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Malcolm, Noel

MALCOLM, Noel

PERSONAL: Male.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Oxford University Press, Walton St., Oxford OX2 6DP, England.

CAREER: Historian and political columnist. Daily Spectator, London, England, political columnist covering the Balkan countries; Daily Telegraph, London, political columnist.

WRITINGS:

De Dominis, 1560–1624: Venetian, Anglican, Ecumenist, and Relapsed Heretic, Strickland & Scott (London, England), 1984.

George Enescu: His Life and Music, Toccata (London, England), 1990.

Bosnia: A Short History, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor) The Correspondence: Thomas Hobbes, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1994.

Kosovo: A Short History, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor, with Quintin Hoare) Books on Bosnia: A Critical Bibliography of Works relating to Bosnia-Herzegovina Published since 1990 in West European Languages, Bosnian Institute (London, England), 1999.

Aspects of Hobbes, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: British journalist Noel Malcolm has covered the Balkan countries in his political column for the London Daily Spectator since the early 1980s. He has also used the experience gained at this post to write several books, including biographies of historical figures, such as cleric Marcantonio de Dominis and composer George Enescu, and a prolfile of the republic of Bosnia. Malcolm's book-length efforts have met with praise from reviewers for their thoroughness and interest level.

De Dominis, 1560–1624: Venetian, Anglican, Ecumenist, and Relapsed Heretic has as its subject a priest born in sixteenth-century Dalmatia to Venetian parents. Marcantonio de Dominis was ordained in the Catholic Church, but his heretical opinions led him to seek refuge in England. He recanted his heresy and returned to Catholicism under Pope Gregory XV, but was imprisoned when Urban VIII was elected pope. He died of natural causes five months later, before his trial began. Uberto Limentani, writing in the Modern Language Review, praised Malcolm's biographical efforts, noting that his "account of the vicissitudes and volte-faces of a bewildering personality goes a long way towards explaining the motives that lay behind [de Dominis's] often contrasting attitudes."

The subject of Malcolm's biography George Enescu: His Life and Music is a Romanian composer and musician who has been compared with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, according to David Matthews in the Times Literary Supplement. Known primarily for two pieces called the "Romanian Rhapsodies," Enescu's body of work ultimately suffered from the governing regime's reluctance to support the composer, in part because of his marriage to a member of the former Romanian royal family and also due to his opposition to the country's communist dictatorship, which lasted until the late 1980s. Furthermore, according to Matthews, "Enescu was not a modernist as Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Bartok were. He sought no overthrow of tonality, nor indulged in fashionable iconoclasm." The reviewer also judged that "Malcolm's study will surely do much to help the rehabilitation of Enescu as a composer. He is a passionately committed guide, interweaving well-researched biography with an account of all the music Enescu wrote."

Malcolm's Bosnia: A Short History details the history of the former Yugoslavian republic that has been divided by warfare. Many critics have found Malcolm's assertion, in the words of Times Literary Supplement reviewer Dimitri Obolensky, that "the root causes of Bosnia's collapse … were first, the political strategy of the Serbian leadership, and second, the total lack of understanding displayed by the leaders of the West" to be the most significant aspect of the work. Bosnia also examines the republic's religious and social history since medieval times, and attempts to refute the notion that Bosnia has always been divided from within by its diverse religious and ethnic groups. As John Fine observed in the London Review of Books, "such ethnic hostility as did reveal itself in Bosnia between the [world] wars was usually exported there by its excitable neighbors. In fact, whenever violence has broken out in Bosnia over ideological causes … its source has lain beyond the borders."

Obolensky called Bosnia "a most impressive achievement. Combining wide and perceptive scholarship—evident in historical argument, illuminating notes and wide-ranging bibliography—it will do much for the professional historian while acting as a firm and skilful guide to the general reader." Michael Ignatieff in the New York Review of Books also applauded the volume, calling it "a thoughtful, lucid, and deeply informed study." Tom Gjelten, reviewing Malcolm's effort in the Washington Post Book World, concluded that "it is a measure of the Bosnian conflict that a book on history … has the political significance that this one has."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1994, pp. 963-964.

London Review of Books, April 28, 1994, John Fine, review of Bosnia: A Short History, pp. 9-10.

Modern Language Review, January, 1986, Uberto Limentani, review of De Dominis, 1560–1624: Venetian, Anglican, Ecumenist, and Relapsed Heretic, pp. 225-226.

New York Review of Books, April 21, 1994, Michael Ignatieff, review of Bosnia, p. 3.

Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1994, p. 39.

Times Literary Supplement, January 11, 1991, David Matthews, review of George Enescu: His Life and Music, p. 13; April 8, 1994, Dimitri Obolensky, review of Bosnia, pp. 15-16; April 25, 2003, Mark Goldie, review of Aspects of Hobbes, p. 9.

Washington Post Book World, October 9, 1994, Tom Gjelten, review of Bosnia, p. 6.

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