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Imperfect Knight

Gabriel Josipovici

17 April 1980
Chaucer’s Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary 
by Terry Jones.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 297 77566 9
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Chaucer, Langland and the Creative Imagination 
by David Aers.
Routledge, 236 pp., £9.75, January 1980, 9780710003515
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The Golden Age: Manuscript Painting at the Time of Jean, Duc de Berry 
by Marcel Thomas.
Chatto, 120 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7011 2471 7
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... the consciousness of the wider public. Here, as if to prove the point, is a study of Chaucer’s Knight, the first of the Canterbury Pilgrims to be described, by a member of the Monty Python team, TerryJones. Jones obviously enjoys reading Chaucer and his book conveys a personal excitement usually missing from academic studies. From the time he first came across the description of the Knight, he ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Alternative Weeping

7 September 2000
... the back – perhaps he does. What a literary festival has over a run-of-the-mill bookshop reading is, of course, the chance to see and hear David Starkey cheek by jowl with Zadie Smith, Roy Strong, TerryJones, Michael Holroyd and all the other writers showcasing their various talents this year. Such events certainly seem to be increasing rapidly in number and variety. Cheltenham and Hay-on-Wye (Tony ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: The Future of Publishing

5 January 2012
... you can pledge to support it. If we hit the target number of supporters, the author can go ahead and start writing.’ And if they don’t, well, there you go, you didn’t bring the market with you. TerryJones of the Pythons and Tibor Fischer got the 100 per cent support they needed and have already published their books, but at the time of writing Elliott Rose is languishing at 22 per cent and still ...
20 November 1986
Bowie 
by Jerry Hopkins.
Elm Tree, 275 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11548 5
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Alias David Bowie 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Hodder, 511 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 340 36806 3
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... David Robert Jones, alias David Bowie, is now in his 40th year. His creepy, chilling phrases pop out of pub jukeboxes, and extracts from his movies catch the eye on pub videos, whether he is embracing a Chinese girl or ...
3 February 2000
The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives 
by Carole Hillenbrand.
Edinburgh, 648 pp., £80, July 1999, 0 7486 0905 9
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... a long act of intolerance in the name of God.’ The wickedness of Crusading and Crusaders had established itself as one of the pieties of Crusading historiography long before the veteran Python, TerryJones, delivered his adverse verdict on television. Even novelists like Scott, Henty and Rider Haggard have been inclined to take a remarkably severe view of the Crusading enterprise. It is hardly ...

Gloomy/Cheerful

Tom Shippey: Norse mythology

3 January 2008
From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths 
by Heather O’Donoghue.
Tauris, 224 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 1 84511 357 5
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... Viking funerals’ as commonly understood, with the blazing boat pushed out to sea, are rare in Norse literature, but they stud the pages of modern thrillers and fantasies from Beau Geste to Terry Pratchett. All this makes O’Donoghue’s final attempt to round up contemporary responses look eclectic at best. She mentions a few poems and novels, but the number could be multiplied many times ...
20 February 1997
... In Well Street, Hackney, shortly before midnight on 11 February 1982, Terry McCluskie and his friend Raymond Reynolds picked a fight with a total stranger, Robert Ford, and stabbed him to death. Ford was 15 years old and had just taken his girl-friend home after spending an ...

The Man in White

Edward Pearce

11 October 1990
The Golden Warrior: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia 
by Lawrence James.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £19.50, August 1990, 0 297 81087 1
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... heroes, which enjoined the knight to protect those too weak to fend for themselves.’ This is not the world of the actual knights – even Chaucer’s parfait gentle knight has been demonstrated by TerryJones to have been a cynical operator. It suggests that the evils of the Arab order gave him a function. Mr James has a chapter, one of the best things in the book, on ‘Lawrence and the Arabs ...
2 July 1981
Bernard Shaw and the Actresses 
by Margot Peters.
Columbus, 461 pp., £8.75, March 1981, 0 385 12051 6
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... who fell in love with his own creature. When he eventually wrote Pygmalion, he designed the role of Eliza for Mrs Patrick Campbell. He went to persuade her to take it and, as he reported to Ellen Terry, ‘fell head over ears in love with her in thirty seconds’. Shaw was at the time 55 and Mrs Pat, who, on taking Shaw’s hand, performed what he called the ‘infamous, abandoned trick’ of ...

Mr Down-by-the-Levee

Thomas Jones: Updike’s Terrorist

7 September 2006
Terrorist 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 310 pp., £17.99, August 2006, 0 241 14351 9
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... girl in his class at school, Joryleen Grant, is persuasively and sympathetically described, as are the edginess and hostility of his fraught exchanges with Joryleen’s aggressive boyfriend, Tylenol Jones (whose ‘mother, having delivered a ten-pound infant, saw the name in a television commercial for painkiller and liked the sound of it’). In the most literal sense, Ahmad isn’t foreign to Updike ...

Bunches of Guys

Owen Bennett-Jones: Just the Right Amount of Violence

19 December 2013
Decoding al-Qaida’s Strategy: The Deep Battle against America 
by Michael Ryan.
Columbia, 368 pp., £23.15, September 2013, 978 0 231 16384 2
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The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organisations 
by Jacob Shapiro.
Princeton, 352 pp., £19.95, July 2013, 978 0 691 15721 4
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... most recently, the NSA’s disregard for privacy. This litany of human rights abuses, al-Qaida argues, is explained by the West’s hatred of Islam. The actions of a few fringe figures such as Pastor TerryJones who do indeed seem to hate Islam are then cited as supporting evidence. One aspect of the US’s use of torture, incidentally, has received too little attention. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty

11 December 1997
... I went with Jo Mennel, who was directing a film on the A6 case for BBC’s Panorama (editor, Jeremy Isaacs), to the guest-house in Rhyl where Hanratty said he’d stayed. The landlady, Mrs Grace Jones, was not at all diverted by the pulverising she’d got from the prosecution at the trial. She was more sure than ever that Hanratty had stayed in her house on the night of the murder, 22 August 1961 ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?

20 August 2014
Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... One simple way​ of grasping the magnitude of what has happened to London over the last thirty years is to compare the introductions to the first and most recent editions of Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward’s Guide to the Architecture of London. In 1983, they wrote of a city in decline, its population down by about a sixth from its postwar height. ‘London is cleaner and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bo yakasha.

4 January 2001
... odd about seeing Paul McCartney’s brother being interviewed on TV and talking about Macca as ‘our kid’ (how many Beatles fans ever wondered if Paul McCartney had a brother?); and what about Terry Major-Ball. Not to mention Earl Spencer. I don’t know if anyone’s written a study of the subject, though there is Barbara Trapido’s novel Brother of the More Famous Jack, and it’s one of the ...

Shatost

John Bayley

16 June 1983
Dostoevsky and ‘The Idiot’: Author, Narrator and Reader 
by Robin Feuer Miller.
Harvard, 296 pp., £16, October 1981, 0 674 21490 0
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Dostoevsky 
by John Jones.
Oxford, 365 pp., £15, May 1983, 9780198126454
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New Essays on Dostoyevsky 
edited by Malcolm Jones and Garth Terry.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24890 6
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The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes 
by Robert Louis Jackson.
Princeton, 380 pp., £17.60, January 1982, 0 691 06484 9
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... from the sheet while a fly buzzes over the Jeyes fluid, makes one feel that Dostoevsky did not always turn parody into new reality and the Gothic into his own version of the electrically banal. John Jones may be right to write off The Idiot in his study and leave it out of discussion. Even its humour is disproportionate, and it is peculiarly difficult to separate in it the essential from the ...

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