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Nicholas Penny

18 March 1982
Michelangelo and the Language of Art 
by David Summers.
Princeton, 626 pp., £26.50, February 1981, 0 691 03957 7
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Bernini in France: An Episode in 17th-Century History 
by Cecil Gould.
Weidenfeld, 158 pp., £12.95, March 1982, 0 297 77944 3
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... Indeed, few have bothered to consider as anything other than ornaments the putti in equally active and varied poses on the thrones of the prophets and sibyls on the same ceiling. I would agree with Summers, who supposes that the ignudi have an ‘ornamental significance’, and also that there is resistance to this because ‘ornament, visual or rhetorical, runs counter to one of the most deeply and ...

Our Soft-Shelled Condition

Katha Pollitt: Corsets

14 November 2002
The Corset: A Cultural History 
by Valerie Steele.
Yale, 204 pp., £29.95, September 2001, 0 300 09071 4
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Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset 
by Leigh Summers.
Berg, 302 pp., £15.99, October 2001, 9781859735107
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... free spirit Emma Goldman gently removes the corset of the famous society beauty Evelyn Nesbit, gives her a wonderful massage, and instantly transforms her from sex object to sensuous liberated woman. David Kunzle challenged this narrative in Fashion and Fetishism: A Social History of Corsets, Tight Lacing and Other Forms of Body Sculpture in the West (1982), arguing that the dangers of corsets were ...

The Fastidious President

David​ Bromwich: The Matter with Obama

18 November 2010
... no point arguing with the generals or doing more than a fast and perfunctory ‘review’. Give them what they want, a Democrat has to: that was his line. Hillary Clinton also backed the generals, David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal and the chief of staff Admiral Mullen, in their request for 40,000 more troops. Indeed she supported them more strongly than Gates did. Jones sought to help Obama by ...

More about Marilyn

Michael Church

20 February 1986
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 414 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 575 03641 9
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Norma Jeane: The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe 
by Fred Lawrence Guiles.
Granada, 377 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 246 12307 9
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Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton 
by C. David​ Heymann.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 09 146010 7
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Deams that money can buy: The Tragic Life of Libby Holman 
by Jon Bradshaw.
Cape, 431 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 224 02846 4
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All Those Tomorrows 
by Mai Zetterling.
Cape, 230 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 224 01841 8
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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady 
by Florence King.
Joseph, 278 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7181 2611 4
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... Department when journalists started probing after her death: Marilyn had been a phone call away from killing Bobby’s career, and possibly brother Jack’s as well. The silence of those whom Anthony Summers failed to catch suggests that the facts about that death are even now divulged at mortal risk. And the damage goes back and back. For her tuition as an actress Marilyn depended utterly on two women ...

Cod on Ice

Andy Beckett: The BBC

10 July 2003
Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride And Paranoia 
by Richard Lindley.
Politico’s, 404 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 1 902301 80 3
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The Harder Path: The Autobiography 
by John Birt.
Time Warner, 532 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 316 86019 0
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... remained, and steadily solidified over the next two decades. It is the source here of many cartoonish stories. Lindley’s account of how he and his colleagues, including the producer Anthony Summers, covered the Yom Kippur War is typical: Once in Tripoli Summers cut a comprehensive deal with a likely looking taxi driver which soon had the Lime Grove contingent speeding day and night across the ...

Cricket’s Superpowers

David​ Runciman: Beyond the Ashes

22 September 2005
... It would be nice, particularly after this summer of summers, to think that the Ashes remains the pre-eminent contest in world cricket, and that Anglo-Australian rivalry is still one of the most significant in all sport. But it is not true, and it hasn’t ...

Short Cuts

David​ Bromwich: Stirrers Up of Strife

17 March 2016
... lies at the edge of Sanders’s concerns, he can count on the general knowledge that Obama’s presidency, especially in the first term, was largely a third Bill Clinton term: Rahm Emanuel, Lawrence Summers, Tom Donilon, Leon Panetta, John Podesta and Hillary Clinton were called back and held over. The interlude of subsequent personal enrichment by Clinton, trading on her prestige and inside knowledge ...
23 July 1987
An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... pimp, did the same. Of the two books, An Affair of State is the more polished and convincing. Honeytrap, in some sections an admirable piece of sleuthing, gets diverted into loose speculation. Summers and Dorril make too much of the ‘Kennedy connection’ – of the great interest the FBI and CIA took in the case. Much of their story depends on the London playgirl, Mariella Novotny, who claimed ...

