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English Protestantism

J.B. Trapp, 4 September 1980

Studies in the Reformation: Luther to Hooker 
by W.D.J. Cargill Thompson.
Athlone, 259 pp., £18, July 1980, 9780485111873
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... Towards the end of 1533, Sir Thomas More turned to write the last of his harsh rejoinders to a pamphlet attack, printed abroad, on the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist. He did not know who the author was, though he guessed it to be his fierce old adversary William Tyndale, or perhaps George Joye, Tyndale’s former friend and collaborator, now his mortal enemy ...

The Great Dissembler

James Wood: Thomas More’s Bad Character, 16 April 1998

The Life of Thomas More 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 435 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 711 5
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... Thomas More, the scrupulous martyr, is the complete English saint. But no man can be a saint in God’s eyes, and no man should be one in ours; and certainly not Thomas More. He is seen as a Catholic martyr because he died opposing Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the King’s robbery from the Pope of the leadership of the English Church ...

Out of this World

David Armitage, 16 November 1995

Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George Logan, Robert M. Adams and Clarence Miller.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £55, February 1995, 0 521 40318 9
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Utopias of the British Enlightenment 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, July 1994, 0 521 43084 4
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... might have a history is itself a recent discovery, and has largely sprung from assessments of More’s Utopia, the work that revived the ancient genre of the ideal commonwealth for the modern world. More’s work has been heralded as both a harbinger of Communism and as the intellectual first-fruits of the modern ...

Midwinter

J.B. Trapp, 17 November 1983

Thomas MoreHistory and Providence 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 271 pp., £19.50, September 1982, 0 631 13094 2
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The Statesman and the Fanatic: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More 
by Jasper Ridley.
Constable, 338 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780094634701
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English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition 
by John King.
Princeton, 539 pp., £30.70, December 1982, 0 691 06502 0
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Seven-Headed Luther: Essays in Commemoration of a Quincentenary, 1483-1983 
edited by Peter Newman Brooks.
Oxford, 325 pp., £22.50, July 1983, 0 19 826648 0
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The Complete Works of St Thomas More. Vol. VI: A Dialogue concerning Heresies. Part 1: The Text, Part 2: Introduction, Commentary, Appendices, Glossary, Index 
edited by T.M.C. Lawler, Germain Marc’hadour and Richard Marius.
Yale, 435 pp., £76, November 1981, 0 300 02211 5
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... at that time his friend. What sort of man, he had asked Erasmus, was this kindred poetic spirit Thomas More, fellow-condemner of court life and author of the diverting Utopia, as well as admirably an admirer of Hutten’s own satire on monkish blankness and obscurantism, Letters from Nonentities (Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum)? Erasmus’s reply did for ...

How to Twist a Knife

Colin Burrow: Wolf Hall, 30 April 2009

Wolf Hall 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 653 pp., April 2009, 978 0 00 723018 1
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... There was no shortage of bastards in the early 16th century, but Thomas Cromwell stands out as one of the biggest bastards of them all. His surviving correspondence shows the energy, efficiency and brutality of someone born to get things done. Whenever he says, ‘I remain still your perfect and sincere friend,’ you can be fairly sure he is about to terminate the addressee’s career with extreme prejudice ...

Homage to Tyndale

J.B. Trapp, 17 December 1992

Tyndale’s New Testament 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04419 4
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Tyndale’s Old Testament, being the Pentateuch of 1530, Joshua to II Chronicles of 1537 and Jonah 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 643 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 300 05211 1
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... Testament and from the original Greek of the New, was sanctified by use in the Western Church for more than a thousand years. It was a translation into Latin, which required learning and the help of interpreters to construe. Vernacular versions existed, in various European languages, but most were partial and had been made from the Latin. The English ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, 19 January 2017

Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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Utopia 
by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... the Houses of Parliament have been repurposed as a store for dung, while in Utopia itself, Thomas More specifies that Utopians use gold, which is abundant, for chamber pots. Shit, like nothing, happens anywhere, these utopian writers seem to say, but what matters is keeping it localised. Utopia is now five hundred years old. First published in ...

