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In search of the Reformation

M.A. Screech, 9 November 1989

The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation 
by Alistair McGrath.
Blackwell, 223 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 631 15144 3
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Pastor and Laity in the Theology of Jean Gerson 
by Catherine Brown.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 521 33029 7
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Collected Works of Erasmus: Vols XXVII and XXVIII 
edited by A.H.T. Levi.
Toronto, 322 pp., £65, February 1987, 0 8020 5602 4
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... a Lutheran court poet such as Clément Marot, from persecutions approved of by her beloved brother King Francis I. Why did Erasmus, despite it all, not break with Rome? Who was it who enabled the great Greek scholar Guillaume Budé to reconcile St Paul’s likening of humans in the hands of God to pots in a potter’s hand, some of which were predestined ...

Goodbye to the Comintern

Martin Kettle, 21 February 1991

About Turn. The Communist Party and the Outbreak of the Second World War: The Verbatim Record of the Central Committee Meetings 1939 
edited by Francis King and George Matthews.
Lawrence and Wishart, 318 pp., £34.95, November 1990, 9780853157267
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... and helplessness of leadership’. Most, however, fulfilled the role demanded of them by the demon king of this pantomime, Palme Dutt. Dutt dominates and controls these proceedings with a Catoesque monomania and a forensically inflexible vocabulary. As David Edgar has pointed out, Dutt is the one person in the whole drama who takes exactly the same line at the ...

Law and Class

Francis Bennion, 1 May 1980

Respectable Rebels 
edited by Roger King.
Hodder, 200 pp., £10.95, October 1979, 0 340 23164 5
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The Judge 
by Patrick Devlin.
Oxford, 207 pp., £7.50, September 1979, 0 19 215949 6
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Human Rights 
edited by F.E. Dowrick.
Saxon House, 223 pp., £9.70, July 1979, 0 566 00281 7
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In on the Act 
by Sir Harold Kent.
Macmillan, 273 pp., £8.95, September 1979, 0 333 27120 3
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Law, Justice and Social Policy 
by Rosalind Brooke.
Croom Helm, 136 pp., £7.95, October 1979, 0 85664 636 9
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Inequality, Crime and Public Policy 
by John Braithwaite.
Routledge, 332 pp., £10.75, November 1979, 0 7100 0323 4
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... Roger King and Neill Nugent assemble material by which they seek to persuade us that there is such a thing as the middle class, and that in the 1970s, by use of legal process, it staged a revolt. For example, entrepreneurs and high taxpayers fought under the banner of NAFF (later changed to the Freedom Association to avoid confusion with the National Front ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning, 9 February 2006

Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... struggled before resuming it. After he died too, another of Manning’s friends, the novelist Francis King, pulled it into its still fairly rudimentary final shape. It seems pointless to itemise the needless mistakes that remain – wrongly spelled names, obvious misreadings – or to speculate whether, had they lived, the Braybrookes would have ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... the talent for comedy revealed in her letters. Staying in Rye with Alec Vidler, former dean of King’s College, Cambridge, who was helping her with research for The Knox Brothers, she described the house party to her daughter: a trendy cleric, his dull wife, a long-skirted daughter, going up to read English at Hertford, who evidently hadn’t wanted to ...

Hourglass or Penny-Farthing?

Christopher Tayler: Damon Galgut, 31 July 2014

Arctic Summer 
by Damon Galgut.
Atlantic, 357 pp., £17.99, May 2014, 978 0 85789 718 3
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... Furbank’s ‘superb’ two-volume Life and the biographies by Wendy Moffat, Nicola Beauman and Francis King.) As such, it joins distinguished portraits of Novalis (Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower), Dostoevsky (Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg) and Henry James (Colm Tóibín, The Master), plus recentish likenesses of ...

A Tall Stranger in Hoxton

John Bossy, 3 July 1997

The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... In the spring of 1604, the English were adjusting to the arrival of King James from Scotland, attending to the doings of his first Parliament, and awaiting the arrival of envoys from the King of Spain to negotiate an end to twenty years of war. Peace, even with the Scots, was in the air ...

