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Thatcher’s Artists

Peter Wollen, 30 October 1997

Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection 
by Norman Rosenthal.
Thames and Hudson, 222 pp., £29.95, September 1997, 0 500 23752 2
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... effect a stealthy return to Hirst’s pre-occupation with the body and with disease and death. Keith Coventry’s white on white tribute to Malevich conceals portraits, painted in slightly different shades of white, representing Sir Norman Reid, (former) director of the Tate, and the Queen, to whom he is allegedly explaining modern art. At the other end of ...

Leaf, Button, Dog

Susan Eilenberg: The Sins of Hester Thrale, 1 November 2001

According to Queeney 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Little, Brown, 242 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 316 85867 6
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... but Cecelia’s theory, reported years later by Queeney, by then happily married to Baron Keith of Stonehaven Marischal, Admiral of the North Sea Fleet, was that ‘it was from original and persevering dislike and real hatred of us all, from her hatred of our father, and certainly her general conduct to the whole family strongly savours of that ...

Britain’s Thermonuclear Bluff

Norman Dombey and Eric Grove, 22 October 1992

... the fission explosion. Since X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation they travel at the speed of light and thus can in principle implode and ignite the thermonuclear fuel before the shock wave from the primary stage blows it apart. This process is known as radiation implosion; and according to normal US nomenclature, a ‘hydrogen’ or ...


Ian Penman: Elvis looks for meaning, 25 September 2014

Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died 
by Dylan Jones.
Duckworth, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7156 4856 8
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Elvis Presley: A Southern Life 
by Joel Williamson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 19 986317 4
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... he got a sound it would take the Rolling Stones until 1972’s Exile on Main Street to secure. And Keith Richards says he still can’t work out some of Moore’s blistering riffs and runs.) Listening to these itchy little songs in your front room, sixty years on, you miss the most vital spark in the detonation: Elvis’s own vivid, mercurial presence. His ...

Greasers and Rah-Rahs

John Lahr: Bruce Springsteen’s Memoir, 2 February 2017

Born to Run 
by Bruce Springsteen.
Simon and Schuster, 510 pp., £20, September 2016, 978 1 4711 5779 0
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... as an antidote to angst. When skating on thin ice, Springsteen discovered, his only safety lay in speed; touring lent the momentum and adulation took the place of love. ‘The show provided me the illusion of intimacy without risk or consequences.’ Before Scialfa whipped him into shape as a partner and parent, his early unexamined behaviour was a page from ...

More a Voyeur

Colm Tóibín: Elton Took Me Hostage, 19 December 2019

by Elton John.
Macmillan, 376 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 5098 5331 1
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... known in London called John Reid. They decided that, once home, they should move in together. The speed with which this was decided became part of a pattern. ‘Later, when I was really famous, this became a terrible problem both for me and the object of my affection. I’d insist they give up their own lives in order to follow me around on tour, with ...

Interview with a Dead Man

Jeremy Harding: Witches of Impalahoek, 20 June 2013

Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa 
by Isak Niehaus.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £60, December 2012, 978 1 107 01628 6
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... their rivals. The result is extraordinary and often depressing. ‘Unexpected disasters,’ Keith Thomas wrote in Religion and the Decline of Magic, ‘the sudden death of a child, the loss of a cow, the failure of some routine household task – all could, in default of any more obvious explanation, be attributed to the influence of some malevolent ...


Perry Anderson, 8 November 1990

Storia Notturna: Una Decifrazione del Sabba 
by Carlo Ginzburg.
Einaudi, 320 pp., lire 45,000, August 1989, 9788806115098
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... into the beliefs of those persecuted as witches – Trevor-Roper in the first instance, but also Keith Thomas, charged with reductionism and functionalism. Against this tradition Ginzburg sets what he sees as the superior programme of Lévi-Strauss’s Structuralist treatment of myths as symbolic systems, whose hidden meaning is generated by unconscious ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 20 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... so did his burial on the island of Skyros, where Achilles lived and Theseus was killed; so did the speed with which his death followed on the publication of his five war sonnets, his most famous and least typical poems, which had just been praised by the dean of St Paul’s for their ‘pure and elevated patriotism’. Churchill’s threnody to an already ...


Barbara Everett, 2 April 1987

... outside Oxford. And when, in the last movement of the book, Hubert’s father takes him by high-speed viaducted inter-continental railroad to Rome, we stare (like other tourists) at a completely re-architected re-sculptured St Peter’s and Vatican. Simultaneously, satire accompanies romance; the personalities of our own world flicker in and out in roles ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... granted legal aid. And when the time at last came for trial, they were not driven at breakneck speed through the streets of London to the Old Bailey in an armoured police van – motorcycle outriders alongside, helicopters above and police marksmen on the roof of the court – but invited to attend by letter. I would be the last to say this is a bad ...

Germs: A Memoir

Richard Wollheim: Childhood, 15 April 2004

... found it necessary to have a chauffeur, and then there was a succession of chauffeurs. One, named Keith, had a spidery handwriting in which he wrote out the weekly accounts of petrol and the hours he had worked, and my father, misreading his name, called him ‘Heath’. It was a sign of the times, either of the prevalence of respect, or of the scarcity of ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... it possible for donations from different sources to be banked together and then distributed at speed to the people affected. ‘At Aurora, we got the money out in sixty days,’ he said, ‘but there was only $5 million (and 13 dead and 100 physically injured). I drafted a protocol and I held a town hall meeting in Aurora. “Now, look,” I said, “this ...

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