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Under threat

Frank Kermode

21 June 1984
Tributes: Interpreters of our Cultural Tradition 
by E.H. Gombrich.
Phaidon, 270 pp., £17.50, April 1984, 0 7148 2338 4
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... Sir Ernst Gombrich here collects various memorial lectures and memoirs of distinguished colleagues. He is a lecturer of high accomplishment – indeed I doubt if he has any serious rival in the shaping and illustration of an argument. Normally he uses not one but two magic lanterns ...
5 November 1981
Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900 
by Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny.
Yale, 376 pp., £20, March 1981, 0 300 02641 2
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... to be familiar. Of these, some of us can still visualise the Laocoon, the Apollo Belvedere or the Hercules Farnese, but would we, or would our students, be equally able to distinguish the Farnese Flora from the Capitoline Flora, or the Minerva Giustiniani from the Pallas Velletri? In future, we shall be spared any embarrassment on that score, for here is a ...
21 February 1980
Ideals and Idols 
by E.H. Gombrich.
Phaidon, 224 pp., £9.95, November 1980, 0 7148 2009 1
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... Sir Ernst Gombrich is not only one of the very few historians of art now alive whose ideas have aroused wide interest outside his immediate discipline, but he is also an astonnishingly skilful lecturer. It is therefore only appropriate that he should so often have been invited to give those formal university lectures devoted to the discussion of general cultural issues ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Pisanello

29 November 2001
... Pisanello, the subject of an exhibition which can be seen until 13 January at the National Gallery, was admired above any of his contemporaries in the 15th-century Italian Courts, and much praised and patronised. He was, by any definition, fashionable, a man who both made and recorded fashionable things. The exhibition includes a remarkable proportion of his surviving work: the drawings document the efforts of embroiderers, tailors, furriers, hatters, armourers, hawkers, huntsmen, dog breeders, harness makers and horse copers – the makers or minders of gear for the princely pastimes of choice ...

Why We Weep

Peter de Bolla: Looking and Feeling

6 March 2003
Pictures & Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings 
by James Elkins.
Routledge, 272 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 415 93713 2
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... equivalent to another, say a feeling of joy or wonder? Does the absence of agitation signal something of importance in respect of the artwork, or is it merely an indication that my perceptual faculties are not tuned in? Some days I may get all choked up listening to Mahler; on others I seem to be indifferent. An answer to the question with which I began ...
15 July 1999
Rembrandt by Himself 
edited by Christopher White and Quentin Buvelot.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781857092523
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Rembrandt: The Painter at Work 
by Ernst van de Wetering.
Amsterdam University Press, 340 pp., £52.50, November 1997, 90 5356 239 7
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... to the community at large. In Rembrandt’s case this appeal comes chiefly from his treatment of the human figure, in his portraits especially, and above all, the self-portraits he painted in his old age. In the current exhibition in the National Gallery basement, seventy-odd likenesses of the artist have been brought ...

Just How It was

Anne Hollander: The work of Henri Cartier-Bresson

7 May 1998
Tête à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson 
edited by E.H. Gombrich.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £32, February 1998, 9780500542187
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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans 
edited by Jean Clair.
Thames and Hudson, 231 pp., £29.95, January 1998, 0 500 28052 5
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... work began as the mirror of one epoch and is ending as that of another, simply because he invented the best mirror and kept polishing it Cartier-Bresson’s influence has been immense since his beginnings, not just on photography but on cinema and photojournalism, so that ...
1 March 1984
A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. I: The First Thousand Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by David Chibbett.
Macmillan, 319 pp., £20, September 1979, 0 333 19882 4
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. II: The Years of Isolation 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 22088 9
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. III: The Modern Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 307 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34133 3
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World within Walls 
by Donald Keene.
Secker, 624 pp., £15, January 1977, 0 436 23266 9
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Modern Japanese Poets and the Nature of Literature 
by Makoto Ueda.
Stanford, 451 pp., $28.50, September 1983, 0 8047 1166 6
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Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake 
by Edward Seidensticker.
Allen Lane, 302 pp., £16.95, September 1983, 0 7139 1597 8
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... history, literary history? Are not all texts on the same level, just texts? Is history not something synchronic, merely a different way of talking about language? The views implied by these rhetorical questions seem wrong to many people, myself included. But I feel compelled to say that an unexamined, unfalsifiabl...

Something of His Own

Jonathan Rée: Gotthold Lessing

6 February 2014
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: His Life, Works and Thought 
by H.B. Nisbet.
Oxford, 734 pp., £85, September 2013, 978 0 19 967947 8
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... German philosophy as a whole. But the plot was stupid as well as devious. The academicians must be hopeless at English if they believed that Pope’s declaration that ‘whatever is, is right’ had anything to do with Leibniz’s ‘everything is for the best,’ or that either of them could be reduced to the fatuous assurance that ‘all is well.’ And ...

Blite and Whack

Paul Seabright

19 January 1984
A Pocket Popper 
edited by David Miller.
Fontana, 479 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 00 636414 4
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The Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery. Vol. I: Realism and the Aim of Science 
by Karl Popper, edited by W.W. Bartely.
Hutchinson, 420 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 09 151450 9
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The Philosophy of Popper 
by T.E. Burke.
Manchester, 222 pp., £16, July 1983, 0 7190 0904 9
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In Pursuit of Truth: Essays in Honour of Karl Popper’s 80th Birthday 
edited by Paul Levinson.
Harvester, 337 pp., £25, May 1983, 0 7108 0424 5
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Science and Moral Priority 
by Roger Sperry.
Blackwell, 135 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 9780631131991
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Art, Science and Human Progress 
edited by R.B. McConnell.
Murray, 196 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 7195 4018 6
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... universe we live in, is continually under threat from quacks and the pedlars of false certainty. He has shown that what satisfies our curiosity may not be true. His attacks on Marxism, astrology and psychoanalysis have been widely influential. Many working scientists testify to the effect he has had on the actual practice ...

Bristling Ermine

Jeremy Harding: R.W. Johnson

3 May 2017
Look Back in Laughter: Oxford’s Postwar Golden Age 
by R.W. Johnson.
Threshold, 272 pp., £14.50, May 2015, 978 1 903152 35 5
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How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming Crisis 
by R.W. Johnson.
Hurst, 288 pp., £12.99, July 2016, 978 1 84904 723 4
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... a long-standing contributor to the LRB. His first appearance was on the letters page in 1981, where he took ‘mild issue’ with a review of his most celebrated book, The Long March of the French Left. In 1984 he wrote a memorable piece about national intelligence agencies, and the following year, a homage to Pierre Mendès France, one of the best pieces the ...

Durability

Peter Lamarque

15 September 1983
The Critical Historians of Art 
by Michael Podro.
Yale, 257 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 300 02862 8
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A World History of Art 
by Hugh Honour and John Fleming.
Macmillan, 639 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 333 23583 5
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The Test of Time: An Essay in Philosophical Aesthetics 
by Anthony Savile.
Oxford, 319 pp., £20, July 1982, 0 19 824590 4
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... we might speak of an artist or group of artists progressing within a style or in the use of a technique, the idea, optimistically advanced by Pliny and Vasari, that the history of art is itself a linear progression towards some ultimate ideal can be afforded little credence. Development, though, is different; the ...

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