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Staging Death

Martin Puchner: Ibsen's Modernism, 8 February 2007

Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theatre, Philosophy 
by Toril Moi.
Oxford, 396 pp., £25, August 2006, 0 19 929587 5
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... a desire to distance himself from the theatre. He called the first two texts he wrote in Rome – Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867) – dramatic poems because he wanted to be free of the practical requirements of stage business. Their imaginative power exceeded that of anything he had written before. Brand tackled a serious ...

In Port Sunlight

Peter Campbell: The art collection of a soap magnate, 20 January 2005

... been cut from a block by the grocer would be wrapped as cakes and sold as a branded product. A brand, at its simplest, combines a manufactured item and a name. The name can outlive the product. It can become generic, as ‘Hoover’ did, or it can establish meanings which no longer apply to the original (a Rolls-Royce is no longer, I’m told, the ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies, 13 July 2017

... goes back much further, to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and before. What is notable about Trump’s brand of conservatism is that it shows little devotion to Reagan or recent conservative history, seeking instead to imagine away much of postwar US history in favour of a hologram of a nation where men manufacture the world’s goods and women iron their ...

What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... on Brexit, most pundits agreed he had overplayed his hand, but that’s always been part of his brand. No doubt men such as Johnson and Trump have always existed, but healthy political systems have ways of keeping them away from the highest echelons of power. For all his idiosyncrasies, Johnson typifies something about contemporary conservatism, which might ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner, 26 September 2019

Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... In​ 1882, the year Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams were born, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter, a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. It wasn’t as good as a Remington but it was cheaper. Nietzsche was losing his eyesight, probably as a result of syphilis, and hoped the Writing Ball would help. But first he had to master touch-typing ...


Frank Kermode: Being in New York, 7 July 1983

... Dr Smith called ‘the gay compromise syndrome’, better-known as AIDS. This may sound like a brand name for an indigestion tablet, but it is an acronym for Auto-Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Unlike herpes, this disease is a killer: the normal defences of the body fail, and the patient is vulnerable to rare forms of cancer and other disastrous ...


Anthony Holden, 6 November 1980

The United States in the 1980s 
edited by Peter Duignan and Alvin Rabushka.
Croom Helm, 868 pp., £14.95, August 1980, 0 8179 7281 1
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... since Johnson v. Goldwater in 1964. Mutual vilification has been the order of the day, Carter’s brand of positive political philosophy being to brand his opponent ‘racist’ and ‘warmonger’, and to avoid at all costs discussion of his own record in office. It may yet pay off – those Georgians are adept above all ...

World History

Maxine Berg, 22 January 1981

The Human Condition 
by William McNeill.
Princeton, 81 pp., £4.75, October 1980, 0 691 05317 0
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... of his other works – an attempt to grasp the grand sweep of history. Originally delivered as the Brand-Lee Lectures at Clark University, the book is an abstract of ideas developed in his earlier works, in particular Plagues and People (1977). The Human Condition needs to be understood in terms of Professor McNeill’s views on the purposes of writing ...

Let’s eat badly

William Davies: Irrationality and its Other, 5 December 2019

Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason 
by Justin E.H. Smith.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 0 691 17867 7
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... a way that benefits such figures as Trump. The so-called ‘attention economy’, in which every brand, political party and online influencer is competing for the attention of internet users, privileges the type of outrage, hilarity and shock that Trump is guaranteed to produce. In Smith’s account, what is so devastating about online discourse is that the ...


Christopher Tayler: Muriel Spark’s Essays, 25 September 2014

The Golden Fleece: Essays 
by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine.
Carcanet, 226 pp., £16.99, March 2014, 978 1 84777 251 0
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... words from a Third Programme broadcast – ‘unconscious satires’ of Mary Shelley’s father William Godwin’s reforming ‘brand of humanism’. A postwar ideal of ‘ethical, germ-free citizens’ became a bit of a bugbear. ‘The Ballad of the Fanfarlo’, a narrative poem written during an access of Baudelairean ...

Longing for Mao

Hugo Young: Edward Heath, 26 November 1998

The Curse of My Life: My Autobiography 
by Edward Heath.
Hodder, 767 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 340 70852 2
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... socially concerned Conservatism that Margaret Thatcher destroyed and neither John Major nor William Hague has done anything to re-create. While most other believers in this brand of Toryism, not only from Heath’s generation but the next two, have slipped away, to the House of Lords and points east, this old, old ...

If my sister’s arches fall

Laura Jacobs: Agnes de Mille, 6 October 2016

Dance to the Piper 
by Agnes de Mille.
NYRB, 368 pp., £11.99, February 2016, 978 1 59017 908 6
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... one of the theatre producer David Belasco’s first collaborators. He discouraged his sons William and Cecil from going into the theatre but they didn’t listen. William de Mille, Agnes’s father, became a successful New York playwright, known for dramas with a social conscience; Cecil became a Hollywood ...

No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair, 2 November 2006

A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... evidence by a drumhead tribunal presided over by a 26-year-old naval subaltern, Lieutenant Brand, who, far from being an innocent, turned out to be a bloodthirsty bully who had sent 189 Jamaicans to the scaffold. Newspapers and periodicals that had initially supported Eyre changed sides. The Jamaica Royal Commission produced an honest, albeit not ...


Celia Paul: Painting in the Dark, 17 December 2020

... artists to whom I feel most deeply connected. Longing powers my own art.In the second volume of William Feaver’s biography of Lucian Freud (Bloomsbury, £35), David Dawson, Lucian’s long-serving assistant, describes Susanna Chancellor, the woman who remained Lucian’s partner longer than anyone else, as ‘a proper woman, not one of these ...


Robert Taubman, 7 October 1982

Monsignor Quixote 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 370 30923 5
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... Perhaps rather carefully, the words at the head of Graham Greene’s new novel are ascribed to William Shakespeare rather than to Hamlet, but inevitably it’s Hamlet they bring to mind. Very Hamlet, this complete scepticism – but not, surely, very Graham Greene; and what has it to do with a novel on the theme of Don Quixote? Turgenev brought Hamlet and ...

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