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Was Plato too fat?

Rosemary Hill: The Stuff of Life

10 October 2019
Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life 
by Christopher Forth.
Reaktion, 352 pp., £25, March, 978 1 78914 062 0
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... or it can be seen as weakness, unhappiness and social stigma. As a metaphor it is similarly ambiguous. A fathead is stupid but a fat cheque is welcome. A fat chance is smaller than a slim chance. ChristopherForth begins his inquiries at the most visceral level, by considering responses to the substance of fat both in and out of the body. It is, he suggests, the capacity of fat to be both in and out that ...

People in Kansas, 1910

Christopher​ Middleton

5 June 1980
... warped you. You weren’t fooled. 5 Focus again, So sharp you can smell the cigar, The string beans taste Just right. Objects, it Was not your fault, objects, if That is what you were, you have to go Forth, shoulder your signs In capital letters, onward to a place I tell you of, A place of blue and yellow. There Mountains and people are one indivisible creature, A grape admits night glow To become its ...

Auden’s Funeral

Stephen Spender

4 June 1981
... To Christopher Isherwood I One among friends who stood above your grave I cast a clod of earth from those heaped there Down on the great brass-handled coffin lid. It rattled on the oak like a door knocker. And at ...
6 January 2011
... for Christopher Penfold The Queen and the Philosopher Sun on the sea running white, sun on white walls, yes, on the thick shoulders of the fishermen as they fanned their nets, sun as an engine, a trapdoor, a compass ...


Jeremy Harding: Hitchens

31 March 2011
... I heard a few bars of Chris Corner’s song ‘I Salute You Christopher’ a day or so before the new IAMX album, Volatile Times, was released. The song, which appears on the album, is subtitled ‘Ode to Christopher Hitchens’: I salute you Christopher I salute your ...

Under the Flight Path

August Kleinzahler: Christopher​ Middleton

18 May 2016
... Christopher Middleton​ hated New York. Among the things he particularly disliked, I suspect, is New York’s position as a cultural bazaar, where reputations are bought, sold and traded, with the attendant ...

Rolodex Man

Mark Kishlansky

31 October 1996
Liberty against the Law: Some 17th-Century Controversies 
by Christopher​ Hill.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 7139 9119 4
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The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England: An Essay on the Fabrication of 17th-Century History 
by Alastair MacLaclan.
Macmillan, 431 pp., £13.99, April 1996, 0 333 62009 7
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... It is becoming difficult to remember how influential Christopher Hill once was. When E.P. Thompson dedicated Whigs and Hunters to ‘Christopher Hill – Master of more than an old Oxford college’ he was recognising Hill’s stature as a historian, academic and public figure. From his perch as Master of Balliol, he presided over the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Dunkirk’

16 August 2017
... Christopher Nolan​ ’s Dunkirk is worth watching for its final sequence alone. The three stories being told throughout the film intersect rapidly, and no easy solution or reflection results. A young man walks ...


Christopher​ Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks

26 January 1995
... Just as well. A hundred and fifty-five years earlier, Grangemouth Dockyard had built the Charlotte Dundas, the world’s first practicable steamship, intended for towing barges on the adjoining Forth and Clyde Canal. This she did, successfully, but the wash from the paddlewheel carried the banks away and she was laid up. In 1861, some clown spotted the veteran lying around Grangemouth harbour and ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher​ Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... with Oxfam!’ Someone else might recommend a piece of samizdat from Encounter. And so the afternoon wore on agreeably enough, with daring satirical calls for South African port, Chilean wine and so forth. One of the number could never get enough of the joke. This was John Braine, whose special party-trick was the skipping of ironic bits. When he said that England these days was run by the trade ...
11 December 1997
Issues of Death: Mortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy 
by Michael Neill.
Oxford, 404 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 19 818386 0
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... to disclose enfolded secrets obviously linked him with the exponents of dramatic art. As Sidney put it, tragedy works like a kind of moral surgery: it ‘Openeth the Greatest Wounds and Showeth forth the Ulcers that are Covered with Tissue’. This is a recurrent trope, as is the idea of the anatomist as the explorer of mysterious regions. The body, rather than its condition, takes on the ...


John Redmond

28 November 1996
Expanded Universes 
by Christopher​ Reid.
Faber, 55 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571179244
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... Seventies and in decline at the beginning of the Eighties, Martianism, as a movement in British poetry, was shortlived, and as a descriptive term, misleading. Largely the creation of Craig Raine and Christopher Reid, the movement was characterised by, and remembered for, unusual similes and exotic descriptions. Its name derived from the title poem of Raine’s second collection, A Martian Sends a Postcard ...
24 November 1988
T.S. Eliot and Prejudice 
by Christopher​ Ricks.
Faber, 290 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 571 15254 6
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... T.S. Eliot and Prejudice. Keats and Embarrassment. The parallel between the title of Christopher Ricks’s new book and that of his earlier study of Keats is not accidental. In each case he takes a state of mind which is usually held to be disadvantageous, humanly and artistically speaking, and ...


Christopher​ Reid

15 May 1980
by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... prominent in their minds: not just that of the Pentecostal visitation, but also, by virtue of their confinement to the basement of a hotel, those stories where a descent into the underworld brings forth rich rewards. Unfortunately, the odd circumstances of the poem’s creation become so much its theme that there is soon a disastrous lapse into self-consciousness, coy internal reference, sly ...

Ruined by men

Anthony Thwaite

1 September 1988
The Truth about Lorin Jones 
by Alison Lurie.
Joseph, 294 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 7181 3095 2
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by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 248 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 224 02554 6
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Where the rivers meet 
by John Wain.
Hutchinson, 563 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 9780091736170
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About the Body 
by Christopher​ Burns.
Secker, 193 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 436 09784 2
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by Elizabeth Jolley.
Viking, 312 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 670 82113 6
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... in 1931,’ ‘God, it seems a million years ago that undergraduates were so waited on, and yet it was only in my own lifetime,’ ‘Trousers didn’t have metal zips in those days,’ and so forth. But the narrating Peter is not just, or even mainly, a laudator temporis acti se puero. He is also, much of the time, a man who recalls ‘the old familiar straining at the crotch’. The quotation ...

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