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Ozymandias Syndrome

Robert Irwin, 24 August 1995

Islamic Architecture 
by Robert Hillenbrand.
Edinburgh, 645 pp., £49.50, November 1994, 0 7486 0479 0
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The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 
by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom.
Yale, 348 pp., £45, August 1994, 0 300 05888 8
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The Mosque: History, Architectural Development and Regional Diversity 
edited by Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan.
Thames and Hudson, 288 pp., £36, November 1994, 0 500 34133 8
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Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey 
by Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby.
Alexandria Press/Laurence King, 384 pp., £60, July 1994, 1 85669 054 7
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... contrast the two books’ treatment of the 14th-century palace of the Alhambra, outside Granada. Bloom and Blair’s prose is Baedekerish and, save for the occasional adjective of approbation, tends to shun value judgments in favour of a positivistic catalogue of what there is to be seen. Hillenbrand’s account not only describes what was there, but also ...
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... that are the active principle of the rhetoric of the discourse that the analysand in fact utters? Jonathan Culler also, when he comes to treat of the arch-deconstructivist Jacques Derrida, finds himself constrained to adopt a ‘double strategy’ in order to describe, without misrepresenting, Derrida’s work. ‘Even the most subtle and scrupulous ...

The Only Way

Sam Kinchin-Smith: Culinary Mansplaining, 4 January 2018

... Jonathan Meades​ is the Jonathan Meades of our generation,’ reads a puff-quote by the late A.A. Gill on the cover of Meades’s new cookbook, The Plagiarist in the Kitchen (Unbound, £20), but it’s hard to think of any patch less in need of a Jonathan Meades than English food writing ...

Silly Willy

Jonathan Bate, 25 April 1991

William Blake: His Life 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £25, March 1991, 0 297 81160 6
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... per annum for engraving lessons’). Now that Frye is dead, Blake’s best living critic is Harold Bloom. If Blake’s mental forms had a life before 1757, they also had one after 1827. Arthur Symons saw this: he was interested not only in the figures from the past whom Blake brought back to life, but also in those of the present ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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Coasting 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... Leigh Fermor’s memory isn’t wonderful – he has no trouble confounding Joyce’s Leopold Bloom with that character’s father, Rudolph Virag of Szombathely, and he has forgotten to restore to ‘Elias Cavetti’ his proper name, Elias Canetti. Minor details, indeed. As a song of the open road, Between the Woods and the Water is a lively, engaging ...

Ink-Dot Eyes

Wyatt Mason: Jonathan Franzen, 2 August 2007

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Harper Perennial, 195 pp., £8.99, July 2007, 978 0 00 723425 7
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... an obscene self-congratulation for the virtue required to see your mistake and own up to it?’ Jonathan Franzen’s memoir, The Discomfort Zone, is an object lesson in the management of such obscenity. The book begins with a loss. After lengthy treatment for colon cancer, his widowed mother, Irene, has died. The youngest of three brothers who’ve fled the ...

The Brothers Koerbagh

Jonathan Rée: The Enlightenment, 14 January 2002

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 
by Jonathan Israel.
Oxford, 810 pp., £30, February 2001, 0 19 820608 9
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... of the French Revolution, and its reputation went into decline as the Revolution lost its youthful bloom; for a while, indeed, it was totally eclipsed by the Romantic reaction with its factitious liking for the Middle Ages. Before long, however, medievalism became a term of ridicule again, and the Enlightenment achieved a spectacular comeback by transforming ...

Flower Power

P.N. Furbank: Jocelyn Brooke, 8 May 2003

'The Military Orchid’ and Other Novels 
by Jocelyn Brooke.
Penguin, 437 pp., £10.99, August 2002, 0 14 118713 1
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... his day as a pattern, ‘a framework within which happiness could spring into sudden unexpected bloom, like a flower from the bare rock’. Jonathan Hunt, who is at work on a biography of Brooke, argues in his percipient preface to the Penguin edition that, for Brooke’s narrator as a child, the Orchis militaris ‘seems ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... the performances of Leavis, Graham Hough and Cleanth Brooks on ‘Tears, Idle Tears’; and of Jonathan Culler and Terence Hawkes on William Carlos Williams’s ‘This is Just to Say’. Theories of Structuralism make Gribble particularly angry. He quotes a bit from Roland Barthes only to say he finds it impenetrable. A long paragraph from Culler’s ...

Gobsmacked

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 16 July 1998

Lyric Wonder: Rhetoric and Wit in Renaissance English Poetry 
by James Biester.
Cornell, 226 pp., £31.50, May 1997, 0 8014 3313 4
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Reason Diminished: Shakespeare and the Marvellous 
by Peter Platt.
Nebraska, 271 pp., £42.75, January 1998, 0 8032 3714 6
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Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder 
by T.G. Bishop.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £32.50, January 1996, 0 521 55086 6
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The Genius of Shakespeare 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 386 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 330 35317 9
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... the key to Renaissance courtly poetry in its strategies for eliciting astonishment. Back home, Jonathan Bate is gobsmacked by the sheer Genius of Shakespeare. It’s perhaps as well to remember that in cooler moments Jonson complained that ‘Shakespeare wanted Art’ and Milton berated Charles I for preferring the Bard to more serious ...

The Deconstruction Gang

S.L. Goldberg, 22 May 1980

Deconstruction and Criticism 
by Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller.
Routledge, 256 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 7100 0436 2
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... In reviewing a book on literary theory recently, a noted American structuralist, Jonathan Culler, drew a stern line between the sort of assumptions about literature that might do for ordinary ‘readers’ and those that are currently giving ‘vitality’, as he put it, to ‘literary studies’. The point is well taken; and it also casts a certain light on the present book, Deconstruction and Criticism, as well as on the general condition (and conditions) of American academic ‘vitality ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... looking for the full range of post-war US poetry will have to turn elsewhere. Sharing Harold Bloom’s commitment to ‘the transcendental strain’, Vendler differs over how we should read it. What she values is less the Sublime than its epistemology. While Bloom cries up the heroic Emersonian in Stevens, Vendler ...

Prada Queen

Elaine Showalter: Shopping, 10 August 2000

Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London’s West End 
by Erika Diane Rappaport.
Princeton, 323 pp., £21.95, January 2000, 0 691 04477 5
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... less privileged returned from a day’s shopping ‘famished and worn out’. One diarist, Ursula Bloom, recalled that when she was a girl, there were no public lavatories and even ‘fashionable ladies went for a day’s shopping with no hope of any relief for those faithful tides of nature until they returned home again.’ A working-class woman was told by ...

Getting Ready to Exist

Adam Phillips, 17 July 1997

A Centenary Pessoa 
edited by Eugénio Lisboa and L.C. Taylor.
Carcanet, 335 pp., £25, May 1995, 9780856359361
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The Keeper of Sheep 
by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Edwin Honig and Susan Brown.
Sheep Meadow, 135 pp., $12.95, September 1997, 1 878818 45 7
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The Book of Disquietude 
by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Richard Zenith.
Carcanet, 323 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 301 7
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... our cultural insularity that it has taken so long for Pessoa’s work to become known. When Harold Bloom recently listed him among the 26 authors who comprise, for him, the fabled Western Canon, Time magazine implied that this was a symptom of Bloom’s pretentious interest in ‘academic obscurities’. It will certainly be ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... spiritual revolution after the false, material and murderous revolution ushered in by 1789. Harold Bloom, Hillis Miller and Paul de Man see something profoundly representative in Wordsworth’s sudden retreat from the public to the private sphere – the threshold of modernity, the moment when the political and social goals of history become either ...

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