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Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele

6 April 1995
‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... The history of architecture is replete with figures whose careers were tied to the fortunes of great cities. John Nash’s genius for town-planning could only have flourished in London during the post-Waterloo boom years. Stanford White’s feeling for opulence fits the New York scene of the 1890s like an ...

Elementary

John​ Sutherland

8 July 1993
Air and Fire 
by Rupert Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 310 pp., £15.99, April 1993, 0 7475 1382 1
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Dreams of Leaving 
by Rupert Thomson.
Penguin, 435 pp., £6.99, April 1993, 0 14 017148 7
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The Five Gates of Hell 
by Rupert Thomson.
Penguin, 368 pp., £5.99, March 1992, 0 14 016537 1
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... In order to write this book, I had to do a great deal of research,’ Rupert Thomson tells us; the research for Air and Fire evidently took two forms. The narrative centres on the quixotic attempt by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel to build a modernist cathedral, based on the Tower’s ...
3 October 1996
Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu 
by Simon Callow.
Cape, 640 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 224 03852 4
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Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 460 pp., £20, September 1996, 0 316 91437 1
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... By the end of his life Orson Welles weighed 350 pounds. His appetite, though, was not a late development. In Simon Callow’s biography the composer Virgil Thomson reports the 22-year-old actor-director devouring ‘oysters and champagne, red meat and burgundy, dessert and brandy’ immediately before squeezing into a canvas corset to play Brutus in Julius ...

In for the Kill

Inigo Thomas: Photographing Cricket

16 August 2017
... feet are in the picture; his dive to take the catch had taken the rest of his body out of the frame. Eagar says he always hoped his pictures would be the illustrations to go with what he read in John Woodcock’s reports for the Times and what he heard in the radio commentary of John Arlott. On Midsummer’s Day in 1975, Clive Lloyd captained the West Indies team to victory at Lord’s in the ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester

8 June 1995
A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... rather than Proust if the Bible and Shakespeare weren’t already there, but for some years now I have taken the view that my ‘Desert Island’ book, if I were asked, would have to be David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema. First published in 1970, it has just re-appeared as A Biographical Dictionary of Film in a third edition that is revised and considerably enlarged ...

I’m a Cahunian

Adam Mars-Jones: Claude Cahun

2 August 2018
Never Anyone But You 
by Rupert Thomson.
Corsair, 340 pp., £18.99, June 2018, 978 1 4721 5350 0
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... Rupert Thomson’s​ new novel follows the contours of a remarkable life. Lucy Schwob, born in 1894 to a cultured and prosperous Nantes family, moved to Paris in 1920, where she developed strong links with the ...

Diary

Ian Thomson: Assault on the Via Salaria

14 April 2011
... broke down and a nun suggested that I sleep on the roof during the day as the ward was so stuffy. A makeshift bed was set up on the terrace overlooking San Giovanni, with its statues of Christ and John the Baptist. A frozen winter light hung over the church and wisps of mist blew off the statues. I lay on the bed wrapped in my raincoat and tried to sleep. The rooftop had a high wire-mesh fence ...

Whose Body?

Charles Glass: ‘Operation Mincemeat’

22 July 2010
Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War Two 
by Ben Macintyre.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 7475 9868 8
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... autobiography that Montagu, who died in 1985, left to his son Jeremy make this the most complete account to date. Operation Mincemeat took its cue from one of 12 detective novels written by Basil Thomson. Thomson, who had been head of the CID and a First World War spycatcher, was perhaps more convincing as a mystery writer than as a detective. He had cleared Mata Hari of espionage, and he attempted ...
1 August 1985
Immoral Memories 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Herbert Marshall.
Peter Owen, 292 pp., £20, June 1985, 0 7206 0650 0
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A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema: 1930-1980 
by Robert Ray.
Princeton, 409 pp., £48.50, June 1985, 0 691 04727 8
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Suspects 
by David Thomson.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 52014 1
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Cahiers du Cinéma. Vol. I: The 1950s. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge with the British Film Institute, 312 pp., £16.95, March 1985, 0 7100 9620 8
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... frequently impressive analysis of a number of Hollywood films shares many of its preoccupations with the two most striking works of the English critic who writes best about the American cinema. David Thomson’s magnificent Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema (1975 – revised edition, 1980) and his lurid Overexposures: The Crisis in American Film-Making (1981) are the work of an intellectual who loves ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities

