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Theme-Park Prussia

David Blackbourn, 24 November 1994

Prussia: The Perversion of an Idea 
by Giles MacDonogh.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 456 pp., £20, July 1994, 1 85619 267 9
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... the Twenties and exiled under Hitler. Like many Anglo-Saxon writers of the period – Barrington Moore is a prime example – these scholars concluded that Nazism was the ultimate price paid for a stubborn élite that had selfishly obstructed political modernisation. This was not Vansittartism with footnotes, but a compelling interpretation that made it hard ...

A Whack of Pies

Matthew Bevis: Dear to Mew, 16 December 2021

This Rare Spirit: A Life of Charlotte Mew 
by Julia Copus.
Faber, 464 pp., £25, April 2021, 978 0 571 31353 2
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Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Julia Copus.
Faber, 176 pp., £14.99, October 2019, 978 0 571 31618 2
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... worthy of parody – not just recognisable, but recognised. When Thomas Hardy, John Masefield and Walter de la Mare secured her a civil list pension in 1923, Mew couldn’t decide whether it was more ‘like a dream or a nightmare’. Such diffidence also contained defiance. Her public readings were bracing affairs – ‘like having whiskey with one’s ...


Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... to Shakespeare, may be applied here, by one whose sole privilege is in a grateful admiration, to Walter Savage Landor. A reader would do well to trade in Room’s thumbnail-Landor (‘colourful’, ‘apparently ungovernable temper’, ‘irascible’) and ask instead please for what Room does not supply, a simple identification of the praiser of ...

Darwin among the Gentry

Adrian Desmond, 23 May 1985

The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Vol. I: 1821-1836 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith.
Cambridge, 702 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 521 25587 2
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The Survival of Charles Darwin: A Biography of a Man and an Idea 
by Ronald Clark.
Weidenfeld, 449 pp., £14.95, April 1985, 0 297 78377 7
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... for overturning the warfare images of de Beer and the older Darwinians. Younger scholars, taking Walter Cannon’s lead, are reconstructing the Christian framework of Darwinism. Marxist commentators like R.M. Young have raised the question of the constitutive economic and political components of Darwinism. And the new disciplines of anthropology and ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... are now the overwhelming majority) to understand the several different compunctions felt by Henry Moore about sketching people in London air-raid shelters. Facts, though, aren’t everything, as David Cecil argued early in 1941, in an article lamenting the propagandist pressures being brought to bear on artists. Prisoners of war were commended for ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... stick. As for the exclusion of all signs of Land Art, the failure to put a photograph or two of Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field into an exhibition of the American art of our time is equivalent to not putting an engraving or two after the Sistine Chapel into an exhibition of the Italian art of its time. The presence of an illustrated essay on Land Art in ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... of ‘“Abstract” Painting and Sculpture’ that brought their English contemporaries – Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ivon Hitchens – into a common fold with Kandinsky, Miró, Calder and Arp, all then working in Paris. At roughly the same moment two or three shows of abstract art opened in London galleries. The press, to whom the phenomenon was ...

Uncle Wiz

Stefan Collini: Auden, 16 July 2015

Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. V: 1963-68 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 561 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. VI: 1969-73 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 790 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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... greatest hits loosely tied together with obiter dicta. In writing about Edgar Johnson’s Life of Walter Scott, for instance, in the New Yorker in 1971, he assembled a sequence of favoured exhibits. ‘Idiosyncrasies are always endearing, and Scott was not without them’; examples follow. Then, further down the same page: ‘The working habits of a writer ...


Peter Campbell, 20 July 1995

Pompidou Centre, August 1995Show More
Constantin Brancusi: A Survey of His work 
by Sanda Miller.
Oxford, 256 pp., £45, April 1995, 0 19 817514 0
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Constantin Brancusi Photographe 
by Elizabeth Brown.
Assouline, 79 pp., frs 99, April 1995, 2 908228 23 8
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Constantin Brancusi: 1876-1957 
by Margit Rowell and Ann Temkin.
Gallimard, 408 pp., frs 390, April 1995, 2 85850 819 4
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... turn to, still is perhaps, if you wished to point to a sculpture of essences. It was (until Henry Moore) the cartoonist’s favoured notion of modern sculpture – in 1926 the New Yorker published a drawing by Helen Hokinson of two toqued ladies circling a Bird in Space, shaping themselves to its undulating line. Sculpture as essence, sculpture as pure ...

Weasel, Magpie, Crow

Mark Ford: Edward Thomas, 1 January 2009

Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems 
edited by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 335 pp., £12, June 2008, 978 1 85224 746 1
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... life of the last three years’, but also elicited the first of several fine appreciations from Walter de la Mare, who was not only aware of Eastaway’s real identity, but knew of his death just three weeks earlier. De la Mare described the poems as ‘final and isolated’, while also pinpointing ‘a kind of endlessness in the experience they tell ...

A Light-Blue Stocking

Helen Deutsch: Hester Lynch Salusbury Thrale Piozzi, 14 May 2009

Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’ 
by Ian McIntyre.
Constable, 450 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 1 84529 449 6
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... a century, she still arouses ardent admiration or intense dislike.’ His fellow Johnsonians Sir Walter Raleigh and A.E. Newton were also admirers (Newton, in an essay entitled ‘A Light-Blue Stocking’, wrote that Hester was the female writer he would most like to meet because, ever ‘charming and fluffy’ unlike the formidable and mannish George ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... promenading into print and creating a stir: Donna Tartt, David Leavitt, Mary Gaitskill, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Nancy Lemann, Susan Minot, Mary Robison, Anderson Ferrell – a cast of dozens. Many of those rookies trained at the literary dojo of the author, editor, creative writing teacher and guru-mentor-mindgamer Gordon Lish, who bore the dashing ...

A Lot to Be Said

Stefan Collini: Literary Criticism, 2 November 2017

Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History 
by Joseph North.
Harvard, 272 pp., £31.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 96773 1
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... Richards’s curious blend of quasi-behaviourist psychology with aspects of the philosophy of G.E. Moore hardly seems likely to recommend itself as a model for younger members of the MLA chafing against the limitations of the alleged ‘historicist paradigm’.In taking ‘the discipline’ as his focus North excludes all non-academic criticism, so despite his ...

Frameworks of Comparison

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 2016

... W. The second lesson was that – with some important exceptions like the work of Barrington Moore, Jr – the extension of political science to comparative politics tended to proceed, consciously or unconsciously, on the basis of the US example: one measured how far other countries were progressing in approximating America’s liberty, respect for ...


Anne Enright: Censorship in Ireland, 21 March 2013

... the cloud that hung over public discourse for so many years got into writers’ bones, too. Brian Moore was angry at the fact that his father, who was a well read man, had been ‘brainwashed into the notion that people such as Belloc and Chesterton were the greatest English writers of their day’. When he went to Dublin after the war everyone was talking ...

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