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By the Banks of the Neva: Chapters from the Lives and Careers of the British in 18th-Century Russia 
by Anthony Cross.
Cambridge, 496 pp., £60, November 1996, 0 521 55293 1
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... Britain has ever been taken for a Russian colony. In an earlier book, On the Banks of the Thames, Anthony Cross attempted something like a comprehensive account of ‘Russians in 18th-century Britain’. Their profile was modest. Cross started with Peter I’s celebrated visit of 1698. Of around four hundred ...

America first

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, 7 January 1993

European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 212 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 300 05285 5
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New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery 
by Anthony Grafton, April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi.
Harvard, 282 pp., £23.95, October 1992, 0 674 61875 0
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The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus 
by Valerie Flint.
Princeton, 233 pp., £16, August 1992, 0 691 05681 1
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Land without Evil: Utopian Journeys across the South American Watershed 
by Richard Gott.
Verso, 299 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 86091 398 8
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... is like Hamlet: someone is always seeing it for the first time, but rarely with fresh perceptions. Anthony Pagden’s European Encounters with the New World recounts episodes in a long history in which ‘the newness of America was recognised, confronted and explained’. Anthony Grafton’s New Worlds, Ancient Texts is a ...

Waving

Anthony Thwaite, 27 October 1988

Stevie Smith: A Critical Biography 
by Frances Spalding.
Faber, 331 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 571 15207 4
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... and many others, were recipients of chat, grumbles, doubts, jokes, questions, japes – often with cross-references to each other: if one editor disapproved of a new poem, she told you, and shot it in your direction, thus giving you the chance to make amends. But Frances Spalding is right, I’m sure, to begin her book by saying that Stevie ‘enjoyed few ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Only at the very last did my path cross that of the Cambridge spies. It was on a warm, sunny afternoon last May at Kuntsevo Cemetery on the western outskirts of Moscow, when they buried Kim Philby. Guy Burgess had died in 1963, Anthony Blunt and Donald Maclean in 1983. Philby, however, was still alive when I started work in Moscow as the Independent’s correspondent there in early 1987, and his presence was a source of recurrent nightmares ...

Overstatements

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Anti-Semitism, 10 June 2010

Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England 
by Anthony Julius.
Oxford, 811 pp., £25, February 2010, 978 0 19 929705 4
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... It is just one fragment among a torrent of primary-source material relentlessly amassed by Anthony Julius in his history of English anti-semitism, gathered both from England and from the wider background of Christian culture in Europe, to which he adds streams of secularism and Islam when his story approaches modern times. The maelstrom of original ...

Japanese Love

Anthony Thwaite, 14 June 1990

Childhood Years: A Memoir 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Paul McCarthy.
240 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 00 215325 4
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The Great Mirror of Male Love 
by Ihara Saikaku, translated by Paul Gordon Schalow.
371 pp., $37.50, February 1990, 0 8047 1661 7
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... states of being). These are all perfectly good words, but they do not seem appropriate in a cross-cultural, historical context because they can be misleading, describing Japanese reality in terms that distort it.’ I have to admit that, in spite of my admiration for much of Saikaku’s work, what Professor Schalow has chosen to call The Great Mirror of ...

Nouvelle Vague

Anthony Quinn, 7 January 1993

The Conclave 
by Michael Bracewell.
Secker, 339 pp., £8.99, October 1992, 0 436 20020 1
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Cock & Bull 
by Will Self.
Bloomsbury, 310 pp., £9.99, October 1992, 0 7475 1274 4
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... Bull; open at almost any page and you find a language that is vividly textured and ingeniously cross-referenced. The virtuoso expressiveness will already be familiar to those who read Self’s collection of short stories, The Quantity Theory of Insanity, a book which won plaudits from, inter alia, Martin Amis. Yet for all its singularity, the experience of ...

