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Peter Burke, 18 March 1982

The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought 
by John Friedman.
Harvard, 268 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 58652 2
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Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain 
by William Christian.
Princeton, 349 pp., £16.80, September 1981, 9780691053264
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... St Francis, and so on. Stereotyping is particularly evident in the case of religious apparitions. William Christian, an anthropologist turned historian, has been studying apparitions in Late Medieval Spain. St Ildefonso, St Anthony of Padua and St Michael the Archangel all made their appearance, but the dominant figure was that of the Virgin Mary. At ...

What the children saw

Marina Warner, 7 April 1994

Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bismarckian Germany 
by David Blackhourn.
Oxford, 463 pp., £40, December 1993, 0 19 821783 8
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... which was to serve as a talisman for so many French soldiers in Flanders. The anthropologist William Christian discovered the discarded negatives of a man who had worked at the Basque shrine of Ezquioga in the Thirties. Comparing them to the photographs which were chosen as official souvenirs, he found that the images only passed where the ...

Our Lady of the Counterculture

Marina Warner: The Virgin Mary, 8 November 2012

... journalist, because I had only just got married, and I didn’t want to be parted from my husband, William Shawcross, who had been assigned to cover the war for the Sunday Times. In our room upstairs at the Hotel Royale, Saigon, I began looking at the New Testament, and was startled to find so few passages about the Mother of God. It seems naive of me – and ...

The way out of a room is not through the door

Christian Lorentzen: Charles Manson, 7 November 2013

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson 
by Jeff Guinn.
Simon and Schuster, 495 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 0 85720 893 4
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... small, and if she let a boy hold her hand word would always get back to her mother Nancy, a strict Christian widow. But across the river was Ironton, Ohio, and there she could dance at a club called Ritzy Ray’s. That might have been the place she met Colonel Scott, a small-time local con artist who made his dimes collecting tolls from drivers crossing a free ...

Big Books

Penelope Fitzgerald, 15 September 1988

William Morris: An Approach to the Poetry 
by J.M.S. Tompkins.
Cecil Woolf, 368 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 900821 84 1
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... used to stay in North End Road, Fulham with his aunt and uncle, the Burne-Joneses. One evening William Morris came into the nursery and, finding the children under the table and nobody else about, climbed on to the rocking-horse and slowly surging back and forth while the poor beast creaked, he told us a tale full of fascinating horrors, about a man who ...

At The Thirteenth Hour

William Wootten: David Jones, 25 September 2003

Wedding Poems 
by David Jones, edited by Thomas Dilworth.
Enitharmon, 88 pp., £12, April 2002, 1 900564 87 4
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David Jones: Writer and Artist 
by Keith Alldritt.
Constable, 208 pp., £18.99, April 2003, 1 84119 379 8
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... would be to overstate the case, Jones is allowing himself to sound less like James Joyce than William Joyce. In ‘Little Gidding’, ‘We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire.’ On 11 September 1940, Churchill spoke of a ‘fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestige of Nazi tyranny has been burnt ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... on Lee Harvey Oswald in Libra merited attention. There is at least one known case. In 2013 William Vollmann wrote about getting hold of his own FBI file and discovering that during the 1990s, following an anonymous tip, he was suspected of being the Unabomber. ‘UNABOMBER, not unlike VOLLMANN, has pride of authorship and insists his book be published ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... as the trial got under way at the Old Bailey in May 1918, Billing attracted the support of the Christian Scientists, who believed him to be ‘the Saviour, Christ the King, come to redeem them in this moment of national peril’. Concerned that he would not be able to continue his work if imprisoned, ‘a senior lady in the movement’ was sent to bear his ...

Cold Feet

Frank Kermode, 22 July 1993

Essays on Renaissance Literature. Vol. I: Donne and the New Philosophy 
by William Empson, edited by John Haffenden.
Cambridge, 296 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 521 44043 2
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William Empson: The Critical Achievement 
edited by Chistopher Norris and Nigel Mapp.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 521 35386 6
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... William Empson maintained that there was a right and a wrong moment to bring theory into the business of intelligent reading, and that the professionals chose the wrong one, but he could not do without theory altogether. His book The Structure of Complex Words (1951) contains quite a lot of it; so it is not surprising that a generation of literary theorists, not wishing to remain totally out of touch with the best critic of his time, has decided to appropriate Complex Words, a work hitherto much less influential than the very early (and prodigious) Seven Types of Ambiguity ...


Diarmaid MacCulloch: Anti-Semitism, 10 June 2010

Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England 
by Anthony Julius.
Oxford, 811 pp., £25, February 2010, 978 0 19 929705 4
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... his history of English anti-semitism, gathered both from England and from the wider background of Christian culture in Europe, to which he adds streams of secularism and Islam when his story approaches modern times. The maelstrom of original material is impressive, but it is housed in a very frustrating book – or rather two books within a single cover. One ...

Mercenary Knights and Princess Brides

Barbara Newman: Medieval Travel, 17 August 2017

The Medieval Invention of Travel 
by Shayne Aaron Legassie.
Chicago, 287 pp., £22, April 2017, 978 0 226 44662 2
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... but the ascetic prince ‘Sagamoni Burcan’ (Shakayamuni Buddha) – revered at the time as a Christian saint. As for the khan’s summer capital in China, Shangdu, English readers will know it by a slightly different name: ‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan …’ Coleridge said his opium dream had been inspired by a travel book of 1613, Purchas His ...

Suffering Souls

Marina Warner: Ghosts in the Middle Ages, 18 June 1998

Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society 
by Jean-Claude Schmitt, translated by Theresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 290 pp., £26.50, May 1998, 0 226 73887 6
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... hunt reflects the clerical grief and disapproval that would lead to the founding of the Christian orders of knights, the Templars and the Hospitallers, in an effort to discipline the Crusades and their Christian militia. ‘We cannot define any better the ideological function that the Church assigned to ...

Elzābet of Anletār

John Gallagher, 22 September 2016

This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 
by Jerry Brotton.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 241 00402 9
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... her representatives casting the queen as ‘the most invincible and most mighty defender of the Christian faith against all kind of idolatries’, and constantly emphasised the iconomania of their Spanish rivals. Not everyone was convinced by these analogies between faiths: one observer of the Moroccan diplomatic delegation that visited London in 1600 wrote ...

It was worse in 1931

Colin Kidd: Clement Attlee, 17 November 2016

Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee 
by John Bew.
Riverrun, 668 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 1 78087 989 5
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... sister, Mary, served as a missionary in South Africa; and his brother Tom, a fervent admirer of William Morris, joined the Christian Social Union and volunteered in a boys’ home in Hoxton founded by F.D. Maurice, the pioneering Christian socialist. A high-minded Christianity governed ...

Church of Garbage

Robert Irwin, 3 February 2000

The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives 
by Carole Hillenbrand.
Edinburgh, 648 pp., £80, July 1999, 0 7486 0905 9
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... deplored the medieval fanaticism and popery. In The Mameluke or Slave Dynasty of Egypt (1896), William Muir, while suggesting that the Crusades had a positive role in rousing Europe from the slumber of the Dark Ages, went on to denounce them: The Crusades aggravated the intolerance of the day and promoted deeds of bloodshed and cruelty in the ...

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