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Stephen​ Sedley: Anonymity

19 January 2017
... New Statesman anonymised its contributors, though the editor, having explained that this was necessary 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 ...
8 February 1990
A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... very epically to grief against Saracen fundamentalists at Roncevaux, and the last is 1985, memorable for the 500th edition of French television’s authorial chat-show Apostrophes, whose anchorman, Bernard Pivot, like Roland, gets a fearsome pasting, of which more in a moment. And each of the book’s close on two hundred chapters has for a headline some cultural event, urgently dated to the year, the ...

The analyst is always right

Mark Ford: Tessimond and Spencer

17 November 2011
Collected Poems with Translations from Jacques Prévert 
by A.S.J. Tessimond.
Bloodaxe, 188 pp., £10.95, November 2010, 978 1 85224 857 4
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Complete Poetry, Translations and Selected Prose 
by Bernard​ Spencer.
Bloodaxe, 351 pp., £15, February 2011, 978 1 85224 891 8
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... 23, A.S.J. Tessimond (Arthur Seymour John, Jack to his family, but known as John in later life) wrote to Ezra Pound, who had recently settled in Rapallo, enclosing some poems and an article on George Bernard Shaw. Tessimond’s letter does not survive, but Pound’s reply does. ‘Dear Sir,’ he wrote, If you were in the least familiar with my work you wd. know what I think of criticism in general ...
25 July 1991
Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... an attempt to evoke Berlin’s presence by reminiscence and by continuing those conversations on many subject which have been part of their friendships with him. Of the 14 essays and one poem (by Stephen Spender) three have previously been published. Alfred Brendel writes about humour in music, Francis Haskell on controversies about the transition from Late Roman to Early Christian art; Bernard ...
6 February 1986
Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... assignations in the boardroom, which is inconvenient. And his son stands trial on a drugs charge. Having been apprehended outside a notorious house in Mayfair with a despatch-box full of the weed, Stephen gets off with a suspended sentence because the judge also patronises Venus Black’s and remembers him from the Orgy Room. Irwin Gance, another habitué of the Room, is hired by the minister in ...

Dr Blair, the Leavis of the North

Terence Hawkes: English in Scotland

18 February 1999
The Scottish Invention of English Literature 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £35, July 1998, 0 521 59038 8
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... and Prejudice like the rest of us? How otherwise could he have written plays full of ‘characters’ who, as all O and A-level candidates know, endlessly, remorselessly, ‘develop’? Admittedly, Stephen Potter’s The Muse in Chains had offered to blow the gaff in 1937. But pell-mell postwar expansion, to say nothing of Potter’s decline into a chronicler of comfy national foibles, soon settled its ...

A Flat in Neuilly

Douglas Johnson

3 February 1983
Ideology and Experience: Anti-Semitism in France at the time of the Dreyfus Affair 
by Stephen​ Wilson.
Associated University Presses, 812 pp., £30, August 1982, 0 8386 3037 5
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Cinq Années de ma Vie 
by Alfred Dreyfus.
Maspéro, 263 pp., frs 15
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La Républic et les Juifs après Copernic 
by Schmuel Trigano.
Les Presses d’Aujourd’hui, 272 pp., frs 75, April 1982, 2 901386 03 2
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... late Pierre-Mendès-curieusement-surnommé-France was ostracised and the allegations of racialism loudly voiced against the French Communist Party, make an affirmative answer distressingly plausible. Stephen Wilson’s large and learned book, in which he studies the political, social and intellectual aspects of anti-semitism in France at the end of the 19th century, is therefore very timely, as is the ...

Irishness is for other people

Terry Eagleton: Enrique Vila-Matas

19 July 2012
by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Anne McLean and Rosalind Harvey.
Harvill Secker, 245 pp., £16.99, June 2012, 978 1 84655 489 6
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... wildly imaginative brawlers whom other people look down on but would secretly like to be, and as such they evoke a mixture of derision and admiration. From Oliver Goldsmith and Oscar Wilde to George Bernard Shaw, Brendan Behan and Graham Norton, John Bull’s other island has furnished the British with a series of talented court jesters, praised and patronised in equal measure. Ireland was burdened with ...


Frank Kermode: Remembering William Empson

16 November 2006
William Empson. Vol. II: Against the Christians 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 797 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 19 927660 9
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... like to make love to Molly but hasn’t done so for ten years, since his first son died, though he is keen to have another child. If he could get Molly away from Boylan and ‘get her to bed with Stephen’ he thinks he could manage it provided Stephen preceded him – perhaps when Stephen returned to Eccles Street, as he promised. Joyce was apparently ‘shy’ about this bit of narrative, and hid ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard

14 June 1990
Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... of Fisher’s execution. The proceedings of this are now published as Humanism, Reform and the Reformation. Several essays emphasise Fisher’s career as an outstanding scholar. An important paper by Stephen Thompson shows that he was also a model bishop, residing in his diocese, preaching, ordaining priests in person, generous in his charitable giving. Henry Chadwick offers a sketch of the royal ...

Staggering on

Stephen​ Howe

23 May 1996
The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... have entered the Left’s historical consciousness: that it was a Fabian journal, founded by the Webbs as a kind of younger sibling to the LSE, that it survived its infancy largely thanks to Bernard Shaw’s reputation and money, that Clifford Sharp, the editor, was an alcoholic and possibly a spy, and that the paper itself was deadly dull. The only previous extended discussion of the Statesman ...
30 April 2009
... and contingency, and he is now best known as the great contemporary stager of traumatic contingency as it strikes ordinary lives. In The Child in Time, a child goes missing at a supermarket, and Stephen and Julie’s domestic existence is shattered; in Enduring Love, Clarissa and Joe witness the death of John Logan as he falls from a balloon, are changed for ever, and spend the rest of the novel ...

Somewhat Divine

Simon Schaffer: Isaac Newton

16 November 2000
Isaac Newton: The ‘Principia’ Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 
translated by I. Bernard​ Cohen.
California, 974 pp., £22, September 1999, 0 520 08817 4
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... Motte, even managed to bring out an English translation of the whole of his greatest work. There has never, until now, been another. It has understandably taken the Harvard historian of science I. Bernard Cohen and his collaborators much longer to produce this new translation than Newton took to compose the original, or Motte his version. In 1956, when Cohen had already established his reputation as a ...
8 June 2006
Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq 
by Michael Gordon and Bernard​ Trainor.
Atlantic, 603 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 352 4
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... position to begin evaluating the results of their handiwork. To that effort, this very fine book makes an important contribution. A decade ago, Michael Gordon, a reporter with the New York Times, and Bernard Trainor, a retired US Marine Corps lieutenant general, collaborated on The Generals’ War, still perhaps the best narrative history of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. Cobra II, a worthy successor ...

Rwanda in Six Scenes

Stephen​ W. Smith: Fables of Rwanda

17 March 2011
... 1994, triggering the genocide. Photographs of the slain general cover the walls. Next to Mrs Habyarimana, now in her mid-fifties, sit four of her eight children: Jeanne and Marie-Merci; Léon and Bernard. I’ve been seeing Bernard for some time and he has persuaded his mother to meet me on her return to France after two years in Gabon. There are many grandchildren underfoot; eventually they’re ...

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