Christmas Critics

Jonathan Yardley

Oh, you have the best job in the world!” people say to me all the time. “Being paid to read!” It is a good job, and as book critic of the Washington Post I occupy a modestly visible forum from which to harangue an especially responsive readership about new books. But the thing about new books is that they are, well, new, and most of them fall somewhere in that large, gray area between very good and very bad. For me reading is work, much of it of a decidedly quotidian variety. Very good new books do cross my desk-in 2005 these included Michael Connelly’s The Closers (Little, Brown, $26.95, 416 pp.), Penelope Lively’s Making It Up (Viking Adult, $24.95, 224 pp.), and, most particularly, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95, 240 pp.)-but not often.

So it came as a decidedly welcome change when, about three years ago, I started writing from time to time about old books. For more than two decades I had written a weekly column for the Post about pretty much whatever crossed my mind, but the column had run its course and was closed down. In its place I started writing an occasional series (it appears more or less every three weeks) called “Second Reading,” longer pieces in which I reconsider notable and/or neglected books from the past. Now, as it turns out, I really do have the best job in the world, as I am paid to reread books from my own past, many of them books that I quite deeply love.

One of the books that I reread this year-one of the two books I happily recommend to you for Christmas giving, or receiving, or reading, or rereading-was Elizabeth Bowen’s masterly novel The Death of the Heart (Anchor, $14, 432 pp.). I had read it when I was a teenager because my mother thought it was wonderful, and whatever she liked I wanted to read; she had exquisite taste and never once said that I was “too young” for any book. In this case, though, I really was too young; The Death of the Heart was over my head, as was, at about the same time, William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

Coming to Bowen’s novel for the second time, in my midsixties, with enough experience of life and literature to grasp its complexities and subtleties, I was astonished. It is one of those rare books in which not a word can be skimmed. Bowen’s dense, intricate prose must be read at its own leisurely pace, an experience for which teenagers simply are not equipped. It is in fact a novel about a teenager, but it is strictly for adults.

Originally published in 1938, The Death of the Heart was immediately received with great enthusiasm and in some quarters declared a masterpiece. Bowen was forty years old and by then an established writer, the author of several novels and many short stories, but The Death of the Heart secured her reputation and enlarged her readership on both sides of the Atlantic. She was Anglo-Irish, with a deep fealty to her Irish roots and a strong connection to London literary circles; her friends included Cyril Connolly and Virginia Woolf, though strictly speaking she was not a member of the Bloomsbury crowd.

The most persistent theme in her work is the end of innocence, and in The Death of the Heart it achieves its most powerful expression. Sixteen-year-old Portia Quayne, newly orphaned, is sent to live with her half-brother Thomas and his wife, Anna, in their townhouse on Regents Park in London. Anna is aloof and calculating, Thomas vague and distant. Lonely and longing for love, Portia attaches herself to Eddie, a slick number a few years her senior, who toys with her and ultimately breaks her heart. It is one of several betrayals Portia suffers, and Bowen’s words on the subject are characteristically elegant and wise: “One’s sentiments-call them that-one’s fidelities are so instinctive that one hardly knows they exist: only when they are betrayed or, worse still, when one betrays them does one realize their power.”

Preparing to write about this remarkable novel, I found my way to the second book I recommend this year, Victoria Glendinning’s Elizabeth Bowen, published under that title in this country in 1978 but with the subtitle Portrait of a Writer in England. By odd coincidence, Glendinning was the same age when she published this biography as Bowen was when she published The Death of the Heart, but Glendinning was still early in her career and her major works-biographies of Edith Sitwell, Vita Sackville-West, Rebecca West, Anthony Trollope, and Jonathan Swift-lay in the future.

It is a pity that her American publisher chose to abandon her British subtitle, for “portrait of a writer” is exactly what the book is. Glendinning had worked at the Times Literary Supplement before writing it and presumably had encountered more than a few of the massive compendia of trivia that pass for literary biography these days; one likes to think that she determined to do otherwise. As one who has written three works of biography and reviewed Lord knows how many others, I long ago lost patience with these exercises in academic flatulence (see, by way of instructive example, biographies published this year of Eudora Welty and Edmond Wilson) and was delighted that Glendinning had met the biographer’s greatest challenge: to determine what in one’s subject’s life and work is important and what is not, and to tell the tale accordingly.

