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Eliot’s End

Graham Hough, 6 March 1980

Thomas Stearns Eliot, Poet 
by A.D. Moddy.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £12.50, March 1979, 0 521 22065 3
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Theory and Personality: the Significance of T.S. Eliot’s Criticism 
by Brian Lee.
Athlone, 148 pp., £9.95, November 1979, 0 485 11185 3
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... theoretical grid over writing conceived in larger and looser terms is sheer waste of time. Brian Lees’ Theory and Personality is subtitled ‘The Significance of T.S. Eliot’s Criticism’, but it hardly fulfils that promise. It is, in fact, a minute examination of ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, with much worry about its internal ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 7 September 2017

... Convention’, we find John Singer Sargent’s 1881 portrait of an austerely boyish Vernon Lee, and Alvaro Guevara’s Dame Edith Sitwell from 1916. Laura Knight, three years earlier, had been condemned by the Telegraph for a self-portrait with a nude model that lacked ‘the higher charm of the “eternal feminine”’. A few such notable nudes ...

At the MK

Brian Dillon: Gerard Byrne, 31 March 2011

... puts an already ludicrous 1980 advertorial dialogue between Frank Sinatra and the Chrysler mogul Lee Iacocca into the mouths of two middle-aged actors wandering the run-down streets of Long Island City. In 1984 and Beyond (2005-07) a group of Dutch actors of varying abilities perform the text, published in Playboy in 1963, of a roundtable discussion ...


August Kleinzahler: Too Bad about Mrs Ferri, 20 September 2001

... up to Albert Anastasia’s enormous Spanish Mission-style home. The Palisades section of Fort Lee, New Jersey, then as now, was a sleepy, leafy enclave, overlooking the Upper West Side, a mile or so across the Hudson. My mother came out the front door of our house, walked up to me, knelt down, and said: ‘Augie, Gloriana’s daddy got very, very ...

At Turner Contemporary

Eleanor Birne: ‘Curiosity’, 18 July 2013

... essays in the exhibition catalogue (Hayward, £22.99) are collections of a kind: Marina Warner and Brian Dillon, the show’s curator, have both written magpie pieces that list facts about collecting and find disparate ways of talking about the idea of curiosity. Part of the pleasure of the cabinet of curiosities is, of course, that ‘curiosity’ has two ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... a tendency to elongate into lists whenever possible (of the ‘there were ten things that Brian really disliked’ kind); kooky epigraphs, mixing high and low authorities; long, feverish run-on sentences, desperately semaphoring their gross mimetic appetite, their need to capture as much of ‘the madness of the times’ as possible, as much of ‘the ...

Impossible Desires

Adam Smyth: Death of the Book, 7 March 2024

Bibliophobia: The End and the Beginning of the Book 
by Brian Cummings.
Oxford, 562 pp., £37.99, February 2022, 978 0 19 284731 7
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... of peaks and troughs. It seems to turn inwards and outwards at the same time. At the heart of Brian Cummings’s Bibliophobia is a sense of the book as a ‘liminal object’, by which Cummings means that the book is both vessel and object, something that carries and something that is: ‘a transaction between physical and mental universes’. Sometimes ...

Play hard

Dave Haslam, 20 October 1994

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-93 
by Nick Kent.
Penguin, 338 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 0 14 023046 7
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... serving us, for instance, Lou Reed stumbling around in New York, the New York Dolls in Paris and Brian Wilson in ‘psychicpain’, as well as Iggy Pop and the Rolling Stones. Chapters on later stars like Morrissey, Guns ’N’ Roses and Happy Mondays lack this vivid authenticity. Looking back, you can see why Kent made such an impact. When he started ...

Access to Ultra

Brian Bond, 16 June 1983

Hidden Weapons: Allied Secret or Undercover Services in World War Two 
by Basil Collier.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £15, April 1982, 0 241 10788 1
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The Other Ultra: Codes, Ciphers and the Defeat of Japan 
by Ronald Lewin.
Hutchinson, 332 pp., £10.95, April 1982, 0 09 147470 1
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The Puzzle Palace 
by James Bamford.
Sidgwick, 465 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 283 98976 9
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... even more lax and one can only hope that it has been tightened since the arrest of Messrs Lee and Boyle in 1977 after they had given a large amount of damaging material to the Russians. Poor security checks may be a characteristic of democracies, but Mr Bamford is much more worried by NSA’s extra-legal position and its growing threat to civil ...


Graham Coster, 10 January 1991

Stone Alone 
by Bill Wyman and Ray Coleman.
Viking, 594 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82894 7
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Blown away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties 
by A.E. Hotchner.
Simon and Schuster, 377 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 671 69316 6
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Are you experienced? The Inside Story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience 
by Noel Redding and Carol Appleby.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 1 872180 36 1
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I was a teenage Sex Pistol 
by Glen Matlock and Pete Silverton.
Omnibus, 192 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 7119 2491 0
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by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... got paid and the girls Bill got off with afterwards. Especially the girls. Wyman had 278 (he and Brian Jones counted up) during the first two years of the Stones. Odd, in a way, that he got rid of his original surname: Perks. Stone Alone is perversely fascinating in its grinding, routine repetitiveness: gig after gig after gig on tour after tour, more girls ...

National Treasure

Christopher Hitchens, 14 November 1996

Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir 
by John Davis.
Wiley, 256 pp., £14.99, October 1996, 0 471 12945 3
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... a treat by my editors at Condé Nast, who use the place as a sort of staff canteen. My old friend Brian McNally, demonstrating that le patron mange ici, occasionally lets me sit at his table. I have learned not to point and squeak and say: ‘Look, isn’t that the girl from Dirty Dancing!’ Everybody acts very unconcerned about celebrity, though you get the ...

Vuvuzelas Unite

Andy Beckett: The Trade Union Bill, 22 October 2015

Trade Union Bill (HC Bill 58) 
Stationery Office, 32 pp., July 2015Show More
Trade Union Membership 2014: Statistical Bulletin 
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, 56 pp., June 2015Show More
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... placards and furled banners, and four desks. Nearest the door sits the IWGB president, Jason Moyer-Lee. He is a stubbly American in his late twenties, dressed in a T-shirt and chinos, as if he were working for an internet startup. He has been involved in trade unions for four years. In 2012 Moyer-Lee helped found the IWGB in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Stop-Loss’, 8 May 2008

directed by Kimberly Peirce.
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... other three recent American war movies I know of: Paul Haggis’s In the Valley of Elah (2007), Brian de Palma’s Redacted (2007) and the newly released Stop-Loss, directed by Kimberly Peirce. This is her second film, and in certain curious ways a follow-up to the troubling Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – she herself signals the continuity by having the main ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Ken or Boris?, 10 April 2008

... Livingstone’s popularity had been affected by a campaign in the Evening Standard attacking Lee Jasper, his Senior Policy Adviser on Equalities. The Standard hates Livingstone and has been swinging punches at him for years, without much evident effect until now. The stories, mainly written by Andrew Gilligan, he of the sexed-up dossier ...

Spin Foam

Michael Redhead: Quantum Gravity, 23 May 2002

Three Roads to Quantum Gravity: A New Understanding of Space, Time and the Universe 
by Lee Smolin.
Phoenix, 231 pp., £6.99, August 2001, 0 7538 1261 4
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... pillars of 20th-century physics: quantum theory and Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Lee Smolin, a major contributor to the subject, brings us right up to date with it in this book. It’s written for general readers, but is more than just another work of popular science: it is a serious attempt at clarifying the author’s own thoughts about the ...

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