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Inconstancy

Peter Campbell, 20 July 1995

Brancusi 
Pompidou Centre, August 1995Show More
Constantin Brancusi: A Survey of His work 
by Sanda Miller.
Oxford, 256 pp., £45, April 1995, 0 19 817514 0
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Constantin Brancusi Photographe 
by Elizabeth Brown.
Assouline, 79 pp., frs 99, April 1995, 2 908228 23 8
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Constantin Brancusi: 1876-1957 
by Margit Rowell and Ann Temkin.
Gallimard, 408 pp., frs 390, April 1995, 2 85850 819 4
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... can be constructed in a museum, the most satisfying publication on sale at the exhibition is Elizabeth Brown’s book of Brancusi’s photographs. The studio photographs are also reproduced in the catalogue, often facing colour plates of the same subjects, made in the technically brilliant high-key manner perfected for the photography of ...

Room for the Lambs

Elizabeth Spelman: Sexual equality, 26 January 2006

Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws 
by Catharine MacKinnon.
Harvard, 558 pp., £25.95, March 2005, 0 674 01540 1
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... in response to MacKinnon’s claim that the eponymous act of the original film was dangerous. Tina Brown, former editor of the New Yorker, described her, with a ‘tight white face and 19th-century hairdo’ making ‘her look like Carry Nation on the South Beach diet’, launching into ‘a tirade about how Inside Deep Throat had failed to point out that ...

Brown Goo like Marmite

Neal Ascherson: Memories of the Fog, 8 October 2015

London Fog: The Biography 
by Christine Corton.
Harvard, 408 pp., £22.95, November 2015, 978 0 674 08835 1
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... hemmed in to the north by hills. The atmosphere was already thickening in Tudor times, as Queen Elizabeth declared herself ‘greatly grieved and annoyed with the taste and smoke of sea-coles’. Then and in the 17th century, industry was blamed; wood-smoke from lime-burning and fumes from coal (‘sea-coal’) burned in breweries, bakeries and glass ...

Was it a supernova?

Frank Kermode: The Nativity, 4 January 2007

The Nativity: History and Legend 
by Geza Vermes.
Penguin, 177 pp., £7.99, November 2006, 0 14 102446 1
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... by Geza Vermes I’d have advised anybody showing an interest in these matters to consult Raymond Brown’s The Birth of the Messiah, a work of some six hundred pages which, like all Brown’s numerous publications, is a monument to his indefatigable though sometimes fatiguing scholarship. ...

Relations will stop at nothing

Philip Horne, 5 March 1987

The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William Dean Howells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... market, and the wish to maintain his useful friendships with W.D. Howells, the originator, and Elizabeth Jordan, the editor, of the strange Harper’s project. If these are plausible causes for James’s involvement, however, they don’t seem wholly to account for the way in which, when his turn came, the creative James showed an intense engagement with ...

Deadly Eliza

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: ‘The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors’, 1 November 2001

The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors 
by William Dean Howells et al.
Duke, 416 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2838 0
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Publishing the Family 
by June Howard.
Duke, 304 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2771 6
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... family both within the narrative and outside it. Howells’s letter to the magazine’s editor, Elizabeth Jordan, has not survived, but according to Jordan, it ‘almost scorched the paper it was written on’: ‘Don’t, don’t let her ruin our beautiful story!’ Howells’s original proposal for The Whole Family had devoted more attention to its ...

Valorising Valentine Brown

Patricia Craig, 5 September 1985

Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... of the new English-speaking aristocracy that had ousted the old Irish-speaking one. ‘Valentine Brown’, as these purists saw it, was the sort of ludicrous name an arriviste landowner might call himself – someone who’d installed himself in a demesne of the great McCarthys, now dead or dispersed. In this world, the speaker of ‘cunning ...

Against the Current

Paul Rogers: British Sea Power, 6 February 2020

... has also been patrolling the area, supported by two Royal Fleet Auxiliaries. HMS ‘Queen Elizabeth’ in February 2018. On its own, this expansion is significant and would increase the navy’s role in any future conflict in the Gulf – say, in an American war against Iran. What is striking, however, is that the British government is explicitly ...

What his father gets up to

Patrick Parrinder, 13 September 1990

My Son’s Story 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0764 3
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Age of Iron 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 181 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 436 20012 0
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... a novel in which the reader, too, is irresistibly caught. In J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron, Elizabeth Curren, a retired Classics lecturer, is dying of cancer in Cape Town. When, in her bedridden state, she thinks of her house as a ‘late bourgeois tomb’, she is doubtless signalling that she has read or heard of Nadine Gordimer’s work. Though it is ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery, 3 November 2016

... in his much less enjoyable The New Book of Snobs: A Definitive Guide to Modern Snobbery (Little, Brown, £16.99). His first mistake is to attempt a definition rather than rely on examples. He suggests that a snob is someone who observes ‘a distinction made for the wrong reason’ or makes judgments based on ‘false values’ but this is a circular ...

Want-of-Tin and Want-of-Energy

Dinah Birch: The lives of the Rossettis, 20 May 2004

The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume One 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 464 pp., £95, July 2002, 9780859915281
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The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume Two 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 640 pp., £95, July 2002, 0 85991 637 5
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William and Lucy: The Other Rossettis 
by Angela Thirlwell.
Yale, 376 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 300 10200 3
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... around his life. Something similar might be said of the woman William married – Lucy Madox Brown, the daughter of Ford Madox Brown and his first wife, Elizabeth Bromley. Lucy seems to have been pushed to the side when Elizabeth died. Relations ...

Tunnel Vision

Jenny Diski: Princess Diana, 2 August 2007

The Diana Chronicles 
by Tina Brown.
Century, 481 pp., £18.99, June 2007, 978 1 84605 286 6
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Diana 
by Sarah Bradford.
Penguin, 443 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 14 027671 8
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... a warning. Still, you wonder, is there really anything more to say? The answer is no, but Tina Brown and Sarah Bradford soldier on nevertheless. Each of them has produced hundreds of pages based on books already written (by journalists, her friends, his friends, butlers, nannies, ex-employers, protection officers, a speech trainer, lovers, paparazzi) and ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith, 25 June 1992

The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... As readers of her book on The Ladies of Llangollen will know, Elizabeth Mavor relishes spirited, unorthodox women, free with their tongues and ready to snap their fingers at convention. Now she has found a new clutch of them in the Archives of the Royal Irish Academy: an Irish countess, a Russian princess, a young woman from Co ...

Man Is Wolf to Man

Malcolm Gaskill: C.J. Sansom, 23 January 2020

Tombland 
by C.J. Sansom.
Pan Macmillan, 866 pp., £8.99, September 2019, 978 1 4472 8451 2
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... Shardlake has a gimlet eye and a sharp mind. His character owes something to Chesterton’s Father Brown, except that where Brown draws on insights into human nature deriving from years in the confessional, Shardlake’s speciality is the sifting and weighing of evidence.Like all the best detectives, Shardlake is also an ...

Stony Ground

Peter D. McDonald: J.M. Coetzee, 20 October 2005

J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event 
by Derek Attridge.
Chicago, 225 pp., £13.50, May 2005, 0 226 03117 9
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Slow Man 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 265 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 436 20611 0
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... this what we are to call Coetzee’s third-person, present-tense autobiographies, for instance, or Elizabeth Costello’s lectures? – but it has implications for all the labels used in literary criticism. Take the designation ‘late Modernist’, which David Attwell, one of Coetzee’s most astute early champions, applied to his fiction in the 1990s. Though ...

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