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Go to the Devil

David Carpenter: Richard II, 22 July 2010

Richard II: Manhood, Youth and Politics, 1377-99 
by Christopher Fletcher.
Oxford, 336 pp., £24.95, August 2010, 978 0 19 959571 6
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... By far the most striking image of Richard II is the one found in the great portrait of him, crowned and enthroned, which still survives in Westminster Abbey. Painted in the 1390s, when the king was in his twenties, it gives him a slightly boyish, even feminine appearance, with red cheeks, full lips and a small goatee beard ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Have you seen their sandals?, 3 July 2014

... around anybody wearing a coloured sock. One man came along the street wearing red braces under a nice grey suit and the Japanese went into overdrive. The guy stopped, put on his shades, sucked in his cheeks, they went bam, bam, bam, and he walked on. The Warholian timeframe had shrunk to 15 seconds. Everybody interviews everybody. ‘What are all these ...

Japanese Power

Richard Bowring, 14 June 1990

God’s Dust: A Modern Asian Journey 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 267 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 224 02493 0
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol V: The 19th Century 
edited by Marius Jansen.
Cambridge, 828 pp., £60, October 1989, 0 521 22356 3
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol. VI: The 20th Century 
edited by Peter Duus.
Cambridge, 866 pp., £60, June 1989, 0 521 22357 1
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... essential is to make an effort to know as much about them as they seem to know about us. It is nice to be able to report that the pioneers of this scholarly approach to Japan were, by and large, British: Chamberlain, Aston, Satow, followed by Murdoch, Waley and Sansom. It is not so pleasant to report that the initiative is now almost entirely in ...

Someone Else

Peter Campbell, 17 April 1986

In the American West 
by Richard Avedon.
Thames and Hudson, 172 pp., £40, October 1985, 0 500 54110 8
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Photoportraits 
by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Thames and Hudson, 283 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 500 54109 4
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... The first picture in Richard Avedon’s folio is captioned ‘Alan Silvey, drifter, Route 93, Chloride, Nevada’. Such photographs were taken in the Dustbowl fifty years ago. But this is art, not documentation. We have learned a lot about photography since the Thirties, and now no one believes that truth is simple – ‘all photographs are accurate ...

Is it a crime?

P.N. Furbank, 6 June 1985

Peterley Harvest: The Private Diary of David Peterley 
edited by Michael Holroyd.
Secker, 286 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 436 36715 7
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... enter into the phenomenon of Peterley Harvest, a novel composed by the librarian and bibliographer Richard Pennington and offered to the world by him and his first publisher – in what spirit it is for us to examine – as the genuine diary, covering the years 1930 to 1939, of a certain David Peterley, scion of an ancient landed family. Peterley’s diary and ...

Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa, 13 April 2000

The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... a story with a strong mixture of ingredients: sex, friendships, betrayals, glam connections, nice locations, eccentric personalities, the odd suicide, a touch of politics, more sex ... Functioning as a haut-bourgeois soap, it affords a nice cue for moralising – ‘he shouldn’t have done that’; ‘she should have ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Painting the Century, 16 November 2000

... in you will be made more interested by the painting. Other pictures here are more like reportage: Richard Hamilton’s worked up photograph of Mick Jagger and Robert Fraser (1968), handcuffed and covering their faces after being arrested for possessing drugs, derives from a news picture. But it was also personal – Fraser was Hamilton’s dealer at the time ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... it was how flat the characters seemed: ‘a slender woman in a dark coat and hat’, ‘a nice-looking blond youngster of twenty-five or so’ etc. Even the protagonists are feebly realised and hard to tell apart or remember, as if in a film script waiting to be fleshed out by actors. Their dialogue is fast and natural, but has little of Chandler’s ...

Matters of Taste

Peter Graham, 4 December 1986

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
by Harold McGee.
Allen and Unwin, 684 pp., £20, September 1986, 9780043060032
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The French Menu Cookbook 
by Richard Olney.
Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 86318 181 3
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Out to Lunch 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 240 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3091 1
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The Good Food Guide 1987 
edited by Drew Smith.
Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 340 39600 8
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... it in many fashionable diets – how fibre affects digestion and even what it actually is. It is nice to learn that the Maya and Aztec anticipated modern science by discovering empirically that, before being eaten, maize needs to be processed with an alkaline substance, such as ashes or lime: if consumed untreated, as it was when first introduced to ...

Perfect Light

Jenny Diski, 9 July 1992

Diana: Her True Story 
by Andrew Morton.
Michael O’Mara, 165 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85479 191 5
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 285 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 7475 1164 0
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Antonia White: Diaries 1958-1979 
edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 352 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 09 470660 3
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... and I recognised the not-quite-extraterrestrial, dumpy, middle-aged forms of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton panting their way up the hill. The glow was not, of course, from their outward perfection, nor their inner beauty and wisdom, but the result of years and years of attention from precision-ground lenses and high-wattage lights being focused and ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Aelbert Cuyp, 7 March 2002

... a bit thin, although the assurance with which the trick is carried off in Cuyp’s pictures, the nice calculation of tone and the sure movements of the brush are always performances worth one’s attention. The English in particular came to love him; in the 18th and 19th centuries collecting Cuyp was so much an English thing that most of his paintings which ...

Tea with Medea

Simon Skinner: Richard Cobb, 19 July 2012

My Dear Hugh: Letters from Richard Cobb to Hugh Trevor-Roper and Others 
Frances Lincoln, 240 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 7112 3240 2Show More
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... Who now, other than historians of modern France, remembers Richard Cobb? Cobb’s Wikipedia entry – the canonical index of posterity’s interest – measures three lines; by contrast, Hugh Trevor-Roper, his principal addressee in this collection, gets five thousand words. Yet Cobb, who died in 1996, was not only a historian of acknowledged genius ...

Wall in the Head

Carolyn Steedman: On Respectability, 28 July 2016

Respectable: The Experience of Class 
by Lynsey Hanley.
Allen Lane, 240 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 84614 206 2
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... 2007 book, another into flickering memory for this one. On both Hanley is accompanied by some very nice men. I’d love to meet her mate Richard, first introduced in Estates. At Solihull College they were ‘the much-talked-about, little practised coming together of north Solihull and south Solihull, a clash of the ...

Real Power

Conrad Russell, 7 August 1986

Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 
by David Underdown.
Oxford, 324 pp., £17.50, November 1985, 0 19 822795 7
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The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics 
by David Starkey.
George Philip, 174 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 540 01093 6
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... In Sussex, the aspiring young cricketer who hit a ball through a church window found that Richard Montagu decided to prosecute him for sacrilege. In Norwich, both Montagu and Wren found themselves preoccupied with stopping ‘football and other profane activities’ in churchyards. It was not until the outburst of godly reformation ushered in by the ...

Haig speaks back

Keith Kyle, 17 May 1984

Caveat 
by Alexander Haig.
Weidenfeld, 367 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 9780297783848
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... Reagan against); and Haig went away with the comforting impression that Reagan was a genuinely ‘nice guy’ who had spoken to him as if he had really liked him. In Haig’s book there are periodic references to this disarming quality, which gradually comes to seem rather sinister. ‘Because of habitual courtesy,’ Haig says of Reagan at one point, ‘it ...

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