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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 ...
... 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 trying to absorb the consequences of the spectacle; Black ...

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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... 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 supremacy that Fisher was combating, but discusses it as a ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 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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... 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 month, if possible the day when it ...

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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... 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’s first years was Edward Hyams’s ...

Rwanda in Six Scenes

Stephen W. Smith: Fables of Rwanda, 17 March 2011

... 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 banished from the ...

What about the aeroplanes?

Gillian Beer, 23 April 1987

The Essays of Virginia Woolf: Vol. 1 1904-1912 
edited by Andrew McNeillie.
Hogarth, 411 pp., £20, November 1986, 0 7012 0666 7
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The Interrupted Moment: A View of Virginia Woolf’s Novels 
by Lucio Ruotolo.
Stanford, 262 pp., $29.50, November 1986, 0 8047 1342 1
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Virginia Woolf and the Real World 
by Alex Zwerdling.
California, 370 pp., £24.95, October 1986, 0 520 05684 1
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... her health repeatedly broke down; and, although the tyranny was of a different kind, any reader of Stephen’s Mausoleum Book and of Woolf’s own accounts will recognise the tyrannical tenderness of the husband-father. It is not surprising that the Barrett Browning letters Woolf chooses to quote include one where Elizabeth Barrett Browning complains that her ...

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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... 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 & not try to arouse my interest with a perfectly innocuous ...

On and off the page

Thomas Nagel, 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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... 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 Williams, in a wonderful ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 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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Striker 
by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... 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 charge, Robert Loyd, to ‘rationalise’ BHM’s ...

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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... 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 reprinting of Dreyfus’s recollections of his conviction ...

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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... 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 hash. ‘English’ seemed to be just there: as natural ...

Irishness is for other people

Terry Eagleton: Enrique Vila-Matas, 19 July 2012

Dublinesque 
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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... 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 the task of writing much of its rulers’ great ...

‘Disgusting’

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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... 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 ...

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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... 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 historian of Newtonian natural philosophy, he started ...

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