Weighing in at just over three-hundred pages of text, Glendinning’s narrative is concise and to the point, yet to the best of my knowledge misses nothing that really matters. She is shrewd on Bowen’s Irishness, her complicated childhood and adolescence, her long and happy but probably companionate marriage, her love affairs, her literary and social friendships, her accomplishments. Her Elizabeth Bowen is about as good as literary biography gets, which is exactly what her subject deserves.

Jonathan Yardley is the book critic and a columnist for the Washington Post, and author of six books. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism in 1981.


Ben Birnbaum

As serious gardens are not gardens but Eden, so are serious gardening books not books about gardening, but about being. Yes, a gardener needs to know how and when to trim the Perovskia atriplicifolia (to the base, in late winter); but one no more consults Jekyll or Bush-Brown merely to know this than one reads Psalms to find out exactly from which compass point one’s help doth come.

Jekyll is, of course, the venerable Miss Gertrude Jekyll, who wrote more than a dozen serious gardening books in sumptuous Victorian prose (Robert Louis Stevenson, a friend of Jekyll’s brother, borrowed the family surname for the title of his famous thriller), and who first imagined-among other innovations-herbaceous borders that weren’t about blooms but color. And Bush-Brown is the team of the late Louise and James, whose America’s Garden Book, first published in 1939, features writing so elegant and adult that one shudders to see it shouldered up in the bookstore with Gardening for Dummies and You Grow Girl.

Unlike such passing fads, the works of Jekyll and Bush-Brown are canonical, lodged permanently in the tradition. Here are three other books that may someday join them.

The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden (Norton, $23.95, 144 pp.) adds to the long list of books by former U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz, who turned 100 in July. The Wild Braid features Kunitz in a threefold capacity, as photo subject, poet, and horticultural ruminator. It includes twenty-five photographs, mostly of Kunitz at work gardening, and a dozen poems. But it’s the garden reflections (edited primarily from conversations with his fellow poet Genine Lentine) that make this book a contender. For Kunitz cannot think of gardens without also thinking of eros, art, and mortality-and that’s just for starters. The result is a sage’s long, cool, kitchen-table tutorial on the world as a place infinitely engaging, infinitely beautiful, and necessarily evanescent. The book’s title is drawn from his poem, “The Snakes of September,” in which he touches two snakes “entwined in a brazen love knot” in his garden, and “the wild braid of creation trembles.” Alien and enchanting as these snakes may be, they swell not with evil, but with the profound mystery that Kunitz feels all about him.

Kunitz’s book forms the rare exception to the general rule that writers who cultivate their souls while cultivating their roses are to be avoided. The words “passion,” “delight,” or “love” in a gardening title should be treated like yellow crime-scene tape. This may be why Katherine White, by profession an editor (read: ruthless), produced the best garden writing ever published in the New Yorker: fourteen essays collected posthumously by her husband, writer E. B. White, and titled Onward and Upward in the Garden (Beacon Press, $16, 400 pp.).

Onward and Upward is that rare gardening book every page of which can be read with pleasure by folks who wouldn’t know a tulip from a tulip tree. For one thing, the prose is at once taut and comfortable, like brilliant conversation. For another, White’s eye lands in the right odd places: seed catalogue illustrations as a genre; the state of competitive flower arranging (a hilarious matter, in her hands); and the fact that blue lobelia carries the “unpleasant Latin adjective” Lobelia siphilitica because in the eighteenth century one Sir William Johnson paid American Indians for their secret cure for syphilis, and was handed this bog weed in return. Beyond such beguiling trivia, White touches on the principal gardening themes-folly, greed, beauty, death, and resurrection-with a serene acceptance that makes a gardener feel less guilty about the mess in the iris bed and a human being less miserable about the mess in the world.

