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Me and My Breakfast Cereal

Frank Close: Co-operative Atoms, 9 February 2006

A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down 
by Robert Laughlin.
Basic Books, 254 pp., £15.50, September 2005, 9780465038282
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... art, the individual brush strokes in a canvas by Renoir are randomly shaped and coloured seen from close up, yet when viewed from a distance the whole becomes the image of a field of flowers. It is the very inadequacy of the brush strokes themselves that shows the emergence of the painting to be a result of their organisation. Analogously, individual atoms can ...

Warp Speed

Frank Close: Gravitational Waves, 7 February 2008

Travelling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves 
by Daniel Kennefick.
Princeton, 319 pp., £19.95, May 2007, 978 0 691 11727 0
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... When yachts set sail with the tide, or people gather to witness a total eclipse of the Sun, they are trusting in Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. For more than three hundred years his theory has proved so accurate in describing the universe that it has enabled us not only to predict tides and eclipses, but even to send spaceships to Jupiter, Saturn and beyond ...

Stone Cold

Nicholas Wade, 29 August 1991

Too hot to handle 
by Frank Close.
W.H. Allen, 376 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 1 85227 206 6
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... and greed, then entered a long period of subsidence and even now resists complete deflation. Frank Close is an English physicist and writer about science who followed the cold fusion story as it unfolded and has now presented his analysis. He tells a good yarn, and his firm grasp of the science enables the reader to savour the blunders of Pons and ...

So Frank

Sheila Heti: Meeting Knausgaard, 9 January 2014

My Struggle: Book 2. A Man in Love 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Vintage, 544 pp., £8.99, October 2013, 978 0 09 955517 9
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... the sink on New Year’s Eve twenty years ago. Knausgaard, it seemed, was a superman, his past as close to him as the present. It’s a large part of the thrill and wonder of his books: he appears to be giving an entire and precise account of his life, relationships, thoughts, feelings, what everyone says, and everything he encounters as he leaves his ...
The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971 
edited by Simon Karlinsky.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £12.50, October 1979, 0 297 77580 4
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Vladimir Nabokov: A Tribute 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 139 pp., £6.95
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... grew apart. The surprising thing is that, given their temperamental differences, they remained so close for so long. Nabokov’s critical remarks rarely resemble Wilson’s; his judgments on authors are decisive but hardly ever justified by argument. There is a long list of manifest frauds and charlatans, headed by Dostoevsky and Freud. Eliot is a fake, Mann ...

Memories of Frank Kermode

Stefan Collini, Karl Miller, Adam Phillips, Jacqueline Rose, James Wood, Michael Wood and Wynne Godley, 23 September 2010

... writes: ‘Yes, I’d like that very much. That really would be something to look forward to.’ Frank was already weakened and wasted by throat cancer, but my suggestion that we go to watch some cricket at Fenner’s did seem genuinely to appeal to him. There wasn’t much to look forward to by this point. On the appointed day the weather was kind, and ...

Frank Acknowledgments

J.J. Lee, 10 January 1991

Ulster: Conflict and Consent 
by Tom Wilson.
Blackwell, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1989, 0 631 17006 5
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Biting at the grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair 
by Padraig O’Malley.
Blackstaff, 330 pp., £9.95, October 1990, 0 85640 453 5
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Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland 
by Bob Purdie.
Blackstaff, 286 pp., £9.95, September 1990, 0 85640 437 3
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... atrocities, outside the special case of Belfast, occur in areas with Nationalist majorities close to the border, where by any normal criterion the security forces are occupation forces. Wilson himself thinks that the Crossmaglen area, the notorious murder triangle on the border in South Armagh, ought to be conceded to the Republic ...

Frank Auerbach’s London

T.J. Clark: Frank Auerbach, 10 September 2015

... the Railway Station’: ‘And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang/With grimful glee …’ Frank Auerbach to William Feaver And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang With grimful glee: ‘This life so free Is the thing for me!’ And the constable smiled, and said no word. Thomas Hardy, ‘At the Railway Station, Upway’ I remember​ the first ...

