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Owning Art

Arthur C. Danto, 7 March 1996

Kings and Connoisseurs: Collecting Art in 17th-Century Europe 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 264 pp., £35, September 1995, 0 300 06437 3
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Art & Money 
by Marc Shell.
Chicago, 230 pp., £27.95, June 1995, 0 226 75213 5
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... the home of a major collector of contemporary art, where the topic arose of the house which Bill Gates, the legendarily successful head of Microsoft, is having built for himself at a rumoured cost of anything up to $30 million. We sought to understand how a house could cost so much, and the somewhat stammering conjecture was that it must be due to the ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... to us, why shouldn’t we believe that the members of this group arranged 9/11? Or that Bill Gates is planning to kill us with vaccines, or inject us with nanochips hidden in vaccines, or both? Why shouldn’t the entire course of world events have been planned by a group of elite families hundreds, even thousands, of years ago? Why shouldn’t there be ...

Hons and Wets

D.A.N. Jones, 6 December 1984

The House of Mitford 
by Jonathan Guinness and Catherine Guinness.
Hutchinson, 604 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 09 155560 4
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... is encouraged in this ‘nostalgia’ by her most Betjemanic young friend, Albert (‘Memorial’) Gates, a surrealist artist who annoys the elders with his modern, pacifist dissidence, as well as his eccentric reverence for ‘Victorian monstrosities’. The girl tells another chum about her splendid Victorian grandparents: ‘Brains often skip a ...

Warthog Dynamism

David Bromwich, 19 November 2020

... resistance: he sided with Douglas Lute and General Cartwright, against Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, in telling Obama in 2009 to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan immediately. Again, in the case of Libya, Biden made the right arguments (though again Obama declined to follow them) in opposing the overthrow of Gaddafi. It will take the same nerve, under ...

Drones, baby, drones

Andrew Cockburn, 8 March 2012

... who’d helped plan the bombing campaign – notably an ambitious lieutenant colonel called David Deptula – saw the victory as proof of the virtues of what they called ‘Effects Based Operations’. Advances in technology, they reported, meant that the US could locate strategic targets and destroy them with absolute precision. It was now ...

The Ashtray

Nicholas Penny, 4 June 1981

The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Princeton, 270 pp., £25.10, March 1981, 0 691 03967 4
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... Late one evening, leaving a dinner party at the American Embassy, I ran into David Carritt, who told me he had come across a circular bronze relief of the Virgin and Child in use as an ashtray.’ The narrator is Sir John Pope-Hennessy and his nocturnal encounter was with one of the most hawk-eyed art-dealers in Europe ...

Putting on Some English

Terence Hawkes: Eagleton’s Rise, 7 February 2002

The Gatekeeper: A Memoir 
by Terry Eagleton.
Allen Lane, 178 pp., £9.99, January 2002, 0 7139 9590 4
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... the good fortune to grow up in a time when the Catholic Church seemed intent on flinging its own gates wide open, provoking a virtual stampede of monks and nuns, who leaped the walls to the sound of guitars and the whiff of illegal substances in something like ‘an ecclesiastical version of Escape from Colditz’. Escape certainly seemed a good idea at a ...

Roman Fever

Sarah Perry, 26 September 2019

Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire 
by Jessica Howell.
Cambridge, 238 pp., £75, October 2018, 978 1 108 48468 8
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... David Soren​ of the University of Arizona was excavating the remains of a villa just outside Lugnano in Umbria in 1992 when he uncovered a fifth-century mass grave: 47 small skeletons had been interred in layers, some pressed into large amphorae. A number of them were newborn babies. The deepest layer held only a corpse or two, but the higher levels were increasingly populated ...

True Grit

David Craig, 8 February 1996

Wainwright: The Biography 
by Hunter Davies.
Joseph, 356 pp., £16.99, October 1995, 0 7181 3909 7
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... walk for dogs, small children, well behaved women and the like.   Midway between the two Hell Gates, Needle Gully and a branch gully, full of scree, cut across the South traverse ... If proceeding west (i.e. from Sty Head) the two rising branch-paths may be followed by mistake without realising that the traverse has been left, they being the more ...


Stephen Smith: In Mogadishu, 23 July 1992

... Ahmed turns the car around and there are only the two of us in it. The guards open the tall metal gates to let us out, and there is no sign of the Toyota pick-up which escorted us from the airport, a machine-gun mounted behind the cab, a man braced against it as if he were in the prow of a whaler. I catch sight of an anxious face in the wing mirror and ...


David Craig: Episodes on the Rock, 13 May 1993

... along Devil’s Tower Road to what looks like the only other feasible access, a pair of open steel gates in a solid, well-painted yellow wall. It’s Royal Navy property, apparently. A young serviceman in a blue uniform and beret was here earlier. Now the yard inside is deserted, seemingly disused. Nothing could be less shipshape or Bristol fashion. The bare ...

Axeman as Ballroom Dancer

David Blackbourn, 17 July 1997

Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany 1600-1987 
by Richard J. Evans.
Oxford, 1014 pp., £55, March 1996, 0 19 821968 7
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... partly mimics the declining ritual element in executions themselves, as they moved behind prison gates; it also shows how hard it is to transcend the very different paradigms that have developed in writing on Early Modern and modern European history. Few even try to bridge that divide. If Evans has not entirely succeeded, he has also not written the ...


David Craig: In Florence, 26 November 1998

... in Bivigliano. We change down hurriedly into our lowest gear as the road climbs past locked metal gates leading to villas shuttered against the heat – then dismount equally hurriedly and push our bikes uphill past slopes luxuriant with beech and sweet chestnut. The hill is crowned with the usual Christian apparatus: barrack-like convent, church with ...

White Man’s Heaven

Michael Wood, 7 February 1991

Talking at the GatesA Life of James Baldwin 
by James Campbell.
Faber, 306 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 0 571 15391 7
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James Baldwin: Artist on Fire 
by W.J. Weatherby.
Joseph, 412 pp., £17.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3403 6
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... similarities from zone to zone, and that we can use one fear to illuminate another. In this novel David is a white American of uncertain sexual allegiance, more or less engaged to a girl called Hella. David falls in love with Giovanni, a barman in a gay bar in Paris. This love is vivid, captivating, the real coup de ...

Woken up in Seattle

Michael Byers: WTO woes, 6 January 2000

... producing what it’s best at producing, and exporting that abroad. The writings of Adam Smith and David Ricardo are so influential in the trade world that most experts refuse even to discuss the merits of this basic laissez-faire assumption. The US, born out of a tax revolt in the same year that The Wealth of Nations was published, has long accepted it, and ...

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