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mdavidson@epo.org (Rijswijk, Netherlands)

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A Rage To Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton
A Rage To Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton
by Mary S. Lovell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly and personal, 31 Aug. 2001
This is a wonderful biography which portrays the Burtons well-travelled lives as a a couple, rather than focusing only on Richard. Mary Lovell has had access to papers and letters unavailable to previous biographers and has re-read the existing material. While minutely researched and scholarly, it is also a warm and personal story of two very alive people with a hunger for knowledge and experience exploring the world together. She feels a closeness to her subjects which is always apparent in the book without becoming cloying. Burton was the archetypal Victorian adventurer, beginning his career as an officer in the East India company and serving as consul in different parts of the world while pursuing his alternative careers of writing and exploration. Often in conflict with his superiors, a rebel and not an easy man to know. His books often throw light on little-known areas, male brothels in India, for example, which interested him as an anthropologist. As an adventure story alone the book is hard to put down. But the chief fascination lies in the intimate picture of this couple who had such a rage to live, and whom you feel you know by the end. Mary Lovell has struck the right balance of scholarship and personal warmth.


London: The Biography
London: The Biography
by Peter Ackroyd
Edition: Hardcover

123 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History as shifting perspective, 19 Mar. 2001
This review is from: London: The Biography (Hardcover)
As a history of London, Ackroyd's shifting perspective of the Metropolis lays itself open to criticism from the professional historian. Instead of nailing the City down to a time-line, Ackroyd keeps his structure fluid, his perspective shifting in time and place like the City itself. Grouping his mass of material under headings as diverse as "weather", "murder", "children" etc. allows him to take us back and forth in time within the scope of each chapter. It is the ideal format for his portrait of London as a timeless entity, that encompasses past , present and future and displays each unceasingly. If you like your history caught on the wing, graphic and alive, then I can recommend this book. Peter Ackroyd is more poet than historian, but to capture the feel of a city and its people, to make you smell the medieval, victorian and restoration streets, the poet is the man for the job. He shows us the histories of the hooligan and the aristocrat, bank clerk and psychopath, all detailed with compassion and style. His facts are anecdotal and fascinating, the use of four-letter words down the centuries, where you could get a cheap dinner 300 years ago and who you were likely to meet. An academic history of London it isnt, as a tour of London its the best you'll get.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2012 11:53 AM GMT


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