I suppose a slight confession is in order before I begin. This is a book that I had hoped to write, but for a variety of reasons it never transpired. To me, it seemed to be a glaring omission in the literature on Stalin. Bookshops were awash with biographies of Stalin. Appraisals of the Stalinist system were as numerous as medals on Brezhnev's chest.
The Victorians is the second volume to appear in The Oxford English Literary History, a series commissioned by the late Kim Scott Walwyn to replace the fifteen-volume Oxford History of English Literature (the last part of which was published as recently as 1997).
I find this an extremely difficult book to review fairly. McLaren has an enormous and infectious enthusiasm for her texts. And her work is important; she takes the discussion of a widespread form of historical writing well beyond the point at which it was left by a fine scholar, C. L. Kingsford.
This impressively erudite, well researched, and eloquently written book by Joan Pau Rubiés analyses the development of Iberian and Italian travellers' accounts of south India over three hundred years.
It would seem that this weighty collection is part of an even larger project. Much of the preparatory work was carried out by Peter Kitson and his colleagues in the recent Romanticism and Colonialism.
Samuel Johnson once remarked that Edward Cave, founder and first editor of the Gentleman's Magazine in 1731, 'never looked out of the window but with a view to the Gentleman's Magazine.' (1) This view encompassed the diversity of Georgian life, politics and culture.
The two works under review are on broadly the same subject - writing by women in later medieval England - but could not be more different and are therefore difficult to compare directly. One author is an historian, the other a literary scholar.
The book I have before me feels rather expensive, well-made, a hardback with a striking dust jacket bearing an enlarged portion of an historic print. Inside, the paper is silky smooth, the ink dark and clean, the layout elegant with generous outer margins. The illustrations too are clean and clear, dropped into the text.
This book sets out to give an account of what the foundation of The Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 meant for artistic practice in particular and cultural life more generally in Britain between 1760 and 1840. It is to be welcomed, because it fills a gap, and fills it well. The history of art institutions in Britain attracts sporadic attention.
This book addresses a number of live issues in early modern historiography: the ‘New British History’, emphasising those nations and regions beyond the English heartlands; post-Eltonian revisionism, which questions the thesis of a centralising revolution in Tudor government; and the new cultural history, which uses a wide range of cultural artefacts – ‘texts’ – to explore polit