11 September 2003
Searching for John​ Ford: A Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... of Texan trousers, the right kind of Lone Star belt to hold them up. Some commentators have the idea that Bush’s delivery is really an impersonation of Ronald Reagan impersonating James Stewart and John Wayne, but I think that elevates him too much: his mentality is clouded with lesser subtleties, occluded with hungers of a more brutal, mercenary, low-budget kind. He has the effective salesman’s ...

A Whale of a Time

Colm Tóibín

2 October 1997
Roger Casement’s Diaries. 1910: The Black and the White 
edited by Roger Sawyer.
Pimlico, 288 pp., £10, October 1997, 9780712673754
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The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement 
edited by Angus Mitchell.
Anaconda, 534 pp., £40, October 1997, 9781901990010
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... He could tell you things! Things I have tried to forget, things I never did know. He had as many years of Africa as I had months – almost After Casement’s arrest in 1916, Conrad wrote to John Quinn in New York: We never talked politics ... He was a good companion: but already in Africa I judged that he was a man, properly speaking, of no mind at all. I don’t mean stupid. I mean that he ...
28 September 1989
... and Nicolson and the staid J.M. Dent and Everyman imprints. There have also been some bloody dismemberings. Methuen (which celebrates its centenary in 1989) was sold in 1987 to International Thomson, who broke it up, selling the general and children’s list to Paul Hamlyn’s Octopus, itself subsequently acquired by Reed International. Methuen’s academic books remained with Thomson, who now ...

Dangerous Play

Mike Selvey

23 May 1985
Gubby Allen: Man of Cricket 
by E.W. Swanton.
Hutchinson, 311 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 09 159780 3
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Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack: 1985 
edited by John​ Woodcock.
Wisden, 1280 pp., £11.95, April 1985, 0 947766 00 6
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... you can lay hands on them when needed. I found the result of the Grand National in a pile of old newspapers.* Last summer? Well, that problem was solved last week when the Gospel according to St John, all 1300 pages of it, beat the dust out of the doormat. It is a sure sign that spring is in the air when Wisden arrives. While there is a good twelve months browse therein, one flick through is ...
16 July 1998
Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life 
by Nathalie Blondel.
McPherson, 539 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 929701 55 0
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The Taverner Novels: ‘Armed with Madness’, ‘Death of Felicity Taverner’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 18 6
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The Classical Novels: ‘The Macedonian’, ‘Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 384 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 42 9
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‘Ashe of Rings’ and Other Writings 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £18.50, March 1998, 0 929701 53 4
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... run almost without interruption to her death in 1937 and form the foundation for Blondel’s Scenes from the lift. When they begin, Butts is living with a lover named Eleanor Rogers but also seeing John Rodker, an aspiring writer who is chiefly known today for his activities as a publisher of deluxe editions: a portfolio of Fifteen Drawings by Wyndham Lewis (1919), Ara Vos Prec by Eliot (1920), and ...

Entranced by the Factory

Simon Schaffer: Maxwell’s Demon

29 April 1999
The Natural Philosophy of James Clerk Maxwell 
by P.M. Harman.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £35, April 1998, 0 521 56102 7
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... and even managed to prove that the speed of energy transmission in the mechanical ether was the same as that of light. British natural philosophers, led by the prodigious Glasgow professor William Thomson, liked this kind of model, because they reckoned dynamical machinery was uniquely comprehensible and informative. Trained to think in terms of the physics of gyroscopes, pulleys, pumps, calf’s-foot ...

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