Finally, a tome first published thirty years ago and now in its fifth edition, Michael A. Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (Stipes, $52.80, 1,250 pp.), is a levitical entry in the canon sweepstakes, it’s large-format pages treating more than sixteen hundred North American species of tree, shrub, and vine, from abelia x grandiflora to ziziphus jujuba. Covering taxonomy, morphology, aesthetics, cultivation, and maintenance, the book known to countless enthusiasts simply as “Dirr’s” offers the usual lush encyclopedic virtues: stirring range, fresh words (“fascicle,” “cuspidate,” “tomentulose”), news you can use, and news you probably can’t (the characteristics of forty-three known cultivars of European beech).

It also features what’s rarest in books of this kind-the distinctive voice of a writer and redactor. Dirr, who teaches at Georgia State University, provides “Additional Notes” on each species, in which he offers memoir, reading recommendations, and a kind of street-corner critique of plant types that is rare in gardening treatises, where every cultivar, like every kindergarten graduate, routinely gets a star for something or other. For instance, Dirr describes the American plane tree as “truly at its ‘best’ when anthracnose [keeps] it devoid of leaves,” while the original Camperdowni cultivar of Scotch Elm, in Dundee, turns out to be “rather pathetic and snaggle-toothed.” About a University of Illinois program to remove weak-limbed honey locusts from its quad, he observes that “the threat of liability will do wonders for campus beautification.” Such pithy wit helps make Dirr’s manual not only an exhaustive resource, but great company on a winter evening, when snow lies on the woody landscape plants and the twenty-three cultivars of European beech seem a matter worth close consideration.

I cannot conclude without mentioning a volume that has no shot at canonization: Mordkhe Schaechter’s Plant Names in Yiddish (YIVO Institute, $30). Here is a book which, had it been published in 1935, might have had 10 million readers, but which today will have but a handful in universities, where Yiddish-the juicy lingua franca of Europe’s Jews from the sixteenth century to the mid-twentieth-is taught alongside Latin, Ugaritic, and other languages for which there are no more gardeners than there are in Atlantis. The book’s 488 pages-104 of them in English-tender etymology, bibliography, history, and, just in case anyone ever needs them, the eleven Yiddish words for mushroom. Eden is about memory, loss, and hope, and if there is a more radical expression of those matters in the garden book genre, I don’t know what it could be.

Ben Birnbaum is the editor of Boston College Magazine. He gardens and writes essays in Brookline, Massachusetts.


Leslie Woodcock Tentler

I’ve been on leave from teaching for the past six months, which means that I have gloriously free evenings. No need to sit down after dinner with a stack of undergraduate essays or the book for this week’s seminar. How have I used this fleeting season of liberty? Mainly to devour novels-a passion that dates from my first acquisition of a library card. I would have been an English major had that discipline not developed such peculiar tics.

But let me begin with nonfiction, in deference to a conscience that still murmurs against novel reading as potentially frivolous. (That first library card, after all, was acquired in Grand Rapids, Michigan-in those days a stronghold of barely diluted Calvinism.) Probably the single most engrossing book I have encountered this past year is Jason DeParle’s American Dream (Viking, $25.95, 422 pp.), which follows three poor, single mothers through the wrenching social experiment we call welfare reform. The action is set mostly in Milwaukee, where the protagonists, Chicago natives all, had moved in search of more generous welfare benefits and more orderly streets and schools. Milwaukee was the site of nation’s most ambitious experiments in welfare reform, which at least theoretically provided support to single mothers as they moved from welfare to work-or, as was actually the case, from off-the-books casual work to conventional employment. DeParle looks closely, and often sardonically, at the content of these experiments, which often was less than met the public eye. He focuses principally on the fates of his three protagonists and their ten children, varying from tenuous success to almost unutterable disaster. The inadequacies of our social welfare system have seldom been more convincingly portrayed, nor the literally incalculable toll exacted by the absence of husbands and fathers.

