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Art’s Infancy

Arthur C. Danto

22 April 1993
The Mind and its Depths 
by Richard Wollheim.
Harvard, 214 pp., £19.95, March 1993, 9780674576117
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Psychoanalysis, Mind and Art: Perspectives on Richard Wollheim 
edited by Jim Hopkins and Anthony Savile.
Blackwell, 383 pp., £40, October 1992, 0 631 17571 7
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... I have always thought of Richard Wollheim as embodying the values and interests of a particularly urbane kind of British intellectual, typified by and possibly originating with the members of the Bloomsbury Circle. It encompasses a serious interest in the arts and especially the art of painting; a dedication to some version of socialist politics; a faith in psychoanalysis as therapy and as a theory ...

Dying and Not Dying

Cathy Gere: Henrietta Lacks

10 June 2010
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 
by Rebecca Skloot.
Macmillan, 368 pp., £18.99, June 2010, 978 0 230 74869 9
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... now Rebecca Skloot’s remarkable book has appeared to fill in all the details. The moniker ‘HeLa’ is derived from the name of a young African-American mother of five, whose agonising death in a Jim Crow era charity hospital gave rise to a quiet revolution in medicine. In January 1951, at the age of 30, Henrietta Lacks was admitted to the ‘Coloured Only’ examination room of Johns Hopkins ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens

21 September 1995
... sleeping too soundly. They arrive for work two hours late with their blouse on the wrong way around. You see? It’s happened to you. The main practitioner in the abductee-hypnotherapy field is Budd Hopkins, a New York artist who stumbled into the aliens business when an article he wrote for the Village Voice, ‘Sane Citizens See UFO In New Jersey’, won him a postbag of frightened people who wanted ...

Nothing but the Worst

Michael Wood: Paul de Man

8 January 2015
The Paul de Man Notebooks 
edited by Martin McQuillan.
Edinburgh, 357 pp., £80, April 2014, 978 0 7486 4104 8
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The Double Life of Paul de Man 
by Evelyn Barish.
Norton, 534 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 0 87140 326 1
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... How often in my life have I said those words, and yet?’ John Banville, Shroud ‘I had jumped​ ,’ Conrad’s Jim says of his abandonment of his ship, adding a moment later: ‘It seems.’ Marlow, the narrator of the novel who is listening to Jim’s story, says: ‘Looks like it.’ This is one of many ...

Sorry to go on like this

Ian Hamilton: Kingsley Amis

1 June 2000
The Letters of Kingsley Amis 
edited by Zachary Leader.
HarperCollins, 1208 pp., £24.99, May 2000, 0 00 257095 5
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... and quite often one wants to steal away and leave them to it, silly boys. On the other hand, the giggles are not always silly. Some of Amis’s off-the-cuff lit. crit. is genuinely bracing. Amis on Hopkins could happily, for me, continue for a further paragraph or two: About Hopkins: I find him a bad poet – all this how to keép is there ány any stuff strikes me as a bit unnecessary – and so his ...

John and Henry

Christopher Reid

2 December 1982
The Life of John Berryman 
by John Haffenden.
Routledge, 451 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 7100 9216 4
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Poets in their Youth: A Memoir 
by Eileen Simpson.
Faber, 272 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 571 11925 5
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... found his own distinctive voice. Berryman’s early work is strenuous in manner, full of devices learned from his poetic forebears: Milton’s substitution of adjectives for adverbs, for example, or Hopkins’s expressive breaking and rearrangement of syntax. The result can often be turgid or quaint, especially when raw contemporary themes are introduced. One is more impressed by the note of ambition in ...

