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The Savage Life

Frank Kermode: The Adventures of William Empson, 19 May 2005

William Empson: Vol. I: Among the Mandarins 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 695 pp., £30, April 2005, 0 19 927659 5
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... country for the inevitable war. During this time he was again drinking too much, often with Dylan Thomas, and occasionally more grandly with Eliot and John Hayward. He claimed that in these Marchmont years he was enjoying himself very much, but he was not idling. He was quite heavily involved with Mass Observation, and so with Charles Madge and Kathleen ...

Red Stars

John Sutherland, 6 December 1984

Wild Berries 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Antonia Bovis.
Macmillan, 296 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 333 37559 9
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The Burn 
by Vassily Aksyonov, translated by Michael Glenny.
Hutchinson, 528 pp., £10.95, October 1984, 0 09 155580 9
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Fellow Travellers 
by T.C. Worsley.
Gay Men’s Press, 249 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 907040 51 9
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The Power of the Dog 
by Thomas Savage.
Chatto, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7011 3939 0
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The Fourth Protocol 
by Frederick Forsyth.
Hutchinson, 448 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 09 158630 5
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The Set-Up 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 397 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 370 30583 3
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... in Spender’s autobiography, ‘Harry Watson’ by Worsley and ‘a secretary’ by Hugh Thomas in his history of the Spanish Civil War). The relationship went sour, Spender married, and Tony-Jimmy-Harry, fired by the doctrines he had picked up from his intellectual friends, enlisted in the International Brigade. In Spain, he was traumatised by ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... I was reminded of her a decade or so later, when I watched The Shining while convalescing from a savage bout of food poisoning, holed up in a small German-run hotel in the foothills of Bolivia’s Cordillera Real – but that’s another story. There is a wearisome machismo inherent in much of the iconography of typewriting. In The Iron Whim: A Fragmented ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flirtation, Seduction and Betrayal, 5 September 2002

... papers in the Bodleian is a letter from Sharp, dated ‘Good Friday’ (probably 1929 or 1930), savage with wit: Those two sketches . . . both seemed dreadful to me – the most vicious of all forms of child worship enshrined in slovenly language of the most emetic sentimentality . . . followed by a lot of painstaking but washy verse masquerading as poetry ...

In an Empty Church

Peter Howarth: R.S. Thomas, 26 April 2007

The Man who Went into the West: The Life of R.S. Thomas 
by Byron Rogers.
Aurum, 326 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 1 84513 146 0
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... A creative artist has to be painfully honest with himself,’ R.S. Thomas declared in his autobiography, Neb: He has to look as objectively as possible at his creations. What is the point of pretending that his poem is a good one if it is not? But can the same honesty be expected of other people? Are not so many of life’s activities a means of escaping from self-knowledge? How many people could persevere, if they knew in their hearts they were quite unimportant ...

Making a Mouth in a Contemptuous Manner

John Gallagher: Civility Held Sway, 4 July 2019

In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilisation in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Yale, 457 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 23577 7
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... language were ruder and less polished than those of their Continental counterparts. The translator Thomas Hoby called for writers to translate important works in order to enrich their own language, so that ‘we alone of the worlde maye not bee styll counted barbarous in our tunge, as in time out of minde we have bene in our maners’. For Hoby and his ...

Stewed, roasted, baked or boiled

Claude Rawson, 6 August 1992

The Intelligencer 
by Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan, edited by James Woolley.
Oxford, 363 pp., £50, March 1992, 0 19 812670 0
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Jonathan Swift: A Literary Life 
by Joseph McMinn.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £35, May 1991, 9780333485842
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... summer, and a single further number in May 1729. It was written by Jonathan Swift and his friend Thomas Sheridan, a clergyman, schoolteacher and man of letters, and grandfather of the playwright. It includes at least two of Swift’s important works, his critique of the Beggar’s Opera in No 3, and a reprint of the ‘Short View of the State of ...
Thomas Hodgkin: Letters from Africa, 1947-56 
edited by Elizabeth Hodgkin and Michael Wolfers.
Haan, 224 pp., £18.95, October 2000, 9781874209881
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... At Thomas Hodgkin’s memorial service, in 1982, Christopher Hill, formerly Master of Balliol, used the pulpit of the college chapel to give an address entirely free of religious reference, quite a feat in view of Hodgkin’s Quaker roots and Hill’s status as historian of the Puritan revolution. ‘God was dead all right when you wrote that speech,’ I said to Hill afterwards ...

