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The Supreme Farewell of Handkerchiefs

Clive James, 21 August 1980

... with acknowledgments to Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, authors of ‘Misia’ ‘I’ve left that great page blank,’ said Mallarmé When asked why he’d not written of his boat. There are such things as mean too much to say. You have to let it drift, to let it float. The man who did the asking was Manet, Whose niece’s journal treasures the reply ...

Wild about Misia

Clive James, 4 September 1980

Misia 
by Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale.
Macmillan, 337 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 333 28165 9
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... when talent and privilege meet. This book has several faults but at least one great merit: Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale have seen that Misia’s personality, even if it can never quite be captured, remains highly interesting for the light it casts on how talent can cohabit with gracious living and yet still keep its distance. Misia features a ...

Arthur Rimbaud at Scamblesby, 1873

John Burnside, 5 January 2017

... gate, forgotten in folk song and fable, where nothing seems once and for all but the proximate gold of the final extinction: a slow burn of gristle and bone, like the slaughterhouse fire, that once, on the road to perdition, he traded for ...

Gold-Digger

Colin Burrow: Walter Ralegh, 8 March 2012

Sir Walter Ralegh in Life and Legend 
by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams.
Continuum, 378 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 1 4411 1209 5
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The Favourite: Sir Walter Ralegh in Elizabeth I’s Court 
by Mathew Lyons.
Constable, 354 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84529 679 7
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... and adventurers. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was his half-brother, and more distantly related were Arthur Gorges, a goodish poet who could also captain a ship, and Ferdinando Gorges, a confirmed sailor and adventurer. After a standard-issue early career at Oxford, then the Inns of Court, Ralegh began to mix in courtly circles in the late 1570s. The court in ...

Owning Art

Arthur C. Danto, 7 March 1996

Kings and Connoisseurs: Collecting Art in 17th-Century Europe 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 264 pp., £35, September 1995, 0 300 06437 3
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Art & Money 
by Marc Shell.
Chicago, 230 pp., £27.95, June 1995, 0 226 75213 5
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... in the category of pictorial arts: a set of tapestries after Raphael’s designs (woven in gold and silver, to be sure) was valued at nearly triple the price of the artist’s painting, The Holy Family, though Raphael’s were among the most highly sought-after paintings in the time. Nevertheless, ‘during the 17th century significant steps were taken ...

Diary

Thomas Jones: Death in Florence, 21 June 2012

... was that her grandfather was pushed to his death down a liftshaft in Florence for the sake of his gold watch. It never occurred to me to wonder whether or not this was true. The events it related were too remote – a great-great-grandfather a hyphen too far. My grandmother’s grandfather was pushed to his death down a liftshaft in Florence for the sake of ...

The Invasion

Simon Armitage, 23 July 2009

... translated from ‘The Alliterative Morte Arthure’ King Arthur was on his mighty boat with many men, enclosed in a cabin among copious equipment. And while resting on a richly arrayed bed he was soothed to sleep by the swaying of the sea. And he dreamed of a dragon dreadful to behold that came droning and driving from across the deep, arrowing directly from the regions of the West, swooping with menace over the sea’s wide span ...

Unction and Slaughter

Simon Walker: Edward IV, 10 July 2003

Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV 
by Jonathan Hughes.
Sutton, 354 pp., £30, October 2002, 0 7509 1994 9
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... chronicler John Hardyng revived the ‘matter of Britain’, pointedly recounting the betrayal of Arthur by his peers and bemoaning the failures of order and justice that marked the reign of Cadwallader. Elaborate genealogical rolls were produced in commercial quantities, tracing the threatened dynasty’s legitimate descent back through Brutus to Japhet, son ...

Horrors and Cream

Hugh Tulloch, 21 August 1980

On the Edge of Paradise 
by David Newsome.
Murray, 405 pp., £17.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3690 1
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... Dining at Hatchett’s restaurant in September 1903, Arthur Benson observed his image reflected endlessly and from a variety of angles in mirrors around the room. He was to fill 180 volumes with almost five million words in an attempt to scrutinise and sharpen that blurred mirror image. Diaries can, of course, appear an ambiguous genre: they aim at a natural flow of unself-consciousness, but the diarist cannot remain entirely unaware of the prospective reader peering over his shoulder ...

Short Cuts

Helen Thompson: West Ham Disunited, 26 April 2018

... London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham, under the majority ownership of David Gold and David Sullivan, two businessmen who had made their money from pornography, agreed that the club would acquire a 99-year lease on the Olympic stadium. By then, West Ham had gone too far to retreat – not least in resisting the legal challenge from its ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons, 20 April 2017

A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... Arthur Benson​ never stopped dreaming about his father. Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, dropped dead saying the Confession in 1896 – he sank onto his prayer cushion and didn’t get up again – but nearly twenty years later his son found him crouched in the cupboard under the stairs, dressed in his purple cassock and playing with some toys: ‘Papa … giggled; then he said: “But now that you have found me out, you must run down here as often as you can, and we will have a good game at something – You don’t know what fun it is ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote, 2 April 1998

Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... that all her Picassos were upside down. ‘I notice something about Truman,’ says the composer Arthur Gold, ‘whenever he begins to fantasise or tell lies, he looks up. His eyes go heavenward and he doesn’t look at you. Just watch, whenever his eyes go up, whatever he is telling you is not the truth. A sort of 17th-century Madonna look.’ ROBERT ...

Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud, 9 October 2003

Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur Rimbaud: Presence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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Rimbaud 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... Arthur Rimbaud, the boy who gave it all up for something different, is a legend, both as a poet and a renouncer of poetry. He had finished with literature before the age of 21. By the time his work began to appear in the 1880s, to great acclaim, he had become a trader and a minor explorer in inhospitable country, working for a French company in Aden which sent him across the Red Sea to run a branch of the business – coffee, hides and ivory for the most part – in the town of Harar, between the Ogaden and the highlands of Abyssinia ...

Did you hear about Mrs Binh?

Adam Mars-Jones: Viet Thanh Nguyen, 18 May 2017

The Refugees 
by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Corsair, 209 pp., £12.99, February 2017, 978 1 4721 5255 8
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... to their church, wire funds to relatives in Vietnam and keep money in the bank. They also hide gold in the rice jar and jewellery in a fireproof safe hidden in the crawl space under the house. Fear of burglars persuades them to leave out tempting decoys, so that intruders will just grab and run – a conspicuous vase full of coins on a shelf near the front ...

At Tate Britain

Nicholas Penny: Pre-Raphaelite works on paper , 4 May 2017

... from monumental aspirations. The present exhibition includes the preparatory study in ‘gouache, gold paint and ink on paper’ for murals showing the story of Perseus, intended for the home of the young Arthur Balfour. Here we also see how the reluctant action of his figures can be accompanied by dynamic and even violent ...

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