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Didn’t they notice?

David Runciman: Offshore, 14 April 2011

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World 
by Nicholas Shaxson.
Bodley Head, 329 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84792 110 9
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Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class 
by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £11.50, March 2011, 978 1 4165 8870 2
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... reform-minded Saif found himself in after his father’s people had revolted as ‘the stuff of Shakespeare’, but that surely is letting everyone concerned off far too lightly. He may just be a smooth-talking thug, and many online observers have noted that he seems to model himself on the smooth-talking thug and would-be businessman Stringer Bell from The ...

Gestures of Embrace

Nicholas Penny, 27 October 1988

Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market 
by Svetlana Alpers.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 226 01514 9
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The Light of Early Italian Painting 
by Paul Hills.
Yale, 160 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03617 5
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Italian Paintings in the Robert Lehman Collection 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Metropolitan Museum and Princeton, 331 pp., £50, December 1987, 0 87099 479 4
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... book which perhaps presents a more historical Rembrandt, a Rembrandt located in the period between Shakespeare and the Impressionists. ‘Retirement to rule, and the delight mixed with horror in the discovery that the self alone is what one rules, is a familiar scenario from Prospero on his island to Monet in his garden. To these examples I would add Rembrandt ...

The Hooks of her Gipsy Dresses

Nicholas Penny, 1 September 1988

Picasso: Creator and Destroyer 
by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington.
Weidenfeld, 559 pp., £16, June 1988, 0 02 977935 9
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... designer’, Paul Johnson announces. Huffington insists that his appeal was ephemeral. ‘Unlike Shakespeare and Mozart ... Picasso was not a timeless genius.’ Picasso painted the brothel, the studio, the bull-ring, the circus – not the home, interestingly, and not the garden, but the view from a studio window and plants in the studio beside the nude ...

Frog’s Knickers

Colin Burrow: How to Swear, 26 September 2013

Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing 
by Melissa Mohr.
Oxford, 316 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 0 19 974267 7
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... captures the word’s range from ‘courteous’ through to ‘clever’ and ‘dextrous’) Nicholas in the Miller’s Tale, swears ‘by Goddes corpus’ (he is a learned fellow, so can swear in Langlish) when he is bursting with laughter because the foppish Absolon has been made to kiss Alison’s arse. When ...

Mastering the Art of Understating Your Wealth

Thomas Keymer: The Tonsons, 5 May 2016

The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... Joseph Addison, who airbrushed out Milton’s regicidal politics, or David Garrick, who turned Shakespeare from upstart crow into national bard; there were theoreticians of ‘original composition’ like Edward Young, who set a premium on the rejection of classical models; there were book-trade entrepreneurs whose huge poetry anthologies cashed in on the ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord, 24 June 2010

... in Group Sex Romp!’ – but one fact which makes the case worth pursuing is the involvement of Shakespeare’s former landlord Christopher Mountjoy. There is an obvious link: like the three goldworkers, Mountjoy was French. Also like them, he lived in the Cripplegate area (though his house was within the London city walls, on respectable Silver ...

Cutting it short

John Bayley, 3 November 1983

Alexander Pushkin: Complete Prose Fiction 
by Paul Debreczeny, translated by Walter Arndt.
Stanford, 545 pp., $38.50, May 1983, 0 8047 1142 9
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The Other Pushkin: A Study of Alexander Pushkin’s Prose Fiction 
by Paul Debreczeny.
Stanford, 386 pp., $32.50, May 1983, 0 8047 1143 7
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... is uttered: there is only the finality of openness. The theory of openness came to Pushkin from Shakespeare. In his admirable study – his ‘other Pushkin’ is the storyteller and novelist, not the poet – Paul Debreczeny quotes Pushkin’s comments on Shakespeare’s characterisation. They go hand in hand with ...

Bonking with Berenson

Nicholas Penny, 17 September 1987

Bernard Berenson. Vol. II: The Making of a Legend 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 680 pp., £19.95, May 1987, 0 674 06779 7
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The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen 
by Colin Simpson.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £15, April 1987, 9780370305851
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... life whatsoever he touches, the last reincarnation of Dionysus – Rabelais then, or perhaps Shakespeare, in some divine moment between creating Titania and Falstaff – had either of them been a painter, might well have painted the original of this portrait. The repetition of ‘Rabelais’, and the distinctive placing of ‘then’, the ...

