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Dead Eyes and Blank Faces

John Henderson: Expression under Nero

2 April 1998
Dissidence and Literature under Nero: The Price of Rhetoricisation 
by Vasily Rudich.
Routledge, 408 pp., £50, March 1997, 0 415 09501 8
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... Power’ is the buzz word for the late Nineties, and when it comes to power-mania imperial Rome has always been hard to beat. On the one hand, there is the rogues’ gallery: doddery Claudius dribbling still down Derek Jacobi’s chin; blubbery Nero fiddling while the slums burn; and those women – impossibly sinister Livia, unimaginably (but let’s try) sexcrazed Messalina. On the other, reams ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland

19 July 2012
... sitting in scarlet coats to Pompeo Batoni, whose portraits by this stage were so formulaic that their subjects might as well have stuck their heads through a hole in a pre-painted background. But as John Brewer emphasises in his catalogue essay, the Tour was more socially mixed than it might appear. Basset, the biggest spender among the consigners to the Westmorland, was not an aristocrat but the ...

Ave, Jeeves!

Emily Wilson: Rom(an) Com

21 February 2008
Plautine Elements in Plautus 
by Eduard Fraenkel, translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke.
Oxford, 459 pp., £79, November 2006, 0 19 924910 5
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Plautus: ‘Asinaria – The One about the Asses’ 
translated by John Henderson.
Wisconsin, 252 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 299 21994 1
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Terence: The Comedies 
translated by Peter Brown.
Oxford, 338 pp., £9.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 282399 1
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Terence: Comedies 
translated by Frederick Clayton.
Exeter, 290 pp., £45, January 2006, 0 85989 757 5
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... look like a defect. His approach contrasts sharply with, for example, the exuberant and stimulating – if frequently unreadable – recent study (with facing translation) of Plautus’ Asinaria by JohnHenderson. Henderson explores, or dances around, Plautus’ representation of power relationships between sons, fathers, women and slaves. For Henderson, Plautus is both hilariously funny (‘it’s ...

Inclined to Putrefaction

Erin Maglaque: In Quarantine

9 February 2020
Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City 
by John Henderson.
Yale, 363 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 300 19634 4
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... turned upside down’: in moments of inversion during carnival when a pauper king was crowned and the pressures of a deeply unequal society released. But what emerges from the tangle of stories in JohnHenderson’s book is a sense that for many the world stood still during the plague. The disease waned in the early summer of 1631 and, in June, Florentines emerged onto the streets to take part in a ...

Not You

Mary Beard

23 January 1997
Compromising Traditions: The Personal Voice in Classical Scholarship 
edited by J.P. Hallett and T. van Nortwick.
Routledge, 196 pp., £42.50, November 1996, 0 415 14284 9
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... has a problem even within the limited terms of her own argument. For ‘the single most striking challenge to the orthodoxy’ of classical writing in this country has come, so she claims, from JohnHenderson – an Oxbridge man, in one way or another, for most of the last thirty years. Helpfully (‘in case you are not familiar with JohnHenderson’s approach’), both she and Martindale quote extensive ...


Arnold Rattenbury: Hamish Henderson

23 January 2003
Collected Poems and Songs 
by Hamish Henderson, edited by Raymond Ross.
Curly Snake, 163 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 1 902141 01 6
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... Old men can be buggers at hanging on. Hamish Henderson, who died last March at the age of 82, hung on firmly through three books, edited by others: his writings on ‘Song, Folk and Literature’, collected as Alias MacAlias (1992), a selected letters ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson

3 November 2011
Hamish HendersonA Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish HendersonA Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... There are those, even among his friends, who remember Hamish Henderson as a chaotic figure who could most often be found soliloquising in Sandy Bell’s, a favourite pub near Edinburgh University. Was he one of the ‘lowest of men’, spilling whisky and sliding off ...

Urban Messthetics

John​ Mullan: Black and Asian writers in London

18 November 2004
London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City 
by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Harper Perennial, 498 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 00 653214 4
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... life in the city is again described rather little. There are flashes of the place. Sancho is outraged by the sight of potato-sellers whipping their asses in the street; he visits the theatre to see JohnHenderson play Falstaff; he takes his family down the Thames to Vauxhall Gardens. He also studies the newspapers, intrigued most of all by the doings of high society. His outraged account of the ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones

4 October 1984
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... blue mass’, a medicine the President took for his constipation. But most readers, of course, will already know that Lincoln has four more years to live before he is shot by Herold’s friend, John Wilkes Booth, the most notorious of all those Americans who have sought to win fame by killing heroes and idols. In this urgent manner, blending the legendary and the humdrum, Gore Vidal introduces ...

Madder Men

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton on Richard Hamilton

24 October 2019
Richard Hamilton: Introspective 
by Phillip Spectre.
König, 408 pp., £49, September, 978 3 88375 695 0
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... in his work. ‘Hers Is a Lush Situation’ (1958) Hamilton resumed at the Royal Academy in 1946, only to be expelled by a reactionary faculty – he had dared to prefer Cézanne to Augustus John. Forced into national service for 18 slack months, he spent most of the time reading, Joyce above all, and Ulysses became the subject of a first suite of etchings; old media attracted him as much as ...
8 March 1990
Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... Sam Shepard as writer; the German Robby Müller as cinematographer, the American Ry Cooder as composer/performer of the music; the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central Henderson brothers, the French Aurore Clément and the German Nastassia Kinski as their wives. For Wenders, a long-time lover of the Western and of American rock music, it was, as he has since told the French ...

Lying abroad

Fred Halliday

21 July 1994
by Henry Kissinger.
Simon and Schuster, 912 pp., £25, May 1994, 9780671659912
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True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
BBC, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 563 36955 8
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Mandarin: The Diaries of Nicholas Henderson 
by Nicholas Henderson.
Weidenfeld, 517 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 297 81433 8
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... To this catalogue may be added the Government’s obstructive posturing on European integration, its confused policy on the former Yugoslavia and its pseudo-populist sneering about ‘abroad’ (take John Major’s especially silly remark that he would not choose to spend a weekend in any of the countries he has visited over the past few years – even though he spends summer holidays in Portugal). An ...

A Prize from Fairyland

Andrew Bacevich: The CIA in Iran

2 November 2017
Foreign Relations of the US, 1952-54, Iran, 1951-54 
edited by James Van Hook.
for the Department of State/Washington DC. Chiron Academic Press, 970 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 91 7637 496 2
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... power and a valued partner in the Cold War. In attempting to satisfy both requirements, the US found Mossadegh a less than ideal interlocutor. Americans who had dealt with him, chief among them Loy Henderson, the US ambassador, found him erratic and eccentric, not to say downright weird. No one questioned his credentials as an Iranian patriot, but he seemed to the Americans incapable of running a ...
23 May 1985
Mrs Henderson, and Other Stories 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 160 pp., £8.50, April 1985, 0 224 02306 3
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... It moves from stories as touching in depth and insight as ‘Ursula’ to the fantasy of ‘The Ground Hostess’, and the bizarre child’s-eye view of what was reputed to be unusual about Mrs Henderson ...

Round Things

T.J. Binyon

24 October 1991
Maurice Baring: A Citizen of Europe 
by Emma Letley.
Constable, 269 pp., £18.95, September 1991, 0 09 469870 8
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... John Vavassour de Quentin Jones, Belloc tells us in his Cautionary Tales, Was very fond of throwing stones At Horses, People, Passing Trains But specially at Window-panes. Like many of the Upper Class ...

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