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At the British Museum

Anne Wagner: Käthe Kollwitz, 2 January 2020

... work concerns death and poverty, oppression and rebellion. Are those subjects taboo?Kollwitz was born Käthe Schmidt in Königsberg in 1867. As a young woman she studied art, in part because her father thought her too homely to attract a husband. In 1886 she lived for a while in Berlin, where she married Karl Kollwitz, a doctor for the Tailors’ Union and a ...

At the Foundling Museum

Joanne O’Leary: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’, 2 April 2020

... Henrietta Maria in Yellow (1636), for which she posed while six months pregnant with Princess Anne, he gives the queen a languorous aspect by painting her from below, exaggerating her height: compare this to Daniël Mytens’s portraits, in which her weak chin, large nose and limp curls are undisguised. No wonder Charles I gave Mytens the boot when Van ...

La Bolaing

Patrick Collinson: Anne Boleyn, 18 November 2004

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn 
by Eric Ives.
Blackwell, 458 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 631 23479 9
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... differently, we may well ask whether we are abroad if we visit the England of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. In September 1528, Henry wrote to Anne: ‘No more to you at this present, mine own darling, for lack of time, but that I would you were in mine arms or I in yours, for I think it long since I kissed you.’ This ...

Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn, 24 April 2008

Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... opera, Jane Boleyn is more often known as Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, sister-in-law to Anne the queen. There are some lives we read backwards, from bloody exit to obscure entrance, and Jane’s is one of them. She was beheaded in 1542, with Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard. She was one of Catherine’s ladies, and for reasons which ...

Models and Props

Nicholas Penny: Caravaggio in the Studio, 10 August 2000

by Catherine Puglisi.
Phaidon, 448 pp., £24.95, May 2000, 0 7148 3966 3
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Caravaggio’s Secrets 
by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit.
MIT, 118 pp., £18.50, September 1998, 0 262 02449 7
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by Peter Robb.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7475 4599 5
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Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History 
by Mieke Bal.
Chicago, 305 pp., £28.50, October 1999, 0 226 03556 5
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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio 
by Atle Naess, translated by Anne Born.
Owen, 159 pp., £14.95, June 2000, 0 7206 1082 6
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Caravaggio: A Life 
by Helen Langdon.
Pimlico, 447 pp., £15, November 1999, 9780712665827
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... tighter than ever – and the painters of altarpieces in the diocese of Milan where Caravaggio was born were instructed and their works inspected with special rigour – a new freedom began to be possible in art intended for the collector’s gallery, where originality was not ‘ferociously punished or condemned to silence’, as Robb would have us believe ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... sense than Sillitoe of the wool-gathering, homespun poetry of the masculine adventurer, the free-born Englishman for whom (in one of Cullen’s striking anachronisms) this is still a ‘cosy and exciting country to live in’. Sillitoe has a nice ear for English place-names: there are high jinks at Doggerel Bank, Back Enderby, Peppercorn Cottage and Upper ...

‘Monocled Baron Charged’

David Coward: Vichy’s commissioner for Jewish affairs, 8 June 2006

Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland 
by Carmen Callil.
Cape, 614 pp., £20, April 2006, 0 224 07810 0
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... familiar. Between 1963 and 1970, she had been treated three times a week by a psychoanalyst named Anne Darquier, to whom she had become very close, and who had probably committed suicide. Were they related? They were, and for more than three decades Callil, conscious of a need to discharge a debt as both a patient and a friend, pursued Darquier, Vichy’s ...

The Dining-Room Table

Lucie Elven: Anne Serre sheds her armour, 21 April 2022

The Fool and Other Moral Tales 
by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson.
Les Fugitives, 228 pp., £10.99, June 2021, 978 1 8380141 5 5
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The Beginners 
by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson.
New Directions, 128 pp., $14.95, July 2021, 978 0 8112 3031 5
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... Anne Serre​ was ten when her mother died in 1971. She claims to have no memory of the preceding years. ‘My father sank into a depression,’ she told the White Review in 2020, ‘and my sisters and I … tried with all our might – like all children in this type of situation, I think – to protect him, resuscitate him ...

