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Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’

9 December 2019
Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... and something very close to poverty [were] inextricably combined’. All four at some point shared a bed with Lucian Freud; at least three of them slept with Arthur Koestler; and two of them married Derek Jackson, who had previously been married to Pamela Mitford and would eventually tot up six marriages.Before I go on, I want to mention a paradox that I’d like someone to explain to me. On the one ...

Merry Companies

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: The Golden Age of Dutch painting

20 January 2005
Dutch 17th-century Genre Painting: Its Stylistic and Thematic Evolution 
by Wayne Franits.
Yale, 328 pp., £45, June 2004, 0 300 10237 2
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... and women eating, drinking and music-making; but the educated viewer would recognise in a Merry Company an allegory of the five senses and read a warning against indulgence in the paintings on the wall behind them. A young boy blowing bubbles in a Jan Steen Brewery should be interpreted as a moralising reflection on transience, and so, too, should a small bone lying next to some playing cards in an ...
27 September 2018
How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek​ Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek​ Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek​ Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek​ Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... not feel it yet. Might not know it yet, except you did. ‘A new class of lifetime pariahs’, Susan Sontag called them in Aids and Its Metaphors: ‘the future ill’. The artist and film-maker Derek Jarman remembered his HIV diagnosis, in 1986: I thought: this is not true, then I realised the enormity. I had been pushed into yet another corner, this time for keeps … The perception that knowing ...

Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart

18 September 1980
C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... that Miss Anscombe had completely demolished his specific arguments for the existence of God. And he added, with characteristic candour: ‘At the Socratic the enemy often wipe the floor with us.’ Derek Brewer, a pupil of Lewis’s who was later to become Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, formed the impression that Lewis attended, and presided over, the Socratic ‘entirely as a sacrificial ...

Complacent Bounty

Susan Eilenberg: The Detachment of Muriel Spark

15 December 2005
All the Poems 
by Muriel Spark.
Carcanet, 130 pp., £9.95, October 2004, 9781857547733
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The Finishing School 
by Muriel Spark.
Penguin, 156 pp., £6.99, April 2005, 9780141005980
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... in these scenes, half-disguised) is as much spectator as inmate. Her emotions have no privacy from one another: affection hears malice coughing and taking off its shoes on the other side of the wall and sighs at the mess curiosity always leaves on the tub. As the young mid-century Fleur of Loitering with Intent, she contemplates an old woman with a visual greed as unsettling as it is endearing ...

The Last Hundred Days

Peter Wollen: Kassel’s Mega-Exhibition

3 October 2002
Documenta 11 
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... all of whom are widely recognised and esteemed. A smaller number are based on the West Coast, including Allan Sekula and Raymond Pettibon in California, together with Stan Douglas, Ken Lum and Jeff Wall, all born and based in Vancouver. London fared well, too, with artists such as Kutlug Ataman, Mona Hatoum, Isaac Julien, Steve McQueen and Yinka Shonibare; while Pierre Huyghe, Annette Messager and ...


Conrad Russell

7 November 1985
F.W. Maitland 
by G.R. Elton.
Weidenfeld, 118 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 297 78614 8
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Renaissance Essays 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 312 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 436 42511 4
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History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick 
edited by Derek​ Beales and Geoffrey Best.
Cambridge, 335 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 25486 8
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... reminds us that ‘the pagans did not know they were pagans until the Christians told them they were.’ By grouping them all together under this label, the Christians ‘created an invisible social wall between themselves and their non-Christian neighbours’. To the manning of this wall, they brought the detestation of idolatry characteristic of the jealous God of Israel. For the first time ...
3 December 1992
The Power of News: The History of Reuters 
by Donald Read.
Oxford, 330 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 19 821776 5
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... ranging from No 1, a photograph of the founder and his son, the strangely whiskered Julius Reuter and Herbert, circa 1870, to No 63, a Reuters news picture of the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989. No 17 shows an outpost of the Reuters empire in 1900: Kalgoorlie, Australia, with men in suits and one in a straw hat lounging outside the Miners Institute, which also serves as the office ...


Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
... from the facts at the outset, I’d probably have demurred on grounds of historical accuracy. But the nearer one gets to production the bolder one gets. I hope it’s boldness anyway. 23 February. Derek Jarman has died. I liked his writing more than I did his films though I wish he had made the film which he once asked me to write, about his father, a Battle of Britain pilot who turned kleptomaniac ...

Lincoln, Illinois

William Fiennes

6 March 1997
All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories 
by William Maxwell.
Harvill, 415 pp., £10.99, January 1997, 1 86046 308 8
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So Long, See You Tomorrow 
by William Maxwell.
Harvill, 135 pp., £8.99, January 1997, 9781860463075
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... of the sea rolled on as it had rolled five thousand years ago’) and of Wallace Stevens’s ‘Fabliau of Florida’ (‘There will never be an end/To this droning of the surf’) and of the way Derek Walcott would later bring Omeros to a close, with Achille landing his catch of mackerel and hauling his boat onto the sand: ‘When he left the beach the sea was still going on.’ It is the late ...
19 December 1991
Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Picador, 316 pp., £15.95, October 1991, 0 330 31994 9
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... on that cold evening for the nearly seven hundred people who milled around the lower three floors of the townhouse, thrilled that saloonkeeper Fred Moore and CBS heir Bill Paley Jr had convinced Derek and the Dominos to perform live and loud. The food from the Gandy Dancer restaurant was splendid, the wines were vintage and the drugs grown and manufactured by designers with PhDs in botany and ...

Did she go willingly?

Marina Warner: Helen of Troy

7 October 2010
Helen of Troy: From Homer to Hollywood 
by Laurie Maguire.
Wiley-Blackwell, 280 pp., £55, April 2009, 978 1 4051 2634 2
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... academic specialism, Elizabethan literature (John Lyly gives Helen a scar on her chin – the equivalent of the flaw in a Ming vase that perfects it). The book opens with the Iliad and closes with Derek Walcott’s novel-like epic poem Omeros, in which Helen is a servant in the house of Major and Mrs Plunkett, colonials in the Caribbean; this Helen wears a yellow dress which she has either been ...


Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year

8 January 2004
... floor (now covered over) once the floor of the chancel. There are box pews, aged down to a silvery grey, a three-decker pulpit, Jacobean altar rails and the remains of whitewash-blurred medieval wall-paintings. It’s an immensely appealing place, not unlike Lead in Yorkshire or Heath near Ludlow. Good graves on the north side, some for a family called Secker who seem to live in the manor house ...


Adam Mars-Jones

21 September 1995
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 231 pp., £14.99, August 1995, 0 436 20059 7
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... across London without seeing even one of Burn’s chosen emblems of poignant kitsch? It’s clear that Gordon Burn and Fullalove aspire to the extremity represented by the best of J.G. Ballard or Derek Raymond, by a Crash or an I Was Dora Suarez. Both of these books retain some residual claim to realism, but work by isolating a lurid element in the world and expanding it almost infinitely ...
19 January 1989
I: The Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity 
by Jonathan Glover.
Allen Lane, 207 pp., £15.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9001 5
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Choice: The Essential Element in Human Action 
by Alan Donagan.
Routledge, 197 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 7102 1168 6
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... injured that they cannot survive without such transplants. So my beneficiaries are both going to ‘remember’ living my life. But will I survive in duplicate? In his book Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit argues that I will survive in duplicate, but without my identity, because the line of my particular identity could not possibly continue in both my beneficiaries simultaneously and there is no ...

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