I would also commend John T. Noonan’s recently published A Church That Can and Cannot Change (University of Notre Dame Press, $30, 297 pp.). Crisply written and immensely learned, the book documents profound change in Catholic teaching on three topics-slavery, usury, religious liberty-and significant development with regard to a fourth, the dissolution of marriage. The section on slavery, the longest and most meticulously argued, is especially compelling as a case study in what Noonan sees as doctrinal development. Slavery, a practice that Pope John Paul II condemned as intrinsically evil, was, as late as the nineteenth century, regarded as morally acceptable by nearly all Catholic theologians. Popes themselves once owned slaves, as did numerous religious orders. The impetus to change, in Noonan’s view, came principally from two sources: the behavior of the laity (“Christian custom”), as Europe moved slowly from slavery to serfdom, and the moral force of a mostly Protestant abolitionist movement. The “church teaching,” in other words, learned from the “church taught” and indeed from “the world.” Is this truly a case of doctrinal development? Certain conservatives, for obvious reasons, have argued that it is not. But especially in the case of slavery, the dispute seems largely semantic.

And now to fiction. Ian McEwan’s Atonement (Anchor, $14, 351 pp.) seemed in its early pages to be a dark comedy of manners, which is about as edgy as I like my novels to be. Before long, however, darkness had triumphed. The drawing room gave way to an excruciating account of the Allied collapse at Dunkirk, precisely the kind of thing I read fiction to forget, and the horrific consequences of a child’s confused act of bad faith. It is no small tribute to McEwan’s haunting prose and his genius for characterization that I kept going. I’m grateful that I did. Atonement is an artful novel about class, sex, guilt, the human proclivity to violence, and ultimately-but never easily-forgiveness. Although its take on the human condition is relentlessly grim, this reader was comforted by McEwan’s moral seriousness.

For a genuine comedy of manners, indisputably of the dark variety, I turn to The Summer House (Penguin Books, $9.95, 339 pp.), a trilogy of interrelated novellas by the late Alice Thomas Ellis, an English Catholic. (No, I haven’t seen the movie.) She too is preoccupied with class, sex, and violence, but the context is thoroughly domestic. No battle scenes here, only conventional cruelties. There is in fact a murder, but it remains buried in the mind of young Margaret, who might pass for the book’s protagonist were she not so alarmingly passive, so utterly unwilling to speak the truth or act to save herself. Margaret is eventually rescued-this gives nothing away-by the character whom the moralists of my youth would have called the most flagrant sinner of the lot. There is a happy ending, then, although of a peculiarly Catholic sort, rather in the mode of Graham Greene at his most countercultural.

Finally, let me recommend Marilynne Robinson’s remarkable Gilead (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 247 pp.). The novel has been so widely and enthusiastically reviewed that summary seems pointless here. Anyway, the plot is less important than the voice-rendered with astonishing authenticity-of the book’s principal character and narrator, the Reverend John Ames, contemplating a probably imminent death in his native Gilead, Iowa. What Robinson has produced is a God-haunted novel-a graceful meditation on history, morality, the delights of life and language, and most especially love, both human and divine. The stern librarians of my Grand Rapids girlhood would have approved.
Leslie Woodcock Tentler, author of Catholics and Contraception (Cornell), teaches in the Department of History at The Catholic University of America.


Robert Westbrook

Much of my reading of late has been absorbed in a game effort to keep up with the vast outpouring of reportage, memoir, history, and commentary produced by the ongoing war in Iraq. This, it turns out, is a full-time job (at least), and I cannot pretend to have canvassed it all, but I have churned through a great deal of it. One book stands out: Anthony Shadid’s Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War (Henry Holt, $26, 424 pp.).

One of the few American reporters in Iraq blessed with fluent Arabic, Shadid, a correspondent for the Washington Post who deservedly won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, opens our eyes to the devastating consequences of the war for the people of Iraq and the complicated resentment that the American occupation of their country has engendered among those who have not the least regret that Sadaam Hussein is no longer driving nails into the skulls of leading Shiite clerics. Shadid takes his readers where other American reporters have not done: inside the apartment of a poor Baghdad widow besieged by American bombs; inside the stern rituals of retribution that govern the peasant tribes of the heartland of the Sunni insurgency; inside the explosion of Shiite piety that followed Sadaam’s fall and the populist movement led by the uncertain but fearless Muqtada Sadr. And everywhere he finds an Iraq that is “variegated, contradictory, endlessly confusing,” and, above all, “ambiguous.” Alertness to ambiguity is not, of course, the strong suit of the Bush Doctrine, and though Shadid refrains from overt judgments, he leaves no doubt that this shortcoming is the nemesis of the American occupation.