Phil the Lark

Ian Hamilton, 13 October 1988

Collected Poems 
by Philip Larkin, edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber/Marvell Press, 330 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 571 15196 5
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... somehow, might take a peek at the material before it reached the flames? And if such a thought did cross his mind, why didn’t he destroy the stuff himself? He must have known that, by not doing so, he was bequeathing at least the possibility of a dilemma. But then some of his most moving poems contrive a subtle, unsettlable dispute between revelation and ...

The Last Column

Hal Foster: Remnants of 9/11, 8 September 2011

... column now lies flat, supported on steel beams of its own, like an industrial version of the True Cross. (Last out of the site, it was the first thing in the 9/11 museum, which had to be constructed around the column owing to its size.) In this same semi-sacral register, there are also beams with little crosses and stars of David cut out by metalworkers for ...

Life of Brian

Kevin Barry, 25 January 1990

No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien 
by Anthony Cronin.
Grafton, 260 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 246 12836 4
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... nor is Stuart’s in wartime Berlin to The Pillar of Cloud, Redemption and The Flowering Cross. Ten years earlier Brian O’Nolan, alias Flann O’Brien, had written At Swim Two Birds and The Third Policeman. These two works, of which only the first was published in the author’s lifetime, differ from those of Beckett and Stuart in many ways, not ...

Audrey’s Eye

Anthony Quinn, 21 February 1991

Leaving Brooklyn 
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz.
Minerva, 146 pp., £4.99, December 1990, 0 7493 9072 7
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Surrogate City 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14432 2
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... on earth. There is so little ventured in these sentences that one wonders why Hamilton didn’t cross them out and start again. The tragedy at the book’s climax comes straight out of left field, a melodramatic charge which the preceding pages (and it has been a slow read) have done little to earn. This and much else can be forgiven in a first novel, and ...

Collapses of Civilisation

Anthony Snodgrass, 25 July 1991

Centuries of Darkness 
by Peter James.
Chatto, 434 pp., £19.99, April 1991, 9780224026475
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... or apparent total stagnation, when the archaeological record becomes thin and the historical cross-references disappear altogether. In the more advanced cultures, this occurs at the beginning of the Iron Age; in the more backward, it comes near the end of the Bronze Age. Often the material record of the last period before the ‘interlude’ shows ...

Musical Beds

D.A.N. Jones, 30 December 1982

On Going to Bed 
by Anthony Burgess.
Deutsch, 96 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 233 97470 9
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The End of the World News 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 398 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 09 150540 2
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This Man and Music 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 09 149610 1
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... Thrice has Anthony Burgess begun a novel in bed, with intimations of impropriety and guilt. Getting out of the dreadful thing was the problem posed for the bold bigamist of Beds in the East, the third volume in his Malayan trilogy: ‘Either side of the bed was the wrong side. True it was possible to get out of it by inching slowly forward, on one’s fat brown rump, to the foot; but that, for some reason, often woke both of them ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Touch of Evil’, 29 July 2015

Touch of Evil 
directed by Orson Welles.
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... film; Dennis Weaver’s incarnation of the crazy night man at the desert motel, a prefiguration of Anthony Perkins in Psycho and every other damaged person who ever had to look after a register and hand out keys (Welles writes in the memo of the ‘neurotic, scrabbling’ way Weaver walks, and says of the later part of his performance that it ‘is one of the ...

Smous

Denis Hirson, 29 September 1988

Middlepost 
by Anthony Sher.
Chatto, 379 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3301 5
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... Outlandishly theatrical, well-wrought and witty, Middlepost is Anthony Sher’s first novel. The jacket illustration – Sher’s own work – sets the tone. It presumably depicts some of the novel’s characters, misshapen and naked as eels, rising up into the heat and dust. Inside are five suggestive line drawings by the same hand, the most notable of which is the frontispiece, ‘The Great Fish Vomiting out Jonah upon the Dry Land’, Jonah being one of the names which the central character of Middlepost might easily have contracted, given the number of times he is compared to that desolate hero ...

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