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A Peece of Christ

Charles Hope: Did Leonardo paint it?, 2 January 2020

Leonardo da Vinci 
at the Louvre, until 24 February 2020Show More
Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered 
by Carmen Bambach.
Yale, 2350 pp., £400, July 2019, 978 0 300 19195 0
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The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting 
by Ben Lewis.
William Collins, 396 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 00 831341 8
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Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts 
by Margaret Dalivalle, Martin Kemp and Robert Simon.
Oxford, 383 pp., £35, November 2019, 978 0 19 881383 5
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... merit, acquired its astonishing price tag in only 12 years is told in absorbing detail by Ben Lewis. The key moment in this history of the painting was its inclusion in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan held at the National Gallery in late 2011. There was no reference to it in the gallery’s main press releases in ...

Turns of the Screw

Hugh Barnes, 7 August 1986

Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... The first novels of Lewis Nkosi and Catharine Arnold raise issues that have been in the news of late: racist oppression in South Africa and the ugly behaviour of the smart set at England’s oldest universities. Neither phenomenon is new, but that is not all they have in common: both can be regarded as symptoms of madness, which is always making news – this, at any rate, is the diagnosis favoured by Nkosi and Arnold ...

High Priest of Mumbo-Jumbo

R.W. Johnson, 13 November 1997

Lord Hailsham: A Life 
by Geoffrey Lewis.
Cape, 403 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 224 04252 1
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... slightly muddled, BBC-battered people to see things more clearly’.) The title of Geoffrey Lewis’s biography could have been ‘Quintin Hogg’, ‘Quintin Hailsham’ or just ‘Hailsham’. No one, after all, would dream of writing a biography of, say, Harold Wilson and calling it ‘Lord Wilson’ because deep down we know that was all a hollow ...

Godmother of the Salmon

John Bayley, 9 July 1992

‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ and other Laureate Poems 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 64 pp., £12.99, June 1992, 0 571 16605 9
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... their cunning ways: they were not Poets Laureate. Who was? Well, the first is usually said to be Ben Jonson, followed by D’Avenant and Dryden, who was given the title officially. Then came Shadwell, Tate, Rowe, Eusden (who celebrated the Duke of Newcastle from whom he received the office and ‘sleeps among the dull of ancient days’ in Pope’s ...

Clarety Clarity

Colin Burrow: Herrick and His Maidens, 30 July 2014

The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick 
edited by Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly.
Oxford, 504 pp. and 803 pp., £125, October 2013, 978 0 19 921284 2
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... played against a chorus of other poets, who are deliberately called to mind by allusion or parody. Ben Jonson’s collection ‘The Underwood’, posthumously printed in 1640, had gathered together Anacreontic poems and poems about growing old, petitions to the king, imitations of Horace, as well, perplexingly, as some elegies written by John Donne. This ...

A Lone Enraptured Male

Kathleen Jamie: The Cult of the Wild, 6 March 2008

The Wild Places 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Granta, 340 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 1 86207 941 0
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... A situation has arisen on Ben Nevis. I don’t mean a rescue, although as it happens the RAF and mountain rescue teams are bringing down a man and two boys who, the report says, ‘didn’t read the weather forecast’. The situation I have in mind has also arisen on Snowdon and Scafell, and it concerns the dead. Apparently, the biggest hills are covered in so many memorials – plaques and little cairns – that it’s becoming an issue ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... June, Outside the Museum’ is another version of ‘Note on Grünewald’, ‘B.N.’ (presumably Ben Nicolson) resumes ‘Unposted Reply’. But if I were to invoke the criteria that Grigson has enforced upon other contemporary poets, none of his poems would pass. Four years ago he declared his conviction ‘that since Eliot and the leading poets (now ...

Echoes

Tom Phillips, 2 April 1981

English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... and, in its original form, startling and unassimilated) and the odd burst of action from Wyndham Lewis, the self-styled skeleton in the cupboard, his three protagonists are Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore. Nash’s was a fine sensibility and Nicholson’s lyrical gifts are husbanded with a rigour rare in this ...

Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages 
by Harold Bloom.
Harcourt Brace, 578 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 15 195747 9
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... As one thinks of Harold Bloom, Auden’s description of Wyndham Lewis as a lonely old volcano comes to mind. Though not, like Lewis, ‘of the Right’, or indeed claiming any political alignment, Bloom erupts with comparable regularity and force. He prefers to be a one-man cultural opposition, waving only the banner of aesthetics; he says there are no Bloomians, but everybody knows him and all wonder, usually with exasperated affection, what he will do next ...

The Limit

Rosemary Hill, 2 November 1995

Christopher Wood: An English Painter 
by Richard Ingleby.
Allison and Busby, 295 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 85031 849 1
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Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 343 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 670 84203 6
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... lives, succeed. The maturing style of the later paintings owed much to Wood’s friendship with Ben and Winifred Nicholson, who were devoted to him. They were perhaps more perceptive than his other friends, even his loyal protector/lover Tony Gandarillas. Certainly they took him seriously as a painter. Ben Nicholson’s ...

Dream of the Seventh Dominion

Stefan Collini, 4 December 1980

Lewis Namier and Zionism 
by Norman Rose.
Oxford, 182 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 822621 7
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Personal Impressions 
by Isaiah Berlin.
Hogarth, 219 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 7012 0510 5
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... At All Souls in 1932, Lewis Namier provoked Isaiah Berlin by scornfully dismissing the history of ideas – dismissing it in German, though the rest of the conversation (or rather harangue) was conducted in English – as ‘what one Jew cribs from another’. But for some unpredictable migrations and a few world-historical hiccups in the previous decades, this exchange might have been taking place – quite possibly in French – in, say, Warsaw or St Petersburg ...

Doctor, Doctor

D.A.N. Jones, 19 April 1984

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 276 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 49734 4
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The Suburbs of Hell 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 165 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 436 49735 2
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Kingsley’s Touch 
by John Collee.
Allen Lane, 206 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1633 8
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A Suitable Case for Corruption 
by Norman Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11178 1
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... might almost be called thrillers, their plots resembling sensational news items. With Norman Lewis we read of plans to assassinate statesmen in Egypt and Libya, with evil American agents blackmailing honest Britishers. John Collee tells of a wonder cure for cancer devised by a Hindu mystic in a Scottish city where surgeons’ knives are used too readily ...

Burlington Bertie

Julian Symons, 14 June 1990

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 364 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 297 81042 1
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... whose views about art differed deeply from his own. He was overwhelmed on first meeting Wyndham Lewis, called him ‘a great and scandalously ignored painter’, and as late as 1932 said Lewis was ‘by far the most active force among us’. But he nursed feelings of resentment that his admiration was not ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck, 5 August 2010

Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... of the family tradition. Family is, ostensibly, the organising theme of Shades of Greene. Jeremy Lewis has not attempted to add yet another Life of the most famous Greene, but has written a narrative account of aspects of the lives of the more prominent Greene siblings and cousins, Graham included. The bloodstock details are quickly stated. Grandfather ...

Bait and Switch

Simon Wren-Lewis: The Global Financial Crisis, 25 October 2018

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World 
by Adam Tooze.
Allen Lane, 706 pp., £30, August 2018, 978 1 84614 036 5
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... even in the 1930s, had such a large and interconnected system come so close to total implosion.’ Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed at the time, calls the GFC the worst financial crisis in global history. The reason the GFC was more globally co-ordinated than the Depression is that it was caused by interconnected global banks. Tooze notes that every one of ...

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