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Graham Coster, 26 July 1990

In Xanadu: A Quest 
by William Dalrymple.
Collins, 314 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 00 217948 2
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The Gunpowder Gardens 
by Jason Goodwin.
Chatto, 230 pp., £14.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Silk Roads: The Asian Adventures of André and Clara Malraux 
by Axel Madsen.
Tauris, 299 pp., £14.95, April 1990, 1 85043 209 0
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At Home and Abroad 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 332 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Great Plains 
by Ian Frazier.
Faber, 290 pp., £14.99, March 1990, 0 571 14260 5
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... there at his goal Dalrymple has forgotten his portentous mentor entirely, and quite right too. Jason Goodwin is another recent Cambridge graduate, and another traveller-on-a-pretext, and even more burdened with the learning of many historical archives. The Gunpowder Gardens is subtitled (a giveaway, all these subtitles, as guilty special ...

Cumin-coated

Colin Burrow: Two Novels about Lost Bellinis, 14 August 2008

The Bellini Card 
by Jason Goodwin.
Faber, 306 pp., £12.99, July 2008, 978 0 571 23992 4
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The Bellini Madonna 
by Elizabeth Lowry.
Quercus, 343 pp., July 2008, 978 1 84724 364 5
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... Are there too many novels about missing Old Masters? Anyone who reads Jason Goodwin’s The Bellini Card might be forgiven for thinking so. It’s about a search for a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror which was supposedly painted by Gentile Bellini during his visit to Istanbul in 1479. It relentlessly assembles all the standard fixtures and fittings of the sub-genre: exploitative forgers, dodgy art dealers, even dodgier descriptions of Venice, a blonde contessa who allows her hair to fall ‘in golden sheaves’ before she fences with our hero (who has the rare distinction of being an Ottoman eunuch detective, which alleviates the rich diet of cliché a little) and reveals that she has Something to Hide ...

Stainless Splendour

Stefan Collini: How innocent was Stephen Spender?, 22 July 2004

Stephen Spender: The Authorised Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Viking, 627 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 670 88303 4
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... Spender was closely involved in manoeuvres within the British branch of the CCF to oust Michael Goodwin, the editor of Twentieth Century, a periodical that had already been covertly subsidised by the Americans to provide an alternative platform in Britain to the ‘pro-Soviet’ New Statesman. Stonor Saunders, whose book tells the story of CCF funding in ...

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