Whenever our leaders see fit to put blood on the tracks of American foreign policy, I find myself rereading Simone Weil’s extraordinary essay on Homer’s Iliad. First published in France in 1940-41 and then in English translation shortly after the end of World War II in Dwight Macdonald’s Politics magazine, it is now available in the estimable New York Review of Books Classics series (War and the Iliad, $14.95, 121 pp.). It is coupled there with Rachel Bespaloff’s less familiar, but no less moving, meditation on Homer’s poem, which she began writing in Paris about the same time and published three years later, in part as a counter to Weil’s reading of the epic. Not least of Mary McCarthy’s distinguished contributions to American letters was her translation of both these remarkable essays.

For Weil, “the true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force.” And force is “that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, force turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him.” For her, the Iliad was simply the “poem of force,” an “absolutely undiluted” spectacle of the disasters war wreaks. In it, “the cold brutality of the deeds of war is left undisguised,” and inspires “only regret that men are capable of being so transformed.”

Bespaloff, a less famous writer and philosopher, offered a more complicated, less single-minded reading of the poem. Her hero was not Achilles but Hector, “the guardian of the perishable joys,” whom “the zeal for glory exalts but does not blind.” Whatever their differences, Weil and Bespaloff were agreed that force not only objectifies its victims in the Iliad but eventually undoes those who wield it. “Force revels only in an abuse that is also self-abuse,” Bespaloff wrote, and “it becomes plain that Achilles is just as much Achilles’ victim as Priam’s sons were.”

Among the critics of the more recent disasters of war southeast of Troy you don’t often see on television, there is none finer than Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper’s Magazine. Month after month, his “Notebook” column in that journal reliably delivers a fierce, and fiercely comic, philippic against the dire state of our politics and culture. With the onset of the “war on terror” (“an unknown enemy and an abstract noun”), his bile and wit have risen nearly to the champion’s level established by Mark Twain in the face of the American occupation of the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War.

Though at his best in the essay form, Lapham is not too shabby at the middle distances either. His recent book, Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy (Penguin, $19.95, 178 pp.), worries productively over the muting of dissident voices that has followed the disasters of September 11. Although he skewers all the likely suspects (the New York Times, network anchormen, congressional Democrats, celebrity pundits), Lapham does not spare those intellectuals satisfied with “the corrupting consolation of cynicism,” who, “finding themselves suffocated by a climate of opinion in which dissent was disloyalty and disloyalty a crime...acquired the habit of looking at the national political scene from the point of view of spectators at a tenement fire or a train wreck.” This detached attitude, Lapham admits, “is one that I’ve encountered often enough in myself to recognize in other people.” We may be grateful that he has not succumbed to it.

Not the cheeriest of holiday fare, I admit. But let there be hope. Before too many seasons have passed, we may rescue the republic from its leaders and their timid critics. We may even realize that, as Weil put it, “the only people who can give the impression of having risen to a higher plane, who seem superior to ordinary human misery, are the people who resort to the aids of illusion, exaltation, fanaticism, to conceal the harshness of destiny from their own eyes. The man who does not wear the armor of the lie cannot experience force without being touched by it to the very soul.”

Robert Westbrook teaches history at the University of Rochester. His most recent book is Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth (Cornell).


Clare Asquith

As a teenager on our annual holiday to the family house in Ireland, I used to take a slightly ghoulish pleasure in rereading my grandmother’s musty copy of R. H. Benson’s classic Reformation novel, Come Rack! Come Rope!, a fictionalized version of the adventurous, often horrific experiences of the underground priests who attempted to bring the banned Mass back to England in the sixteenth century. Now Alice Hogge has combined the true-life stories of these remarkable men into an even more gripping historical narrative, God’s Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth’s Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot (HarperCollins, $27.95, 464 pp.). The surprise is that it has not been done before. This aspect of Tudor history is still little known, yet it is utterly engaging stuff, and on the scholarly level will add a persuasive new dimension to the revisionist history of the period recently popularized by Eamon Duffy’s Stripping of the Altars.

