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Off the edge

Frank Kermode, 7 November 1991

Musical Elaborations 
by Edward Said.
Chatto, 128 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 7011 3809 2
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... to understand what the professionals are up to. He knows a great deal more about music than most amateurs, and argues persuasively that it should not be left entirely to the rigorous mercies of the musicologists. The result is this very interesting, excited, crammed little book, in which admirable and questionable propositions jostle one another so ...

Going Against

Frank Kermode: Is There a Late Style?, 5 October 2006

On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain 
by Edward Said.
Bloomsbury, 176 pp., £16.99, April 2006, 9780747583653
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Late Thoughts: Reflections on Artists and Composers at Work 
edited by Karen Painter and Thomas Crow.
Getty, 235 pp., $40, August 2006, 0 89236 813 6
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... The odd thing is that most of the contributors to these books doubt whether it is possible to offer a clear and distinct idea of the subject under discussion. Indeed, Karen Painter, one of the editors of the Getty volume, says right out that ‘late style does not exist in any real sense.’ But she and her colleagues continue to search for distinguishing marks of lateness in the work of major artists in their last years, to ask whether they give evidence of failing powers, such as might in the ordinary course of things be expected: senescence; illness; the decay of the senses; the certainty that death, always feared at a distance but now in the room, is taking a hand ...

Enid’s Scars

Peter McDonald, 23 June 1988

You must remember this 
by Joyce Carol Oates.
Macmillan, 436 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 333 46182 7
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A Case of Knives 
by Candia McWilliam.
Bloomsbury, 266 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 7475 0074 6
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Burning your own 
by Glenn Patterson.
Chatto, 249 pp., £11.95, March 1988, 0 7011 3291 4
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... Enid Stevick is obscured, as is the sense of suffering and helplessness imparted by the book’s most resonant image, a memory experienced on the evening of Enid’s suicide attempt: ‘She remembered a mourning dove the boys had caught in the vacant lot then dosed with gasoline then lit with a match. The bird’s wild wings flapping flying in looping crazy ...


Karl Whitney: The golf course is burning, 1 June 2016

... tended grass verges. The war memorial at the entrance to the village was planted with wildflowers. Most of the posters pinned to the noticeboard outside the community centre were about gardening. When the smoke from the golf course blew into Clara Vale it was an unwelcome and bituminous blast from the village’s past. Residents kept their windows closed. The ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... Che Guevara, Greta Garbo, Edith Sitwell, JFK, Maria Callas, Howard Hughes, Andy Warhol, Glenn Gould, the late Princess of Wales) down to minor bog-sprites such as Eartha Kitt, Cher or Quentin Crisp. (Such lists are infinitely expandable.) What links each of these disparate individuals is a singularity so tangible as to border on the uncanny. We ...

Touching the music

Paul Driver, 4 January 1996

Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship 
by Robert Craft.
Vanderbilt, 588 pp., £35.95, October 1994, 0 8265 1258 5
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... Heard are newly included. Letters (also to Craft) from Arnold Schoenberg, Luigi Dallapiccola, Glenn Gould and other musical luminaries are also published for the first time; and most of the illustrations are new. Gone are the itineraries that laboriously prefaced each chapter-year in the original edition and the ...

Newspaperising the World

Sadakat Kadri: The Leveson Inquiry, 5 July 2012

Dial M for Murdoch 
by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman.
Allen Lane, 360 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 603 9
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... arm, he wanted one statement on the record from the outset. ‘This,’ he proclaimed, ‘is the most humble day of my life.’ As the American satirist Jon Stewart observed, Murdoch wasn’t so humbled that he was willing to wait his turn to speak. But his very presence in Portcullis House represented an extraordinary turnaround. After dominating British ...


Karl Miller: Football Tribes, 1 June 1989

... started out, as he did himself, in the North-East: but there was a wish to put him down, much as Glenn Hoddle was always being put down, before being driven off to France. I expect that the same outlook will see to it that the international career of Peter Beardsley, also from the North-East, will soon be reaching a premature end. It is possible to feel that ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures, 17 June 2015

... fascistic and funereal, and in place of Pallas’ pediment is a neon by the American artist Glenn Ligon, faint in the bright sunshine, which reads ‘blues blood bruise’ – a quotation from Daniel Hamm, one of the Harlem Six. Each Biennale has a new artistic director; this time it’s Okwui Enwezor, Nigerian by birth (the first from Africa), now ...

Stop the war

Penelope Lively, 1 April 1982

The Parting of Ways: A Personal Account of the Thirties 
by Shiela Grant Duff.
Peter Owen, 223 pp., £10.50, March 1982, 0 7206 0586 5
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From Middle England: A Memory of the Thirties 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 185 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 233 97232 3
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Dwellers All in Time and Space: A Memory of the 1940s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 227 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 0 233 97434 2
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... to Darwen grammar school. In this volume, the narrative is entirely novelistic: dialogue for the most part. And robust, free-wheeling dialogue it is, plunging the reader convincingly into the rivalries and loyalties, the cunning and the chirpy valour, of adolescent boys. From time to time the sense of autobiography all but vanishes: the danger of selecting ...

Fat Bastard

David Runciman: Shane Warne, 15 August 2019

No Spin 
by Shane Warne.
Ebury, 411 pp., £9.99, June 2019, 978 1 78503 785 6
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... slow bowlers never scared anyone. The so-called spinner whose approach to slow bowling Warne takes most pleasure in contrasting with his own is the English player Ashley Giles (or Ashley ‘Hit-Me-Miles’ as Warne calls him). Giles spun it a bit but not a lot. He took wickets at regular intervals with his slow left-arm spin, but never explosively and ...
The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 723 pp., £30, November 1995, 0 00 255627 8
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... and Haydn, and the aesthetic movement they represented. The Post-Classicists emerged for the most part during the period from the death of Beethoven (1827) to the death of Chopin (1849). A substantially expanded version of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures given at Harvard during 1980-1, The Romantic Generation, which follows in the path of its ...

Why Tunis, Why Cairo?

Issandr El Amrani, 17 February 2011

... inequality. Tunisia was a repressive police state in which information was tightly controlled and most people never dared to criticise the leadership out loud. Egypt was a military dictatorship that allowed a fair amount of freedom of expression, as long as it had no political consequences: you could criticise the president, but not launch a campaign to ...


Thomas Sugrue: Civil Rights v. Black Power, 5 October 2006

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice 
by Raymond Arsenault.
Oxford, 690 pp., £19.99, March 2006, 0 19 513674 8
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... them to the balconies (deprecatingly called ‘buzzards’ roosts’) or along the walls. In most parts of the South, blacks were denied the basic prerogatives of citizenship, including the franchise and jury service. As the story is customarily told, the victory against Jim Crow began with the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of ...

Captain Swing

Eric Hobsbawm, 24 November 1994

The Duke Ellington Reader 
edited by Mark Tucker.
Oxford, 536 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 19 505410 5
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Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America 
by David Stowe.
Harvard, 299 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 0 674 85825 5
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... the élite minority arts of the 20th century, the US component is one of many, and by no means the most important. On the other hand, it penetrates, indeed dominates, the popular culture of the globe with the single exception of sport, which still echoes the British hegemony over the 19th-century era of bourgeoisie and the first Industrial Revolution, via ...

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