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Giacometti and Bacon

David Sylvester, 19 March 1987

Giacometti: A Biography 
by James Lord.
Faber, 592 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 571 13138 7
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... the work says – by the idea of doing a girl in. Their biographies have less in common. Lord had two big advantages over Ackroyd: he spent a great deal of time in the company of his subject and a great deal of time in composing his book. ‘I have devoted fifteen years to it’ – a luxury impossible for a professional writer like Ackroyd. As to ...

I, too, am an artist

Linda Nochlin: Dora Maar, 4 January 2001

Dora Maar with and without Picasso: A Biography 
by Mary Ann Caws.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.95, October 2000, 0 500 51009 1
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... lies. They’re all Picassos, not one is Dora Maar,’ she exclaimed after their break-up. When James Lord, her interlocutor, attempted to point out that her portraits are hung in museums throughout the world and have been published in numerous art-books, and that as a result she would never be forgotten, she retorted acerbically: ‘Do you think I ...

Lord Randolph’s Coming-Out

Paul Addison, 3 December 1981

Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 431 pp., £16, November 1981, 0 19 822679 9
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... Lord Randolph Churchill has many claims to fame and some to notoriety. His marriage to Jennie Jerome pioneered a series of matches between British aristocrats and American heiresses: the beginning of a special relationship of significance in the next century, if not in his own. He entered politics and rose to power between 1880 and 1885 as a master of opposition tactics both inside and outside the House of Commons ...

Lord Have Mercy

James Shapiro: Plague Writing, 31 March 2011

Plague Writing in Early Modern England 
by Ernest Gilman.
Chicago, 295 pp., £24, June 2009, 978 0 226 29409 4
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... his three friends are stricken with love for her friends. He teasingly urges her to ‘Write, “Lord have mercy on us” on those three./They are infected; in their hearts it lies;/They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes.’ He then adds that Rosaline herself is unknowingly plague-stricken: ‘You are not free,/For the ...

Lord Cardigan’s Cherry Pants

Ferdinand Mount: The benefits of the Crimean War, 20 May 2004

The Crimean War: The Truth behind the Myth 
by Clive Ponting.
Chatto, 379 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 7011 7390 4
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... only because he was the queen’s cousin. For the navy it was a choice between the 79-year-old Lord Dundonald, who was tottering on the verge of insanity, and Sir William Parker, who himself thought he was a fraction past it at 73. Which left only Sir Charles Napier, a mere 67 but a hopeless alcoholic with a vile temper. The commander-in-chief was the ...

At the tent flap sin crouches

James Wood: The Fleshpots of Egypt, 23 February 2006

The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 1064 pp., £34, November 2004, 0 393 01955 1
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... the word, or the deed, but the face. ‘Darkness was upon the face of the deep,’ runs the King James Version in the second verse of the opening of Genesis. ‘And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.’ Two uses of ‘face’ in one verse, and a third implied face, surely: God’s ...

Aversion Theory

Lord Goodman, 20 May 1982

Clinging to the Wreckage 
by John Mortimer.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 0 297 78010 7
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... comment. He developed an interest in writing and the theatre and planned to become a writer. Like James Boswell, he was persuaded by his father to practise the Law but, unlike Boswell, he became a successful lawyer, initially specialising in divorce but later emerging as the champion of any literary activity threatened by censorship. The resemblance to ...

Perfuming the Money Issue

James Wood: ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, 11 October 2012

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece 
by Michael Gorra.
Norton, 385 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 87140 408 4
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... Henry James was foul about Far from the Madding Crowd when it appeared in 1874. He was a young writer, ambitious, seething, silkily aggressive. There was ground to be cleared, and residents had to be deported. Thomas Hardy, with his knobbly rusticities and merry peasants, would not do. In the Nation, James complained that the novel had a ‘fatal lack of magic’, and was written in a ‘verbose and redundant style … Everything human in the book strikes us as factious and insubstantial; the only things we believe in are the sheep and the dogs ...

Will those responsible come forward?

Clive James, 19 January 1984

... May the Lord have mercy on all those peoples Who suffer from a perversion of religion – Or, to put it in a less equivocating way, Who suffer from an excess of religion – Or, to come right out with it, Who suffer from religion. Let Him tell those catholic protestants or protestant catholics Who in Northern Ireland go to bed on Saturday night Looking forward to a morning of Holy Worship That just this once they should make other plans – Have a heavy cold, a stomach upset or a pulled hamstring Severe enough to render them immobile, With something similar for their children – So that they will not be there to form a congregation In a church just big enough for a small massacre ...
by Richard Ingrams.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 144 pp., £4.25
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... It was for services ‘to exports and ecology’ that Sir James Goldsmith was nominated for a peerage, and then demoted to a knight by the Scrutiny Committee, in what is bitterly remembered as the Wilson Honours List. Was there a connection between Sir James’s elevation and his year-long battle to punish Private Eye and jail its editor, Richard Ingrams – an effort which was supported by Wilson and Lady Falkender, both victims of Ingrams’s harassment, and which petered out in a relatively painless settlement in 1976? Ingrams’s theory is that there was such a connection ...

Can this be what happened to Lord Lucan after the night of 7 November 1974?

James Wood: The Emaciation of Muriel Spark, 7 September 2000

Aiding and Abetting 
by Muriel Spark.
Viking, 182 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 670 89428 1
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... double, loosely based on The Comedy of Errors. Its premise is a very good one: what happened to Lord Lucan, after the night of 7 November 1974, when he mistakenly killed his children’s nanny, and tried to kill his wife? Twenty-three years later, a man claiming to be Lord Lucan turns up in the office of a Paris ...
Citizen LordEdward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... that he was a skilful and well-trained operator in the cause of military rebellion. ‘The idea of Lord Edward as an incurable and innocent romantic – which may conceal the belief that because he was an aristocrat it was impossible for him to have been a committed revolutionary – was promulgated and advertised immediately after his death.’ The ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... In March 1776, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson visited Pembroke College, Oxford and called on the master, William Adams. According to Richard Sher, Boswell wrote in his journal how dismayed he had been to see in the master’s library a copy of the quarto edition of David Hume’s Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects of 1758, handsomely bound in morocco leather ...

Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... the Times, Lords Hailsham, Drogheda, Carrington, Goodman and Weinstock, and Messrs Roy Jenkins and James Prior, said they felt it was a good time, in view of the new publicity about the Ward case, to place on record their sense of admiration for the dignity and courage displayed by Mr and Mrs John Profumo and their family in the quarter-century since the ...


Clive James: Lord's Day, 7 February 1985

... but be dire. Somehow the idea had got about that it was a lively moment in the House of Lords when Lord Hailsham bounced up and down on the Woolsack, and that in the normal course of business there was nothing to be heard from the buttoned red leather benches – pictures of these had been seen in the colour-supplements – except the death rattle of ...

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