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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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... have been tinkering with this basic model for years; latterly with a dawning conviction that they were trying to retune a clapped-out engine to avoid the bother of finding a new car. Now, at last, SusanReynolds 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 ...

At the Courtauld

Esther Chadwick: Jonathan Richardson

9 September 2015
... has another Advantage of Words,’ he wrote, ‘and that is, it pours Ideas into our Minds, Words 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 ...

Diary

David Denby: Deaths on Camera

7 September 2016
... participatory accounts is the Facebook Live video – users can broadcast whatever they are watching 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 ...

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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... pen ever scribbled, since the grand Firework of destruction on my 15th Birthday … all our joint Mss 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 ...

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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... pronouncing quickly under his breath, too, too, too: all this accompanied sometimes with a thoughtful 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 ...

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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... in the same way that Boswell’s Life of Johnson did, or a Thackeray novel in which characters 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 ...
16 October 1997
Keats 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 612 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780571172276
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... By contrast, Motion, though for the most part serviceable, is often not a pleasure to read. There 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 ...
9 January 1992
Customs in Common 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 547 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 85036 411 6
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... to ‘custom’, the idea of it as ‘second nature’, also dominated the outlook of the ‘patrician’ 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 ...

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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... glorious obscenities, prepared to take between those lips unkissed by my own the bone-rigid stalk of my passion. In the absence of Maria, our hero might have diddled one of those undulant oaks. Like Susan Cheever’s Home before Dark and Kaylie Jones’s Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father is further evidence that growing up as the daughter of a famous writer can mean ...

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