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Would we be any happier?

Thomas Jones: William Gibson, 20 February 2020

Agency 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 402 pp., £18.99, January, 978 0 241 23721 2
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... adviser wrote. The best he could do was to reach for a fictional comparison: ‘weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand “diviner” who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger’. ‘That girl’ is Cayce Pollard, the 32-year-old protagonist of Pattern Recognition (2003). She ...

Mercenary Knights and Princess Brides

Barbara Newman: Medieval Travel, 17 August 2017

The Medieval Invention of Travel 
by Shayne Aaron Legassie.
Chicago, 287 pp., £22, April 2017, 978 0 226 44662 2
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... owed a debt in turn to Marco Polo. Less famous, but no less fascinating, is the Franciscan William of Rubruck’s Itinerarium, written about forty years before Polo’s work. A reluctant messenger for Louis IX, later St Louis, William carried a letter from the French monarch to Kublai’s predecessor, Möngke ...

Everybody wants a Rembrandt

Nicholas Penny, 17 March 1983

The Rare Art Traditions 
by Joseph Alsop.
Thames and Hudson, 691 pp., £30, November 1982, 0 500 23359 4
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... have been ‘rather clamorously discovered’ in recent years, and the convenient invention of a brand name ‘Luminism’. In these discoveries, or rather rediscoveries, art historians are likely to work closely with dealers – both need new ‘fields’. However, the process is not quite as cynical as the promotion of ‘new Jackson Pollocks’: it ...

Globalisation before Globalisation

Philippe Marlière: The Paris Commune, 2 July 2015

Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune of 1871 
by John Merriman.
Yale, 324 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17452 6
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Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune 
by Kristin Ross.
Verso, 148 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 1 78168 839 7
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... equipped with 2000 cannons and 450,000 firearms. Thiers’s new government embodied a conservative brand of republicanism. He had been prime minister under Louis-Philippe’s July Monarchy in 1836, 1840 and 1848, and was later a fierce opponent of Napoleon III. He was far from being the kind of leader the Parisian militants wanted in power. Thiers had promised ...

Grunge Futurism

Julian Loose, 4 November 1993

Virtual Light 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 670 84081 5
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Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Post-Modern Science Fiction 
by Scott Bukatman.
Duke, 416 pp., £15.95, August 1993, 0 8223 1340 5
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... The future isn’t what it used to be. In one of William Gibson’s first published stories, ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, a photographer is assigned to capture examples of ‘futuristic’ American design from the Thirties, the kind of dream architecture that graced the covers of pulp science fiction magazines like Amazing Stories ...

Paraphernalia

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Tudor Spin, 19 November 2009

Selling the Tudor Monarchy: Authority and Image in 16th-Century England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 588 pp., £30, April 2009, 978 0 300 14098 9
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... only to have their achievement hijacked by a shrewd representative of Scandinavian carpet-baggers, William of Normandy. William’s Angevin successors then created a power of continent-wide importance, an Anglo-French polity that represented these islands’ best effort yet at European integration; but it had fallen apart ...

The Ultimate Novel

William Empson, 2 September 1982

Ulysses 
by Hugh Kenner.
Allen and Unwin, 182 pp., £10, March 1982, 0 00 480003 6
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A Starchamber Quiry: A James Joyce Centennial Volume 1882-1982 
edited by E.L. Epstein.
Methuen, 164 pp., £9.50, February 1982, 0 416 31560 7
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... such detail to start with but then became shy of it. Yeats had taken up dreams, as a proof of his brand of spiritualism; he was especially pleased at finding a dream which had drifted across country, occupying one person after another. (One must agree that such a dream could not be produced by the unconsciousness of each person separately.) So the ...

This Condensery

August Kleinzahler: In Praise of Lorine Niedecker, 5 June 2003

Collected Works 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
California, 471 pp., £29.95, May 2002, 0 520 22433 7
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Collected Studies in the Use of English 
by Kenneth Cox.
Agenda, 270 pp., £12, September 2001, 9780902400696
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New Goose 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
Listening Chamber, 98 pp., $10, January 2002, 0 9639321 6 0
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... edited by Louis Zukofsky I’d never have developed as a poet – I literally went to school to William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky and have had the good fortune to call the latter friend and mentor. Well – there was an influence (from transition and the surrealistes that has always seemed to want to ride right along with the ...

Blame it on Darwin

Jonathan Rée, 5 October 2017

Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker 
by A.N. Wilson.
John Murray, 438 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4447 9488 5
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... me’. He was aware that Wilberforce had presented a version of his arguments at a meeting in the brand-new Museum of Natural History in Oxford, and there were reports of an altercation with T.H. Huxley, who was a friend of Darwin’s and a zealous convert to the doctrine of mutability. There is considerable doubt as to what actually happened that day in ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill, 20 August 1981

Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... which equally prepared the way for the Industrial Revolution. This was largely brought about by William finance his wars against F near of the ‘rationalism and human he 1640s and 1 how the ‘revolutionary deca checke belief in witchcraft. We do not hear of Matthew Hopkins, the witchfinder-general (d. 1647), whose activities in the rational and humane ...

At Camden Arts Centre

Marina Warner: Kara Walker , 5 December 2013

... the plantation into the present, even though the cast of characters look unchangingly antebellum. (William Kentridge, the South African artist and filmmaker who also alludes to magic-lantern shows, has staged similarly ironic festivities and pageants – though with a more raucous sense of drama – as he too explores the changing tensions around race in ...

At BAMPFA

Julia Bryan-Wilson: Rosie Lee Tompkins, 17 December 2020

... to be relatively luxurious or relatively cheap. A clever all-denim piece that keeps intact the brand names emblazoned on jean pockets (Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache, Levi-Strauss) – a disorienting rebus-like surface – registers the differing prestige afforded to identical material. Synthetic calico is set next to a Mexican serape poncho which is placed ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites, 12 September 2013

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... being issued with a reminder of what was “plainly” the case.’ He is little interested in William Empson’s brand of close reading with its minute verbal explication. His critical writing often deploys extended quotation as if the best writing proves itself. But he had a virtue that would be rare among leading ...

Suffering Souls

Marina Warner: Ghosts in the Middle Ages, 18 June 1998

Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society 
by Jean-Claude Schmitt, translated by Theresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 290 pp., £26.50, May 1998, 0 226 73887 6
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... reins froze his hand. Fifteen years after his experience, the scars remained, the authenticating brand from the other world: Walchelin showed them to the chronicler. He watched several thousand of these dead go and recognised many he knew: murderers, wantons, renegades, but also many he was surprised to find in this tormented parade, for they had seemed to ...

Behind the Veil

Richard Altick, 6 March 1986

The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England 1850-1914 
by Janet Oppenheim.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 521 26505 3
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... examination. Among its officers and members were Tennyson, Gladstone, Ruskin, Lewis Carroll, William James, Henri Bergson, and scores of other persons with unimpeachable intellectual and social credentials. In the 18th century, the foundations of received Christian faith, undermined by deism, had been shored up for some time by the physico-theology of ...

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