One of the striking facts of literary history is that Spanish became a language of international importance at the same time as the extended fictional narrative developed its modern forms. The romance of chivalry, the sentimental romance, the pastoral and the picaresque novel all received near definitive shape through the medium of the Spanish vernacular and in half a century fertilised the literatures of Western Europe.
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'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).
'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.