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No More Feudalism

Rosemary Horrox, 23 February 1995

Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted 
by Susan Reynolds.
Oxford, 544 pp., £20, August 1994, 0 19 820458 2
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... were trying to retune a clapped-out engine to avoid the bother of finding a new car. Now, at last, Susan Reynolds has scrapped it altogether. Her argument, put simply, is that the feudal system, as defined above, did not exist in early medieval Europe, and that if one approaches the sources (predominantly land grants and the disputes arising from ...

At the Courtauld

Esther Chadwick: Jonathan Richardson, 9 September 2015

... only drop ’em.’ He taught Thomas Hudson, who in turn taught Joseph Wright of Derby and Joshua Reynolds. By the time of his death – suddenly, on sitting down in his chair after his usual morning walk – he owned ‘unspecified’ amounts of bank and South Sea stock, as well as five London houses. Jonathan Richardson in 1736 A small selection of ...

Diary

David Denby: Deaths on Camera, 7 September 2016

... as it is happening – recorded on 6 July in Falcon Heights, Minnesota by Diamond ‘Lavish’ Reynolds. She was riding with her four-year-old daughter in a car driven by her boyfriend, Philando Castile, when they were pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez for driving with a broken tail-light. Reynolds turned on her ...

Too Many Pears

Thomas Keymer: Frances Burney, 26 August 2015

The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney 1786-91, Vols III-IV: 1788 
edited by Lorna Clark.
Oxford, 824 pp., £225, September 2014, 978 0 19 968814 2
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... encountered Addison and Steele in taverns. Someone famous was sure to turn up on each page: Joshua Reynolds, perhaps, or Mrs Siddons, or mad King George III. The diary gave ‘fresh colours to the pale and faded portraits of past ages’, a reviewer for the Gentleman’s Magazine wrote. It wasn’t long before readers began rating the diary above the ...

Malice

John Mullan: Fanny Burney, 23 August 2001

Fanny Burney: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Flamingo, 464 pp., £8.99, October 2001, 0 00 655036 3
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Fanny Burney: Her Life 
by Kate Chisholm.
Vintage, 347 pp., £7.99, June 1999, 0 09 959021 2
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Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III 
by Hester Davenport.
Sutton, 224 pp., £25, June 2000, 0 7509 1881 0
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... of my dearest Father – his Letters – his Memoirs – his memorandums! – And all my beloved Susan’s Journals, & my own that she returned to me, with every Letter I have thought worth keeping, or not had the leisure for burning, from my very infancy to the day of my flight! What would Burney’s reputation as a writer now be if all this paper had been ...

Leaf, Button, Dog

Susan Eilenberg: The Sins of Hester Thrale, 1 November 2001

According to Queeney 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Little, Brown, 242 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 316 85867 6
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... look, but more frequently with a smile. ‘The great business of his life,’ he told Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘was to escape from himself; this disposition he considered as the disease of his mind, which nothing cured but company.’ He ‘loved late hours extremely, or more properly hated early ones. Nothing was more terrifying to him than the idea of ...

Inspiration, Accident, Genius

Helen Vendler, 16 October 1997

Keats 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 612 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780571172276
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... are numerous repellent anachronisms of reference, as when he speaks of Keats as ‘ribbing’ the Reynolds sisters, or refers to Keats’s friend Isabella Jones’s connection to ‘her possessive sugar daddy O’Callaghan’. He says of Keats’s style, ‘classical references and painterly gestures would all become trademarks.’ Trademarks: did Keats ...

John Homer’s Odyssey

Claude Rawson, 9 January 1992

Customs in Common 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 547 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 85036 411 6
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... culture of the old regime, and of its great canonical authors, Swift, Pope, Fielding, Reynolds, Burke (most of them, incidentally, non-patrician by birth or social rank). Thompson long ago remarked, in The Making of the English Working Class, how ‘in the name of freedom Burke denounced, and Paine championed, the French Revolution,’ and ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... a Polish Catholic – for tragic universality. In March 1979, Styron wrote to his daughter Susanna that sinister mutterings had reached him that at least one powerful Jewish organisation had it in for him, ‘that Sophie was violently anti-semitic and would be “dealt with” accordingly’. Not the sort of news a novelist wants to hear on the eve of ...

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