A mass of neglected material, confined until now to scholarly journals and books of Catholic hagiography, springs to life in this fast-moving account of the cat-and-mouse game that the disguised priests and their protectors played with England’s Protestant authorities. There is the story of Robert Southwell, a gifted, idealistic young poet of good family who slipped ashore after Jesuit training in Rome to spearhead a literary revival by printing religious works on a fugitive press, but was eventually caught by his nemesis, the aging psychopath, Richard Topcliffe. There is the tale of Nicholas Owen, the carpenter who constructed hiding places known as “priest’s holes” behind the floors, walls, and fireplaces of Catholic houses. They were so ingeniously constructed that some are still undiscovered; he died under torture without betraying any of them.

Among these “secret agents,” John Gerard, SJ, was the James Bond: tall, dark, and charming, he moved undetected among the elite, deflecting hopeful matrons attracted by his gentlemanly skills at hawking and cards, and using Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises to make a swath of high-level conversions. Gerard’s daring escape from the Tower is one of the many moments in the book that beg to be filmed. The most appealing character is Henry Garnet, leader of the Jesuit mission in England for more than fifteen years-a portly, retiring mathematician who understandably shrank from the job when he was first offered it. He demonstrated fortitude and good judgment throughout his harrowing years in England, but met a tragic end, drawn unwittingly into the seditious gunpowder plot of 1605. (On this year’s holiday my twenty-one year old daughter, thoroughly bored with the Reformation after my own five-year obsession with the subject, picked up the book and read it almost in one sitting.)

Losing Moses on the Freeway (Free Press, $24, 224 pp.) by New York Times journalist Chris Hedges is in many ways a contemporary version of Robert Southwell’s attempt to galvanize the language and practice of religion four hundred years ago. Like Southwell, Hedges regards the current spiritual state of his country with despair. We are in danger of forgetting the rules that make us human. For Hedges, these ancient rules are embodied in an imperiled, derided set of injunctions-the Ten Commandments. “Those who ignore the commandments diminish the possibility of love, the single force that keeps us connected, whole and saved from physical and psychological torment,” writes Hedges.

This book is no Bible-bashing tract. Hedges explores ten episodes that feature the “deep and visceral” struggle of a particular individual with one of the commandments. Each of the chapters is a street-wise morality tale, peppered with chilling anecdotes and insights drawn from the author’s experiences as a foreign correspondent. The prose is snappy, staccato, graphic; the insights penetrating and sophisticated. Hedges has the rare ability to give new life to clichéd truths. It is not we who seek the commandments, he says-they find us, as soon as we violate the fundamental laws of human nature. The author’s failure after college to make it as pastor among the urban poor leads him to recognize that “idols promise us power. God does not.” He faces instead the “darkness” of the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Hedges’s bleak snapshots of loneliness and death illustrate the emptiness of obsessive work, of compulsive leisure and mindless crowd mentality: the story of one leading churchman haunted by his past in Vietnam when “he was good at what he did” explodes the myth of the nobility of war, of the goodness of the nation and the individual. Behind each story lies a connecting, subversive theme: “Love is not benign. It is a threat to those in power, to movements that demand self-sacrifice, to those who wage war, to the very core of the civic religion every state seeks to build out of its prevailing religious tradition.”

If there is one criticism I have of this life-changing book, it is its pessimistic tone. For Hedges, self-realization lies in selfless love for one’s neighbor: this alone will satisfy our often unacknowledged hunger for God. But, given the entrenched secularism he so vividly describes, it is a tough struggle: the companionship of God’s reciprocal love for us is barely mentioned.

Alice Hogge’s Robert Southwell, like Hedges, is under no illusions as to the viciousness of a humanity without God: but Southwell’s poem “The Burning Babe” is a reminder that the struggle against worldliness has a champion. One “hoary winter’s night” Southwell sees a child addressing him from a fire burning mysteriously in the air. “My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns / Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns.” The verses build up to a climax that recalls the event that transformed the often cheerless context of the Ten Commandments. “With this he vanished out of sight, and swiftly shrunk away / And straight I calléd unto my mind that it was Christmas day.”

Clare Asquith is the author of Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare (PublicAffairs).

Published in the 2005-12-02 issue: 

Clare Asquith is the author of Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare (Public Affairs).

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