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Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies, 10 September 2009

The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... images on a wide range of writers and critics in the first three decades of the 20th century. As David Trotter notes in Cinema and Modernism,* his account of the impact of film on Woolf, Joyce and Eliot, critics have tended to associate modernist literature with montage, a term used by Russian film-makers of the 1920s to indicate a quick succession of ...


Hal Foster: Curation, 4 June 2015

Ways of Curating 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Penguin, 192 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 241 95096 8
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Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World – And Everything Else 
by David Balzer.
Pluto, 140 pp., £8.99, April 2015, 978 0 7453 3597 1
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... formation as an Ausstellungsmacher, and it is no more than touched on by the Canadian art critic David Balzer in his breezy book about ‘how curating took over the art world – and everything else’. But both do point out how far we have come from the original avatars of the term (whose root is cura or ‘care’): the curatores, the civil servants who ...

The Macaulay of the Welfare State

David Cannadine, 6 June 1985

The BBC: The First 50 Years 
by Asa Briggs.
Oxford, 439 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 0 19 212971 6
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The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. I: Words, Numbers, Places, People 
Harvester, 245 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0094 0Show More
The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. II: Images, Problems, Standpoints, Forecasts 
Harvester, 324 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0510 1Show More
The 19th Century: The Contradictions of Progress 
edited by Asa Briggs.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 04013 3
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... Victorian People and Victorian Cities; picture books, like The Power of Steam and Ironbridge to Crystal Palace; bestsellers, like A Social History of England; and multi-volume blockbusters, like The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. While lesser historians fiddle over footnotes, Briggs dashes off reviews; while they ruminate over reviews, he ...

Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford, 1 June 2000

Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... of Carlyle, of Mr Ruskin, of Mr Holman Hunt, of Mr Browning, or of the gentleman who built the Crystal Palace.’ Life was not worth living because he knew, and everyone else knew, that he did not have it in him to build the next Crystal Palace. His response to this impossible demand was to develop an ‘almost ...


Julian Loose, 12 May 1994

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow 
by Peter Høeg, translated by F. David.
Harvill, 412 pp., £9.99, September 1993, 0 00 271334 9
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... for the mass of a stalactite, or makes it possible (via complex number systems) to explain the crystal formation of ice. Walking the frozen wastes around her native Thule from a young age, Smilla has developed an uncanny sense of direction that enables her to find her way in the worst blizzard. This special gift is reinforced by an unusually comprehensive ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... films not involving the Muppets fed on fantastical, picaresque literary sources: The Dark Crystal on Tolkien, Labyrinth on Lewis Carroll. (The fact that the latter also represented the indisputable nadir in the career of David Bowie is, for the purposes of this review, neither here nor there.) In the film ...

Broadcasting and the Abyss

Norman Buchan, 14 June 1990

... fought around that phrase, and the whole question of quality. And something was won. The Minister, David Mellor, accepted that ‘exceptional circumstances’ could include quality. This he has now spelled out in the Bill. But it still leaves much unanswered. Little is laid down in relation to ensuring diversity. The customary reference to the broadcaster’s ...

When Pigs Ruled the Earth

James Secord: A prehistoric apocalypse, 1 April 2004

When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time 
by Michael Benton.
Thames and Hudson, 336 pp., £16.95, March 2003, 9780500051160
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... also still be seen in the extraordinary models of extinct monsters built for the grounds of the Crystal Palace when it moved to Sydenham in 1854. Here, iguanodon and other giant dinosaurs, made out of bricks, iron and cement, appear as the lords of reptilian creation. More than a million visitors a year saw these displays in the 19th century, and they ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer, 16 June 2016

Bright Scythe: Selected Poems 
by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patty Crane.
Sarabande, 207 pp., £13, November 2015, 978 1 941411 21 6
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... a neologism, an ordinary word) as ‘glass-clear’ when English says ‘crystal clear’. One language assonates, the other alliterates. (The sentence it occurs in, the first sentence in the first poem in the book, makes a horrid screech anyway in a bafflingly disordered English: ‘The stones we have thrown I hear/fall, glass-clear ...

Living on Apple Crumble

August Kleinzahler: James Schuyler, 17 November 2005

Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-91 
edited by William Corbett.
Turtle Point, 470 pp., £13.99, May 2005, 1 885586 30 2
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... deserved a Pulitzer many times over for his first two collections, Freely Espousing (1969) and The Crystal Lithium (1972), but the collection with the Auden elegy in it isn’t much good. The years of Milltown, Nembutal, Thorazine, lithium and the rest had coarsened Schuyler’s matchlessly delicate touch. Schuyler wasn’t too keen on Auden’s later ...

Homely Virtues

David Cannadine, 4 August 1983

London: The Unique City 
by Steen Eiler Rasmussen.
MIT, 468 pp., £7.30, May 1982, 0 262 68027 0
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Town Planning in London: The 18th and 19th Centuries 
by Donald Olsen.
Yale, 245 pp., £25, October 1982, 0 300 02914 4
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The English Terraced House 
by Stefan Muthesius.
Yale, 278 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 300 02871 7
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London as it might have been 
by Felix Barker and Ralph Hyde.
Murray, 223 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 7195 3857 2
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... Thames-side quay (which looks like something out of Cleopatra); and a scheme for standing the Crystal Palace on its end as a 1,000-foot-high memorial to Albert (the ‘Towering Inferno’ before its time). For foolishness, there is a monument to Nelson in the form of an 89-foot-high trident (described by one contemporary as ‘a gigantic toasting ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... of Rip Van Winkle, that the challenge laid down by Canto CXVI (‘I have brought the great ball of crystal;/ who can lift it?/ Can you enter the great acorn of light?’) has never been met. ‘Nothing in English creative writing or criticism since those words were written in the late Fifties really seems an adequate response, except perhaps the via negativa ...

The Wildest, Highest Places

David Craig, 17 July 1997

John Muir: His Life and Letters and Other Writings 
edited by Terry Gifford.
Baton Wicks, 912 pp., £20, November 1996, 1 898573 07 7
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... because he delighted in it, was equal to its rigours, and craved to understand its least leaf and crystal, swarming up its pines in gales of wind and leaning out over the lips of its waterfalls. His feeling for nature is scarcely separable from his piety, which is luxuriant and ecstatic. In the Californian Sierra, ‘the presence of an atmosphere is hardly ...


David Craig: Moore in Prato, 9 December 1999

... from a thousand planes like shot off armour. It’s as though we’re balanced on a titanic crystal that climbs as high as the sun. Cut blocks rest here and there, one with a diamond-shod steel cord tensed motionless a quarter of the way through the stone. ‘They are trimming off poor-quality rock,’ says Carlo while Ron translates. On the lip of the ...


David Runciman: The Problem with English Football, 23 October 2008

... believable 14 seasons. In 1991 the club had to move to Selhurst Park and share a ground with Crystal Palace, once it became clear that Plough Lane could not be adapted into the sort of all-seater stadium required in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. A year later the First Division turned into the Premier League and the money really started to ...

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