The Skull from Outer Space

John Bossy: ‘The Ambassadors’, 20 February 2003

The Ambassadors’ Secret: Holbein and the World of the Renaissance 
by John North.
Hambledon, 346 pp., £25, January 2002, 1 85285 330 1
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... are both in their twenties and snappily dressed, are the noble Jean de Dinteville, ambassador from King Francis I of France to Henry VIII, and his friend, perhaps alter ego, Georges de Selve, who had been given the small see of Lavaur near Toulouse to provide for a career in the royal service. Dinteville was in England from February to November 1533; de ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... was ‘used by Henry and Anne, back in the day’, while others like to believe it was where the king spent ‘one of his many honeymoons’. Guests praise ‘a brilliant, authentic experience of castle life’ and the ease of finding the place, ‘especially if you use a GPS’, but some claim a lack of attention to their particular pleasures: ‘there is ...

G&Ts on the Veranda

Francis Gooding: The Science of Man, 4 March 2021

The Reinvention of Humanity: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Remade Race, Sex and Gender 
by Charles King.
Vintage, 431 pp., £10.99, November 2020, 978 1 78470 586 2
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... was, however, one grand exception. Franz Boas, whose achievements are set out in Charles King’s The Reinvention of Humanity, recast the foundations of American anthropology. Against the prevailing political and intellectual orthodoxy, Boas and his students insisted that the basic unity of humankind was beyond dispute, and that within this unity ...

He lyeth in his teeth

Patrick O’Brian, 18 April 1996

Francis Drake: The Lives of a Hero 
by John Cummins.
Weidenfeld, 348 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 297 81566 0
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... no more than what I have heart from himself) was born of mean Parentage in Devonshire, and had Francis Russel (afterwards Earl of Bedford) for his Godfather, who, according to Custome, gave him his christen name. Whilest he was yet a Child, his Father, imbracing the Protestant Doctrine, was called in question by the Law of the Six Articles, made by ...


Francis Wyndham: At the Theatre, 10 November 1988

... being physically part of an audience, the more essential distances are decently maintained). Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria built a private playhouse so that he could watch Wagner’s operas quite alone; today, every owner of a television set enjoys a similar privilege. Indeed, one’s privilege is greater, for though the paranoid Ludwig could isolate himself ...


D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

by William Kennedy.
Viking, 227 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 670 40176 5
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In Custody 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780434186358
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Flaubert’s Parrot 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 190 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 241 11374 1
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... snobbish about its Dutch origins and its tulip festival, and named after our least successful king, James II, when he was Duke of York and Albany. One year, when I told friends in Manhattan that I was going to Albany to hear the hippy, marijuana-influenced poems of a Londoner who was living with another poet, half-Negro and half-Cherokee, the New York ...

Famous First Words

Paul Muldoon, 3 February 2000

... were ‘All is well with the general.’ William Oughtred’s first words were ‘Are you sure the King is restored?’ Elvis Presley’s first words were ‘I hope you have not been bored.’ General Alfredo Quijano’s first words were ‘Still a little closer.’ Maximilien de Robespierre’s first words were ‘Thank you, sir.’ Gertrude Stein’s first ...


Patrick O’Brian, 10 May 1990

The Travels of Mendes Pinto 
by Fernao Mendes Pinto, translated by Rebecca Catz.
Chicago, 663 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 226 66951 3
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The Grand Peregrination 
by Maurice Collis.
Carcanet, 313 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 0 85635 850 9
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... sold into slavery, going from the Ethiopia of Prester John to the Japan of the Daimyos and St Francis Xavier? Some say that he was a prodigy, as well as one of the great Portuguese classics, the prose equivalent of Camoens; others say that he was a liar. Rebecca Catz says that he was a satirist, that his whole immense book is a subtle, disguised ...

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