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Crusoe was a gentleman

John Sutherland, 1 July 1982

The Gentleman in Trollope: Individuality and Moral Conduct 
by Shirley Letwin.
Macmillan, 303 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 333 31209 0
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The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel 
by Robin Gilmour.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £10, October 1981, 0 04 800005 1
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... number of the 47 novels to print. A new and complete edition of the letters (edited by N. John Hall) is about to take over from Bradford Booth’s handy but imperfect single volume. A new and definitive biography (by Hall again) is in hand. And there has been an astonishing number of monographs and hardbacked collections of essays on Trollope in the ...

Captain’s Log

John Torode, 21 April 1983

Back from the Brink: An Apocalyptic Experience 
by Michael Edwardes.
Collins, 301 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 00 217074 4
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... man from Thunderbirds intended to flog the place off and boot out most of the types with tubular steel desks and potted plants. ‘At first I felt able to trust only three people in a company of about 198,000,’ Edwardes writes: his secretary, his personal assistant and John McKay, the communications director, all of whom ...

Open House

Peter Campbell: Looking through other people’s windows, 6 October 2005

... of glass, cross-braced columns, glass balustrades, glass elevators, and a modicum of stainless steel and wood. The aesthetic of early Modern architectural fantasies (in particular Mies’s early skyscraper drawings) adumbrated such things, but real buildings did not achieve details on this scale. The smaller basic window unit in a classic curtain wall of ...

Yodelling in Heaven

Glen Baxter, 21 March 1991

... It seems that the likes of Edward Larocque Tinker, Robert P. Swierenga and Colonel John S. ‘Rip’ Ford have all made valuable contributions to our knowledge of the cowboy world, and Richard Slatta’s Cowboys of the Americas* sets out to illuminate the structures and processes behind the historical underpinning behind those who wear spurs ...

At the British Museum

Jeremy Harding: The African Galleries, 10 May 2001

... staged its superb Africa exhibition in 1995. In the book that marks the opening of the galleries, John Mack warns against ‘a monolithic reinvention of African culture and history’, preferring ‘to open up a new gateway into a collection that can be mined in very many ways to show something of African varieties of life and ...

Knives, Wounds, Bows

John Bayley, 2 April 1987

Randall Jarrell’s Letters 
edited by Mary Jarrell.
Faber, 540 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 571 13829 2
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The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore 
edited by Patricia Willis.
Faber, 723 pp., £30, January 1987, 0 571 14788 7
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... a year as Literary Editor for the Nation, doing so well at matching books and reviewers that John Crowe Ransom said he deserved a Pulitzer Prize for it. ‘Not since Poe had an American poet laid down the law in quite such a carnival spirit.’ In those days of talented amateurs the Eng Lit business was still the Gay Science. Used by Nietzsche, and as a ...

Fear and Loathing in Limehouse

Richard Holme, 3 September 1987

Campaign! The Selling of the Prime Minister 
by Rodney Tyler.
Grafton, 251 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 246 13277 9
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Battle for Power 
by Des Wilson.
Sphere, 326 pp., £4.99, July 1987, 0 7221 9074 3
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David Owen: Personally Speaking 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 297 79206 7
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... but impossible when the two Davids answered it differently. The veiled terms in which David Steel indicated that he would find it if not impossible then inconceivable that he could work with Mrs Thatcher were more than matched by the vehemence with which David Owen indicated that Neil Kinnock was beyond the pale. The disunity of the two-headed ...


Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks, 26 January 1995

... tweed.’ It seemed useful to throw that in, as various people in the room were armour-clad in the steel-blue weave that, so they tell me in Stornoway, is made specifically for the German professor market. ‘Whisky.’ Post-industrial man was making his point. Post-industrial man seems now to have cornered a nice little earner in applied pessimism. Blame it ...

Balls in Aquaria

Thomas Crow: Joseph Rykwert, 23 October 2008

The Judicious Eye: Architecture against the Other Arts 
by Joseph Rykwert.
Reaktion, 496 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 86189 358 1
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... murals to the Tate was an attempt to realise that ambition; to the same end, in 1964, he accepted John and Dominique de Menil’s commission to be the sole artist represented on the walls of a college chapel in Houston. The de Menils had already entrusted the design of the chapel to Johnson as part of his master plan for the University of St Thomas. The ...

Dangerously Insane

Deyan Sudjic: Léon Krier, 7 October 2010

The Architecture of Community 
by Léon Krier.
Island, 459 pp., £12.99, February 2010, 978 1 59726 579 9
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... by a visit to Norman Foster’s Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia, an intricate steel and aluminium aircraft hanger cum Greek temple. After Krier left Stirling, he started teaching at the Architectural Association, a private design school in London which during the 1970s served as a kind of unofficial opposition to the lacklustre world of ...


Philip Nobel: What makes things break, 21 February 2013

To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure 
by Henry Petroski.
Harvard, 410 pp., £19.95, March 2012, 978 0 674 06584 0
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... to work out – the exact path that a given load was taking through the network of assembled steel and stone. It was certain that the loads, dead and live, were being resisted. As they are today and will be tomorrow. Until they’re not. Another story Galdi liked to tell involved the design of a car park. He was once asked to determine the total load on ...

Operation Backfire

Francis Spufford: Britain’s space programme, 28 October 1999

... body went to the De Havilland aircraft company of Stevenage. They created a shining stainless steel fuselage, attractively ridged fore and aft: they had, after all, a reputation for beautiful aeroplanes to maintain, and if someone commissioned a nuclear missile from De Havilland, they would get one obeying the minimalist aesthetics of a Shaker ...


Michael Rogin, 20 August 1998

Celebrity Caricature in America 
by Wendy Wick Reaves.
Yale, 320 pp., £29.95, April 1998, 0 300 07463 8
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... Groucho’s moustache, glasses, cigar, wing-tipped head of hair, Chico’s sly open mouth and steel-wool hair identifying the ersatz Italian Jew. The three faces jump out at you from the sheet music for A Night at the Opera in Al Hirschfeld’s 1935 collage. There’s Al Freuh’s jaunty economical outline of, unmistakably, the showman George M. Cohan ...

Smoking big cigars

David Herd, 23 July 1992

by Fred Voss.
Bloodaxe, 180 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 1 85224 198 5
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... has benefited greatly from the attentions of the Hull-based magazine Bête Noire. In the past year John Osborne, the magazine’s editor, has published a hundred of the poems now included in Goodstone, and it is very much thanks to this exposure that Voss has secured a mainstream British publisher. In Osborne’s estimation Voss addresses factory ...

When Chicago Went Classical

Andrew Saint: A serial killer and the World’s Fair, 1 April 2004

Devil in the White City 
by Erik Larson.
Bantam, 496 pp., £7.99, April 2004, 0 553 81353 6
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... the fair, no longer could any city claiming to be civilised allow its skyscrapers to pile one raw, steel-framed storey on another. Instead, they had to have a stone-clad base, middle and top, in attenuated mimicry of the temple-front. No longer could Louis Sullivan, that intellectual loner among American architects, coax businessmen into lavishing his ...

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