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Journey to Arezzo

Nicholas Penny: The Apotheosis of Piero, 17 April 2003

Piero della Francesca 
by Roberto Longhi, translated by David Tabbat.
Sheep Meadow, 364 pp., £32.50, September 2002, 1 878818 77 5
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... features’, and the effect of dawn light (the way the ‘cold grey morning creeps along the hills, and the dark trees stand motionless’), are better conveyed by Layard’s prose than they are by the print, which reduced the fresco to an easel picture. Indeed, Layard himself insisted that Piero’s easel pictures ‘afford but a faint idea of his ...


David Gilmour: On Richard Cobb, 21 May 1987

... historians. No one would ever suggest that Raymond Carr thought like a Madrid teddy-boy or that Denis Mack Smith wrote like un ragazzo di borgata. A ‘sense of place’ is perhaps a commoner attribute, although Cobb’s descriptions of places, often in sentences of about 250 words, are unlike other people’s and immediately recognisable. He once described ...

Plot 6, Row C, Grave 15

Malcolm Gaskill: Death of an Airman, 8 November 2018

... Udine crosses a plateau of vineyards and terracotta-roofed farms backed by an indistinct range of hills. After an hour or so it stops at Mestre, allowing a glimpse of Venice across the lagoon, then retreats into the campagna. As we headed north, the hills bulked larger and darker. We got off the train at Conegliano, just ...

The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh: Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels, 17 April 2014

... of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ – he snapped ...

Putting it on

David Marquand, 12 September 1991

A Life at the Centre 
by Roy Jenkins.
Macmillan, 600 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 333 55164 8
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... successful, highly competitive, remarkably assiduous professional politician. To use a phrase of Denis Healey’s, he is, of course, a politician with a hinterland – wine, food, family, friends, talk, travel, croquet, books. Sometimes, the hinterland has loomed so large that the city it serves seems almost to have disappeared from sight. Everyone knows ...


Arnold Rattenbury: Hamish Henderson, 23 January 2003

Collected Poems and Songs 
by Hamish Henderson, edited by Raymond Ross.
Curly Snake, 163 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 1 902141 01 6
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... Time. After all, Blake was the only English poet noted in the Elegies, among Hölderlin, Goethe, Denis Saurat, Sorley MacLean, Dante and Ossian. Blake had written, ‘Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau’; Henderson: Fuck on, fuck on, Verlaine, Rimbaud You blissful buggers; fuck again – For on my heart as on the town The small drops of your poems ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories, 24 January 2013

The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... 1945, the mind drifts off time and again to the sacred grove of Diana at Lake Nemi in the Alban hills. In antiquity this idyllic setting was the scene of a ‘strange and recurring tragedy’ which provided the point of departure for James Frazer’s anthropological classic, The Golden Bough. The grove was guarded by a wary figure, a priest and a ...

The dogs in the street know that

Nick Laird: A Week in Mid-Ulster, 5 May 2005

... officials (one of them the party’s chief administrator at Stormont, the former IRA prisoner Denis Donaldson) had been arrested for allegedly stealing and copying hundreds of official documents ‘useful to terrorists in carrying out acts of violence’. The incident had made the Assembly unworkable, and on 14 October it was suspended, for the fourth ...

Who to Be

Colm Tóibín: Beckett’s Letters, 6 August 2009

The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929-40 
edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 782 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 521 86793 1
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... there. Ten days later, he described the Wicklow mountains: I walk immeasurably & unrestrainedly, hills and dales, all day, and back with a couple of pints from the Powerscourt Arms under my Montparnasse belt through the Homer dusk. Often very moving and it helps to swamp the usual palpitations. But I disagree with you about the gardenish landscape. The ...

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