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Peter Campbell: Anthony van Dyck

16 September 1999
Anthony van Dyck 1599-1641 
by Christopher Brown and Hans Vlieghe.
Royal Academy, 360 pp., £22.50, May 1999, 9780847821969
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Anthony van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641 
by Robin Blake.
Constable, 435 pp., £25, August 1999, 9780094797208
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... a prodigy. He seems to have entered Rubens’s studio in his late teens and been assisting him in major commissions by the time he was 21. In his admirable introduction to the exhibition catalogue, ChristopherBrown writes that ‘it is impossible to over-emphasise the impact of Rubens’s new style on the young Van Dyck’ – the style, that is, of the pictures Rubens painted after his return from Italy ...
5 April 1984
TheSinking of the ‘Belgrano’ 
by Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon.
Secker, 192 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 436 41332 9
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Our Falklands War 
edited by Geoffrey Underwood.
Maritime Books, 144 pp., £3.95, November 1983, 0 907771 08 4
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... letting various cats out of various bags by revealing to the Scottish press corps that he had sunk the Belgrano on orders from Fleet Headquarters at Northwood. Now we find the submarine commander, Christopher Wreford-Brown DSO, saying in Our Falklands War: We were tasked to look for and find the General Belgrano Group. It was reported to consist of the cruiser and escorts. We located her on our passive ...

Corsock

Christopher​ Salvesen

19 April 1984
... there was one ... One that I always looked for, A different colour and shape – Its bonnet was like a car’s – From the bigger smarter lines, Red and white Caledonian, Carruthers, yellow and brown: Its paintwork strangely faded With a bluey-mauve, chalky Only half-metallic bloom That made it seem like a shell Or even a kind of flower, As though already a part Of the narrow country roads Whose ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher​ Hitchens

17 August 1989
Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... national resentment against Thatcherism as well as a more or less conventional Labourist one. Both men are of an age, and both have backgrounds in a harder Left than the one they now espouse. Gordon Brown was one of the convenor/editors of the Red Paper for Scotland in the early Seventies, and John Lloyd saw the inside of the Communist Party before helping to found a pro-European Marxist tendency at ...

Dead Button: China Command Aircrew

Christopher​ Middleton

2 October 1997
... but first Sorrow, deep, no news, a lacuna cut out In the air. Twenty-six I was, ships below. Our bombs away we headed for home. No home. Told it was under attack, we Deviated, where to, beneath us brown Rice-paddies, we supposed, then up Soaring toward those mountain temples Ancient painters faintly inked in. Off the map. Again we deviated, where Nothing spoke, the radio spat and crackled, Rock was ...

Doing Chatting

Eleanor Birne: Asperger’s

9 October 2003
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time 
by Mark Haddon.
Cape, 272 pp., £10.99, May 2003, 0 224 06378 2
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... once in the 23 years since she died, and then only because he forced his way in after finding blood on the doorstep (a cycling accident, David claimed). The same chequered lino is there, the same brown curtains; the jigsaw my grandmother was in the middle of when she died is still out on the table, dusty and half-assembled. On the wall in the corridor hangs the granddaughter clock she left me and ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: A 17-year-old murder victim

5 February 1998
... naked and decapitated. It had been cut in two and left in a Puma sports bag in a rubbish bin at the rear of the New Central Hotel in Blackpool. The police identified the body as that of 17-year-old Christopher Hartley. A minute or two went by before you began to wonder how they’d managed it. Presumably from fingerprints: police sources indicated that Christopher had a criminal record, though they didn ...

