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Lost Boys

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 June 1995

... at the top of their power. They stood for pain. The stone on my other side was in memory of ‘Frank Cyril Nicholson, who died January 13th 1897, aged 14 years’. It was a cool day, very quiet at times, then some horn or deep engine on the dual carriageway would break in. Frank Cyril died after 14 years; died, it ...

Pious Girls and Swearing Fathers

Patricia Craig, 1 June 1989

English Children and their Magazines 1751-1945 
by Kirsten Drotner.
Yale, 272 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 300 04010 5
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Frank Richards: The Chap behind the Chums 
by Mary Cadogan.
Viking, 258 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 670 81946 8
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A History of Children’s Book Illustration 
by Joyce Irene Whalley and Tessa Rose Chester.
Murray/Victoria and Albert Museum, 268 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 7195 4584 6
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Manchester Polytechnic Library of Children’s Books 1840-1939: ‘From Morality to Adventure’ 
by W.H. Shercliff.
Bracken Books/Studio Editions, 203 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 901276 18 9
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Children’s Modern First Editions: Their Value to Collectors 
by Joseph Connolly.
Macdonald, 336 pp., £17.95, October 1988, 0 356 15741 5
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... the retarding effect of low-grade literature. On the credit side, we have the testimony of Joseph Connolly, book-dealer and author of Children’s Modern First Editions, who graduated from the Beano to the Times. The Beano (first issued in 1938) is among the papers noted by Kirsten Drotner but not examined in detail, possibly because characters along ...


Frank Kermode, 14 May 1992

The Gonne-Yeats Letters, 1893-1938 
edited by Anna MacBride White and A. Norman Jeffares.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 09 174000 2
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... waved the Transvaal flag in front of Trinity College. She left it to the males to burn effigies of Joseph Chamberlain, who, to the fury of all nationalists, had just been given an honorary degree by Trinity: but she wasn’t altogether surprised when they failed to burn even one. She should have seen to it herself. She did ensure, more or less ...

Under the Loincloth

Frank Kermode, 3 April 1997

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Chicago, 417 pp., £23.95, January 1997, 0 226 77187 3
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... a tradition going back to the Song of Songs (and here signifying their mystical marriage), while Joseph looks understandingly on. Steinberg (who throws in a catalogue of what he calls ‘chin-chucks’ stretching from antiquity to Proust and Nabokov) will have nothing to do with the notion that these images simply reflect the sort of thing that went on in ...

Our Muddy Vesture

Frank Kermode: Pacino’s Merchant of Venice, 6 January 2005

William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ 
directed by Michael Radford.
December 2004
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... cannot understand why he is so sad but the film all too insistently offers a complete explanation. Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio shows us why the Christians in this play are, on the whole, such an unlikeable lot. Lynn Collins as Portia looks as good as she ought to, and redeems some tiresome moments in the early scenes by being startlingly good and grave in the ...

Warp Speed

Frank Close: Gravitational Waves, 7 February 2008

Travelling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves 
by Daniel Kennefick.
Princeton, 319 pp., £19.95, May 2007, 978 0 691 11727 0
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... is correct, although it remains the case that they haven’t been directly observed. In 1969, Joseph Weber announced that he had detected gravitational waves, but with an intensity far greater than the theory would have expected. This persuaded other experimentalists to build detectors similar to his, but his results were never replicated and have been ...


Frank Kermode: Wordsworth at Sea, 6 February 2003

The Wreck of the ‘Abergavenny’ 
by Alethea Hayter.
Macmillan, 223 pp., £14.99, September 2002, 0 333 98917 1
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... of this one’s father, had originally got the young man into the Company service. A cousin, Joseph Wordsworth, was third mate on the Abergavenny, following his cousin the captain on the way to the top. One did not become a captain in the Company’s service simply by individual merit; this was not exactly a career open to the talents. John had also ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... therefore buggers for a sequinned frock. The most brazen hijack of Wilde’s life is performed by Frank Harris’s biography, a generous, boastful book whose shameless exaggerations have the uncanny ring of authenticity. (True to the disingenuous spirit of the memoir, Robinson’s welcome reprint has ‘Now a major film starring Stephen Fry’ splashed across ...