Porndecahedron

Christopher Tayler: Nicholson Baker

3 November 2011
House of Holes 
by Nicholson Baker.
Simon and Schuster, 262 pp., £14.99, August 2011, 978 0 85720 659 6
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... Anglophile interests, whose talents happen to come to life when applied to odd thoughts, close descriptions of minutiae and masturbation scenarios. His narrators read Maurice Baring, A.C. Benson, Hopkins, Swinburne and Iris Murdoch. In Room Temperature, Mike takes a copy of Mark Pattison’s Isaac Casaubon to read on a plane; in the novel’s closing sentence he picks up a copy of the TLS. And on top ...
15 October 1987
A History of Private Life. Vol. I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium 
edited by Paul Veyne.
Harvard, 670 pp., £24.95, May 1987, 0 674 39975 7
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The Roman World 
edited by John Wacher.
Routledge, 2 pp., £100, March 1987, 0 7100 9975 4
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The Roman Empire: Economy, Society and Culture 
edited by Peter Garnsey and Richard Saller.
Duckworth, 231 pp., £24, March 1987, 0 7156 2145 9
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Sexual Life in Ancient Egypt 
by Lisa Manniche.
KPI, 127 pp., £15, June 1987, 0 7103 0202 9
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... cities which were self-governing and could provide for the needs of empire.’ Even the comparison with the number of administrators in 12th-century China duly reappears (it was introduced by Keith Hopkins, himself a great one for calling other historians ‘conventional’). Veyne, for his part, has much to say about the ‘thousands of autonomous cities that formed the fabric of the Empire and were ...

An Attic Full of Sermons

Tessa Hadley: Marilynne Robinson

21 April 2005
Gilead 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 282 pp., £14.99, April 2005, 1 84408 147 8
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... understand it, but merely felt it pour through our nerves like darkness or water’. The book itself, of course, is a redemptive act, a way of ‘keeping’ the lost things. The writing is sometimes Hopkins-like, its natural world vibrating with ‘inscape’; though that could just reflect a coincidence of shared intuition. More crucially, for all the differences, Housekeeping is often reminiscent of ...

Between Worlds

Edward Said: A memoir

7 May 1998
... he did, and no one was more ironic about the effort of trying to replace that condition with new arrangements and accommodations – which invariably lured one into further traps, such as those Lord Jim encounters when he starts life again on his little island. Marlow enters the heart of darkness to discover that Kurtz was not only there before him but is also incapable of telling him the whole ...

Tummy-Talkers

Jonathan Rée: Ventriloquists

10 May 2001
Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism 
by Steven Connor.
Oxford, 449 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 19 818433 6
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... on earth are they when they are at home? The silver screen offers a frightening gallery of rogue vents – from Eric von Stroheim in The Great Gabbo to Michael Redgrave in Dead of Night and Anthony Hopkins in Magic – who have been led astray by their dummy-selves; and real vents can be just as mixed up as fictional ones. When the English entertainer Arthur Prince died in 1948, his jolly partner Jim ...
17 July 1997
John Muir: His Life and Letters and Other Writings 
edited by Terry Gifford.
Baton Wicks, 912 pp., £20, November 1996, 1 898573 07 7
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... are heartfelt, they are not hard to treat as interjections in the flow of richly physical prose. In this he is closer to the master wildlife writers of our own time – Barry Lopez or Mike Tomkies, Jim Crumley or John Baker – than to the moralistic and didactic Victorians. In Muir a delighted immersion was primary. He was born like that and he grew up like that. Activity and gleeful sensing were ...
21 September 1995
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... at Yalta to Stalin’s demand for Soviet hegemony in Poland because of the disposition of allied troops in Europe and the desire to get the Soviet Union into the Pacific war, not because he or Harry Hopkins were tired and ill or because they lacked wise State Department counsel. The political significance of the Welles-Hull debacle lies, for Irving Gellman, in FDR’s ‘divisive management style ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell

2 December 2010
J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... is Lavinia Greacen’s second pass at the story of his life, a story that brings aspects of his work into sharper focus without unduly cleaning up its oddness and irony. James Gordon Farrell – Jim to his friends – turns out to have had more in common with J.G. Ballard than with Paul Scott, George MacDonald Fraser, M.M. Kaye and other writers of 1970s bestsellers with imperial themes. Like ...

The Candidates

Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb

17 June 2015
... established pattern of abusing other people’s money and lying about it.’ Not everybody is able to get away with this kind of financial misconduct. The former chair of the Florida Republicans, Jim Greer, made similarly free personal use of his party-issued credit card and served 15 months for money laundering. Greer claims that he faced judicial consequences for his spending trespasses only ...

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