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Grande Dame

D.A.N. Jones, 18 July 1985

With Open Eyes: Conversations with Matthieu Galey 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Beacon, 271 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 8070 6354 1
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The Dark Brain of Piranesi, and Other Essays 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Richard Howard.
Aidan Ellis, 232 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 85628 140 9
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Alexis 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 105 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 85628 138 7
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Coup de Grâce 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Grace Frick .
Black Swan, 112 pp., £2.50, October 1984, 9780552991216
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... Marguerite Yourcenar was born in Brussels in 1903. She became a US citizen in 1947 and has lived for more than thirty years on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. Thus when she was proposed for membership of the French Academy, it was natural that some Frenchmen would make an issue of her nationality, in order to prevent a woman joining their club ...

Feast of Darks

Christine Stansell: Whistler, 23 October 2003

Whistler, Women and Fashion 
by Margaret MacDonald and Susan Grace Galassi et al.
Yale, 243 pp., £35, May 2003, 0 300 09906 1
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Whistler and His Mother: An Unexpected Relationship 
by Sarah Walden.
Gibson Square, 242 pp., £15.99, July 2003, 1 903933 28 5
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... portraits of elegantly dressed women. The book is based on an exhibition held this summer at the Frick in New York. Frick loved portraits – his wonderful collection includes work by Holbein, Rembrandt and Van Dyck – and he bought four of Whistler’s when they came on the market after the artist’s death. There ...

Floreat Eltona

David Starkey, 19 January 1984

Tudor Rule and Revolution: Essays for G.R. Elton from his American Friends 
edited by DeLloyd Guth and John McKenna.
Cambridge, 418 pp., £27.50, February 1983, 0 521 24841 8
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Essays on Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government. Vol III: Papers and Reviews 1973-1981 
by G.R. Elton.
Cambridge, 512 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 521 24893 0
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Which road to the past? Two Views of History 
by Robert William Fogel and G.R. Elton.
Yale, 136 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 300 03011 8
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... when least characteristic. There are two outstanding examples. The first, on the Pilgrimage of Grace, shows Elton as the master political historian, a guise that he assumes too rarely. It argues slashingly against Scarisbrick’s view of the Pilgrimage as an authentic movement of popular protest and sees it instead as planned and led from above, while its ...

A Man It Would Be Unwise to Cross

Stephen Alford: Thomas Cromwell, 8 November 2018

Thomas Cromwell: A Life 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 752 pp., £30, September 2018, 978 1 84614 429 5
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... personally. Reginald Pole called him a Machiavel, and the label, seemingly congruent with the Frick Collection’s famous portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, has stuck: Cromwell’s intensely focused stillness suggests a man it would be unwise to cross. Even for those who lionised him as a champion of the English Reformation, there were bits of his life ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... an appropriately monastic day out, going first via Northallerton (a place to be avoided) to Mount Grace, which I had thought a remote spot but which is within sight and sound of the busy A19 to Teeside. Envy the nice life a Carthusian monk must have had in the early 15th century: meals brought to the door, sitting-room, study and bedroom looking out on a ...

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes: Loathed by Huysmans, 2 April 2020

Modern Art 
by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.
Dedalus, 313 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 910213 99 5
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... narrow sash windows with small square panes, was ‘absolutely ridiculous in Paris, in the year of grace 1880’, where the only canals are street gutters, and the drawing rooms have ‘large casement windows and clean panes with neither bubbles nor imperfections’. In another lying stratagem, painters applied ‘standard’ daylight as taught by the ...

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