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Patrick Parrinder, 25 October 1990

Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination 
by Rosalind Williams.
MIT, 265 pp., £22.50, March 1990, 9780262231459
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The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne 
by Andrew Martin.
Oxford, 222 pp., £27.50, May 1990, 0 19 815798 3
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... conceptions of modern science and technology, and hence part of this history. In the 17th century, Francis Bacon pioneered the notions of knowledge as an underground seam or deposit, and of research as an assault on ‘nature’s womb’ in order to uncover its secrets. In Bacon’s New Atlantis, the sages of Solomon’s House boast of the artificial caves, up ...

Travels with My Mom

Terry Castle: In Santa Fe, 16 August 2007

... been his into her creative lair – nine feet square of dense, paint-flecked, Crazy Glue squalor. Francis Bacon’s famously naff South Ken studio (now re-created in a Dublin museum) is a neatnik’s in comparison. Tracey Emin’s Bed? Pristine and fresh-smelling. The mess is still intact; my mother stopped using the room ages ago but never cleared it ...

The World Took Sides

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Martin Luther, 11 August 2016

Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Centre of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe – and Started the Protestant Reformation 
by Andrew Pettegree.
Penguin, 383 pp., £21.99, October 2015, 978 1 59420 496 8
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Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet 
by Lyndal Roper.
Bodley Head, 577 pp., £30, June 2016, 978 1 84792 004 1
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Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer 
by Scott H. Hendrix.
Yale, 341 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 300 16669 9
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... 1517. The main actor belonged to a religious Order known as the Hermits of Saint Augustine, Martin Luther by name, though he also tried out a hybrid Greek/Latin polish for his surname by dressing it up as ‘Eleutherius’, ‘the freed man’. This kind of personal rebranding was a humanist affectation then common among university lecturers; some of ...

Too Much for One Man

Thomas Penn: Kaiser Karl V, 23 January 2020

Emperor: A New Life of Charles V 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 760 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 300 19652 8
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... across the European stage, trailing clouds of martial glory. But whereas Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France inherited the kingdoms they had been born in, Charles knew next to nothing about his new dominions. Arriving in Spain for the first time in 1517 to take up the crowns of Castile and Aragon, the teenage king was ignorant of the country, the ...

At Driscoll Babcock

Christopher Benfey: The Shock of the Old, 16 June 2016

... John Driscoll, who happened to be on the premises, told me that ‘the real star of the show’ is Francis Guy’s Harpers Ferry, Virginia, painted in 1808, fifty years before John Brown’s famous raid on the federal armory, which was meant to inspire a slave insurrection across the South. Guy, who follows the classical conventions of 17th-century French ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... an exhibitions officer at the Arts Council, he helped install a retrospective of Kenneth and Mary Martin. In 1976, after a stint as director of the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford (where he worked on graphics with Hollis’s student Peter Miller), he took over the helm of the Whitechapel, and rehired Hollis two years later. Mark ...

At Auckland Castle

Nicola Jennings: Francisco de Zurbarán, 4 June 2020

... of them they had already been identified as Zurbarán’s work. In France, by contrast, his Saint Francis hung unidentified in a Lyon convent and was recognised only after the Peninsular War, when Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soults arrived home with 18 looted Zurbaráns and the artist’s reputation soared.Zurbarán was born in the remote region of Extremadura and ...


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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... from the New York Times to Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing. She describes shadowing Francis Ford Coppola as an extra in The Godfather Part II. ‘What’s the matter with you, anyway?’ she asks, when he borrows her Brownie camera to take her picture and instead photographs mostly sky. ‘Don’t you know a thing about cameras?’ Her ...


Hal Foster: Sigmar Polke, 19 June 2014

... and he passed it on to subsequent artists who were also wayward performers, such as the German Martin Kippenberger and the American Mike Kelley. Appropriately, the Polke retrospective currently on view at MoMA is called Alibis (it will open at Tate Modern in October and move to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne early next year). ‘Moderne ...


A.N. Wilson, 14 May 1992

Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... Martin Stannard resisted the temptation to call this story Decline and Fall, but it would not have been a bad title. On one level, the last 27 years of Evelyn Waugh’s life make melancholy reading. The book begins with Waugh’s sometimes bizarre career in the Army; it chronicles his prodigious commercial success as the author of Brideshead Revisited ...

Good dinners pass away, so do tyrants and toothache

Terry Eagleton: Death, Desire and so forth, 16 April 1998

Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture 
by Jonathan Dollimore.
Allen Lane, 380 pp., £25, April 1998, 0 7139 9125 9
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... to divest yourself for the sake of others, you will be trapped like William Golding’s Pincher Martin in a hell which is the inability to die. By the end of Golding’s novel, Martin has dwindled to a pair of huge, lobster-like claws tenaciously protecting his dark centre of selfhood from the ‘black lightning’ of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Innocents’, 9 January 2014

The Innocents 
directed by Jack Clayton.
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... daughter’s first outing. The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton and wonderfully shot by Freddie Francis, can now be seen in a restored print at the BFI. It is also very well evoked in a new BFI Classics book by Christopher Frayling. The film is a little heavy in portents, swirling curtains, flickering candles, bumps in the dark, and the ghost of Peter Quint ...


Julian Barnes: A Portrait of Lucian Freud, 5 December 2013

Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud 
by Martin Gayford.
Thames and Hudson, 248 pp., £12.95, March 2012, 978 0 500 28971 6
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Breakfast with Lucian: A Portrait of the Artist 
by Geordie Greig.
Cape, 260 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 224 09685 0
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... who used to read aloud to his girlfriends from Flaubert’s letters, and portrayed the writer Francis Wyndham with a battered but recognisable copy of the first volume of the Belknap edition in his fist, would have agreed. But having ‘no biography’ is impossible: the nearest you can get is to have no published biography in your own ...

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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... of, more as contributors to a loose art ‘scene’ with a complex pattern of interaction. Then Martin Maloney gives an insider view, writing as a painter whose own work is represented in the show, as well as a prolific art journalist (Art Forum, Flash Art etc). Brooks Adams is an American an journalist based in New York, who follows up with an outsider’s ...

Loving Dracula

Michael Wood, 25 February 1993

Bram Stoker’s Dracula 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
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Suckers: Bleeding London Dry 
by Anne Billson.
Pan, 315 pp., £4.99, January 1993, 0 330 32806 9
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... bats and wolves and the night, he carries the imagery of rabies and syphilis into the age of Aids. Francis Ford Coppola’s lavish, stylish, sometimes silly, always engaging movie also includes the lines quoted above, but we hardly notice them because we’ve just been treated to a much more spectacular encounter between worlds. The year is ...

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