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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 2019, 978 1 78914 062 0
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... A fathead is stupid but a fat cheque is welcome. A fat chance is smaller than a slim chance. Christopher Forth 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 contributes to the widely varying attitudes to ...

People in Kansas, 1910

Christopher Middleton

5 June 1980
... 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 body, Absolute, good as the bread Is dense to the teeth ...

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 that sound I saw your face beneath Wedged in an oblong shadow under ground: Flesh creased, eyes shut, jaw jutting, And on the mouth a smile: triumph of one Who has escaped from lifelong colleagues roaring For him to join their throng ...
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, Democritus in his cell the window framing sea and sky, blue climbing on blue, a glaze shaken by the heat, as she drifted in and held heavy in the thickening air ...


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 life How you played the dice … That ‘played’, in the past tense, has the ring of a funeral bell and a cracked one at that ...

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 buzz of speculation. He was incapable of schmoozing, and his career suffered accordingly. New York’s greatest draw, people action and brute energy, would have been lost on him ...

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 education of future mandarins and exerted an influence on the intellectual life of Britain ...

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 into a newspaper office in Weymouth and hands over a school photograph, pointing out one boy. A Spitfire prepares to land on a French beach, gliding, its propeller still, because it has run out of fuel ...


Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks

26 January 1995
... 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 had her broken up. This somewhat ominous precedent was ...

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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... 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 unions and the pansies, he meant it. When he went on about ...
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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... 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 standing of an ‘undiscovered country’ and the title-page of ...


John Redmond

28 November 1996
Expanded Universes 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 55 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571179244
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... 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 Home (1979), in which the Martian, rather like Robin ...
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 offers a critical re-examination of its presence in the work of his chosen author ...


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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... 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 tomfoolery and baragouin. This may be explicable in a number of ...

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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... 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 about trousers at the end of the last paragraph is one of ...

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