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At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 3 April 2014

... with cows. Cotman’s Crowland hangs in watery mist. Like Turner in his detail of a massive Norman column from Holy Island suspended in a tiny sketch, Cotman could conjure up the poignant synecdoche of mighty fragments imbued as much with power as with loss. ‘Crowland Abbey’ by John Sell Cotman (1804). The exhibition largely ignores the fact ...

In Letchworth

Gillian Darley: Pevsner's Hertfordshire, 2 January 2020

... the transformation of the Roman shrine to St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, into a Norman church of handsome proportions, eventually dedicated in 1115. A succession of ambitious and not always scrupulous abbots and master masons enlarged and extended the abbey church over the following centuries. Eventually the infeasible building outgrew its ...

A Potent Joy

E.S. Turner, 4 July 1985

Hitler’s Rockets: The Story of the V-2s 
by Norman Longmate.
Hutchinson, 423 pp., £13.95, May 1985, 0 09 158820 0
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... General Pile’s plan is discussed by that alert and indefatigable chronicler of the Home Front, Norman Longmate, in Hitler’s Rockets, a sequel to The Doodlebugs. The General admitted that the difficulties were prodigious. For one thing, the rockets came in on erratic courses, with a target accuracy of plus or minus several miles. Existing radar sets were ...

News of the World’s End

Peter Jenkins, 15 May 1980

The Seventies 
by Christopher Booker.
Allen Lane, 349 pp., £7.50, February 1980, 0 7139 1329 0
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The Seventies 
by Norman Shrapnel.
Constable, 267 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 09 463280 4
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... playing games with decades is a relatively harmless activity, although best done (as by Norman Shrapnel) chiefly for amusement. An eccentric eye will always spot the eccentricities of the times, and Shrapnel possesses also a sharp pair of scissors for the newspaper cutting. Snip and you have, for example, the violent spirit of the time: Bath ...

Staying in power

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 7 January 1988

Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution: The Ending of the Socialist Era 
by Peter Jenkins.
Cape, 411 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 224 02516 3
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De-Industrialisation and Foreign Trade 
by R.E. Rowthorn and J.R. Wells.
Cambridge, 422 pp., £40, November 1988, 0 521 26360 3
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... In November, Norman Tebbit spoke to the Financial Times of a ‘long revolution’, lasting perhaps twenty years. Nevertheless, he said, ‘when you’ve run through health and education, and had another hard look at the structure of welfare benefits, then it’s difficult to see where the revolution could go on from there ...


Diarmaid MacCulloch: The Crusades, 24 September 2015

How to Plan a Crusade: Reason and Religious War in the High Middle Ages 
by Christopher Tyerman.
Allen Lane, 400 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 1 84614 477 6
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... the Nicene Creed, which in its English version contains the sentence ‘On the third day, [Jesus] rose again, according to the Scriptures.’ That sounds on a modern reading like a clear statement of unmediated supernatural revelation: a story of a supernatural event, described in sacred books, the Gospels of the New Testament. That is not what the text ...
The Name of the Rose 
by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 502 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 14089 6
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... such an emperor led to all sorts of extraordinary charismatic outbursts, familiar from the work of Norman Cohn. Fra Dolcino, one of the chiliasts Cohn mentions, figures prominently in Eco’s book. The story is supposed to be told by an old Benedictine monk, Adso of Melk, writing near the end of the 14th century. As a very young man he had become the scribe of ...


Michael Davie, 1 November 1984

Public Scandal, Odium and Contempt: An Investigation of Recent Libel Cases 
by David Hooper.
Secker, 230 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 436 20093 7
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... come to the boil. His face flushed, his back straightened, and his eyes widened. Then he rose to his feet, and finally he exploded. ‘If this article is published, young man I shall sue your newspaper for one hundred thousand pounds.’ A hundred thousand pounds seemed a lot of money in those days. Controlling my instinct to bolt, I must have ...

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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... give a multiple-perspective view of the exhibition. In his own Introduction, the show’s curator, Norman Rosenthal, who is the Royal Academy’s ‘secretary’ in charge of exhibitions, places Sensation in a very broad art historical context, making ambitious claims for the importance of the work and explaining his choice of title. Next, Richard Shone, an ...

I blame the British

Charles Glass: A report from Lake Dokan, 17 April 2003

... remain so bitter. The United States abandoned the South to its fate in 1991, while General Norman Schwarzkopf was only miles away. Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam’s Reinhard Heydrich, oversaw the ruin of the rebellious Shiites’ homes and the torture of their children. Unlike the Kurds, the southern Shiites have remained under Saddam’s rule since ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... muse in tow, or by themselves, they kinged it in smoky pubs. Hard to imagine the sly and brilliant Norman MacCaig whingeing on about his masculinity. Now, however, earlier feminist explorations are being rediscovered in the late stories of Margaret Oliphant and the novels of Willa Muir and Catherine Carswell. Young women writers are finding that they have a ...

Coldbath Fields

Simon Bradley: In Praise of Peabody, 21 June 2007

London in the 19th Century: ‘A Human Awful Wonder of God’ 
by Jerry White.
Cape, 624 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 224 06272 5
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... Bodley, were on the Victoria Embankment, where they were joined by New Scotland Yard, designed by Norman Shaw. Both buildings were masterpieces of the red-brick, post-Gothic styles generally grouped under the label Queen Anne, which White identifies as the predominant expression of up-to-date London after 1870. Meanwhile, the culture, morals, living standards ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Weiner Trilogy, 29 August 2013

... In 1969 Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York. He called for the city’s secession from the State of New York to become the 51st state; a ban on private cars in Manhattan; free public bicycles; devolution of powers over policing, education, housing and welfare to neighbourhood authorities; a casino on Coney Island or Roosevelt Island to generate tax revenue; and something called ‘Sweet Sundays’, one day each month on which all mechanical transportation, including lifts, would be banned ...

At the Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: Alice Neel, 19 August 2010

... about the Neel family. It includes photographs and clips in which she looks like the model for a Norman Rockwell grandmother: grey hair pulled back, plump, smiling, wearing glasses, and pretty. To a degree she was all that that implies. Her sons loved her and went on doing so, but there were things to put up with. Hers wasn’t a trouble-free life: mental ...

Making My Moan

Irina Dumitrescu: Medieval Smut, 7 May 2020

Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain 
by Carissa Harris.
Cornell, 306 pp., £36, December 2018, 978 1 5017 3040 5
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... literature, a degree of sophistication more easily found in an 11th-century monastery than at a Norman court. But the story reads like a fable; it’s full of the bears, dogs, horses and donkeys that populate Aesop’s tales. It’s possible that its dedicatee, Archbishop Robert, presided over a cathedral school at Rouen. More pertinently, after detailing ...

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