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Say hello to Rodney

Peter Wollen: How art becomes kitsch, 17 February 2000

The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience 
by Celeste Olalquiaga.
Bloomsbury, 321 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7475 4535 9
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... mansion in which every room had been named after a supposed turn-of-the-century guest – Isadora Duncan, Enrico Caruso, Luisa Tetrazzini – and decorated in an appropriate style. She climbed laboriously up to a small ‘chamber’ – it was the Jack London room – in one of the mansion’s towers where, among a plethora of nautical ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... had once been a community art venture called King Ubu, operated by the Black Mountain poet Robert Duncan and his collagist partner Jess Collins. Duncan, removing his clothes at the conclusion of his verse play Faust Foutu, in order to demonstrate the meaning of nakedness, anticipated by a decade or so the Ginsberg party ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... Hollywood screenwriter, memoirist and seductress extraordinaire (Garbo and Dietrich and Isadora Duncan were among her conquests); and the brittle yet pioneering British fashion editor and stylesetter Madge Garland (1898-1990). Cohen’s account of their richly oxymoronic erotic lives – lives at once hard to see and hard to miss, archly ...

Builder of Ruins

Mary Beard: Arthur Evans, 30 November 2000

Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth 
by J.A. MacGillivray.
Cape, 313 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 04352 8
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... much to dent the popularity of Evans’s re-creations. Celebrity visitors trooped to see Knossos (Isadora Duncan was said to have performed an ‘impromptu’ dance on the grand staircase). And tourists more generally found it a sufficient reason to visit Crete. The 1888 edition of the Baedeker Guide to Greece had no entry for Crete: by 1904 it included ...

Her Father’s Dotter

Terry Eagleton: The life of Lucia Joyce, 22 July 2004

Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake 
by Carol Loeb Shloss.
Bloomsbury, 560 pp., £20, June 2004, 0 7475 7033 7
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... family moved to Paris she became a respected artist in her own right, after training with Raymond Duncan, the fearfully eccentric brother of Isadora. Duncan wandered around in a Roman toga and sandals, speaking of Dionysus and vital bodily flows. The latter might possibly have been ...

Verbing a noun

Patrick Parrinder, 17 March 1988

Out of this World 
by Graham Swift.
Viking, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 670 82084 9
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Three Farmers on their Way to a Dance 
by Richard Powers.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 297 79273 3
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The March Fence 
by Matthew Yorke.
Viking, 233 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 670 81848 8
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What is the matter with Mary Jane? 
by Daisy Waugh.
Heinemann, 182 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 0 434 84390 3
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... her Sarah Bernhardt impersonations, appears in quick succession as, among others, Gertrude Stein, Isadora Duncan, and Nurse Cavell waiting to be shot by the Germans. In Powers’s more strictly historical narrative, two of the three farmers – supposedly Germans from the Rhineland – turn out to be nothing of the sort. Hubert, of indeterminaté ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... is a certain strain on many of Eksteins’s connections: Lindbergh arrives, Nijinsky goes mad, Isadora Duncan breaks her neck, the shocking Josephine Baker came from St Louis, like T.S. Eliot, the man who pronounced printemps to be cruel. The interest is in the detail, not the thesis. A chapter on Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, and ...

You gu gu and I gu gu

Andrew O’Hagan: Vaslav Nijinsky, 20 July 2000

The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky 
edited by Joan Acocella and Kyril Fitzylon.
Allen Lane, 312 pp., £20, August 1999, 0 7139 9354 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £12, May 2000, 0 333 76622 9
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... an Egyptian, a Persian and a Russian ballet with the help of Bakst, Roerich and Golovine ... Like Isadora Duncan ten years earlier and like Martha Graham a quarter of a century later, Nijinsky had to put aside all he had learned and been in order to discover how to tell the truth in his own way. He was doing what Picasso had done when he painted his ...

In a Pomegranate Chandelier

T.J. Clark: Benedict Anderson, 21 September 2006

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 240 pp., £12.99, September 2006, 1 84467 086 4
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Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 224 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 1 84467 037 6
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... or anarcho-decadence or anarcho-martyrology. It was a necessary antidote to the previous Isadora-Duncan-with-blood. Isabelo’s Unión Obrera Democrática sounds to have been anarcho-syndicalist to the letter. This disagreement is shadowed, as I say, by the futilities of the present. Some of the points Anderson ...

Cocteaux

Anne Stillman: Jean Cocteau, 13 July 2017

Jean Cocteau: A Life 
by Claude Arnaud, translated by Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell.
Yale, 1024 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 300 17057 3
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... Cocteau stayed for extended periods, delivers another surprising sequence of real-life spectacles: Isadora Duncan wanders around barefoot looking for sailors, a basket of lobsters in her arms; Mary Butts is writing her books in a room upstairs; Cocteau moulds figurines of wax and pipe-cleaners in a room full of opium smoke. An American passing through ...

Lady Talky

Alison Light: Lydia Lopokova, 18 December 2008

Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes 
by Judith Mackrell.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 297 84908 7
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... bicycle-riding dogs’ and other novelty acts, billed with singers, comics and Isadora Duncan wannabees in clunky revue imitations of Diaghilev, she was increasingly adored by audiences and increasingly weary of being an Americanised ballerina. Her ebullience just about kept her afloat until finally, after performing yet another dying ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... gesticulating his despair.’ He can observe himself and all observers, as when thinking about Isadora Duncan on stage: ‘Several people said: Is it not like watching a kitten playing for itself? We watched her as if we were each of us hidden in an ambush.’ He can turn a sentence which is itself ‘as real as the toothache and as terrible and ...

How Shall I Know You?

Hilary Mantel, 19 October 2000

... with Aunt Virginie featuring as a sort of La Passionaria figure, but with dancing, as if Isadora Duncan had got into it somehow. It was all very different from my previous fiction. In the early autumn of that year, three months after my trip east, I was at Waterloo Station: on my way to give a talk at a branch library in Hampshire. I had no ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... she was a Dreyfusard, for example; and her taste extended to Yeats and Stravinsky as well as Isadora Duncan and Aldous Huxley. The jacket copy for this biography proclaims Wharton ‘a fiercely modern author’, yet the very thoroughness with which Lee attends to cultural context keeps vividly before us how much of her time and place she managed to ...

Wear and Tear

Anne Hollander, 6 February 1997

Yves St Laurent: A Biography 
by Alice Rawsthorn.
HarperCollins, 405 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 00 255543 3
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... and unheard of in the middle of the Second. Poiret, too, posed provisionally as an artist, knew Isadora Duncan and many modern painters and was a radical innovator, creating trousers and young-boyish looks for women, mid-calf-length skirts and long, sleek, uncurved torsos, all well before the famous between-the-wars modernisation of women. And, of ...

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