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The Cow Bells of Kitale

Patrick Collinson: The Selwyn Affair, 5 June 2003

... ceased to exert himself on behalf of his sister-in-law. Geoffrey’s great-grandfather was Thomas Arnold of Rugby, which meant that Matthew Arnold was a great-uncle. Geoffrey was born in the spring of 1888 at Toxteth, where his father was principal of Liverpool College. His mother, one of the daughters of Thomas ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... British Vogue was born in September 1916, when German U-boats (really quite chic in their way – silver-blue with muscular lines) prevented the Americans from transporting their edition to British shores. Muir, in his catalogue introduction, points out that Vogue’s inception coincided with Haig’s launch of the tank at the Battle of the Somme, which gives ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... Greece. Try as Jowett might to reconcile the two moralities, they were soon put asunder. There was Arnold coining the terms ‘Hebraism’ and ‘Hellenism’, and there, more insidiously, was Pater defining a delectable hedonism in which the Greek passion for beauty was treated as a direct challenge to Protestant puritanism. Unlike the generations who ...

Empire of Signs

James Wood: Joseph Roth, 4 March 1999

The String of Pearls 
by Joseph Roth, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Granta, 224 pp., £12.99, May 1998, 1 86207 087 3
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... if the trees were selling newspapers.’ From Right and Left (1929): ‘In the gloaming, only the silver birches in the little wood opposite would shimmer, standing amongst the other trees like slips of days amongst ancient nights.’ Joseph Roth was born in 1894 on the rim of the Habsburg Empire in Brody, Austrian Galicia, which is now part of Ukraine. (He ...

A Good Reason to Murder Your Landlady

Terry Eagleton: I.A. Richards, 25 April 2002

I.A. Richards: Selected Works 1919-38 
edited by John Constable.
Routledge, 595 pp., December 2001, 0 415 21731 8
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... and rule-governed, then the fact that I can’t read Treasure Island without visualising Long John Silver as a one-legged version of my grandmother is of interest only to my psychotherapist and myself. Richards’s thought here is bedevilled by the word ‘experience’, which tempts us to model non-sensory activities on sensory ones, as though reading a poem ...


Peter Burke, 20 March 1986

Velazquez: Painter and Courtier 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 322 pp., £35, March 1986, 0 300 03466 0
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El Greco and his Patrons: Three Major Projects 
by Richard Mann.
Cambridge, 164 pp., £35, February 1986, 0 521 30392 3
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... or abandoned, to a handful of Central European Marxist émigrés such as Frederick Antal, Arnold Hauser and Francis Klingender. Yet it takes time for a new style of art history to spread from the centre to the periphery. It is only in the last few years, thanks to scholars such as Jonathan Brown and some of his Spanish colleagues, such as Julian ...


Frank Kermode, 22 October 1992

The Jew’s Body 
by Sander Gilman.
Routledge, 303 pp., £10.99, September 1992, 0 415 90459 5
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Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend 
by John Gross.
Chatto, 355 pp., £18, September 1992, 0 7011 3523 9
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Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading 
by Alan Sinfield.
Oxford, 365 pp., £27.50, September 1992, 0 19 811983 6
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... metal’, a practice condemned as unnatural, and even likened to sodomy. ‘Is your gold and silver ewes and rams?’ ‘I cannot tell, I make it breed as fast.’ Shylock is against ventures precisely because they are risky. There is no doubt that this prominently placed bit of doctrine was meant to show that Antonio was right, though he seems to think ...

On the Via Dolorosa

Neal Ascherson: Remarque’s Fiction, 7 May 2015

The Promised Land 
by Erich Maria Remarque, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Vintage, 423 pp., £16.99, February 2015, 978 0 09 957708 9
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... the Maccabees. He hated his own people for it and understood it with a painful love.’ Alexander Silver is flamboyantly at war with his brother Arnold for marrying a ‘shiksa’, or as he puts it, ‘a bottle-blonde hyena’. It’s Alexander who gives Ludwig a half-job in his antique shop, and Remarque makes the ...

Not a Pretty Sight

Jenny Diski: Who Are You Calling Ugly?, 24 January 2008

On Ugliness 
edited by Umberto Eco.
Harvill Secker, 455 pp., £30, October 2007, 978 1 84655 122 2
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... century BC, to Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, 1960); Adonis Nude (a sixth-century Greek statue to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, 1985); Adonis Clothed (2000 BC silver statuette from Aleppo to George Clooney, 2002); Portraits of Adonis (bronze head of Sargon from Akkad 2500-2000 BC to Denis Rodman c.1998 – no, I ...


Richard Stern, 15 August 1991

... to them, the narrator gives him a few sous, his friend astonishes him and the beggar by giving a silver coin. The narrator tells his friend: ‘You’re right. The next best thing to receiving a surprise is giving one.’ The friend says the coin was counterfeit, but he still believes he’s done the right thing: he has created an event, a surprise, for the ...

Hoarder of Malt

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 7 January 1999

Shakespeare: A Life 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 479 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 19 811792 2
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £11.99, December 1998, 0 7190 5425 7
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... be organised also includes people dressed in simulated buckram and taffeta and the gleaming mock-silver of property breastplates and crowns, all of them borrowed from the second-best wardrobe of the Royal Shakespeare Company in order to deck out students and members of local amateur dramatic societies as representative characters from each of Shakespeare’s ...

Jesus Christie

Richard Wollheim, 3 October 1985

J.T. Christie: A Great Teacher 
by Donald Lindsay, Roger Young and Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Plume, 211 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 947656 00 6
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... me to the Waverley novels three years before. I sat opposite him across a large mahogany desk with silver ornaments, and even now I can remember vividly the view over the shoulder of his dark, well-cut suit, through the conservatory, onto the large clump of purple rhododendrons on the lawn. I could sense the oncoming humiliation even before I heard him asking ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... to a similar protest meeting at the old Mechanics’ Institute, where one of the speakers was Mrs Arnold Kettle. The Kettles were well-known left-wingers, Arnold Kettle a Communist and lecturer in English at the university. They lived not far from us in Headingley and were eventually, though not I think at this ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons, 20 April 2017

A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... of the headmastership of James Prince Lee, a future bishop of Manchester and a disciple of Thomas Arnold, whose educational ideals – the strenuous pursuit of knowledge and the cultivation of elevated tone and Christian character – Edward was to perpetuate in his own career. When he was still a student at Cambridge in 1850 his mother and eldest sister ...

Somebody reading

Barbara Everett, 21 June 1984

The Odes of Keats 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 330 pp., £15.70, February 1984, 0 674 63075 0
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... another pipe to let through the floor – well ventilated they would preserve all their beautiful silver and Crimson – Then I would put it before a handsome painted window and shade it all round with myrtles and Japonicas. I should like the window to open onto the Lake of Geneva – and there I’d sit and read all day like the picture of somebody ...

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