Mary, Mary

Christopher Hitchens

8 April 1993
Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 576 pp., £18.99, March 1993, 0 575 04236 2
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... to his bluff brutality. I began to see the queer other side to my host, that evil side which gossip had spoken of as not unknown in the German army. [Emphasis mine.] On page 222 of Anthony Summers’s vastly enjoyable and revealing book, we find J. Edgar Hoover’s lovely home in Rock Creek Park being done up at taxpayers’ expense, complete with ‘hand-crafted fruit bowl’ and ‘a heated ...

The Great Accumulator

John Sturrock: W.G. Grace

20 August 1998
W.G. Grace: A Life 
by Simon Rae.
Faber, 548 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 571 17855 3
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W.G.’s Birthday Party 
by David​ Kynaston.
Night Watchman, 154 pp., £13, May 1998, 0 9532360 0 5
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... other High Victorian celebrity, ‘W.E.’ – and a ruling presence on the field of play, the muscular and assertive embodiment of the game in the years of its benign colonisation of the nation’s summers. The physique that famously sustained him was in truth a luxury: Grace was stronger than there was any call for a cricketer to be, ready to go off when young to run hurdle races between innings, and ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín: Rupert Everett

6 September 2007
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... taps had finally run dry. Often, they gave them the number of poor Lord Snowdon. Sometimes this was done out of sheer unpleasantness, but the night it went wrong it was done for pettier motives. Nona Summers, a society hostess, was that evening minding her own business in her own nice home in the company of Jack Nicholson and three hundred others. She had, understandably, drawn the line at Rupert and Min ...

A Peacock Called Mirabell

August Kleinzahler: James Merrill

30 March 2016
James Merrill: Life and Art 
by Langdon Hammer.
Knopf, 913 pp., £27, April 2015, 978 0 375 41333 9
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... supernatural communication’ with assorted spirits including various deceased friends, Auden, Plato and a peacock called Mirabell, all of it recorded with the help of Merrill’s longtime partner, David Jackson, during twenty years of séances using a Ouija board at their home in Stonington, Connecticut. This volume tips in at 560 pages. Merrill also wrote novels, plays and two memoirs. Born to ...
5 February 1981
Nature and Culture 
by Barbara Novak.
Thames and Hudson, 323 pp., £16, August 1980, 0 500 01245 8
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Edward Hopper: The Complete Prints 
by Gail Levin.
Norton, 128 pp., £9.95, April 1980, 0 393 01275 1
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Edward Hopper as illustrator 
by Gail Levin.
Norton, 288 pp., £15.95, April 1980, 0 393 01243 3
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... for instance) please her less than the ‘luminist’ paintings of Heade and Fitz Hugh Lane – those of ‘the still small voice’. She writes of the latter (they resemble the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich) that they ‘brought the 19th century as close as it could come to silence and the void.’ Hopper, whose paintings are ‘silent’ in a similar way, wrote rather tetchily that ‘the ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer

15 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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... are all day; the interleaving of land and water, and city and country; the half-life of religion; the grim pasts and only slightly less grim presents; the unending monochrome winter and the brief summers that are all leaves and insects and blue and green sparkle. His poems, one reads, have been translated into fifty, then sixty, and at the last seventy, languages (which is extraordinary for anyone ...

A Serious Table

Christopher Driver

2 September 1982
Simple French Food 
by Richard Olney.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 339 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 906908 22 1
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Living off nature 
by Judy Urquhart.
Penguin, 396 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 14 005107 4
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The Food and Cooking of Russia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Allen Lane, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7139 1468 8
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Food, Wine and Friends 
by Robert Carrier.
Sphere, 197 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7221 2295 0
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The Colour Book of Fast Food 
edited by Alison Kerr.
Octopus, 77 pp., £1.99, June 1981, 0 7064 1510 8
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... Their lives needed a new focus: they relaxed as though with the relieved expulsion of breath that in a family follows the departure of a particularly tiresome and exacting house guest. Elizabeth David herself – a veteran by marriage of wartime Cairo and pre-Independence Delhi – advised her readers thirty years ago: ‘Devote all the time and resources at your disposal to the building up of a ...

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