La Grande Sartreuse

Douglas Johnson, 15 October 1981

Simone de Beauvoir and the Limits of Commitment 
by Anne Whitmarsh.
Cambridge, 212 pp., £14.50, June 1981, 9780521236690
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Un Fils Rebelle 
by Olivier Todd.
Grasset, 293 pp., £5.50, June 1981, 2 246 21231 6
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The Intellectual Resistance in Europe 
by James Wilkinson.
Harvard, 358 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 45775 7
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... There will be many who will find it significant that Anne Whitmarsh, beginning a careful and detailed study of Simone de Beauvoir with a section called ‘Biographical Notes’, should make the first entry read, ‘1905 21 June: Jean-Paul Sartre born in Paris’, and the last: ‘1980: Death of Sartre ...

At Tate Modern

Anne Wagner: Mira Schendel , 24 October 2013

... Tate Modern’s retrospective of the Brazilian artist Mira Schendel – born Myrrha Dagmar Dub in 1919 in Zurich, brought up in Italy, uprooted by war to Yugoslavia, and from there to Brazil in 1949 – is moving, difficult, full of strange writing and immediate visual pleasure.* Schendel was an intellectual, feeding on Wittgenstein and Cardinal Newman (her two incompatible heroes), as well as a constant innovator in formal terms ...

But You Married Him

Rosemary Hill: Princess Margaret and Lady Anne, 4 June 2020

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown 
by Anne Glenconner.
Hodder, 336 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 1 5293 5906 0
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... Lady​ Anne Glenconner has lived her life ‘in the shadow of the crown’. She is a friend of many members of the royal family and was, for thirty years, a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret. Her memoir, however, is written in the shadow of The Crown, ‘the popular Netflix series’ in which she was played by Nancy Carroll with Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret ...

Poxy Doxies

Margaret Anne Doody, 14 December 1995

Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet 
by Germaine Greer.
Viking, 517 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 670 84914 6
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... is an ambiguous female, who must have been lower class if she grovelled so flatteringly to the low-born Nell Gwynn. It has been suggested elsewhere that Aphra Behn had some connections with Kentish gentry, but Greer will have none of it: ‘It is more likely that Mrs Behn’s was a milieu without social status: possibly an émigré community, perhaps Jewish or ...

Harley Street

Ruth Padel, 3 December 1992

... She was born round the corner in an attic. Balancing chemistry textbooks on her feet, her father pushed the ivory five-foot pram down the middle. ‘He thought you were immortal’ says her mother. Later she daggered sticks along immaculate black railings. Today it is a psalm with each brass doorbell, every blue-rinsed concierge, daily bland against the rush of last hopes ...


Barbara Taylor: My Mennonite Conversion, 2 June 2005

A Complicated Kindness 
by Miriam Toews.
Faber, 246 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 571 22400 8
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... religiosity as the serpent. In East Village the miseries of adolescence are apocalyptic. Like all born-again Christians, Mennonites see sin everywhere, even in newborns, who, if they die in infancy, are spared damnation only because, unaware of their fallen condition, they cannot repent it. With puberty, when free will kicks in, this probationary state of ...

Sleep through it

Anne Diebel: Ottessa Moshfegh, 13 September 2018

My Year of Rest and Relaxation 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 78733 041 2
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Homesick for Another World 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 277 pp., £9.99, January 2018, 978 1 78470 150 5
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... She studied art history at Columbia (and is therefore ‘cultured’, according to Reva). She was born into privilege and now lives on an inheritance from her parents. She used to work at a Chelsea gallery, where she would take naps in a storage cupboard during her lunch hour, until she was fired and started sleeping full-time. But beauty and money won’t ...

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