Commentary

To speken short and pleyn

In 1894 the Reverend Walter W. Skeat (1835–1912), Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge University, published his six-volume edition of The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer at the...

Commentary

Satan’s son?

The little art he is master of”, according to a contemporary, amounts to “forging a story and imposing it on the world for truth.” That is not the harshest thing...

Commentary

Unchartered

In the early 1990s, I took exception to a buxom anthology entitled The Chatto Book of Office Life. There were two problems with this compilation, I sternly informed readers of...

Commentary

Excavating the future

When Edward Thomas wrote his biography of Richard Jefferies (published in 1909) he was paying homage to a writer who had influenced him, at the deepest level, from childhood onwards....

Commentary

No more Parades End

In the spring of 1928 (the year Last Post, the final volume in his Parade’s End tetralogy, was published), Ford Madox Ford separated from Stella Bowen, the artist with whom...

Commentary

Blind outrage

The revolutionary impact of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital in the twentieth century belies the fact that Marx was born 200 years ago into a comfortable bourgeois world – like Queen...

Commentary

Opening scenes

One day in 2002, I was in a now-vanished second-hand bookshop in Nîmes where the owner, perched on a high stool in the middle of overflowing boxes and strewn back...

Commentary

Breaking the silence

Like many ideas, good and bad, this one arose in the pub. I was in the Bodega near the old Stoll Opera House in Newcastle one teatime about fifteen years...

Commentary

Unforgotten

A war hero can have a long afterlife, but few individual soldiers’ names from the First World War have survived in public memory, and especially not in the public memory...

Commentary

One man and his dog

For those of you who have not heard of Count Dankula – real name Mark Meechan, of Lanarkshire – he is a self-described “shit poster”. For those of you who...