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Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts, 9 May 2019

k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... Mark Fisher​ killed himself on 13 January 2017, at the house in Felixstowe he shared with his wife and young son. His mental health had been deteriorating, according to the Ipswich Star’s report of the inquest, since the previous May. His wife, Zoe, told the inquest that they had been seeking help for him, but the local NHS trust hadn’t been able to offer anything beyond a telephone chat with a GP ...

At the V&A

Rosemary Hill: Constable , 23 October 2014

... The Making of a Master is at the V&A until 11 January.) While his contemporary Turner bestrides the history of European art, Constable remains a largely domestic taste. There was a time when almost every home had a reproduction of The Hay Wain. Tours of ‘Constable country’ on the Essex-Suffolk border were popular by 1893 and are still ...

Utopian about the Present

Christopher Turner: The Brutalist Ethic, 4 July 2019

Alison and Peter Smithson 
by Mark Crinson.
Historic England, 150 pp., £30, June 2018, 978 1 84802 352 9
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Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing 
by John Boughton.
Verso, 330 pp., £9.99, April 2019, 978 1 78478 740 0
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... and the timber-screened Garden Building (1967-70) at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. They were, in Mark Crinson’s description, ‘writerly, artistic-minded, avant-garde and unabashedly intellectual’, known for their many books as much as for their relatively few buildings (a third, posthumously published volume of their collected works, Alison and Peter ...

Fairy Lights

Jenny Turner, 2 November 1995

Morvern Callar 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 224 pp., £9.99, February 1995, 0 224 04011 1
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... down to this earth’. And we can tell she is beautiful from the inside because she carries its mark with her everywhere, in the streak of Christmas glitter buried deep and sparkling in the skin of her knee. Like the love she has known and the money she has come into, Morvern’s beauty frees her from pointless want. Unlike a real-life woman, she does not ...

Walking on Eyeballs

E.S. Turner: The history of gout, 7 January 1999

Gout: The Patrician Malady 
by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau.
Yale, 393 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 300 07386 0
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... grew worried and alarmed if his gout did not return regularly. Besides, gout was very much a mark of status. Lord Chesterfield said it was ‘the distemper of a gentleman, whereas the rheumatism is the distemper of a hackney coachman’. It attacked not only the wealthy but the creative, which meant that no man of letters could afford to be without ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... life was an absolute mess. In his thorough and entertaining authorised biography of Cash, Steve Turner establishes a suitably saintly tone on the first page. ‘It was doubtful,’ he writes of his subject, ‘whether he had a bodily organ that hadn’t been operated on, an area of skin that hadn’t been gashed, or a significant bone that hadn’t been ...

Nicely! Nicely!

Jenny Turner, 13 May 1993

Operation Shylock 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 398 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 224 03009 4
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... US National Book Award, phoning up journalists, as it seems he really did to the Independent’s Mark Lawson, and speaking to them in funny voices. But then again, Roth would not be Roth if he were not clearly a man who knows the value of a gimmick when he sees one. There are, however, several issues to be discussed around the theme of Roth and his mania for ...

Disgrace Abounding

E.S. Turner, 7 January 1988

A Class Society at War: England 1914-18 
by Bernard Waites.
Berg, 303 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 907582 65 6
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Working for Victory? Images of Women in the First World War 
by Diana Condell and Jean Liddiard.
Routledge, 201 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7102 0974 6
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The Countryside at War 1914-18 
by Caroline Dakers.
Constable, 238 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 09 468060 4
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When Jim Crow met John Bull: Black American Soldiers in World War Two Britain 
by Graham Smith.
Tauris, 265 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 9781850430391
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... their way to look masculine, well, that is the way it was. Why, incidentally, is there a question-mark after ‘victory’ in the title? Women war-workers turn up again in Caroline Dakers’s The Countryside at War, tilling the land in company with soldiers, German prisoners and conscientious objectors, a more-than-dubious mix in the farmer’s eyes. The ...

Topography v. Landscape

John Barrell: Paul Sandby, 13 May 2010

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain 
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... to Sandby even by his admirers, a term that managed to appear at once innocently descriptive and a mark of inferiority. Samuel Redgrave, in his biographical dictionary of artists first published in 1874, remarked that Sandby ‘did not get beyond topography and the mere tinted imitation of nature’; of Francis Jukes, on the other hand, Sandby’s friend and ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... Last autumn, at the award ceremony of the 1994 Turner Prize, Charles Saatchi took the podium at the Tate Gallery. It was a very rare public appearance by Britain’s leading private collector of contemporary art. His words were awaited with interest. Since it opened to the public in 1985, the Saatchi collection in St John’s Wood has become a focus of what’s called the contemporary art debate ...

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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... the story back to 1930 and to Ada Leverson, who – he suggests – probably heard it from Reggie Turner. In her version, ‘a curious, very young, but hard-eyed creature appeared, looked at him, gave a sort of laugh, and passed on. He felt, he said, “as if an icy hand had clutched at his heart”. He had a sudden presentiment. He saw a vision of ...

Fit only to be a greengrocer

E.S. Turner, 23 September 1993

Rider Haggard and the Lost Empire 
by Tom Pocock.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £20, August 1993, 0 297 81308 0
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... as worthy. It is impossible, in the light of Haggard’s upbringing, to mock his desire to leave a mark on the world; an inspiration not ignoble, as it were. He had never seriously wanted to be a great Parliamentarian, deciding with his habitual concern for gentlemanly standards, that the House of Commons was ‘hardly the place for a self-respecting ...

Wounding Nonsenses

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1997

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... of Nancy Mitford’s letters, Love from Nancy. Others who have been at the nest eggs include Mark Amory, who edited The Letters of Evelyn Waugh, and Artemis Cooper, who gave us the Waugh-Cooper correspondence in Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch. So what is left? We are assured that 80 per cent of the Mitford letters and 40 per cent of Waugh’s in this volume have ...

In Praise of Barley Brew

E.S. Turner: Combustible Belloc, 20 February 2003

Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc 
by Joseph Pearce.
HarperCollins, 306 pp., £20, July 2002, 0 00 274095 8
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... about it, unlike Wilson. The death of his wife, after which he wore black for life, was a dividing mark in his career. There were fewer of those half-legendary carousals where tireless practical jokers downed ‘the Blood of Kings at only half-a-crown a bottle’ and bellowed songs about Burgundy and Roncesvalles. Some of that gusto now animated the younger ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... the head of the movement for reform in London. (They also led to A New London, a book written with Mark Fisher, then Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Arts and Culture, which was essentially the Labour Party’s environment manifesto for the 1992 election.) In 1995, Rogers became the first architect to deliver the Reith Lectures. He spoke about the radical ...

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