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At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... more than Venus and Mars. The reputation of An Allegory soon went downhill; by 1951 the curator Martin Davies wrote that it was by ‘some feeble imitator of Botticelli’. It is certainly, according to all the tests, an old picture: the support, ground, pigments and medium are appropriate for Italy around 1500. Science in this case can only say that the ...

Nietzsche’s Centaur

Bernard Williams, 4 June 1981

Nietzsche on Tragedy 
by M.S. Silk and J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 441 pp., £27.50, March 1981, 0 521 23262 7
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Nietzsche: A Critical Life 
by Ronald Hayman.
Weidenfeld, 424 pp., £18.50, March 1980, 0 297 77636 3
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Nietzsche. Vol. 1: The Will to Power as Art 
by Martin Heidegger, translated by David Farrell Krell.
Routledge, 263 pp., £11.50, March 1981, 0 7100 0744 2
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... Nietzsche’s first book, The Birth of Tragedy, was published in 1872, when he was 27, and while he was a Professor of Classics at Basel. It had the unusual effect, for him, of attracting some attention at the time of its appearance: after that, Nietzsche’s writings virtually ceased to be noticed until the 1890s, by which time he was, for the last 11 years of his life, insane, virtually without speech, and out of touch with the world ...

Forever Unwilling

Bernard Wasserstein, 13 April 2000

A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789-1939 
by David Vital.
Oxford, 944 pp., £30, June 1999, 0 19 821980 6
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... is not mentioned (except in a brief footnote) yet ‘Hesse, Grand Duke of’ rates an entry. Martin Buber also is missing; in his place in the index is Sir George Buchanan, a British diplomat. Ber Borochov is out; good old Bob Boothby is in. Franz Rosenzweig is invisible, but there are four references to Lord John Russell. Forget ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann, 26 January 2012

Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... maintain his wife, two exes, seven children and their posh educations, expensive homes, an Aston Martin DB5 and his subscription to White’s. (‘I know White’s is a shits’ club, of course it is,’ one of its members had told him, ‘but at least we’re the best shits.’) But the money wasn’t enough. He also wanted excitement – the ...

Human Welfare

Paul Seabright, 18 August 1983

Utilitarianism and Beyond 
edited by Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 521 24296 7
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... does bring happiness: poverty and wealth have both failed,’ says Kin Hubbard’s creation Abe Martin. Since the pursuit of ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ has proved so perplexingly difficult in practice, discussion of the philosophical foundations of utilitarianism can easily appear to be otiose. Sometimes it seems obvious that the ...

An Enemy Within

Paul Foot, 23 April 1987

Molehunt: The Full Story of the Soviet Mole in MI5 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 297 79150 8
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... something of a reputation as Leftists. The two officers at the centre of this molehunt were Arthur Martin and Peter Wright. Wright was a brilliant scientist and a grammar-school patriot who always doubted the patriotism of his public-school superiors. He held extreme right-wing views. His devotion to rooting out Lefties at the top placed him at the head of the ...

What he meant by happiness

Patricia Beer, 11 June 1992

The Wreck of the Deutschland 
by Sean Street.
Souvenir, 208 pp., £15.99, March 1992, 0 285 63051 2
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Hopkins: A Literary Biography 
by Norman White.
Oxford, 531 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 19 812099 0
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... so briskly dealt with in the two recent biographies of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Robert Bernard Martin’s book, published last year, summarises the information in two competent pages. In Norman White’s Hopkins: A Literary Biography his comments on what happened, scattered passim through the relevant chapter, are even more ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... Angleton became convinced that Wilson was a Russian agent and he conveyed this certainty to Arthur Martin and Peter Wright. Arthur Martin took on board Angleton’s ‘certainty’ that Hugh Gaitskell, Wilson’s predecessor as leader of the Labour Party, had been poisoned by the Russians so that Wilson could take over the ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... he also made it possible to see his brother as an interestingly troubled victim of their father, Bernard, who emerges in the memoir as one of the great Edwardian monster-dads. ‘The author and barrister Bernard Hamilton’, as he styled himself, began to generate a considerable body of anecdote on his 21st birthday, when ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: The French Foreign Legion, 26 March 2009

... an ambush in Kabul province. Sarkozy spoke of their ‘supreme sacrifice’, his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, talked about ‘the memory of their courage’. This affair was scandalous too – there were worries about logistical support and intelligence, and above all France’s involvement in the war – but not in the same way as Svarusko’s ...
The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
Parsifal 
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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Parsifal 
by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... operas, here traces the allegedly strong Aeschylean influence on Wagner, while Furness and Martin discuss Wagner’s influence on others: but all three are too little concerned with the peculiar nature and conditions of Wagner’s own musical-dramatic achievement. Why do so many musical terms, like ‘composed’, ‘resolve’ or ‘tonic’, also ...

Over Several Tops

Bernard Porter: Winston Churchill, 14 January 2002

Churchill: A Study in Greatness 
by Geoffrey Best.
Hambledon, 370 pp., £19.95, May 2001, 1 85285 253 4
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Churchill 
by Roy Jenkins.
Macmillan, 1002 pp., £30, October 2001, 0 333 78290 9
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... the heights of Gladstone. All that previous work on him, including the huge Companion Volumes to Martin Gilbert’s exhaustive official biography (‘largely unread’, Best’s publisher claims), means that it is possible to do him justice without – theoretically – leaving one’s study. That is what Jenkins seems to have done. His sources are ...

Growth

Arthur Marwick, 3 June 1982

The Wasting of the British Economy 
by Sidney Pollard.
Croom Helm, 197 pp., £11.95, March 1982, 0 7099 2019 9
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The Global 2000 Report to the President: Entering the 21st Century 
Penguin, 766 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 14 022441 6Show More
United Kingdom Facts 
by Richard Rose and Ian McAllister.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £30, February 1982, 0 333 25341 8
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... of French social security, Pierre La Rocque, described it in 1955. True, the Washington Post’s Bernard Nossiter, writing as recently as 1978, spoke of Britain: A Future that Works, advancing the argument that having wisely preferred a leisurely pace and a high quality of life to the hectic stresses of working hard, Britain was the foremost nation in ...

Idaho

Graham Hough, 5 March 1981

Housekeeping 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 218 pp., £5.25, March 1981, 0 571 11713 9
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The Noble Enemy 
by Charles Fox.
Granada, 383 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 246 11452 5
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The Roman Persuasion 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 297 77927 3
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... written by professors of English literature in Midland universities has received an accession. Bernard Bergonzi’s The Roman Persuasion is attended by so many coincidental links to David Lodge’s recent How far can you go? that to remark on them is almost unavoidable. By ‘links’ I don’t mean influence, for they are books of very different ...

Interpretation of Dreams

Harold James, 5 February 1981

Cosima Wagner’s Diaries. Vol. II: 1878-1883 
edited by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Collions, 1200 pp., £20, January 1981, 0 00 216189 3
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... by Geoffrey Skelton, and is accompanied by the splendidly detailed notes of the German edition by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, with additions by the translator. The second volume covers the period 1878 to the day before Wagner’s death in February 1883 – just over five years – while the first volume deals with nine. Cosima now knew Wagner ...

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