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A Blizzard of Tiny Kisses

Clive James, 5 June 1980

Princess Daisy 
by Judith Krantz.
Sidgwick, 464 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 283 98647 6
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... the less clear things become. Take the meeting of Stash and Francesca. Mrs Krantz defines Prince Alexander Vassilivitch Valensky, alias Stash, as ‘the great war hero and incomparable polo-player’. Stash is Daisy’s father. Francesca Vernon, the film star, is her mother. Francesca possesses ‘a combination of ...

Investigate the Sock

David Trotter: Garbo’s Equivocation, 24 February 2022

by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 438 pp., £32, December 2021, 978 0 374 29835 7
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... of an apartment in central Paris once occupied by Michèle Morgan (born Simone Renée Roussel), star of Marcel Carné’s Le Quai des brumes, the acme of 1930s poetic realism. The evidence presented comes, with a single exception, from a roll-call of the most celebrated divas of 20th-century French cinema: Danielle Darrieux, Simone Signoret, Anouk ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... imaging, gas chromatography and various sorts of microscopy. In 1874, when the collection of Alexander Barker, the son of a fashionable boot-maker, came up for sale at Christie’s, the National Gallery acquired two Botticellis: both long pictures of Venus, one with three putti (An Allegory), the other with four baby satyrs and Mars (Venus and Mars). An ...

We’re not talking to you, we’re talking to Saturn

Nick Richardson: Lingua Cosmica, 18 June 2020

Extraterrestrial Languages 
by Daniel Oberhaus.
MIT, 252 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 262 04306 9
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... Godwin’s cosmonaut, Gonsales, in many ways had an easy time of it. He could point at a swan or a star and the Lunars would whistle one tune or another. Tune by tune Gonsales pieced together his Lunar vocabulary. But almost the only thing we know for certain about aliens is that they don’t live close enough to see us pointing. We know of a handful of ...
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... I wanted to be until I became that person. Or he became me.’ In 1937, Frances Farmer, his co-star in The Toast of New York, found him ‘an aloof, remote person, intent on being Cary Grant playing Cary Grant’. By the time ‘Cary Grant’ was fully formed, the man had to give in to his creation: ‘Everybody wants to be Cary Grant,’ Grant ...

Brown and Friends

David Runciman, 3 January 2008

... men who once worked as juniors in his office, having been hand-picked at a very young age. Douglas Alexander became Brown’s researcher and speechwriter when he was in his early twenties. So did Ed Miliband. Ed Balls joined Brown when he was only 27, after a spell at the Financial Times, and they have been joined at the hip ever since. Despite the fact that ...

In Fear and Trembling to the Polls

John Lloyd, 30 November 1995

... something between 5 and 10 per cent. The Derzhava (Power) Party of former vice-president General Alexander Rutskoi, and Vlast Narodu (Power to the People), a party recently formed by Nikolai Ryzhkov, the former Soviet prime minister, may also get about 5 per cent. The Agrarian Party and Women of Russia tend to vote with the Communists. If the rule which ...

Dark Emotions

Jenny Turner: The Women’s Liberation Movement, 24 September 2020

directed by Philippa Lowthorpe.
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directed by the Berwick Street Film Collective.
Lux/Koenig/Raven Row, £24, July 2019
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Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the UK Women's Liberation Movement, 1968-present 
by Margaretta Jolly.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.99, November 2019, 978 0 19 065884 7
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... which is based on that radio programme, and stars Keira Knightley as the feminist historian Sally Alexander. It’s positioned – as Pride (2014) was to Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in the 1980s, and Made in Dagenham (2010) was to the Ford sewing machinists’ strike of 1968 – to allow viewers some minutes of unchallenging celebration that ...

At the Whitechapel

Anne Wagner: Hannah Höch, 20 February 2014

... demonstrates, her work doesn’t answer Freud’s riddle: instead it cuts right through it, as Alexander did the Gordian knot. Höch, granted, was an artist, not a conqueror, and her scissors required more precision than force. Or perhaps we should say that the force of her cutting was metaphorical rather than physical, as it had to be if the task was to ...


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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... and its works, all you need to know is that it has just three honorary fellows: Friedrich Hayek, Alexander Solzhenitsyn – and Ronald Reagan. The present volume, in other words, would make soothing bedside reading for Mrs Margaret Thatcher, not least because its opening contribution comes from her favourite TV star and ...


Norman Page, 8 January 1987

Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton 
by Flora Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 410 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78895 7
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Loving Emma 
by Nigel Foxell.
Harvester, 201 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7108 1056 3
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... and she ends wretchedly. Legend has cast her as a Great Lover or seductress-extraordinary (Alexander Korda’s 1941 film-biography, which Winston Churchill is reported to have seen over a hundred times, is titled, distressingly, That Hamilton Woman), but there are elements of low comedy in her story: she became stupendously fat even before she met ...

Haig speaks back

Keith Kyle, 17 May 1984

by Alexander Haig.
Weidenfeld, 367 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 9780297783848
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... European allies as a man who had the root of the matter in him. As a diplomatist and a four-star general, he counted as an expert in the fields of foreign policy and security in an Administration that was much lacking in those branches of expertise. The new President reputedly had everything to learn about international affairs, a strong disposition to ...

Alpha and Omega

Dan Jacobson, 5 February 1981

Apocalypse and the Writings on Revelation 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mara Kalnins.
Cambridge, 249 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 521 22407 1
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... lowering of the spirits on seeing that it has been thought necessary to gloss references to Lenin, Alexander the Great, the Archangel Gabriel, Plato and Nirvana. It might be added that line-numbers (in fives) are given in the margins throughout the texts: an ugly and unnecessary mode of typographical embalming. As for the Revelation, the last book of the ...

It Just Sounded Good

Bernard Porter: Lady Hester Stanhope, 23 October 2008

Star of the Morning: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Hester Stanhope 
by Kirsten Ellis.
HarperPress, 444 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 717030 2
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... She was a wonder, a legend. The writer Alexander Kinglake said that when he was a child in the 1820s Lady Hester Stanhope’s name was as well known to him as Robinson Crusoe’s, though he thought Crusoe was more believable. A century later, her table-talk (retailed in six volumes by her doctor-companion, Charles Meryon, and first published in 1845-46) was still being studied for the School Certificate ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... to mean something. So perhaps the comparison is not appropriate. An interesting case is the name Alexander. It looks very much as if it is a typically Greek dithematic compound of alex (‘defend’) and andr (‘man’). In the Iliad it is an alternative name for Paris, prince of Troy. There was therefore some excitement in the 1920s when a long Hittite ...

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