What’s Coming

David Edgar: J.M. Synge, 22 March 2001

Fool of the Family: A Life of J.M. Synge 
by W.J. McCormack.
Weidenfeld, 499 pp., £25, March 2000, 0 297 64612 5
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Interpreting Synge: Essays from the Synge Summer School 1991-2000 
edited by Nicholas Grene.
Lilliput, 220 pp., £29.95, July 2000, 1 901866 47 5
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... completely. But actor-playwrights go back from Marber, Pinter, Osborne and Coward to Jonson and Shakespeare. And if you leave out the Irish (by birth or upbringing), you lose Congreve, Sheridan, Goldsmith, Wilde and Shaw. The source that gave London The Importance of Being Earnest and Arms and the Man a hundred years ago shows no signs of drying up: Irish ...

Geraniums and the River

Nicholas Penny, 20 March 1986

The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers 
by T.J. Clark.
Thames and Hudson, 338 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 23417 5
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Cellini 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Macmillan, 324 pp., £85, October 1985, 0 333 40485 8
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Alessandro Algardi 
by Jennifer Montagu.
Yale in association with the J. Paul Getty Trust, 487 pp., £65, May 1985, 0 300 03173 4
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... of higher education is a curious one. I would recommend Pope-Hennessy to consider the plays of Shakespeare or the paintings of Titian. This passage on Bandinelli arises out of a discussion of Cellini’s marble Ganymede. Pope-Hennessy reviews other 16th-century representations of the myth, including the famous finished drawing given by Michelangelo to ...

Arts Councillors

Brigid Brophy, 7 October 1982

The State and the Visual Arts 
by Nicholas Pearson.
Open University, 128 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 335 10109 7
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The Politics of the Arts Council 
by Robert Hutchison.
Sinclair Browne, 186 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 86300 016 9
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... an invitation to partake in the bourgeois bonanza by passing a publicly subsidised evening at a Shakespeare play or a Bartok opera would elicit bafflement, fear or derision. To be fair, the carapace of middle-class philistinism has softened a bit over the past twenty years, from hostility to the arts to indifference. Some of the improvement must, I ...

His Only Friend

Elaine Showalter, 8 September 1994

Hardy 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 886 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 7475 1037 7
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... restore Hardy to his rightful place as the greatest and most versatile English author after Shakespeare’. In this crusade to return Hardy to his throne, Seymour-Smith does not grapple, as we might have expected, with the literary competition – with Dickens, Eliot or Lawrence – but rather with the alleged critical assassins: Carl Weber (‘a ...

Seeing through Fuller

Nicholas Penny, 30 March 1989

Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... the iconoclasm in Ely Cathedral. ‘If we wish to understand how British culture could produce a Shakespeare, but not a Rembrandt, this is as close as we are likely to get.’ This suggests the disadvantages of a narrowly British education, for there was extensive iconoclasm in the Low Countries. Far more serious than this is his treatment of the avant-garde ...

Under the Sphinx

Alasdair Gray, 11 March 1993

Places of the Mind: The Life and Work of James Thomson (‘B.V.’) 
by Tom Leonard.
Cape, 407 pp., £25, February 1993, 9780224031189
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... broods on a mountain above the city with her feet among unemployed tools of trade and science. Shakespeare described a meaningless universe long before Thomson did, and in more memorable words, but his usual mouthpieces are half-crazed kings – important folk. Even Parolles – the exposed cheat and coward who says ‘Simply the things I am shall make me ...

The Cookson Story

Stefan Collini: The British Working Class, 13 December 2001

The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes 
by Jonathan Rose.
Yale, 534 pp., £29.95, June 2001, 0 300 08886 8
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... by reading, along with the major poets (Milton, Wordsworth, Tennyson), dramatists (none matched Shakespeare and Shaw in popularity), discursive prose writers (Carlyle and Ruskin are the constant companions of the earnest seeker after light), and the great unclassifiable, John Bunyan. The composition of this canon changed somewhat as new names established ...

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