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Urgent

Julian Symons

21 February 1991
By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept 
by Elizabeth Smart.
Paladin, 112 pp., £3.99, January 1991, 0 586 09039 8
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The Assumption of the Rogues and Rascals 
by Elizabeth Smart.
Paladin, 112 pp., £3.99, January 1991, 0 586 09040 1
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Necessary Secrets: The Journals of Elizabeth Smart 
edited by Alice Van Wart.
Grafton, 305 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 0 246 13653 7
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... happened. Brophy, acknowledging some obscurities, said they didn’t matter, perhaps were even a virtue, making reading the book like saying ‘a tragic, pagan, exotic rosary’. Another admirer, Francis Wyndham, stayed non-committal about the subject-matter: ‘The narrator is a young girl in love with a married man. That is the “story”.’ Wyndham proved not to be cautious enough. From the ...

Get the placentas

Gavin Francis: ‘The Life Project’

1 June 2016
The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives 
by Helen Pearson.
Allen Lane, 399 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 1 84614 826 2
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... showed that high blood pressure and obesity were more common among those who’d been underweight as babies. There were, it seemed, patterns and cycles to disadvantage. Around the same time David Barker began to show the ways in which nutrition during pregnancy had long-lasting effects not just on babies’ growth, but also on their risk as adults of developing heart disease, diabetes and obesity ...

In the field

Nigel Hamilton

5 November 1981
Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... in his nature.’ I’m sure this could equally be said of Monty. Alexander liquidated his ‘wise and faithful’ Chief of Staff Parmenio, and Monty turned against his brilliant Chief of Staff Sir Francis de Guingand. Alexander the Great was adored by his soldiers – as was Frederick the Great. Both, in Richardson’s view, took to soldiering as a sublimation of homosexual instincts to ‘develop ...

A Generous Quantity of Fat

Paul Henley: Yes, People Were Cooked

2 September 1999
Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American South-West 
by Christy Turner and Jacqueline Turner.
Utah, 512 pp., $60, January 1999, 9780874805666
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Cannibalism and the Colonial World 
edited by Francis Barker and Peter Hulme.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £13.95, August 1998, 0 521 62118 6
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Cannibals: The Discovery and Representation of the Cannibal from Columbus to Jules Verne 
by Frank Lestringant, translated by Rosemary Morris.
Polity, 256 pp., £39.50, April 1997, 0 7456 1697 6
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Chronicles of the Guayakí Indians 
by Pierre Clastres, translated by Paul Auster.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 571 19398 6
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... Even before it was published, Christy and the late Jacqueline Turner’s Man Corn provoked media hubbub. Last November, the New Yorker published a long profile of Christy Turner, and soon afterwards the story was picked up in Britain. The Times dedicated half a page to a discussion of the book’s findings, and even reflected on them in a leader. Turner, a biological anthropologist from Arizona with ...

Shakespeares

David Norbrook

18 July 1985
Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism 
edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield.
Manchester, 244 pp., £19.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1752 1
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Alternative Shakespeares 
edited by John Drakakis.
Methuen, 252 pp., £10.50, July 1985, 0 416 36850 6
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Shakespeare and Others 
by S. Schoenbaum.
Scolar, 285 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 85967 691 9
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Illustrations of the English Stage 1580-1642 
by R.A. Foakes.
Scolar, 180 pp., £35, February 1985, 0 85967 684 6
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1743 2
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... not ultimately subvert the defence of princely authority. Leonard Tennenhouse (PS) shows how the ‘carnivalesque’ was harnessed to official ideologies under Elizabeth and James I. Terence Hawkes, FrancisBarker and Peter Hulme (AS), and Paul Brown (PS), link The Tempest with the ideology of colonisation, arguing that the play’s formal involutions reflect, not transcendent truths about illusion and ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes

22 July 2010
... almost as soon as they were discovered) and then dendrochronology, infrared and ultraviolet imaging, gas chromatography and various sorts of microscopy. In 1874, when the collection of Alexander Barker, the son of a fashionable boot-maker, came up for sale at Christie’s, the National Gallery acquired two Botticellis: both long pictures of Venus, one with three putti (An Allegory), the other with ...

Auchnasaugh

Patrick Parrinder

7 November 1991
King Cameron 
by David Craig.
Carcanet, 212 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 85635 917 3
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The Hungry Generations 
by David Gilmour.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 194 pp., £13.95, August 1991, 1 85619 069 2
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O Caledonia 
by Elspeth Barker.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 241 13146 4
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... all over the spectators. The scene is obviously symbolic, but – a rarity here – it is also genuinely funny. And it is the sort of grotesque mischance which is described on every page of Elspeth Barker’s first novel, a black comedy which turns the story of a murdered 16-year-old girl into a sardonic celebration of Sod’s Law rampant. If a thing can go wrong it will go wrong, and the main thing ...

I myself detest all Modern Art

Anne Diebel: Scofield Thayer

8 April 2015
The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer 
by James Dempsey.
Florida, 240 pp., £32.50, February 2014, 978 0 8130 4926 7
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... and rather wilfully unconventional’ – but his most important work was as a patron, not a promoter. He left the hawking to people like Ezra Pound, ‘that agitated agitator’, ‘official barker outside the tent – or is it a pagoda? – of imagism et al’. In The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer, James Dempsey makes a persuasive case for placing Thayer at the centre of modernism. He spent ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front

4 April 2002
... fascinated by him – and the Great War – since I first heard of him, at the age of six or so. I’m now 48. Somebody should write about women obsessed with the First World War. Everybody knows Pat Barker, of course, but there’s also Lyn Macdonald – a former BBC producer whose dense, addictive, exhaustively researched oral histories of the war (1914: The Days of Hope, 1915: The Death of Innocence ...

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