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Arty Party

Hal Foster: From the ‘society of spectacle’ to the ‘society of extras’, 4 December 2003

Relational Aesthetics 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Matthew Copeland.
Les Presses du réel, 128 pp., €9, March 2002, 2 84066 060 1
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Postproduction 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Jeanine Herman.
Lukas and Sternberg, 88 pp., $19, October 2001, 0 9711193 0 9
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Interviews: Volume I 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Charta, 967 pp., $60, June 2003, 9788881584314
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... platforms, some dotted with information about a famous person from the past (Erasmus Darwin or Robert McNamara), as though a documentary script were in the making or a history seminar had just finished. Or, finally, a kiosk cobbled together from plastic and plywood, and filled, like a homemade study-shrine, with images and texts devoted to a particular ...

It’s slippery in here

Christopher Tayler: ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’, 21 September 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 
created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.
Showtime/Sky Atlantic, 18 episodes, 21 May 2017 to 3 September 2017
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... At first glance the new series was just as disconnected from public concerns. James Comey and Robert Mueller might be on people’s minds, but on Twin Peaks the salient FBI boss is still Gordon Cole, a hearing-impaired, gee-whizzily cryptic character played by Lynch himself. We first caught up with him in a conference ...

London Review of Crooks

Robert Marshall-Andrews, 15 July 1982

Rough Justice: The Extraordinary Truth about Charles Richardson and his Gang 
by Robert Parker.
Fontana, 352 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 00 636354 7
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Web of Corruption: The Story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith 
by Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor.
Granada, 282 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 246 10915 7
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Inside Boss: South Africa’s Secret Police 
by Gordon Winter.
Penguin, 640 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780140057515
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Crime in Wartime: A Social History of Crime in World War II 
by Edward Smithies.
Allen and Unwin, 219 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 04 364020 6
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... The first of these books, Rough Justice, is 350 pages of documentary journalism on the rise and fall of the notorious Richardson gang, which operated a reign of terror, extortion and fraud in parts of London from the late 1950s to the famous torture trial of 1967. These operations were restored to topicality after Charles Richardson’s escape from prison in May 1980 and his subsequent letter to the Times ...

Out of His Furrow

William Poole: Milton, 8 February 2007

Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity 
by Gordon Teskey.
Harvard, 214 pp., £21.95, March 2006, 0 674 01069 8
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... Sprinklings of pseudo-Hebrew here and there added to the mystique. When the former army chaplain Robert Bacon visited the ‘Shakers’ God’, John Robins, in London in around 1650, he found Robins sitting on a bed before his disciples speaking in tongues: ‘But the words he spake I did not understand, only they seemed to me to be a mixture of Latin, and ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... co-authored in 1968. Mr John Costello has produced Mask of Treachery, dealing with Blunt, while Mr Robert Cecil has written a biography of his former Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s study of the Soviet agents who have spied for – or defected ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated. Thomas, as Robert Frost reminded him, ‘knew the worth of [his] bays’. However, it is unwise to die in war when a hegemonic project like Modernism is getting under way. Frost’s reputation survived because, feigning simplicity, he appealed to the people, to ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour, 5 April 2001

Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... in Euroscepticism from Philip Gould’s focus groups and daily readings of the Sun and the Mail, Gordon Brown’s press secretary, Charlie Whelan, and his economic adviser, Ed Balls, sent the Times a fax hinting at a major policy change while Whelan tried to persuade the Sun to go with the headline ‘Brown Saves Pound’. Whelan, operating from his mobile ...

Being splendid

Stephen Wall, 3 March 1988

Civil to Strangers 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 333 39128 4
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The Pleasure of Miss Pym 
by Charles Burkhart.
Texas, 120 pp., $17.95, July 1987, 0 292 76496 0
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The World of Barbara Pym 
by Janice Rossen.
Macmillan, 193 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 333 42372 0
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The Life and Work of Barbara Pym 
edited by Dale Salwak.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 333 40831 4
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... as badly hurt as she was by the subsequent break-up of her wartime affair with the radio writer Gordon Glover. Robert Liddell, in his contribution to Dale Salwak’s volume, objects to too tragic a view of ‘Barbara’s hobby (generally enjoyable) of “unrequited love” ’, and as a friend of hers since 1932 his view ...

