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Post-Modern Vanguard

Edward Mendelson

3 September 1981
After the Wake: An Essay on the Contemporary Avant-Garde 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 177 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 815766 5
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... ChristopherButler’s survey of post-war literature, music and painting maintains a judicious critical distance from its subject. Readers who wish a more direct report from the front lines of the avant-garde should ...
8 September 1994
Early Modernism: Literature, Music and Painting in Europe 1900-1916 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 318 pp., £27.50, April 1994, 0 19 811746 9
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... concerts, during which coloured lights accompanied the music, with collage techniques taken from Picasso. It was an unprecedented achievement. In his exciting but frustrating book on early Modernism, ChristopherButler discusses the Delaunay-Cendrars work in some detail, with-in the context of simultaneism, but does not mention either Duncan Grant or Vanessa Bell at any point (although her husband Clive, a ...


Christopher​ Ricks

19 November 1981
Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 
by Marilyn Butler.
Oxford, 213 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 19 219144 6
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... Authors are not the solitaries of the Romantic myth, but citizens.’ The spirit of Marilyn Butler’s excellent book on the Romantics is itself that of citizenship: of belonging to a civilised community, cultural and intellectual, which one helps to sustain and is sustained by, and which makes ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren

5 November 1981
Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... It is not easy to determine which is the better book. Richard Burton was printed by Butler and Tanner Limited, Peter Sellers by the Fakenham Press, and since the one establishment is in Somerset and the other in Norfolk, it is fair to absolve both of them from the sort of catchpenny ...


Christopher​ Ricks

18 October 1984
Tough guys don’t dance 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 231 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7181 2454 5
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... t that Mailer can still write like an angel, fallen and flaming. When the plump and lethal Meeks Wardley Hilby III tells the story of how he extorted the blackmailing materials from his father’s butler, and of what the butler exacted in return, his words are hideously pointed: ‘I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to regain property rights to my rectum.’ Get that straight. And as was said by ...
8 December 1994
Years of Hope: Diaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... political diary is published in time to influence the events it describes, but it is common enough for politicians to serve present purposes by rearranging light and shade on the historical picture. Christopher Addison, for example, published an edited version of his war diaries in 1934, just as he was trying to cut a figure as a Labour frontbencher. The originals had recorded the private thoughts of a man ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher​ Driver

19 June 1986
All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... for a book they must have expected to tempt only the delicate appetites of language specialists. However, for what has been set before us may the Lord make us truly thankful, for Hieatt and Butler’s work on these texts is beyond praise. The Forme of Cury, for instance, is popularly known from its 18th-century editions. But only the other day an expensive advertisement in a food magazine was ...

Degradation, Ugliness and Tears

Mary Beard: Harrow School

7 June 2001
A History of Harrow School 
by Christopher​ Tyerman.
Oxford, 599 pp., £30, October 2000, 0 19 822796 5
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... proportion of what the boys paid went directly to the Head. By the late 1850s, his gross takings (before paying his assistant staff) were somewhere between £10,000 and £12,000 – making him, as Christopher Tyerman calculates, ‘the equivalent of a modern millionaire’. In 1859 he might have expected to move on to the mastership of an Oxbridge college (the fellows of Trinity, Cambridge are said to ...

Architect as Hero

David Cannadine

21 January 1982
Lutyens: The Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens 
Hayward Gallery, 200 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 7287 0304 1Show More
Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate 
by Roderick Gradidge.
Allen and Unwin, 167 pp., £13.95, November 1981, 0 04 720023 5
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Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi 
by Robert Grant Irving.
Yale, 406 pp., £20, November 1981, 0 300 02422 3
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Lutyens: Country Houses 
by Daniel O’Neill.
Lund Humphries, 167 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 85331 428 4
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Lutyens and the Sea Captain 
by Margaret Richardson.
Scolar, 40 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 85967 646 3
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Houses and Gardens by E.L. Lutyens 
by Lawrence Weaver.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 344 pp., £19.50, January 1982, 0 902028 98 7
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... by a younger generation of architects and architectural historians, they emphatically reinstate the interpretation eloquently enshrined in the great Lutyens Memorial published in 1950, where Christopher Hussey, in his 600-page biography, and A. S. G. Butler, in his three volumes of plans, plates and commentary, acclaimed our Ned as ‘the greatest artist in building whom Britain has produced ...

The Verity of Verity

Marilyn Butler

1 August 1996
Essays in Appreciation 
by Christopher​ Ricks.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 19 818344 5
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... Christopher Ricks’s new book makes available many of his distinguished lectures given in the Eighties and Nineties. The essays retain a sense of occasion, and of a star performance on Ricks’s part, while the ...
22 March 2012
... but not being able, since Proust is saying that if his mother actually had preferred him she would still be alive. Preference here must mean something stronger than the will, or choice, or even love. ChristopherButler has pointed out that the term literally means ‘putting first’, so Proust may be insisting on a technical difference, which would reduce a little what seems to be the grotesque selfishness ...

Speaking well

Christopher​ Ricks

18 August 1983
Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... which have been said by Rupert Brooke and C.S. Lewis to be about beetles. ‘It is always easier to obey if you dare not disobey. German women are to their lords like so many black beetles’: John Butler Yeats (father of the poet and of the painter Jack B. Yeats) was aware that people had a propensity to see others as beetles, but he thought it bad for them and for their art, and he deprecated the ...

Too Obviously Cleverer

Ferdinand Mount: Harold Macmillan

8 September 2011
Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Pimlico, 887 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 1 84413 541 7
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The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After 1957-66 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 758 pp., £40, May 2011, 978 1 4050 4721 0
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... thing I’ve ever seen’. Macmillan wasn’t one of those not infrequent war heroes who in peacetime are mild and eager to please. He remained dauntless and daunting in politics. He despised Rab Butler for not having fought (he had a withered hand after a riding accident as a child), he sneered at Hugh Gaitskell for not having any medals to wear on Remembrance Day and he loathed Herbert Morrison ...

Oh, Lionel!

Christopher​ Hitchens

3 December 1992
P.G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth 
by Barry Phelps.
Constable, 344 pp., £16.95, October 1992, 9780094716209
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... Lane? Lane: I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir. This bit of business, with a line being perfectly lobbed and beautifully returned over the social net, inaugurates a play in which: 1. The butler always has the last, crisp word. 2. Young men stutter cretinously when left alone with the adored object. 3. Country houses (‘How many bedrooms? Well, that point can be cleared up afterwards ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The vexed issue of Labour Party funding

19 October 2006
... two people have been arrested during the inquiry so far; 14 are said to have been interviewed under caution, and there is still a chance that Blair will be too. When it was revealed that Sir Christopher Evans, the venture capitalist founder of Merlin Biosciences, had been arrested and questioned about his £1 million loan before the 2005 election, he said: ‘The reason I made the loan was precisely ...

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