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17 July 1980
The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany 
by Michael Baxandall.
Yale, 420 pp., £25, May 1980, 0 300 02423 1
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... the bustling urban environment in which they grew up and with which they interacted. There are two fine chapters on the functions of limewood sculpture and its market, which cast a searching light on the more mundane circumstances of artistic production. At the same time, he never forgets that these represent opportunities offered to the artist by his ...

Red Sneakers

Jessica Olin: Karen Bender

14 December 2000
Like Normal People 
by Karen Bender.
Picador, 269 pp., £10, October 2000, 9780330373791
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... The exact motive for Lena’s arson is unknown, although it may be a protest at her husband Bob’s recent and untimely death. Understanding the importance of making a good impression, Ella brings a ‘strategic’ box of See’s candy for Mrs Lowenstein and wears a pair of bone-coloured Italian leather shoes. Ella, too, is a widow, and to avoid coming ...
5 February 1987
No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan 
by Robert Shelton.
New English Library, 573 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 450 04843 8
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... often seem designed for target practice, require the sitters to be sitting ducks as well. But Bob Dylan can’t stand sitting. Try playing chess with him: ‘His knees bounce up against the table so much you think you are at a séance. The pieces keep jumping around the board. But he beats me every time.’ (Dave Van Ronk said that.) That must be how ...


Kevin Kopelson: Confessions of a Plagiarist

22 May 2008
... High School of Science and Juilliard, where I studied piano. Not wanting to go where my brother Bob went, I chose Yale – where, like him, I majored in music. (A far better pianist, Bob left Harvard in the spring of 1968.) One teacher there was the musicologist Betty Boop (or so I’ll call her), who covered the 18th ...

Father Figures

Marguerite Alexander

1 September 1983
A Journey in Ladakh 
by Andrew Harvey.
Cape, 236 pp., £8.50, May 1983, 0 224 02056 0
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All of us There 
by Polly Devlin.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 9780297782247
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The Far Side of the Lough: Stories from an Irish Childhood 
by Polly Devlin and Ian Newsham.
Gollancz, 118 pp., £5.50, June 1983, 0 575 03244 8
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... to the fruits of Western materialism, and he has a sharp eye for the resulting confusions. In a fine comic episode, the author returns from a visit to a monastery to drown his spiritual bewilderment in drink (something called chang which, in keeping with the spirit of the place, inebriates without aftermath), then entertains the Ladakhi youth with a ...
20 September 2017
Seven Lives from Mass Observation: Britain in the Late 20th Century 
by James Hinton.
Oxford, 207 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 19 878713 6
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... is that he tells us what happened next, tracking how more reliable but less colourful figures like Bob Willcock and Len England kept the organisation going. However, Hinton has also counted the directives and file reports, and shows how rapidly the work of volunteer data collection declined after Harrisson ceded control: from 1663 topic collections in 1940, to ...


Philip Horne and Danny Karlin: Million Dollar Bashers

22 June 1989
... Only Looks Expensive’), Paul Williams recalls an unrewarding encounter with Bob Dylan: ‘But I shook his hand which was ... and this was at the beginning of the tour ... and things changed significantly during the tour ... he became more sociable, I’ve been talking to a number of people who did see him backstage later on in the ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Edges of Darkness

27 May 2010
... also directed the Bourne-like version of 2009); and performances equal to any of that decade, by Bob Peck and Joe Don Baker. A fine thing about the movie was that it required thought. Indeed, the subject of the 1985 Edge of Darkness was the difficulty of thinking about the motives that exert a constant control on life and ...

Who has the gall?

Frank Kermode: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

8 March 2007
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
translated by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Penguin, 94 pp., £8.99, August 2006, 0 14 042453 9
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
translated by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 114 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 571 22327 5
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... destination in the British Library. The greatest of all Old English poems, and, after Chaucer, the finest in Middle English, might well not have survived; conceivably we would never even have heard of them. No one knows when Beowulf was composed, let alone when it was first recited, and there is virtually no other survivor to compare with it. And Gawain, a ...

Forget the Dylai Lama

Thomas Jones: Bob Dylan

6 November 2003
Dylan's Visions of Sin 
by Christopher Ricks.
Viking, 517 pp., £25, October 2003, 9780670801336
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... to the threat posed by a sinister and nebulous enemy from the other side of the world. It could be Bob Dylan performing his ‘Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues’ (‘I discovered there was red stripes on the American flag’); but the year is 2002, and the song is ‘Talkin’ Al Kida Blues’ (‘Cuba’s our enemy, unless we need a prison camp’). Al ...


Gerald Howard

18 July 1996
Secret Life 
by Michael Ryan.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 7475 2545 5
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... everyone has their confessional niche. Byron famously remarked that ‘Augustine in his fine Confessions makes the reader envy his transgressions’; no such envy is likely to arise from reading Ryan’s accounts of his joyless couplings. He reached his lowest point when he found himself driving hundreds of miles one weekend with the sole purpose of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Five Easy Pieces’

9 September 2010
Five Easy Pieces 
by Bob Raphelson.
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... magnificent as it can be, regardless of its subject? The film, now re-released in a new print, is Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces (1970), and the offending or over-achieving cinematographer is László Kovács, who also shot Easy Rider (1969), The Last Movie (1971), Shampoo (1975) and New York, New York (1977), among many other works. The question of the ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... the perpetuation of bad smells, and generation of partial diseases’. Smells and diseases were fine, as long as they were the ‘consequence of non-interference by authorities with the dwellings of the multitude’. Happily for the Economist, the Saxon spirit survived Morpeth and his ‘Prussian’ reforms. By the late 1850s, the state was in retreat as ...
6 June 1985
Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Huw Beynon.
Verso, 252 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 86091 820 3
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Policing the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Bob Fine and Robert Millar.
Lawrence and Wishart, 243 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 85315 633 6
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The Strike: An Insider’s Story 
by Roy Ottey.
Sidgwick, 157 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780283992285
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Scargill and the Miners 
by Michael Crick.
Penguin, 172 pp., £2.95, March 1985, 0 14 052355 3
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The Great Strike: The Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 and its Lessons 
by Alex Callinicos and Mike Simons.
Socialist Worker, 256 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 905998 50 2
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... could authorise area action on its own authority. Formally, the whole conflict was officially defined as a nationally co-ordinated set of regional stoppages: whether or not this attitude of the executive was sound in principle or tactic, it was not obviously inconsistent with the rulebook. Yet the courts – which only a few years previously had refused to ...
20 March 1997
Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland 
by Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell.
Faber, 160 pp., £7.99, November 1996, 0 571 17539 2
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... and white photographs, all taken by Auden, appendices containing pie-charts and graphs, and a fine, coloured folding map. There is an extensive bibliography and one chapter is entirely devoted to an anthology of excerpts from other books about Iceland. The pages of the volume are thick, white unwater-marked wove paper and the whole thing – as eloquently ...

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