To hell with the lyrics

Peter Campbell, 25 March 1993

The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell 
edited by Stephanie Terenzio.
Oxford, 325 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 19 507700 8
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... In her essay ‘Good Boys and Dead Girls’ Mary Gordon identifies the ‘American innocent’. She tracks him – young, restless and bad news for women – through the novels of Faulkner, Dreiser and Updike. ‘All that matters is that his heart must be pure, and he must move forward to the quest which for so many male American writers is the most crucial one: the search for the unfettered self ...

Crop Masters

Daniel Aaron, 19 January 1989

Tobacco Culture: The Mentality of the Great Tidewater Planters on the Eve of the Revolution 
by T.H. Breen.
Princeton, 216 pp., $9.95, February 1988, 0 691 04729 4
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... American revolutionists with a schema. The pervasive influence of Country publicists like Thomas Gordon, John Trenchard, Bolingbroke and Benjamin Hoadly on colonial pamphleteers is now taken for granted. American historians have tested Bailyn’s thesis by extending and particularising it. This is what T.H. Breen has done in Tobacco Culture. The impact of ...

Save the feet for later

Edmund Gordon: Leonora Carrington, 2 November 2017

The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington 
by Joanna Moorhead.
Virago, 304 pp., £20, April 2017, 978 0 349 00877 6
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‘The Debutante’ and Other Stories 
by Leonora Carrington.
Silver Press, 153 pp., £9.99, April 2017, 978 0 9957162 0 9
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Down Below 
by Leonora Carrington.
NYRB, 69 pp., £8.99, May 2017, 978 1 68137 060 6
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Leonora Carrington and the International Avant-Garde 
edited by Jonathan Eburne and Catriona McAra.
Manchester, 275 pp., £75, January 2017, 978 1 78499 436 5
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... It was through Varo that Carrington met the Hungarian photojournalist Imre Weisz, who had managed Robert Capa’s studio in Paris. They married in 1946, and the first of their two sons was born the same year. Motherhood didn’t hurt Carrington’s productivity – she worked, she said, with ‘the baby in one hand, and her paintbrush in the other’ – but ...

Other Selves

John Bayley, 29 October 1987

How I Grew 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 297 79170 2
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Myself and Michael Innes 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 575 04104 8
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... truthful communication itself forfeits interest. The effect is oddly similar to the last poems of Robert Lowell, as if writing had become a habit quite lacking in relish, intensity or surprise. This strange American blight may, in both cases, be a deliberate effect: but if so, it is a dangerous tactic to adopt in a book of recollection. The reader is more ...

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini, 13 August 2020

... and 17th-century literature, and that his most important early mentor had been the eccentric D.J. Gordon, who specialised in the relations between literature and spectacle in the Stuart period. So the venue and the occasion for this early exercise in learned reviewing made sense. I also knew that at this stage in his life Frank had been particularly impressed ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Pompeo Batoni, 10 April 2008

... not impossible, and if you were a military man your uniform coat would announce the fact. Colonel Gordon is dressed in full Highland costume: kilt, plaid and stockings all in the Huntly tartan, perhaps specially woven in silk to suit the Roman climate. ‘Portrait of Sir Humphry Morice’, (1761-62) Portraits like these form a substantial part of the ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd, 10 August 2000

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... revenge on Edmund Wilson; the witches of Eastwick (lacking only their Hardwick) have vented about Robert Lowell. To interview all the exes of Philip Rahv would be an undertaking from which the most committed Boswellian might recoil. (Though it’s fascinating to speculate what might have happened if Rahv and Mary McCarthy had made a go of it; a marriage ...

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