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Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone, 1 October 1998

Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... spies, expatriates, soldiers and so on. It proceeds as certain action movies do, except that the swift location changes are metaphysical. And there is an undoubted metaphysical vulgarity, a melodrama, here. Stone might reply that he is describing a concatenation of metaphysical vulgarities, the kind exaggerated by Jerusalem, but his novel’s inability to ...

At Tate Britain

Tom Crewe: Burne-Jones, 24 January 2019

... Burne-Jones was good at line. ‘Line flowed from him almost without volition,’ the artist Graham Robertson remembered; Ruskin thought his ‘moving hand’ as ‘tranquil and swift as a hawk’s flight’. The odd insistence in some quarters that he couldn’t draw is belied by some of his portrait sketches, notably ...

Gesture as Language

David Trotter, 30 January 1992

A Cultural History of Gestures: From Antiquity to the Present 
edited by Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg.
Polity, 220 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 7456 0786 1
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The New Oxford Book of 17th-Century Verse 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 830 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 19 214164 3
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... frequently an unpleasant one. Anne Bradstreet writes on the fire which destroyed her house, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, ‘On Himself, upon Hearing What Was His Sentence’. All three discover consolation in a faith which enables Graham to relish the thought of his own execution: Open all my veins, that I may swim ...

Oh those Lotharios

Alison Light: Jean Lucey Pratt, 17 March 2016

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt 
edited by Simon Garfield.
Canongate, 736 pp., £12.99, April 2016, 978 1 78211 572 4
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... on her.’ Naturally this too is a hopeless love: ‘she lives in a world of games and speed and swift thought … and straight, slim, eager girls.’ Jean is no dupe. She knows how mass-market romance is pedalled and how easily the heartstrings can be plucked. On holiday with her father, she watches ‘filmacting’ from a ‘topping’ perch in Mullion ...

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger, 25 October 2018

... part of its routine background checks for important government nominees. The evangelist Franklin Graham and various Republicans claim that since Kavanaugh did not actually rape Ford, but merely assaulted and groped her, and then stopped, his honourable character is evident.Because of death threats, Dr Ford is forced to move her family into hiding.(As a ...

The Man in White

Edward Pearce, 11 October 1990

The Golden Warrior: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia 
by Lawrence James.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £19.50, August 1990, 0 297 81087 1
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... reason to be grateful. The thought occurs, though, that Lawrence had more in common with James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, than with any other historical figure. A man appears among undeveloped traditional tribal people. He can communicate with them and has a deep sympathy for their ways, not at all shared by his peers. Demonstrating a blessed failure of ...

Bevan’s Boy

R.W. Johnson, 24 March 1994

Michael Foot 
by Mervyn Jones.
Gollancz, 570 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 575 05197 3
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... life was for. Most of Foot’s household gods were to remain the same all his life – Hampden, Swift, Hazlitt, Cobden, Bright, Mill, Gladstone, Wilberforce and Charles James Fox. There was, in time, one great socialist addition to the pantheon, Aneurin Bevan. It followed that politics was mainly about two things: standing up for moral principle and making ...

On Not Getting the Credit

Brian Dillon: Eileen Gray, 23 May 2013

Eileen Gray 
Pompidou Centre, 20 February 2013 to 20 May 2013Show More
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... persuaded the owner to take her on as an apprentice. It’s from that moment that we can date her swift maturation. Back in Paris, where she bought an apartment on the rue Bonaparte, she began to collaborate with a Japanese specialist called Seizo Sugawara, who had come to the city in 1900 to repair lacquer pieces on show at the Universal Exhibition. The ...

A Row of Shaws

Terry Eagleton: That Bastard Shaw, 21 June 2018

Judging Shaw 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Royal Irish Academy, 381 pp., £28, October 2017, 978 1 908997 15 9
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... lineage of Irish licensed jesters from Oliver Goldsmith to Brendan Behan (Terry Wogan and Graham Norton are minor offshoots), men who punctured English pomposity and found moral earnestness irresistibly comic, yet whose capacity to amuse rendered them more or less acceptable. It was a perilous role to play, as Shaw’s friend and admirer Oscar Wilde ...


Barbara Everett, 2 April 1987

... Literary friendships (Sidney and Greville, Pope and Swift, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Eliot and Pound) have interest for the critic as well as the biographer. They show how unlike temperaments of near-equivalent talent may be drawn together by unanimity of literary principle. This unanimity should therefore be worth looking into, especially in the case of work like Philip Larkin’s, always more reserved and elusive than it seems ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... harm’s way. With their advertisements on television paid for by well-connected Republicans, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have turned this chicanery into an opinion-poll-smashing juggernaut. To a person from another planet, or perhaps another country, the success of this campaign would appear unlikely or even impossible: man of courage and conscience ...

Cute, My Arse

Seamus Perry: Geoffrey Hill, 12 September 2019

The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 148 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 19 882952 2
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... believed a win would be good for the nation, the mind of Ireland freed, raw body, old head, albeit Swift died mad. The ‘Irish Salamis’ is a price you must pay for some victory over and above Pearse And Connolly and the ‘right rose tree’. It is, as he said, also ‘liable to bias’. The Queen at the wall in Ireland was not entirely unlike Willy ...

In a Cold Country

Michael Wood: Coetzee’s Grumpy Voice, 4 October 2007

Diary of a Bad Year 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 231 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 1 84655 120 8
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Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 304 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 1 84655 045 4
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... Svevo, Bruno Schulz, Joseph Roth, W.G. Sebald. The method is less biographical for Saul Bellow, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer and others, and a long, frosty essay on Walter Benjamin engages crucial concepts thoroughly and ends in a magnificent, if ambiguous tribute: ‘From a distance, Benjamin’s magnum opus’ – The Arcades Project – ‘is curiously ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... the most part, I’m sure,’ he said. ‘But after the Stockholm intervention, a certain Jackie Graham of the local grocery shop in Bellaghy wanted to open a Heaney Museum. ‘“It’ll be good for you and good for us,” he said.’ Seamus didn’t stand in his way and made sure some manuscripts and posters were put into the fellow’s hands. It’s the ...


James Wood: John Carey, 8 March 2001

Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books 
by John Carey.
Faber, 173 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 571 20448 1
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... co-opt Waugh, as it were, onto the editorial board of Scrutiny.) The book’s final selection is Graham Swift’s Last Orders. Carey writes appreciatively of the way Swift captures Cockney speech and ends powerfully: ‘If a language reflects the temper of its people, we should be proud of this book’s language ...

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