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An Awfully Big Adventure 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 193 pp., £10.95, December 1989, 0 7156 2204 8
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The Thirteen-Gun Salute 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins, 319 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 00 223460 2
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Family Sins, and Other Stories 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 251 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 370 31374 7
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... and what has happened, are revealed in ways which only very retentive readers will twig; a second reading is even more satisfactory than the first. It deepens one’s respect for the drawing of Stella – a human catalyst who wills nothing evil, but whose character and history have shaped her to cause trouble. Through her, the psychology and mechanics of ...

Poor Devils

Peter France, 2 December 1982

The Literary Underground of the Old Regime 
by Robert Darnton.
Harvard, 258 pp., £11.55, November 1982, 0 674 53656 8
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... conjure up voices which had been silent for two centuries, to resurrect what he calls (modifying Peter Laslett’s famous phrase) ‘a world that we had lost’. And how? Not by ‘contemplating philosophical treatises’, but by ‘grubbing in archives’: in particular, the rich store of papers from a Swiss publishing house, the Société Typographique de ...

Gold out of Straw

Peter Mandler: Samuel Smiles, 19 February 2004

Self-Help: With Illustrations of Character, Conduct and Perseverance 
by Samuel Smiles, edited by Peter Sinnema.
Oxford, 387 pp., £7.99, October 2002, 0 19 280176 7
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... of Böttgher and Palissy make clear, Smiles’s heroes are not all Englishmen (though they are, as Peter Sinnema says, almost all male and European). Napoleon I does not always come out poorly from the frequent comparisons with the Duke of Wellington, and Smiles pointedly praises la carrière ouverte aux talents characteristic of the French but not of the ...

At the Barbican

Peter Campbell: Martin Parr, 4 April 2002

Martin Parr 
by Val Williams.
Phaidon, 354 pp., £45, February 2002, 0 7148 3990 6
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... I was reading in a coffee shop a couple of months ago when a young man asked if he might take my photograph. I said that I would rather he didn’t – which was churlish, because I have taken pictures of strangers myself. I was rude, I guess, because the more wonderfully apt and sensitive his picture of a grumpy, grey-haired man reading might be the less I wanted that man to be me ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Howard Hodgkin, 6 July 2006

... moment can take on the colour of a mood as much as the colour of the garden you remember. But if a reading is not expected, why the titles? The encouragement they give to Pateresque excursions into narrative commentaries is, perhaps, one reason Hodgkin has had more perceptive and appreciative attention from writers than from art critics. In a book of pieces ...

Buchan’s Pathological Vitality

T.J. Binyon, 18 December 1980

The Best Short Stories of John Buchan 
edited by David Daniell.
Joseph, 224 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7181 1906 1
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... ranked with Sapper, Dornford Yates and similar figures; and to assert that he is not only worth reading (which the general public has never forgotten), but also worth reading seriously. In her fine biography of Buchan Janet Adam Smith earlier argued the case for the author: Dr Daniell develops her points and has little ...

Concini and the Squirrel

Peter Campbell, 24 May 1990

by John Allen Paulos.
135 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 670 83008 9
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The Culture of Print 
edited by Roger Chartier.
351 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0575 3
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Symbols of Ideal Life 
by Maren Stange.
Cambridge, 190 pp., £25, June 1989, 0 521 32441 6
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The Lines of My Hand 
by Robert Frank.
£30, September 1989, 0 436 16256 3
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... of its accepted classics. Bibliographers have been led by such considerations to add habits of reading, and the messages the cost, format, design and illustration of texts may have carried, to their traditional concerns – which centre on the emendation of corrupt versions, and the study of how those corruptions come about. The essays in The Culture of ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: The art of protest, 8 February 2007

... the source of the family’s descent is signalled by a dice box and a betting book)? Or, after reading a newspaper account of a fishing boat lost at sea, produce an equivalent of Frank Bramley’s picture of a young woman collapsed on the floor of a low room lit by the grey light of A Hopeless Dawn? These are images you can enjoy, or make jokes about, but ...

At the Science Museum

Peter Campbell: The Rolls-Royce Merlin and other engines, 3 February 2005

... engines imply plots. Playing Poirot, questioning the suspect object and doing a little background reading, lets you see the ways their environment shaped them, and how it is possible to deduce from shape and position the way parts work together. I have been to this part of the museum more than once to look at a particular engine: the Rolls-Royce ...

New Looks, New Newspapers

Peter Campbell, 2 June 1988

The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 
by Jon Wozencroft.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 500 27496 7
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The Making of the ‘Independent’ 
by Michael Crozier.
Gordon Fraser, 128 pp., £8.95, May 1988, 0 86092 107 7
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... ends of the spectrum of style, but in both cases graphic design allows scanning (as against reading), and allows those buyers who read very little of the continuous text to feel that they have had their money’s worth from the paper. The ingredients of the graphic style which Brody gave The Face included ‘abstract’ Bauhaus-like alphabets, headlines ...

Half-Resurrection Man

Keith Hopkins, 19 June 1997

Paul: A Critical Life 
by Jerome Murphy O’Connor.
Oxford, 416 pp., £35, June 1996, 0 19 826749 5
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Paul: The Mind of the Apostle 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 274 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 1 85619 542 2
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... to the second century, or earlier. It describes a contest in magic which took place between St Peter and St Paul, at Rome. The miracles which Paul performed were so impressive that some Christians even wondered whether he was Christ, come again. Paul told them that he would come flying through the sky and arrive at the seventh hour at the city gate. At the ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... Sir Peter Hall is a man of Notes. He is a director of plays who has become Director of the National Theatre. The skills of play directors are not those of performers (like his predecessor at the National, Lord Olivier). Play directors pride themselves on their ability to give what they call Notes. This sort of Note (scarcely recognised by dictionaries) is not the sort manual workers make, in notebooks or on notepaper: it is mouth work ...

At the New Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: Isa Genzken, 30 April 2009

... organised in collaboration with the Stepney Trade Union Council. In the gallery alongside a new reading room there is currently a display of letters, books, catalogues, paintings and drawings relating to the Whitechapel Boys: the group of Jewish painters and writers (they included David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg) who met in ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: British Art and the French Romantics, 20 February 2003

... By a happy chance I am reading The Count of Monte Cristo. It acclimatises one to the dramas and Oriental dreams which figure in the exhibition Constable to Delacroix: British Art and the French Romantics (at Tate Britain until 11 May). It makes it easier to relish the dramatics of Horace Vernet’s Mazeppa, to see that there is more than nice observation of weather in Paul Huet’s picture of a lonely rider, Storm at the End of the Day ...

At the British Library

Peter Campbell: The lie of the land, 20 September 2001

... chosen to show how maps enable action and enter into argument; they are there to be read. Grim reading some of them make, too. The 1941 map on which the ethnic composition of Slovakia is set out, town by town, guided Jew and Gypsy-hunters to the places where potential concentration camp victims were thickest. Made with similar efficiency, earlier on, is ...

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