What did she do with those beds?

Thomas Keymer: Eliza Haywood, 3 January 2013

A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood 
by Kathryn King.
Pickering and Chatto, 288 pp., £60, June 2012, 978 1 85196 917 3
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... adds in a manuscript comment that he may have had from the struggling poet and hellraiser Richard Savage. In typically tantalising style, Curll alleged in print that the ill-matched babes were ‘Offspring of a Poet and a Bookseller’. The first task for any Haywood biographer, plainly, is to clear away the flak and innuendo. Some years ago, King discredited ...

Uncaging the beast

Sheldon Rothblatt, 16 February 1989

Victorian Anthropology 
by George Stocking.
Collier Macmillan, 429 pp., £22, October 1987, 0 02 931550 6
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... and cultural assumptions. In the 19th century, anthropology was or became the study of ‘savage’ – that is, ‘darkskinned’ – peoples in remote and exotic corners of the earth. By contrast, sociology was the study of ‘civilised’ peoples – that is, Europeans: which explains, says Stocking, why sometime colonial subjects prefer sociology ...

Why Mr Fax got it wrong

Roy Porter: Population history, 5 March 1998

English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Davies.
Cambridge, 657 pp., £60, July 1997, 0 521 59015 9
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The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 427 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 631 18117 2
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... Published two hundred years ago this year, An Essay on the Principle of Population made the Rev. Thomas Robert malthus into the man of the moment. Malthus’s principle – that population inevitably outruns food resources – was heralded by some as the decisive scientific refutation of the mad perfectibilist schemes of the French Revolutionaries and their English confrères like William Godwin, and damned by others as hardheartedness incarnate ...

Time of the Red-Man

Mark Ford: James Fenimore Cooper, 25 September 2008

James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years 
by Wayne Franklin.
Yale, 708 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 0 300 10805 7
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... for instance, Natty rescues one of the twice-captured maidens from the grip of an especially savage, cunning and evil Indian by dressing up in a conjurer’s bear costume and imitating the animal’s loping waddle so skilfully that he goes undetected, while Chingachgook fools the warriors of an enemy tribe by donning a furry mask and pretending to be a ...

No Fun

David Blackbourn: Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 15 October 1998

Letters of Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 1900-49 
edited by Hans Wysling, translated by Don Reneau.
California, 444 pp., £40, March 1998, 0 520 07278 2
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... wrote a double biography of the literary Brothers Mann, giving equal billing to the celebrated Thomas and the neglected Heinrich. It was certainly time to look again at Heinrich, whose importance as a public and literary figure had been taken for granted by an earlier generation of writers. Gottfried Benn called him ‘one of my gods’; Lion Feuchtwanger ...

Wilderness of Tigers

Michael Neill: Shakespeare’s Latin, 19 March 2015

Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity 
by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 281 pp., £16.99, September 2013, 978 0 19 968479 3
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... to have been mediated through Latin and English translations, he knew Plutarch well through Sir Thomas North’s version of the Parallel Lives, and is likely to have kept up with the publication of Chapman’s Homer. Successive chapters of Burrow’s book explore Shakespeare’s engagement with Ovid, Virgil, Plautus and Terence, Seneca and Plutarch, as well ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays, 8 November 2018

... controversy and led several months later to the famous debate on evolution between Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley at the Oxford Museum, appeared in the Quarterly Review, which was published by Murray’s. The editor was John Gibson Lockhart, but we aren’t told why he chose to commission what was guaranteed to be a ...

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