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Brush for Hire

Eamon Duffy: Protestant painting, 19 August 2004

The Reformation of the Image 
by Joseph Leo Koerner.
Reaktion, 494 pp., £29.95, April 2004, 1 86189 172 5
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... serpent which Moses raised in the wilderness and which prefigures the cross, the Last Supper, the lamb of God, the pointing finger of John the Baptist, the resurrected Christ trampling the dragon or skeleton of sin and death. Many of them also depict the new church, in representations of Protestant celebration of the gospel sacraments of baptism and ...

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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... to give to all who read and enjoy her novels another book by Barbara Pym.’ There are, as Charles Lamb pointed out, books which are not books, biblia abiblia. Certainly A Very Private Eye is a long way from being a substitute for a Barbara Pym novel. Even its second or post-1950 half, where we come at last nearer to hearing something recognisable as ...

The big drops start

John Bayley, 7 December 1989

Coleridge: Early Visions 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 409 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 340 28335 1
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Wordsworth: Romantic Poetry and Revolution Politics 
by John Williams.
Manchester, 203 pp., £29.95, November 1989, 0 7190 3168 0
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Sara Coleridge, A Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays 
by Bradford Keyes Mudge.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04443 7
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... perpetually present – and never more so than in this almost incredibly vivid biography. Richard Holmes has a genius for the job, as he showed fifteen years ago in his biography of Shelley. In a sense, there is no need to bring Coleridge to life, but in this compelling narrative of those early years of the poet Holmes makes us seem actually to ...


Elisa Segrave: Is this what it’s like to be famous?, 11 May 1995

... my house, taken to Heathrow Airport and flown to Manchester. It’s presented by a couple called Richard and Judy. I’d better watch the programme tomorrow morning. For several nights now I’ve only had a few hours’ sleep. I’m hysterical. Is this what it’s like to be famous? No wonder Stephen Fry tried to escape across the Channel. The woman in ...

Nuclear Family

Rudolf Peierls, 19 June 1980

Disturbing the Universe 
by Freeman Dyson.
Harper and Row, 283 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 06 011108 9
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... This development was set in motion partly by new and sensitive experiments, notably that by Willis Lamb at Columbia University, which posed specific questions for the theory to answer. Responding to this challenge, Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman invented novel ways of tackling the problem. Some of the steps had already ...

Labour Blues

Ross McKibbin, 11 February 1993

Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Inside Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party 
by Richard Heffernan and Mike Marqusee.
Verso, 344 pp., £9.95, November 1992, 0 86091 351 1
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... reasonable argument that if you are going to lose you may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and stick to your principles. But Heffernan and Marqusee believe that the election could have been won and was lost largely because socialist principles were not stuck to. This is surely much more doubtful. Prima facie it is hard to see why people would vote ...

Virgin’s Tears

David Craig: On nature, 10 June 1999

Nature: Western Attitudes since Ancient Times 
by Peter Coates.
Polity, 246 pp., £45, September 1998, 0 7456 1655 0
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... the dreadful but quiet war of organic beings going on in the peaceful woods & smiling fields.’ Richard Dawkins wrote in River out of Eden that ‘the total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are ...

Never Seen a Violet

Dinah Birch: Victorian men and girls, 6 September 2001

Men in Wonderland: The Lost Girlhood of the Victorian Gentleman 
by Catherine Robson.
Princeton, 250 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 691 00422 6
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... factories and mines. This was an uneasiness that showed itself early in the century. When Charles Lamb thinks about childhood poverty in his ‘Popular Fallacies’ of 1826, it is of little girls that he writes: It makes the very heart bleed to overhear the casual street-talk between a poor woman and her little girl … It is not of toys, of nursery ...

That, there, is me

Alison Jolly: Primate behaviour, 20 September 2001

Tree of Origin: What Primate Behaviour Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution 
edited by Frans de Waal.
Harvard, 311 pp., £20.50, August 2001, 0 674 00460 4
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The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections by a Primatologist 
by Frans de Waal.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 7139 9569 6
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... The description of what we might call Pan prior, ‘the first chimpanzee’, is from an essay by Richard Wrangham in Tree of Origin. Like The Ape and the Sushi Master, Tree of Origin proposes that we (human beings) share with our near primate cousins some of the behaviour we like best in ourselves. Professional primate-watchers are ...

Mr and Mrs Hopper

Gail Levin: How the Tate gets Edward Hopper wrong, 24 June 2004

Edward Hopper 
edited by Sheena Wagstaff.
Tate Gallery, 256 pp., £29.99, May 2004, 1 85437 533 4
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... According to Nivison, he later assured them that ‘Toots [is] not a bad sort. Just a lamb in wolf’s clothing.’ In the record books she kept for her husband she noted that he described ‘Toots’ as ‘good Toots, alert but not obstreperous’. On seeing Second Storey Sunlight exhibited, a third critic, James Flexner, wrote to Hopper: I felt ...

When the Jaw-Jaw Failed

Miles Taylor: Company Rule in India, 3 March 2016

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon & Schuster, 784 pp., £12.99, January 2016, 978 1 4711 2946 9
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... Low’s minimal involvement in the action. In another chapter, mutton is literally dressed as lamb, when Low is embroiled in a mundane dispute about the quality of the meat supplied to his regiment. By the time Low gets a part – taking Baji Rao into custody – we are a quarter of the way through the book. Fortunately, Low soon meets two men who were ...

How to Perfume a Glove

Adam Smyth: Early Modern Cookbooks, 5 January 2017

Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen 
by Wendy Wall.
Pennsylvania, 328 pp., £53, November 2015, 978 0 8122 4758 9
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... entangled (Partridge’s text is addressed not only to ‘Good Huswives’ but also to Richard Wistow, assistant to the Company of Barbers and Surgeons). According to Galenic humoural theory, health was a matter of balancing the black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm that swam through the body, and food was a crucial means of establishing this ...
... to be talking about Dante, Shakespeare and Martin Amis.’ The text of the Time Out feature by Richard Rayner, one of the most impressive of all the discussions, is also a study in contrasts, containing a highly unillusioned portrait of Amis’s public personality alongside an intelligent and generous appraisal of his novels.The star fiction-reviewers were ...

Balloons and Counter-Balloons

Susan Eilenberg: ‘The Age of Wonder’, 7 January 2010

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science 
by Richard Holmes.
HarperPress, 380 pp., £9.99, September 2009, 978 0 00 714953 7
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... questions that they askd was, when it would thunder. Joseph Banks, The ‘Endeavour’ Journal Richard Holmes describes The Age of Wonder as a ‘relay race of scientific stories’ about the explosion of exploration and scientific achievement in England between two celebrated voyages, Captain James Cook’s first circumnavigation of the world in ...


John Bayley, 8 December 1988

The Letters of Max Beerbohm 1892-1956 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 244 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7195 4537 4
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The Faber Book of Letters 
edited by Felix Pryor.
Faber, 319 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 571 15269 4
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... their subjects. I have something in common with Joyce, and with Wilde, is the modest assumption of Richard Ellmann. Max was a bit like me, implies Cecil. That brings them, and us, all the closer to the subject. It can also lead to misunderstanding. Oddly enough, as Cecil’s admirable biography shows, both he and Max understood Oscar Wilde a good deal better ...

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