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Saint Agnes’s Lament

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Shuggie Bain’, 3 December 2020

Shuggie Bain 
by Douglas Stuart.
Picador, 448 pp., £14.99, August, 978 1 5290 1927 8
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... Above all,’ Douglas Stuart writes in the acknowledgments to Shuggie Bain, his first novel, ‘I owe everything to memories of my mother and her struggle.’ The American cover has a black and white photograph of a boy and a woman in bed, their foreheads touching in a maternal embrace. (On the British cover, a boy sits on a post that looks not unlike a cross ...

Clarissa and Louisa

Karl Miller, 7 November 1985

Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady 
by Samuel Richardson, edited with an introduction by Angus Ross.
Viking, 1533 pp., £19.95, August 1985, 0 670 80829 6
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Memoire of Frances, Lady Douglas 
by Lady Louisa Stuart, edited by Jill Rubenstein.
Scottish Academic Press, 106 pp., £9.50, August 1985, 0 7073 0358 3
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... The second is by an admirer of Richardson’s novels, two generations later – Lady Louisa Stuart, whose Memoire of Frances Scott, Lady Douglas as she became, has been redeemed from the archives of the Border nobility, with the blessing of a former prime minister, Lord Home. The memoir appears to have been written at ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... clinic, the key decisions fell to Wilson and two inexperienced colleagues, Hugh Gaitskell and Douglas Jay. He responded to their calm assurance with a calculating vacillation that laid the basis for a lasting distrust, even as devaluation was agreed on and announced in September 1949. The economy recovered more quickly than ministerial relations, which ...

Presto!

James Buchan, 14 December 1995

The Life of Adam Smith 
by Ian Simpson Ross.
Oxford, 495 pp., £25, October 1995, 0 19 828821 2
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... of Lochiel, whose decision, against his better judgment, to come out for Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 won the clans for the Pretender and doomed the ancient culture of the Highlands to extinction. ‘That gentleman, whose rent never exceeded five hundred pounds a year, carried, in 1745, eight hundred of his own people into the rebellion with ...

Lost Mother

Michael Dobson, 17 February 2000

In My End Is My Beginning: A Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by James Mackay.
Mainstream, 320 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 84018 058 7
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Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation 
by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis.
Routledge, 259 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 0 415 11481 0
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Ancestry and Narrative in 19th-Century British Literature: Blood Relations from Edgeworth to Hardy 
by Sophie Gilmartin.
Cambridge, 281 pp., £37.50, February 1999, 0 521 56094 2
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... national subjects are confidently expected to rally. Remarkably, some Scots still find in Mary Stuart an embodiment of their own aspirations – despite modern prejudices against absolute monarchy and murder. James Mackay, for example, prefaces his own account of the Queen with similar remarks about her current significance: I make no apology for offering ...

Endearingness

Donald Davie, 21 March 1991

The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... the end of his piece, when Larkin is indeed attending to his declared topic, he remarks: ‘Norman Douglas took a pessimistic view of the future: “the standardisation of youth proceeds endlessly.” ’ Larkin, God knows no optimist, cannot agree: children, though fearsome and unlovely, are he believes much sturdier than Norman ...

Items on a New Agenda

Conrad Russell, 23 October 1986

Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Maria Dowling.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 7099 0864 4
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Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance 
by Roy Strong.
Thames and Hudson, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 500 01375 6
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Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 
by Derek Hirst.
Arnold, 390 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 7131 6155 8
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Rebellion or Revolution? England 1640-1660 
by G.E. Aylmer.
Oxford, 274 pp., £12.50, February 1986, 0 19 219179 9
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Politics and Ideology in England 1603-1640 
by J.P. Sommerville.
Longman, 254 pp., £6.95, April 1986, 9780582494329
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... These five books represent something of a cross-section of current work on Tudor and Stuart English history, and they give a picture of how fundamentally the agenda for discussion in this field has changed over the past twenty-five years. Yet the point they mark in the development of the subject is not a total revolution: it is a sort of historiographical 1654, a mood in which the interesting question is seen to be, not whether the new approaches are valid, but how much of the old may be seen to have survived their onslaught ...

‘Where’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’

Michael Dobson: 17th-century literary culture, 11 September 2008

Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 599 pp., March 2008, 978 0 19 818384 6
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... by the Scots and had been finally resolved, years later, in Ireland when James II, the last Stuart king, was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689, it was downright alarming to go home and see TV footage of riots at Orange parades that showed this supposedly definitive and long-past battle was actually still in progress, and that nowadays the ...

Over the Top

Michael Howard, 8 February 1996

A Genius for War: A Life of General George Patton 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 977 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 00 215882 5
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... Tenth Legion, fought with the Scottish Highlanders for the rights and hopes of the House of Stuart, [fallen] on Crecy’s field in the Hundred Years War, and [taken] part in all the great campaigns since then.’ As if that was not enough, all Patton’s warrior forebears materialised at moments of crisis to lend him moral support. After leading an ...

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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... of the conservatives was someone else whose name was indelibly associated with Wilde. Lord Alfred Douglas was by now the spitting image of his father: splenetic, reactionary, petulant and shrill. He had told Ross: ‘I no longer care to associate with persons like yourself who are engaged in the active performance and propaganda of every kind of ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... John Stuart Mill labelled the Conservatives ‘the stupid party’. They have certainly been stupid since 1997, and one wonders if their stupidity will persist. But a related and more interesting question is: ‘Are the Conservatives any longer a serious party?’ A serious party can be one of two things. It can, like the Greens, be concerned with only one issue or one group of issues ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... He now brings into his fold the Grub Street Scots, such as William Guthrie, Robert Heron, Gilbert Stuart and Dr John Brown. Some of these men had fallen foul of Robertson, who became principal of Edinburgh University in 1762, or Dr William Cullen of the city’s medical school, and so had to make their living in London, while keeping up a crapulous small-arms ...

From Soixante-Huit to Soixante-Neuf

Glen Newey: Slack-Sphinctered Pachyderm, 29 April 1999

Collected Papers: Technology, War and Fascism 
by Herbert Marcuse, edited by Douglas Kellner.
Routledge, 278 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 415 13780 2
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The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy after the Holocaust 
by Norman Geras.
Verso, 181 pp., £15, June 1998, 1 85984 868 0
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... Though Marcuse pointed out in a later pow-wow with Habermas that, in common with Franz Neumann, H. Stuart Hughes and Walter Langer, he was but an understrapper in the war against German Fascism, he stayed on through the A-bomb tests on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the flash-freeze phase of the Cold War and into the Korean War. Technology, War and Fascism assembles ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... politics and help liberalism become once more a ‘unifying force’ for the ‘common good’. Douglas Murray, associate editor of the Spectator, thinks that Trump might just save Western civilisation. The ideas and commitments of the new prophets of decline do not emerge from any personal experience of it, let alone adversity of the kind suffered by many ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... to function in the Thirties; it was in Garrick Yard and had been Chippendale’s workshop and when Douglas Byng first used the stable for a night-club in the Twenties Chippendale’s lathe was still hanging from a beam. All Motley’s costumes were stored there and when it was blitzed early in the war John G. came down the morning after and found nothing ...

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