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Hollow-Headed Angels

Nicholas Penny, 4 January 1996

Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators 1930-1945 
edited by David Britt.
Hayward Gallery, 360 pp., £19.95, October 1995, 1 85332 148 6
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... in Kolbe as in Maillol; they will dispassionately compare Speer’s classicism in Berlin and John Russell Pope’s in Washington; they will be interested in the ideological content of art, but only incidentally in the cards the artists carried. They will be as aware of the limitations of the avant garde as of those of official artists. And they will ...

Blame it on his social life

Nicholas Penny: Kenneth Clark, 5 January 2017

Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and ‘Civilisation’ 
by James Stourton.
William Collins, 478 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 00 749341 8
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... description of a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1970 when he walked down John Russell Pope’s majestic central hall, the last great classical building in the Western world, with the galleries on either side ‘crammed full of people who stood up and roared at me, waving their hands and stretching them out towards me’. He was ...

Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell, 6 December 1984

The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, one of the original ‘amorous sons of Wadham’, perhaps took part in writing an obscene farce called Sodom. Dr Walker drily observes that ‘to assert this twenty years ago would have damaged Rochester’s reputation as much as to deny it today.’ We are certainly more able than many of our predecessors to accept that this poetry was of some importance for its age ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... heard before, of how Wheldon and the BBC went to inordinate lengths to block the publication of John Bowen’s novel The Birdcage because it featured the presenter of a television arts programme who in appearance and manner (‘a kind of scoutmaster of culture presenting units from his troop to the viewers for 45 minutes every Friday night’) seemed to be ...

Teacher

John Passmore, 4 September 1986

Australian Realism: The Systematic Philosophy of John Anderson 
by A.J. Baker.
Cambridge, 150 pp., £20, April 1986, 0 521 32051 8
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... Opposite the title-page of Mr Baker’s skeletonised but substantially accurate account of John Anderson’s philosophy there stand two epigraphs. They are both from Heraclitus or, more precisely, from Burnet’s translation of that enigmatic philosopher. The first of them is ontological: ‘The world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever shall be an ever-living Fire, with measures kindling and measures going out ...

A Fue Respectable Friends

John Lloyd: British brass bands, 5 April 2001

The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History 
by Trevor Herbert.
Oxford, 381 pp., £48, June 2000, 0 19 816698 2
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... the bands benefited from more resources and official attention; they also declined in number. Dave Russell, in a good and careful essay on ‘Cultural Change and the Band Movement’, says that very few new subscription bands were formed after 1914; instead, works bands were formed or, from the 1950s, school and youth centre bands. In other words, the bands ...

Draining the Whig bathwater

Conrad Russell, 10 June 1993

The Personal Rule of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 983 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 300 05688 5
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... less so. Indeed, there was no parallel in English history since the French invasion against King John in 1216. Before explaining why people reacted in this way, we should consider who reacted in this way. The answer, clearly, is the group around the Twelve Peers: Saye, Warwick, Pym, Hampden, St John, Cotworthy and their ...

Fiction and the Poverty of Theory

John Sutherland, 20 November 1986

News from Nowhere 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 403 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 241 11920 0
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O-Zone 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 469 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 241 11948 0
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Ticket to Ride 
by Dennis Potter.
Faber, 202 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780571145232
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... Brechtian theory of erst fressen, Caute has also written money-spinning soft-porn thrillers as ‘John Salisbury’.) Like his previous attempt at mixing 100 per cent proof world history with the small beer of English fiction (The Decline of the West, a title to rank with Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part II), News from Nowhere is a crashing ...

Green Films

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 April 1982

Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage 
by Stanley Cavell.
Harvard, 283 pp., £12.25, December 1981, 0 674 73905 1
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... to get married.’ It is The Awful Truth. Grant sits down at a table with Bellamy and Rosalind Russell in 1940 and says again: ‘So you two are going to get married.’ It is His Girl Friday. Asked what the Bellamy character in the film, the man who plans to marry his former wife, looks like, Grant replies: ‘Like that fellow in the movies. What’s his ...

Minimalism

David Pears, 19 February 1987

A.J. Ayer 
by John Foster.
Routledge, 307 pp., £12, October 1985, 9780710206022
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Voltaire 
by A.J. Ayer.
Weidenfeld, 182 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78880 9
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Fact, Science and Morality: Essays on A.J. Ayer’s ‘Language, Truth and Logic’ 
edited by Graham Macdonald and Crispin Wright.
Blackwell, 314 pp., £27.50, January 1987, 0 631 14555 9
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... another young man’s book, is its greatest precursor, and the theme was carried on by Mill and Russell. In Russell’s work it was associated with a theory of meaning, and Ayer’s contribution was to weave into this pattern the philosophy of language which the Vienna Circle had extracted from Wittgenstein’s ...

Lennon’s Confessions

Russell Davies, 5 February 1981

... and things like that. I like first-person music.’ We didn’t enjoy hearing this in 1970, when John Lennon said it in the course of Jann Wenner’s ‘Rolling Stone’ Interviews. It was bad enough that Lennon had left the beloved Beatles to work with a Japanese-born conceptual artist, living in beds and bags and producing minimalist packages of ...

Self-Extinction

Russell Davies, 18 June 1981

Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... as anything else about him. (The idea was already becoming familiar in the performing world, where John Barrymore, notably, had played out the end of his career surrounded by idiot-boards as an openly bog-eyed parody of his younger self.) It was in the Fifties, then, that America’s taste-makers finally stopped resisting the attractions of dissolution and ...

How to Serve Coffee

Rory Stewart: Aleppan Manners, 16 February 2017

Aleppo Observed: Ottoman Syria through the Eyes of Two Scottish Doctors, Alexander and Patrick Russell 
by Maurits H. van den Boogert.
Arcadian Library, 254 pp., £120, September 2015, 978 0 19 958856 5
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... they ‘present an unpleasing exterior’. The ‘two Scottish doctors’, Alexander and Patrick Russell, explained in 1792 that it was particularly the height of the walls which made the streets appear so ‘gloomy’: ‘little better than alleys winding among the melancholy walls of nunneries’. The people of Aleppo, on the other hand, were consistently ...

Deity with Fairy Wings

Emily Witt: Girlhood, 8 September 2016

The Girls 
by Emma Cline.
Chatto, 355 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 78474 044 3
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... California instead of Southern California and calling the charismatic psychopath at their centre Russell instead of Charles. The cult’s celebrity patron is called Mitch instead of Dennis Wilson, and the group lives rent-free on a ranch where they help raise llamas instead of renting out horses, as the Manson family did at Spahn Ranch. Cline also removes ...

Bosh

E.S. Turner: Kiss me, Eric, 17 April 2003

Dean Farrar and ‘Eric’: A Study of ‘Eric, or Little by Little’, together with the Complete Text of the Book 
by Ian Anstruther.
Haggerston, 237 pp., £19.95, January 2003, 1 869812 19 0
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... more recent Erics – Ambler, Sykes, Shipton, Heffer – oozed shame when signing their names. John Betjeman, in Summoned by Bells, agonises over Farrar’s ‘mawkish’ and ‘oh-so-melodious’ book through which runs a schoolboy sense of impending ‘Doom! Shivering Doom!’ The doom which Betjeman and his contemporaries at Marlborough dreaded was no ...

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