Triumph of the Termites

Tom Nairn: Gordon Brown

8 April 2010
The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Viking, 802 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 670 91851 5
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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the Dream Job Turned Sour 
edited by Colin Hughes.
Guardian, 294 pp., £8.99, January 2010, 978 0 85265 219 0
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Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown 
by Christopher​ Harvie.
Verso, 206 pp., £8.99, February 2010, 978 1 84467 439 8
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... Much of the tale is conveyed by the covers. A sad, thoughtfully dithering photo of the prime minister fronts What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown? The cover of Christopher Harvie’s book features a cartoon from the Independent: an apocalyptic lightning flash strikes and anoints David Cameron, while Brown and Alistair Darling flee London as Parliament quakes against ...

Sticking with the Pagans

Christopher​ Kelly

4 November 1993
Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire 
by Peter Brown.
Wisconsin, 192 pp., £36, December 1992, 0 299 13340 0
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... explosive relationships to be expressed, negotiated and policed. In showing how a common, Classically-based culture was central to the political imagination of the later Roman upper class, Brown has revealed an elegant and powerful moral economy, underpinned by necessity (central government could not have functioned without the co-operation of the Empire’s upper classes in collecting taxes ...

Bollockshire

Christopher​ Reid

18 October 2001
... yellow of that hillside rape crop, the grim Norse green of that fir plantation, where every tree    steps forward to greet you    with the same zombie gesture of exclamation, the last-ditch brown of – what could it be? Something to do with pigs?    Row on row    of miniature Nissen huts laid out like a new speculative estate in acres of glistening mud, behind an electronic gate ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde

5 February 1998
The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... of his work appeared last October alone. The Telegraph still uses him as sexual deviancy’s whipping-boy (‘his behaviour often hovered dangerously close to being that of a paedophile,’ snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released). Julia Prewitt Brown sees him as a philosophical heavyweight; and celebrates his ‘dodginess’ in order to instal him in a post-dualist ...

La Bête républicaine

Christopher​ Prendergast

5 September 1996
The Dreyfus Affair: ‘J’Accuse’ and Other Writings 
by Emile Zola, edited by Alain Pagès, translated by Eleanor Levieux.
Yale, 208 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 300 06689 9
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Zola: A Life 
by Frederick Brown.
Farrar, Straus, 888 pp., £37.50, May 1996, 0 374 29742 8
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... life: how to get his mistress, Jeanne Rozerot, and their two children to England, while endeavouring to keep his wife, Alexandrine, moderately happy. This is the stuff of biography and Frederick Brown trawls through it in considerable detail. In this 888-page Life, he does the same with almost everything that catches his attention. There is indeed not much one can say about the book, for the ...

Amigos

Christopher​ Ricks

2 August 1984
The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... Congratulatory Ode ...’, but it is the purr of mutual congratulation which is deafening. ‘Parody is frequently welcomed by its victims, who recognise it as a compliment, however backhanded.’ Christopher Reid touches on all this, not backhandedly but caressingly, in his ‘Letter to Myself’ of Clive James: Dear Clive, I’ve meant to scribble you a letter For some time now. I know you like to get ...

Silks and Bright Scarlet

Christopher​ Kelly: Wealth and the Romans

3 December 2015
Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD 
by Peter Brown.
Princeton, 759 pp., £16.95, March 2014, 978 0 691 16177 8
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The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity 
by Peter Brown.
Harvard, 262 pp., £18.95, April 2015, 978 0 674 96758 8
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... the theology and institutions of Christianity in the western Mediterranean in the fourth and fifth centuries. The working out of these various, often divergent points of view is the concern of Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of a Needle. One of the great strengths of this humane and thoughtful discussion is Brown’s refusal to rush to its conclusion: the nexus of wealth, charitable giving and ...

Super-Real

Peter Campbell

18 March 1982
The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher​ Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... shock. The Pre-Raphaelites too often embarrassed – and still embarrass. Moreover, there is something rather dogged about some aspects of the Pre-Raphaelite work ethic. In April 1855, Ford Madox Brown wrote in his diary about the drawing for Work: ‘This is now to me a species of intoxication,’ he exclaims. ‘When I drew in the poor little vixen girl pulling her brother’s hair, I quite ...

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