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Gillian Darley: James Stirling, 7 September 2000

Big Jim: The Life and Work of James Stirling 
by Mark Girouard.
Pimlico, 323 pp., £14, March 2000, 9780712664226
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... joint practice. The creation of James Stirling, world-class architect, the man who as much as Philip Johnson or Arata Isosaki invented the ‘signature building’ and who travelled the rewarding circuit of international big money prizes, lectures and juries from the 1960s onwards, is a very contemporary tale of celebrity and image, fame and ...

I don’t want your revolution

Marco Roth: Jonathan Lethem, 20 February 2014

Dissident Gardens 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 366 pp., £18.99, January 2014, 978 0 224 09395 8
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... arty B-movies, or B art-movies, at the same time that Lethem was writing Amnesia Moon, a homage to Philip K. Dick, and Gun, with Occasional Music, a homage to Chandler and Hammett; graffiti and other outsider art started appearing in museums and auction houses; and DJ-worship replaced the mid-century cult of the conductor. It’s possible, in other words, to ...

What would Plato have done?

Christopher Krebs: Plutarch’s Lives, 29 June 2017

The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives 
by Plutarch, translated by Pamela Mensch.
Norton, 393 pp., £28, March 2017, 978 0 393 29282 4
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... Chaeronea, a town in Boeotia in central Greece, was the site of a showdown in 338 bc between Philip II of Macedon and a coalition led by Athens and Thebes, Boeotia’s biggest city. Philip won the day. Three years later, Thebes was sacked by Philip’s son Alexander, and under Roman ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... And the plays brought in a lot of money. ‘I had achieved what I wanted . . . Bernard Partridge drew a cartoon for Punch in which William Shakespeare was shown biting his fingers in front of the boards that advertised my plays.’ As a wit-about-town, Maugham had various dalliances with women. His lust for chaps was a fairly open secret in his circle – he ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... opportunity was offered me – to do some research work for a soc[iology] instructor named Philip Rieff, who is working on, among other things, a reader in the sociology of politics + religion. At last the chance to really involve myself in one area with competent guidance. 12/2/49 Last night, or was it early this (Sat.) morning? – I am engaged to ...

Well, was he?

A.N. Wilson, 20 June 1996

Bernard Shaw: The Ascent of the Superman 
by Sally Peters.
Yale, 328 pp., £18.95, April 1996, 0 300 06097 1
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... later that evening. He cynically and cheerfully admitted later that he had ‘skedaddled and never drew rein’ at the first hint of fisticuffs. He quoted with appreciation R.B. Cunninghame Graham, who said that Shaw was ‘the first man to run away from Trafalgar Square on Bloody Sunday’. (Cunninghame Graham went to prison as a result of the riot.) This is ...

Using the Heavens

John Bossy: Renaissance Astrology, 1 June 2000

Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer 
by Anthony Grafton.
Harvard, 284 pp., £21.95, February 2000, 0 674 09555 3
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... and church. Not Queen Elizabeth, who would surely have giggled if anyone had suggested it; not Philip II, who would have been shocked; not even, perhaps, the Emperor Rudolph II, who sat in his high palace in Prague communing with the stars and tried to get John Dee to put him in touch with the heavenly orders. True, there had been Pope Paul III, a ...

The Best of Betjeman

John Bayley, 18 December 1980

John Betjeman’s Collected Poems 
compiled by the Earl of Birkenhead.
Murray, 427 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3632 4
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Church Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 7195 3797 5
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... joys and sorrows go straight back to the early Romantics. He is not a bit like Hardy and Philip Larkin, who are often associated with him. No comparison could be more misleading. Their idiom is one of deprivation, of that pleasure in things going wrong, or never having been right, which has become so much a part of English culture and ...

The Labour of Being at Ease

John Mullan, 28 October 1999

Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times: Volume I 
by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, edited by Philip Ayres.
Oxford, 331 pp., £65, March 1999, 0 19 812376 0
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Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times: Volume II 
by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, edited by Philip Ayres.
Oxford, 397 pp., £65, March 1999, 0 19 812377 9
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... to his new edition of the writings that Shaftesbury collected under the title of Characteristicks, Philip Ayres tells us this, and shows that Shaftesbury was interested enough in these enthusiasts to read Lacy’s prophetic writings, and to quote several times (without acknowledgment) from Lacy’s A Cry from the Desart, his translation of a French account of ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... account of the country house as lost arcadia. Lawrence and Baldwin both feature as guests of Philip Sassoon, although Baldwin – he was anxious to make the point – was not present when Sassoon was entertaining ‘ladies with painted toenails’. All the while, beside the new fast set, the old slow set kept up tradition, moving at a stately pace with ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... quest for proof on the ‘official record’ informs their attempts to smoke out commies. Baldwin drew the bureau’s attention because he was in the habit of telling the press that he was working on a book about the FBI and the South that would drop ‘like an atomic bomb’. Baldwin never wrote the book. He also told interviewers that getting Hoover out of ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian, 7 July 1988

The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... and even in conclusion – Mia Rodrigues-Salgado, for example, feels that the enterprise increased Philip II’s reputation, particularly in the north – but they all of course agree in trying to place the disastrous voyage in its context. Yet it is exceedingly difficult to know just where the borders of the context lie, and indeed where any historical ...

The Men from God Knows Where

Maurice Keen: The Hundred Years War, 27 April 2000

The Hundred Years War. Vol. II: Trial by Fire 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 680 pp., £30, August 1999, 0 571 13896 9
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... Hundred Years War was never just a confrontation between the kingdoms of England and France. It drew into its orbit the great quarrel between England and Scotland that Edward I’s northern ambitions had generated, the civil wars of succession in the Duchy of Brittany (1341-64) and the Kingdom of Castile (1365-89), the long-running disputes between the ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... San Francisco on 7 October 1955. Michael McClure who also read that night along with Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Philip Lamantia, describes the poem’s impact in Scratching the Beat Surface (1982): I hadn’t seen Allen in a few weeks and I had not heard Howl – it was new to me. Allen began in a small and intensely ...

The Pleasures of Poverty

Barbara Everett, 6 September 1984

A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Letters and Diaries 
by Barbara Pym, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £12.95, July 1984, 0 333 34995 4
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... unpublished until 1977. In that year, two contributors to a Times Literary Supplement survey, Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil, spoke so highly of her work as to effect a change in this situation. Three more novels by Barbara Pym were published, this time by Macmillan, who finally added to them in 1982 – two years after the writer had herself died ...

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