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Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... behaviour often hovered dangerously close to being that of a paedophile,’ snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released). Julia Prewitt Brown sees him as a philosophical heavyweight; and celebrates his ‘dodginess’ in order to instal him in a post-dualist tradition of ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy, 9 April 2015

Hollywood 
by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... man’ in the fall of 1999. And like the doomed protagonist, George, in the novel A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, I too was gay; I too was an English professor (on a one-term sabbatical back then); I too was middle-aged (at 39 years old then, whereas George is 58); I too was living in Los Angeles (although my teaching position is in Iowa City); I too ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... The walk-on part for Walter Pater palters; the attempt to placate the shade of Savonarola Brown is imprudent when it supposes that all you need to do is lay your finger alongside your nose and mention ‘the brilliance of a young poet called Oscar Wilde’, or mount an exchange like this:     ‘Has anyone ever come across this bearded scribbler ...

Splenditello

Stephen Greenblatt, 19 June 1986

Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy 
by Judith Brown.
Oxford, 214 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 503675 1
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... my expert opinion was Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith Brown, a social historian at Stanford University. The Times was particularly interested, the reporter explained, because another book about lesbian nuns in contemporary America had recently been published and was promptly banned from sale in Massachusetts. The ...

White Coats v. Bow Ties

Nicholas Penny, 11 February 1993

Jacopo della Quercia 
by James Beck.
Columbia, 598 pp., $109.50, February 1992, 0 231 07200 7
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Michelangelo and the Creation of the Sistine Chapel 
by Robin Richmond.
Barrie and Jenkins, 160 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 7126 5290 6
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Rembrandt. The Master and his Workshop: Paintings 
by Christopher Brown, Jan Kelch and Pieter van Thiel.
Yale, 396 pp., £35, September 1991, 0 300 05149 2
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Michelangelo’s Drawings: The Science of Attribution 
by Alexander Perrig.
Yale, 299 pp., £35, June 1991, 0 300 03948 4
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Michelangelo and his Drawings 
by Michael Hirst.
Yale, 128 pp., £14.95, August 1990, 0 300 04391 0
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The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Annotated Translation 
by James Saslow.
Yale, 559 pp., £22.50, April 1991, 0 300 04960 9
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... alter some colours in a painting (a red lake fading away, a copper resinate green turning brown), it is possible that the removal of a discoloured varnish will create a discordant effect which outweighs the advantages of returning some portions to their original condition. There is surely no one correct approach for conservators to take. There is one ...

Diary

Christopher Hadley: The Lake Taupo Stamp, 18 September 1997

... is the ‘Lake Taupo’. He has been assigned to guard it with his life. The stamp has a caramel brown frame, with ‘New Zealand’ at the top, ‘Postage Revenue’ and ‘4d Four Pence 4d’ at the bottom. In the centre is a circular vignette in blue depicting New Zealand’s central volcanic plateau, Lake Taupo and Mount Ruapehu, with two palm trees in ...

Reconstruction

Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides, 6 October 2011

The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... norm for us. Then we found out what the modernists were rebelling against.’ Eugenides studied at Brown with John Hawkes and at Stanford with Gilbert Sorrentino, exacting experimentalists who were ‘against order on the whole and against storytelling’. By setting much of his new novel at Brown in the early ...

Super-Real

Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... rather dogged about some aspects of the Pre-Raphaelite work ethic. In April 1855, Ford Madox Brown wrote in his diary about the drawing for Work: ‘This is now to me a species of intoxication,’ he exclaims. ‘When I drew in the poor little vixen girl pulling her brother’s hair, I quite growled with delight.’ This entry is interesting because it ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... to compare with Ashbery’s ‘Self-Portrait in an Convex Mirror’ and ‘Fantasia on “The Nut-Brown Maid” ’. The origin of ‘A Wave’ may be the passage about dreams in ‘Self-Portrait’: ‘They seemed strange because we couldn’t actually see them ... ’ As in ‘Self-Portrait’, Ashbery’s style is loose-limbed, musing, discursive unrhymed ...

Lucky Kim

Christopher Hitchens, 23 February 1995

The Philby Files. The Secret Life of the Master Spy: KGB Archives Revealed 
by Genrikh Borovik, edited by Phillip Knightley.
Little, Brown, 382 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 316 91015 5
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The Fifth Man 
by Roland Perry.
Sidgwick, 486 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 283 06216 9
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Treason in the Blood: H. St John Philby, Kim Philby and the Spy Case of the Century 
by Anthony Cave Brown.
Hale, 640 pp., £25, January 1995, 9780709055822
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My Five Cambridge Friends 
by Yuri Modin.
Headline, 328 pp., £17.99, October 1994, 0 7472 1280 5
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Looking for Mr Nobody: The Secret Life of Goronwy Rees 
by Jenny Rees.
Weidenfeld, 291 pp., £18.99, October 1994, 0 297 81430 3
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... by the ancient firm of Lord Frank Longford) and, finally, given the belief of Anthony Cave Brown that treason is a heritable trait, the Bell Curve theory of clubland skulduggery. Yet this is the standard, both of writing and editing and research. When James Jesus Angleton, crazed and criminal head of the CIA, suffered himself to be asked a few ...

Politician’s War

Tam Dalyell, 3 March 1983

The Battle for the Falklands 
by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins.
Joseph, 384 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7181 2228 3
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... a number of little-known facts. For example, they say that on the afternoon of 1 May, Captain Christopher Wreford Brown DSO of Conqueror reported that he had sighted the General Belgrano and two escorting Exocet destroyers. The Government’s White Paper claims that Conqueror sighted Belgrano on 2 May. I know from ...

Cage’s Cage

Christopher Reid, 7 August 1980

Empty Words: Writings ‘73-’78 
by John Cage.
Marion Boyars, 187 pp., £12, June 1980, 0 7145 2704 1
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... that ‘hearing a sentence he heard feet marching.’ In one instance he adds, ‘Syntax, N. O. Brown told me, is the arrangement of the army,’ above which, on the same page, we find: ‘The masterpieces of Western music exemplify monarchy and dictatorship.’ I do not really understand what Cage hears in Fidelio or Peter Grimes – or in any number of ...

The Mouth, the Meal and the Book

Christopher Ricks, 8 November 1979

Field Work 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1979, 0 571 11433 4
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... would bring it into contention with ‘fresh’. Heaney’s sense of the word here (the brown earth, not the green mildew) is manifestly unmistakable, but the force of the line is partly a matter of the other sense’s being tacitly summoned in order to be gently found preposterous. Nothing can more bring home the innocent freshness of carrots with ...

True Grit

Christopher Tayler: Sam Shepard, 6 March 2003

Great Dream of Heaven 
by Sam Shepard.
Secker, 142 pp., £10, November 2002, 0 436 20594 7
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... storefronts: ‘The plate-glass windows of each store were blocked out halfway up with brown butcher paper, I guess to keep people from looking in at all the emptiness.’ (Time to get in touch with Johnny Dark.) But most people are half-consciously trapped in shallow roles, which shield them from the desolation all around. One woman makes ‘a ...

Devolution Doom

Christopher Harvie: Scotland’s crisis, and some solutions, 5 September 2002

... its very favourable treatment of Scotland bought the Union another couple of decades. Gordon Brown’s numbers show ecoomic problems looming for the UK in general – and the Scottish statistics are even worse. A European survey found in September 2001 that the UK had a long-term absent-through-sickness quotient of 7 per cent against 2.1 per cent in ...

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