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History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... It is doubly true these days that the experts are the last people we can rely on. We rely on them because the compartmentalisation of knowledge in every field means that they are the only guides left. The last people, however, because they have retreated into their specialised enclaves, content to communicate with each other rather than a lay public ...

Someone Else

Peter Campbell, 17 April 1986

In the American West 
by Richard Avedon.
Thames and Hudson, 172 pp., £40, October 1985, 0 500 54110 8
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by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Thames and Hudson, 283 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 500 54109 4
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... The first picture in Richard Avedon’s folio is captioned ‘Alan Silvey, drifter, Route 93, Chloride, Nevada’. Such photographs were taken in the Dustbowl fifty years ago. But this is art, not documentation. We have learned a lot about photography since the Thirties, and now no one believes that truth is simple – ‘all photographs are accurate ...

Bad John

Alan Bennett: John Osborne, 3 December 1981

A Better Class of Person 
by John Osborne.
Faber, 285 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 571 11785 6
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... nice cups, listen to a record of Arthur Bliss’s Miracle in the Gorbals and the author, J. Wood Palmer (that initial says it all), suggests Osborne stay the night. At the same time, he cheerfully warns our hero that a bit of the other is quite likely to be on the cards. Exit the author of A Patriot for Me, hot and confused. But the scar, the writer, the ...


David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... for supper. Tuesday 8: Watched first episode of new series Twin Peaks. Who cares who killed Laura Palmer? Monotonous pseudo-surreality. Agent Cooper losing grip and my attention. Off to bed. Wednesday 9: Collapse of Geneva Peace talks. James Baker and Bush are determined to teach Saddam Hussein ‘a terrible lesson’. ...

Sweetly Terminal

Edward Pearce, 5 August 1993

by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 421 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 297 81352 8
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... the building. I might say that to Pinochet if I get to see him on Friday. We opened a bottle of Palmer ‘61. Bruce (Anderson) laid down the law on personalities and ratings. My own shares are down badly after that slip on the Channel Tunnel. She was not going to keep Paul (Channon) on. Bernard had the briefing to hand ... Bruce was dismissive about ...


Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... January, Yorkshire. Ring Mr Redhead, the coal-merchant at Ingleton.‘Hello, Mr Redhead, this is Alan Bennett. I’m wanting some coal.’‘Goodness me! I am consorting with higher beings!’Last time I rang Mr Redhead he said: ‘Well, I don’t care how celebrated you are, you’ll never be a patch on your dad.’ I remind him of this.‘That’s correct ...

What happened at Ayacucho

Ronan Bennett, 10 September 1992

Shining Path: The World’s Deadliest Revolutionary Force 
by Simon Strong.
HarperCollins, 274 pp., £16.99, June 1992, 0 00 215930 9
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Shining Path of Peru 
edited by David Scott Palmer.
Hurst, 271 pp., £12.95, June 1992, 1 85065 152 3
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Peru under Fire: Human Rights since the Return of Democracy 
compiled by Americas Watch.
Yale, 169 pp., £12.95, June 1992, 0 300 05237 5
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... instance of terror came in 1986, shortly after the election to the Presidency of the populist Alan Garcia of the centre-left APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana). Seeking to embarrass Garcia during a meeting of the Socialist International in Lima, Sendero prisoners staged co-ordinated riots in three jails in Lima and Callao. Garcia ordered the ...

Knobs, Dots and Grooves

Peter Campbell: Henry Moore, 8 August 2002

Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations 
edited by Alan Wilkinson.
Lund Humphries, 320 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 85331 847 6
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The Penguin Modern Painters: A History 
by Carol Peaker.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 124 pp., £15, August 2001, 0 9527401 4 1
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... doing very English things on which Edward Lear (his landscapes and his nonsense), Blake and Samuel Palmer were plausible influences. As well as exponents of this brand of applied art and romantic landscape, and of what now looks like late Post-Impressionism – Matthew Smith, Duncan Grant, Frances Hodgkins, Victor Pasmore – there were more eccentric talents ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... intermittent sexual partner seems to have been a bus driver in Weybridge first mentioned as Tom Palmer: ‘I think that is his name,’ Forster says, with wise caution, since he was actually called Arthur Barnet, and had a wife called Bess. (In his biography Furbank was obliged to call him Arthur B–– and her Madge; Wendy Moffat sets the record ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... to the half-opened leaves makes the trees bulky and seemingly as laden with blossom as in a Samuel Palmer. In the afternoon we go over to Austwick and walk down the muddy lane to the clapper bridge. There are sheep and lambs everywhere and the beck is very full, gliding wickedly between the stones before flattening out over the fields. It’s a perfect scene ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... William Walton, Dylan Thomas, Augustus John, Elisabeth Lutyens, John Lehmann, Louis Macneice, Alan Rawsthorne, Michael Ayrton. In the dark background are the diabolic Bernard Van Dieren and Philip Heseltine (‘Peter Warlock’), two men, composer-writers like himself, to whom Lambert maintained a fierce loyalty, before and after their deaths. Lambert’s ...

The English Disease

Hugh Pennington: Who’s to blame for BSE?, 14 December 2000

The BSE Inquiry 
by Lord Phillips et al.
Stationery Office, 5112 pp., £324.50, October 2000, 0 10 556986 0
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... and those who seek the big prizes. Of all the dramatis personae in the Phillips Inquiry, Alan Dickinson fits most convincingly into the first group. An intellectually rigorous man who puts science a long way ahead of office politics, he resembles the image that the public has of the brilliant, unworldly scientist. Only someone on another plane would ...

On a Chinese Mountain

Frank Kermode, 20 November 1986

The Royal Beasts 
by William Empson.
Chatto, 201 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3084 9
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Essays on Shakespeare 
by William Empson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 521 25577 5
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... share of the script. Two or three days before the first performance the actor playing Donne – Alan Dobie – walked off; he had done a lot of work but was perhaps sickened by certain contradictions in the script. The piece was hardly a success, and I am glad to think the Empson scholars are unlikely to trace that manuscript. The point is that the ...

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