Close Relations

T.H. Barrett: Tibet and the Dalai Lama, 2 April 1998

The Buddha of Brewer Street 
by Michael Dobbs.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £16.99, January 1998, 0 00 225412 3
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The Book of Tibetan Elders: Life Stories and Wisdom from the Great Spiritual Masters of Tibet 
by Sandy Johnson.
Constable, 282 pp., £17.95, February 1997, 0 09 476950 8
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The Art of Tibet 
by Robert Fisher.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, November 1997, 0 500 20308 3
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Tibetan Nation: A History of Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations 
by Warren Smith Jr..
Westview, 732 pp., £59.50, December 1996, 0 8133 3155 2
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The Way to Freedom 
by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Thorsons, 181 pp., £7.99, February 1997, 0 00 220043 0
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Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart 
by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Thorsons, 238 pp., £8.99, February 1997, 0 00 220045 7
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Kundun: A Biography of the Family of the Dalai Lama 
by Mary Craig.
HarperCollins, 392 pp., £17.99, May 1997, 0 00 627838 8
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... from its homeland whom one might expect to become the Parsees of the next millennium, using the close-knit ties of religious distinctiveness to concentrate on economic survival. Instead, we find a national élite of conspicuously outward-looking teachers, winning proselytes in different countries who will not only sustain their tradition but spread it ...

Realty Meltdown

Geoff Dyer, 24 August 1995

Independence Day 
by Richard Ford.
Harvill, 451 pp., £14.99, July 1995, 1 86046 020 8
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... Richard Ford’s narrator, Frank Bascombe, quit serious writing to become a sports-writer. This was the making of Ford. It wasn’t until he became Bascombe, the sportswriter, that Ford turned himself into a major novelist. At odd moments in The Sportswriter, Frank looks back on his abandoned literary career ...

Topping Entertainment

Frank Kermode: Britten, 28 January 2010

Journeying Boy: The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten 
edited by John Evans.
Faber, 576 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 571 23883 5
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... of ‘incompetant’ conducting and playing; most of the rest, always excepting his teacher Frank Bridge, have fallible technique. Bernard van Dieren (who fails to achieve a mention of any sort in the notes) is ‘puerile’. Bliss provides ‘unoriginal piffle’. The first complete performance of Walton’s Symphony in November 1935 is ‘a great ...

Jogging in the woods at Bellagio

Frank Kermode, 19 April 1984

Small World 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 339 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 436 25663 0
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... no sooner has one adventure been concluded than another begins. The narrative questions open and close, open and close, like the contraction of the vaginal muscles in intercourse, and this process is in principle endless. The greatest and most characteristic romances are often unfinished ... Romance is multiple ...
Nothing if not critical 
by Robert Hughes.
Collins Harvill, 429 pp., £16, November 1990, 0 00 272075 2
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Frank Auerbach 
by Robert Hughes.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 500 09211 7
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Figure and Abstraction in Contemporary Painting 
by Ronald Paulson.
Rutgers, 283 pp., $44.95, November 1990, 0 8135 1604 8
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... seemed like a biological necessity.The counter-example to everything Hughes excoriates in SoHo is Frank Auerbach. His monograph is extremely well illustrated. The drawings come across with depth and range and the paintings have been photographed with close and unexaggerated attention to their surface. The colour is ...

Georgian eyes are smiling

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1988

Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad: ‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... There were already good biographies of Shaw, notably those of Frank Harris and Hesketh Pearson, both of whom knew Shaw and had the benefit of his energetic interventions. Pearson in particular will not be easily supplanted. Nevertheless the archives of the world are full of Shaviana inaccessible before his death, and because there had not been a serious attempt since 1956 – the centenary year – the Shaw Estate sensibly decided that the time had come for a new biography, and invited Mr Holroyd to write it ...

Hysterical Vigour

Frank Kermode, 23 October 2008

Indignation 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 233 pp., £16.99, September 2008, 978 0 224 08513 7
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... Lonoff seems to be the mask of the novelist Bernard Malamud (though the resemblance doesn’t seem close) and Amy is imagined to be possibly Anne Frank, rescued and resettled in America. Strange identifications echo round Roth’s collected works, and they aid the creation of narrative and biographical ambiguities that serve ...

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