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Lucky Moments

Robert Bernard Martin, 1 April 1983

Spirit of Wit: Reconsiderations of Rochester 
edited by Jeremy Treglown.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £14, September 1982, 0 631 12897 2
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... satires, to the detriment of consideration of the lyrics on which his reputation used to rest. David Trotter, for instance, shows how the concomitants of satire – wit, swearing, the language of abuse – all became identified for the Latitudinarians with enmity to Reason. Pat Rogers compares ‘An Allusion to ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... make of his sailors, like the one who leans on a table spread with good things in Elizabeth David’s Book of Mediterranean Food. The housewives doubtless thought they were nice lads; in life and art the physical types which attracted Minton were butch. The boys in Hockney’s Cavafy illustrations would not have stepped so easily or so politely onto Mrs ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... now I have taken the view that my ‘Desert Island’ book, if I were asked, would have to be David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema. First published in 1970, it has just re-appeared as A Biographical Dictionary of Film in a third edition that is revised and considerably enlarged. Despite its titles it is indeed a work of ...

Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 4 August 1988

Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... as ‘a place of Rest and Refreshment’. In more recent times, humanist critics like Pat Rogers and Claude Rawson have explored the unfrequented alleys of Grub Street and examined the Augustan ideal ‘under stress’. Indeed the word ‘new’ in the title of this book owes more to the Madison Avenue hype of corporate America than to serious ...

Images of Displeasure

Nicholas Spice, 22 May 1986

If not now, when? 
by Primo Levi, translated by William Weaver.
Joseph, 331 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 7181 2668 8
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The Afternoon Sun 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 297 78822 1
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August in July 
by Carlo Gebler.
Hamish Hamilton, 188 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 241 11787 9
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... personal recollections, letters, photographs, newspaper reports and other contemporary documents. David Pryce-Jones has gone to immense trouble to sustain this pretence, and he is clearly a connoisseur of the times and the culture he has set out to portray. The end effect has a certain virtuosity, but it is also irritatingly mannered and artificial. The book ...

Bumming and Booing

John Mullan: William Wordsworth, 5 April 2001

Wordsworth: A Life 
by Juliet Barker.
Viking, 971 pp., £25, October 2000, 9780670872138
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The Hidden Wordsworth 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Pimlico, 690 pp., £15, September 2000, 0 7126 6752 0
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Disowned by Memory: Wordsworth’s Poetry of the 1790s 
by David Bromwich.
Chicago, 186 pp., £9.50, April 2000, 0 226 07556 7
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... David Lurie, the soured academic who is the protagonist of J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace, earns his living as a professor of ‘communications’ in a Cape Town university (his former department, Classics and Modern Languages, has been rationalised out of existence). He is obliged to spend most of his time teaching this new subject, in which he has no interest, no belief even, but is allowed to offer one special course per year ‘irrespective of enrolment ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... speaker at this rally, supposedly organised to fly the flag of resistance to state oppression, was David Icke.Icke was a BBC sports presenter in the 1980s, smooth, bland and remarkable only for a certain glassy coldness of manner. Before that he’d been a professional footballer. At a time when Britain had a handful of TV channels, everyone knew his ...

Glaucus and Ione

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 17 April 1980

The Last Days of Pompeii 
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
Sidgwick, 522 pp., £6.95, December 1979, 0 283 98587 9
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... artists paid attention. After Vien, the representative artists of the new movement were Mengs and David; it was not from literature but from art that André Chénier learned the importance of the buried cities. His work was affected by this knowledge; so was the Anacharsis of the Abbé Barthélemy, published in 1788. Even women’s fashions showed the ...


Tam Dalyell: Argentina in 1984, 6 September 1984

... The Argentine Air Force lost 74 strike aircraft during the Falklands campaign. Dr Paul Rogers, defence analyst at the University of Bradford, can show that they have been replaced by at least 107 new aircraft. In April 1982, only five Argentine aircraft were capable of delivering air-to-surface Exocet missiles. The number has now swollen to ...

Think of Mrs Darling

Jenny Diski: Erving Goffman, 4 March 2004

Goffman's Legacy 
edited by Javier Treviño.
Rowman and Littlefield, 294 pp., £22.95, August 2003, 0 7425 1978 3
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... in Goffman’s Legacy. The writers of these essays are professional sociologists (apart from Mary Rogers, who is a professor of something called diversity studies), and they each consider Erving Goffman’s effect for good or ill on their academic discipline. Goffman died in 1982, but he still rouses passions. I didn’t read him with the critical eye of a ...

Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb: Thomas Chatterton, 20 September 2001

Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture 
by Nick Groom.
Palgrave, 300 pp., £55, September 1999, 0 333 72586 7
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... time the lonely outsider commemorated by Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and (more cannily) Wordsworth. David Fairer maintains that their Wertherisation of Chatterton’s alleged suicide concentrated the Romantic poets’ minds on their own social isolation, on the necessary dissidence of the poet’s task and the short time reserved for its performance. Chatterton ...


Chris Mullin, 19 March 2020

... that successive Tory leaders have stuck to it. The 0.7 per cent figure was reached in 2013, on David Cameron’s watch, an achievement regarded with pride. Theresa May, on the eve of her departure from Downing Street, went out of her way to reaffirm the commitment. Even Boris Johnson is standing by it – for now. The promise that DFID will remain a ...

Homage to Tyndale

J.B. Trapp, 17 December 1992

Tyndale’s New Testament 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04419 4
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Tyndale’s Old Testament, being the Pentateuch of 1530, Joshua to II Chronicles of 1537 and Jonah 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 643 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 300 05211 1
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... of Christianity, together with a large portion – all but the prophetic and poetical books, if David Daniell is correct, as he almost certainly is, in attributing to Tyndale the translation he prints of Joshua to II Chronicles – of the Old Testament. Tyndale’s translation lies at the base of almost all subsequent English renderings, the Authorised ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... televised debate, epitomises his ambivalent relationship with the medium. In Nixon’s Shadow, David Greenberg argues that Nixon was the first American president pre-eminently concerned with the construction of his image.* Unlike Kennedy, his nemesis, Nixon was a self-made man; he didn’t have the benefit of an extremely wealthy and well-connected ...

Space Wars

Fredric Jameson, 4 April 1996

The Invisible in Architecture 
edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van Toorn.
Academy, 516 pp., $115, February 1994, 1 85490 285 7
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The Classical Vernacular: Architectural Principles in an Age of Nihilism 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 158 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 1 85754 054 9
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... the reader who misses the great names of the period should be warned that Peter Eisenman, Richard Rogers, Alvaro Siza, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas (along with the central figure in Barcelona’s historic renewal, Oriol Bohigas) are all represented by substantial essays or interviews. I am not sure whether the distribution of these varied building types and ...

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