James Paradis, 18 June 1981

Sir Joseph Banks 
by Charles Lyte.
David and Charles, 248 pp., £10.50, October 1980, 0 7153 7884 8
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The Heyday of Natural History: 1820-1870 
by Lynn Barber.
Cape, 320 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 9780224014489
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A Vision of Eden 
by Marianne North.
Webb and Bower, 240 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 906671 18 3
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... the specialist, wrote for circles of experts. The decline in reputation of amateurs such as Sir Joseph Banks and James Audubon, both of whom had counted themselves as naturalists, was largely the result of their failure to contribute to the growing body of specialist literature. Coleridge, a careful student of the Linnaean tradition, objected that the ...

Dead Cats and Fungi

Robert Taubman, 20 March 1980

by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 255 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 340 24565 4
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The Mirror of the Giant 
by Penelope Shuttle.
Marion Boyars, 165 pp., £5.95, January 1980, 0 7145 2679 7
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Another Part of the Wood 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 7156 1458 4
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Wild Oats 
by Jacob Epstein.
Alison Press/Secker, 267 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 436 14826 9
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In the Secret State 
by Robert McCrum.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 241 10322 3
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... another explicit sexual encounter of predictably little literary effect. The author tries to be frank and decent and open about it, but can’t, because the girlie magazines have got there first and muddied that pool. There were phrases elsewhere that I liked without comprehending – ‘ “It is the harvest of Orion!” cries Beth, and her shadow falls ...

At Tate Britain

Inigo Thomas: Frederick Swynnerton, 21 January 2016

... Isle of Man, in 1858. His father was a sculptor and stonemason: so were two of his four brothers, Joseph and Mark. Robert became a jeweller, while Charles was a churchman, who moved to India where he became a chaplain in Delhi as well as a folklorist. The stories contained in his book Romantic Tales from the Punjab, were, he said, of the ‘highest possible ...

Lutfi’s bar will not be opening again

Basil Davidson, 7 January 1993

Fitzroy Maclean 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 413 pp., £25, October 1992, 9780719549717
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Franz Joseph 
by Jean-Paul Bled, translated by Teresa Bridgeman.
Blackwell, 359 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 631 16778 1
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... War because it raised the hackles of Pan-Serbian nationalism. A welcome new biography of Francis Joseph by the French historian, Professor Jean-Paul Bled, comes as a useful and erudite reminder of all that, for the outcome of the annexation now has its painful parallel in the outcome of Europe’s hasty recognitions of breakaway fragments of what is no ...

To Live like a Bird

Mark Rudman, 1 June 2000

Approximately Nowhere 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 77 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 571 19524 5
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... Michael Hofmann’s poetry is a lament for a lost world. Some years ago, in an article on Frank O’Hara, he talked about New York no longer being the thrilling place it had been in the days when O’Hara and the gang could go downtown to the Blue Note and hear John Coltrane or uptown to hear Billie Holiday. This kind of nostalgia can be tiresome: better for each generation to invent a new idea of the new – to enlarge the temple ...

At the Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: Alice Neel, 19 August 2010

... and bulging around her as old flesh does. Jeremy Lewison in the catalogue calls it a ‘brutally frank self assessment’, ‘the obverse of a pin-up girl’. But brutal is the wrong word. It is certainly truthful about how things look, selectively truthful in the things it chooses to emphasise or simplify, aggressive perhaps, in the way of people who ...


Lucie Elven: LA Non-Confidential, 17 June 2021

I Used to Be Charming 
by Eve Babitz.
NYRB, 448 pp., £14.99, January 2020, 978 1 68137 379 9
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... people having fun without you.’When she graduated from Hollywood High in 1961, Babitz wrote to Joseph Heller: ‘Dear Joseph Heller, I am a stacked 18-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. I am also a writer. Eve Babitz.’ That year her family travelled to Europe so that her father, Sol, a contract violinist for ...

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