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A Snake, a Flame

T.J. Clark: Blake at the Ashmolean, 5 February 2015

William Blake: Apprentice and Master 
Ashmolean Museum, until 1 March 2015Show More
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... as precious stones.’ The ambition is breathtaking, its objects less so. I would like to believe David Erdman that even Pitt guiding Behemoth is meant as Satanic allegory, with its naked British hero putting, as always, an angelic face on Chaos and Non-Entity. But I have my doubts. Perhaps the verdict of time on the Pitt and Nelson pictures – the one, to ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary, 15 December 2016

The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... efforts to organise the American premiere of Boulez’s Second Sonata – performed by the pianist David Tudor, who would premiere 4’33” – but relations between the two composers began to deteriorate as Cage’s obsession with using chance in composition proved incompatible with Boulez’s insistence that every parameter in a piece had to be carefully ...

Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... of pace’ might seem to be the problem with this dual strike-force, but happily the author – David Bennie – does not say so. Nick Hornby cannot be blamed for writing of this kind, although Fever Pitch has helped to set the tone. In some ways, Hornby has links with the old school. He knows and cares that there is something ‘moronic’ about his ...

Art and Revolution

Norman Hampson, 18 December 1980

Jacques-Louis David 
by Anita Brookner.
Chatto, 223 pp., £25, November 1980, 0 7011 2530 6
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... In what her publishers claim to be the first monograph in English on David, Dr Brookner explains that she sees her book as a ‘preparation’ for more specialised studies at present under way in France and America. It is intended ‘for the general reader whose eye has been arrested by David’s images and whose mind has been haunted or irritated by their supernal energy and conviction ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Mervyn Peake, living on ‘this desperate edge of now’, or the mercurial evanescence of a Jim Clark or a Joe Orton, counts for little in the scales of achievement when weighed against such elephantine stamina and titanic endurance. This book is, unashamedly, perhaps inevitably, a monument to the loneliness of the long-distance runner, rather than a paean ...

Incriminating English

Randolph Quirk, 24 September 1992

Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... culture. A still more obvious place to look for solid fare is the source book assembled by David Burnley in The History of the English Language. This is, in effect, an anthology of English written between the ninth century and the early 20th. The passages are well chosen both as representative samples of their time and as having inherent ...

News of the World’s End

Peter Jenkins, 15 May 1980

The Seventies 
by Christopher Booker.
Allen Lane, 349 pp., £7.50, February 1980, 0 7139 1329 0
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The Seventies 
by Norman Shrapnel.
Constable, 267 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 09 463280 4
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... He is right about that. They would also notice some strange inclusions: for example, essays on David Frost, Kenneth Clark, Tom Wolfe and Germaine Greer – Sixties figures to a man. Booker’s earlier book, The Neophiliacs, he tells us, was ‘a detailed, analytical account of the astonishing changes which had come over ...

It’s Modern but is it contemporary?

Hal Foster, 16 December 2004

... by Oskar Schlemmer with engaged work by the Mexicans Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The juxtapositions are provocative, but the rationale not clear (unless it is merely that the new MoMA is not hostile to committed figuration). The fourth floor, which covers only 1940-70, also begins in an expected way, with late ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’, 6 August 2009

Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... Before it was a classic film, Gone with the Wind was a classic PR stunt. The film’s producer, David O. Selznick, announced that he would launch a nationwide search for the young woman who would play Scarlett O’Hara. The move provoked a furore; Margaret Mitchell’s novel, published in 1936, was already a national bestseller – it seemed that everyone was reading it – and the desire to star in the movie version proved irresistible ...

Principal Ornament

José Harris, 3 December 1992

G.M. Trevelyan: A life in History 
by David Cannadine.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £18, September 1992, 0 00 215872 8
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... and dominated popular understanding of the nations’s common past for more than half a century. David Cannadine’s characteristically spirited and combative study is more than just an intellectual biography: it is a work of piety, advocacy and passion. He uses the corpus of Trevelyan’s historical writings over fifty years – Wycliffe, Garibaldi, the ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble, 3 December 2015

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. II: Everything She Wants 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 821 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 7139 9288 5
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... set the members at odds with the leadership of the Alliance and represented a direct rebuke of David Owen’s much more hawkish SDP. Labour was different. ‘The Labour Party will never die’ was one of Thatcher’s mantras. What Labour did mattered because it was the only alternative party of government. And in this case the party members were in tune ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... indifference that greeted Blunden’s selection in 1954, published by Hutchinson, and also Leonard Clark’s Chatto selection of 1973, for which Clark himself put up some of the money. It’s true that Blunden, thinking his own poems didn’t fit the fashions of the early Fifties, tried to second-guess the reviewers by ...

Knights of the Road

Tom Clark: The Beat generation, 6 July 2000

This is the Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris 
by James Campbell.
Vintage, 320 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 09 928269 0
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... like tabloid relish. They include murder (Carr’s ‘honour slaying’ of his ex-scoutmaster, David Kammerer, with Burroughs and Kerouac as accessories); needle-drug addiction (‘quite a sensation’ is Burroughs’s comment on being administered his first shot of morphine by Herbert Huncke); and self-mutilation (Burroughs’s prescient deconstructive ...

Homeric Cheese v. Technophiliac Relish

David Cooper: GM food, 18 May 2000

... immediate response of love or horror, then neither does rationality or human welfare,’ Stephen Clark has observed. To take sentiments in this respectable sense seriously is not to worry about how to circumvent them, but to reflect on the conception intimated by them of human beings’ proper relation to the world. What is intimated by the ‘response of ...

A Long Silence

David A. Bell: ‘Englishness’, 14 December 2000

Englishness Identified: Manners and Character, 1650-1850 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 389 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780198206811
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... politicised justification for the break-up of Britain. Citing a recent article by J.C.D. Clark, the Times claimed that Britain and Britishness, far from being ‘forged’ largely in the 18th century as Colley claims, have deeper historical roots. Devolution, and the concurrent resurgence of ‘English’ nationalism are not therefore inevitable ...

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