Malice! Malice!

Stephen Sedley: Thomas More’s Trial, 5 April 2012

Thomas More’s Trial by Jury 
edited by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis Karlin and Gerard Wegemer.
Boydell, 240 pp., £55, September 2011, 978 1 84383 629 2
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... Beatification, which finally came to Thomas More in 1886, and canonisation, which had to wait until 1935, were only the icing on the commemorative cake. He had had, both during his life and since, a deserved measure of admiration as a scholar, a lawyer, a writer and a politician; for there is much in Robert Bolt’s adulatory A Man for All Seasons which reflects what we know of More ...

Two Poems

Michael Symmons Roberts, 17 May 2017

... Yours Is Mine ‘Doors which yield to a touch of the hand … permit anyone to enter.’ Thomas More, Utopia It was our game, to drive at night into their city, scan the streets, choose a house at random and stroll in mid-evening as the householders were finishing, say, a birthday dinner. We watched them look up, terrified but mute. We ...

Simon Agonistes

Randolph Quirk, 5 November 1981

Paradigms Lost: Reflections on Literacy and its Decline 
by John Simon.
Chatto, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 7011 2601 9
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... completely. As well he might. Bombastic English has been vigorously deplored since the time of Sir Thomas More, and it would be difficult to demonstrate that there was relatively more (or less) of it around today. Bad spelling is certainly no measure. As a popular touchstone of literacy standards, it has a scarcely ...

Floreat Eltona

David Starkey, 19 January 1984

Tudor Rule and Revolution: Essays for G.R. Elton from his American Friends 
edited by DeLloyd Guth and John McKenna.
Cambridge, 418 pp., £27.50, February 1983, 0 521 24841 8
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Essays on Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government. Vol III: Papers and Reviews 1973-1981 
by G.R. Elton.
Cambridge, 512 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 521 24893 0
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Which road to the past? Two Views of History 
by Robert William Fogel and G.R. Elton.
Yale, 136 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 300 03011 8
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... of faith’. This falls under two main heads: conclusions and methods. Particularly in those more unbuttoned moments (as in ‘Reform in an Age of Change’) when his stream of history is caught by a tape-recorder, he sticks to the view of the 16th century which he first formulated some thirty years ago: that the 1530s saw a revolution in both government ...

Too Many Alibis

James Wood: Geoffrey Hill, 1 July 1999

Canaan 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 76 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 14 058786 1
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The Truth of Love: A Poem 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 82 pp., £8.99, January 1997, 0 14 058910 4
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... but deeply penitential, his poetry visits waves of scruple upon itself. No contemporary poet has a more contrite ear for the confessions, and the betrayals, of words. Of course, much great poetry has not worn this bent gesture, nor do we always want it to, and it can be irritating when Hill’s more pious admirers speak as ...

Private Thomas

Andrew Motion, 19 December 1985

Edward ThomasA Portrait 
by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 331 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 19 818527 8
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... R. George Thomas is a cautious man. His life of Edward Thomas (no relation) is ‘a portrait’ not ‘a biography’. Maybe this is just as well. The poet was a cautious man too. He was also a scrupulous one, and when we read in the first few pages that research for this book began ‘in the early 1960s’, we are encouraged to feel that author and subject are kindred spirits ...

Charm with Menaces

Colin Burrow: ‘The Mirror and the Light’, 19 March 2020

The Mirror and the Light 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 883 pp., £25, March, 978 0 00 748099 9
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... moves​ in a mysterious way. Wolf Hall, the first instalment of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, appeared more than a decade ago. Its 650 pages covered the years from roughly 1500 to 1535. Three years later came Bring Up the Bodies, which in 410 pages created a tight tragic narrative about Cromwell’s ...

The Other Thomas

Charles Nicholl, 8 November 2012

... The tale of the apostle Thomas is a sea unspeakably vast.’ Thus the Syriac poet Jacob of Sarugh, who lived in upper Mesopotamia in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. The words are stirring but to our ears perhaps surprising, because in the West we think we know Thomas’s ‘tale’ and its significance pretty well ...

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