be large-minded and yet sceptical at the same time. (True Wagnerians do not think that ...
Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition 
by James Joyce, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior.
Garland, 1919 pp., $200, May 1984, 0 8240 4375 8
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James Joyce 
by Richard Ellmann.
Oxford, 900 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 19 281465 6
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... street different smell.’ Now ‘too’ has its force justified. On 568/648 Bloom and Stephen are reading the Evening Telegraph, Stephen the letter on page two from Mr Deasy about foot-and-mouth disease, Bloom an account of the third race at Ascot: While the other was reading it on page two Boom (to give him ...

Mischief Wrought

Stephen Sedley: The Compensation Culture Myth, 4 March 2021

Fake Law: The Truth about Justice in an Age of Lies 
by the Secret Barrister.
Picador, 400 pp., £20, September 2020, 978 1 5290 0994 1
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... compensation culture has arisen …’The term seems to have originated in 1993 in an article by Bernard Levin in the Times. Subsequent research found that instances of its use by the press had by 2004 risen from almost zero to more than 450 a year. In 2004 the Better Regulation Task Force, reporting on routes to redress, subheaded its report ‘Compensation ...

Philanthropic Imperialism

Stephen W. Smith, 22 April 2021

... officials – with the minister of defence and the chief of defence staff in attendance – Bernard Emié, the head of DGSE (the French equivalent of MI6), joined the press conference, much to the surprise of the journalists present, and screened a video recording of a ‘strategic’ meeting of al-Qaida-affiliated leaders that had taken place somewhere ...

Morality in the Oxygen

E.S. Turner: Tobogganing, 14 December 2000

How the English Made the Alps 
by Jim Ring.
Murray, 287 pp., £19.99, September 2000, 0 7195 5689 9
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Killing Dragons: The Conquest of the Alps 
by Fergus Fleming.
Granta, 398 pp., £20, November 2000, 1 86207 379 1
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... of the mountains, as there is immorality in the miasma of a marsh.’ His great rival, Leslie Stephen, future editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, put in a word for the morals of Fen dwellers (would he have defended the goings-on at Sodom, a thousand feet below marsh level?) but he, too, saw mountaineering as an ennobling pursuit, not to be ...

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