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Umpteens

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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... AdrianRoom has garnered umpteen dedications, and some of them are of interest, but what is the point of unrolling them alphabetically as something purporting to be a dictionary? Abbott opens, and Zangwill ...
5 March 1987
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 
edited by T.F. Hoad.
Oxford, 552 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780198611820
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Dictionary of Changes in Meaning 
by Adrian Room.
Routledge, 292 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7102 0341 1
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The Story of English 
by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert McNeil.
Faber/BBC, 384 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 563 20247 5
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Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. I: Introduction and A-C 
edited by Frederic Cassidy.
Harvard, 903 pp., $60, July 1985, 0 674 20511 1
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... quaint rustic lapse, not realising that the laugh may be on them, because in Elizabethan English child could bear the specific sense of ‘female infant’. This semantic shift is not mentioned in AdrianRoom’s Dictionary of Changes in Meaning, but it seems to be one of the few things that have escaped his notice. There are books that please you greatly by telling you what you know already, and ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian​ Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... to be like his father, the sheltered child who doesn’t need to know the time or even the season because James, the always reliable butler, deals with that, the illusion of a dedication to poetry. Adrian Wright, in this new biography, refers several times to Lehmann’s half-commitment (in spite of his energy) to the professional life he chose. Fieldhead was the magic enclosure to which, as an adult ...

Word-Processing

Stephen Wall

12 September 1991
Hidden in the Heart 
by Dan Jacobson.
Bloomsbury, 182 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 0981 6
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A Landing on the Sun 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 670 83932 9
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... truly lies. Hidden in the Heart isn’t a book for those who don’t believe in coups de foudre, or who think that once the erotic storm has passed everything will be as right as rain. The effect of Adrian Bested’s first meeting – or perhaps we had better say, in view of what happens on her living-room floor, his first encounter – with Diana is lasting, limiting and ultimately lethal. The wife of ...

Rhythm Method

Jenny Diski

22 September 1994
R.D. Laing: A Biography 
by Adrian​ Laing.
Peter Owen, 248 pp., £25, August 1994, 0 7206 0934 8
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... was criticised or scorned. She ignored me when I tried to initiate or join in conversations, but called me idle and useless when she found me reading. She objected to me spending too much time in my room, but if I walked into the living room she’d go silent and turn her back on me. She complained that I didn’t help out with the chores, but when, after that, I made a cup of tea after a meal, she ...
16 March 2000
Prince Charming: A Memoir 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 340 pp., £20, September 1999, 9780571197682
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... There’s a moment in this book – some time in the 1960s – when Christopher Logue and Adrian Mitchell have been asked to Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk to do a poetry reading. They ring the doorbell and a liveried footman tells them that they should go to the servants’ entrance. ‘I said, let ...

Dipper

Jason Harding: George Moore

21 September 2000
George Moore, 1852-1933 
by Adrian​ Frazier.
Yale, 604 pp., £29.95, May 2000, 0 300 08245 2
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... said, Moore’s social life and literary career continue to provide a fertile ground for enthusiasts; more often than not as source material for whimsical and mildly defamatory character sketches. Adrian Frazier’s painstakingly researched new biography of Moore marks a considerable advance on Joseph Hone’s respectful but pedestrian 1936 standard biography and Tony Gray’s lively but unscholarly ...

At the Prado

Adrian​ West: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal

22 February 2018
... early Japonist, a fervent admirer of Hokusai, and his last pieces attempt to fuse the flat, asymmetrical compositions of ukiyo-e with his vibrant palette. In The Painter’s Children in the Japanese Room, he alternates between scrupulous modelling in the bent legs and fanning arm of his daughter, and abstraction in the blotches of fabric and the doll dropped on the floor. Flesh emerges enigmatically ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Like a Prep School

10 January 1991
... The publisher’s launching party for David Cannadine’s Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy in the Moses Room of the House of Lords on 22 October was the third occasion on which I had been inside that curious place since taking my seat as a hereditary member of it. The Moses Room is evidently so called ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: ‘Hollywood Costume’

20 December 2012
... Dressmakers’ dummies are favourites with photographers of haunting; Eugène Atget, who rarely shows the inhabitants of a Parisian street or room, dwells on the smiling mannequins in shop windows, wearing aprons and housemaids’ caps, or on an effigy of madame in a string of pearls and a tilted trilby. Fixed expressions and rigid bodies give ...

Before Darwin

Harriet Ritvo

24 May 1990
The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London 
by Adrian​ Desmond.
Chicago, 503 pp., £27.95, March 1990, 0 226 14346 5
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... and former schoolchildren to a single, conveniently packaged occurrence: the invention of Evolution in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. It is, however, a date that does not figure in Adrian Desmond’s masterful account of the initial rise and decline of evolutionary theory in Britain. While Darwin was still afloat on the Beagle, transmutation, as it was usually called in the 1820s and ...
12 March 1992
Darwin 
by Adrian​ Desmond and James Moore.
Joseph, 808 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 7181 3430 3
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... for the price) is its detailed portrait of the independent gentleman scientist in almost the last epoch in which any individual could singlehandedly precipitate a major shift in human thought. Adrian Desmond and James Moore place Darwin above Marx and Freud. It is hard to think of successors to that trinity of lone rangers in an age when research is financed by foundations and carried on by teams ...

What architects said before they said ‘space’

Andrew Saint: The vocabulary of modern architecture

30 November 2000
Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture 
by Adrian​ Forty.
Thames and Hudson, 335 pp., £28, April 2000, 0 500 34172 9
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... be thought an internationally significant architect unless you not only built but wrote and globetrotted, discoursing as you went. The clamour among competing exegetes today has become deafening. Adrian Forty’s enterprise in Words and Buildings is to reap all this architectural verbiage and run it ruthlessly through the logic-mill. Having winnowed his crop, he sorts it into heaps of words, of ...

Momentous Conjuncture

Geoffrey Best: Dracula in Churchill’s toyshop

18 March 2004
Prof: The Life of Frederick Lindemann 
by Adrian​ Fort.
Cape, 374 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 224 06317 0
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... personalities permitted, and it may be argued that anyone who is thankful that Britain ended the Second World War on the winning side should count ‘the Prof’ as one of those who helped win it. Adrian Fort, in his good-natured but shrewd biography, comes down on that side of the argument, and so do I. But it was touch and go at times. The momentous conjuncture of Churchill with Lindemann did not ...
18 April 1996
Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian​ Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... Oblomov reproved his friends for comparing him with Other People. It is fatal to this kind of art to be standardised critically in terms of other people and their conventional problems. To assert, as Adrian Wright continually does, that familiar traumas and ‘terrible truths’ lie under it collapses art into convention, and indeed into banality. Shorn of the disguise that is itself, the allurements ...

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