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Seeing in the Darkness

James Wood, 6 March 1997

D.H. Lawrence: Triumph To Exile 1912-22 
by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 943 pp., £25, August 1996, 0 521 25420 5
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... is unaccountable. Christmas roses, ‘the lovely buds like handfuls of snow’; ‘the powerful, silver-pawed cypress tree’; ‘In the silence, it seemed he could hear the panther-like dropping of infinite snow’; ‘the flat unfinished world running with foam and noise and silvery light, and a few gulls swinging like a half-born thought’. Yet Lawrence ...

Mr Toad

John Bayley, 20 October 1994

Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... was ironical, for Waugh’s grand friends all thought it rubbish. Waugh told Ronnie Knox that Katherine Asquith ‘had detested the book to the end and beyond, and said the characters did not exist either in real life or faery,’ adding sadly that he had after all ‘grown up in Metroland, and didn’t know any other world except at secondhand or at a ...

Hoarder of Malt

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 7 January 1999

Shakespeare: A Life 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 479 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 19 811792 2
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £11.99, December 1998, 0 7190 5425 7
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... be organised also includes people dressed in simulated buckram and taffeta and the gleaming mock-silver of property breastplates and crowns, all of them borrowed from the second-best wardrobe of the Royal Shakespeare Company in order to deck out students and members of local amateur dramatic societies as representative characters from each of Shakespeare’s ...

Neo-Catastrophism

Eric Klinenberg: Sinful Cities?, 9 October 2003

The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea 
by Thomas Bender.
New Press, 287 pp., $30, September 2002, 1 56584 736 9
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Dead Cities: and Other Tales 
by Mike Davis.
New Press, 448 pp., $16.95, October 2003, 1 56584 844 6
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... of urban fear return with spectacular fury. ‘It’s conceivable that bin Laden et al have put a silver stake in the heart of the “downtown revival” in New York and elsewhere. The traditional central city . . . is not dead yet, but the pulse is weakening.’ Bender is particularly concerned about the dangers of political fragmentation and ...

Charm with Menaces

Colin Burrow: ‘The Mirror and the Light’, 19 March 2020

The Mirror and the Light 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 883 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 00 748099 9
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... the architect of the match, Thomas Cromwell, who is beheaded on the very day his king marries Katherine Howard, niece of Cromwell’s arch-enemy the reactionary Duke of Norfolk (who in Mantel’s version resembles an ungenial version of Sir Ector in T.H. White’s Sword in the Stone). As Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father, puts it in The Mirror and the ...

Boy/Girl

Stephen Bann, 4 August 1983

George beneath a Paper Moon 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 192 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 333 35380 3
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The Ice-House 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 333 35244 0
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A Dance to the Glory of God 
by Hugh Fleetwood.
Hamish Hamilton, 183 pp., £8.95, July 1983, 0 241 11088 2
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The Ice Monkey, and Other Stories 
by John Harrison.
Gollancz, 144 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 0 575 03259 6
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Arabic Short Stories 
translated by Denys Johnson-Davies.
Quartet, 173 pp., £6.95, July 1983, 0 7043 2367 2
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The Changelings: A Classical Japanese Court Tale 
translated by Rosette Willig.
Stanford, 248 pp., $19.50, May 1983, 0 8047 1124 0
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... With its deliberate exploitation of the ‘uncanny’ link between a dangling climber and a silver monkey pendant, it strays into Poe’s territory. But ‘Running down’, the most substantial story in the collection, changes from an equally sober memoir of old university acquaintances into pure Frankenstein. The accident-prone undergraduate has become ...

Kitty still pines for his dearest Dub

Andrew O’Hagan: Gossip, 6 February 2014

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... visit me. She was wearing a huge ring, made, she said, from a 14th-century Portuguese sailor’s silver buckle and an aquamarine which Ottoline Morrell (Henrietta called her ‘Ot’) had given to her grandmother, who had given it to her mother, who, Henrietta said, ‘found it in a drawer among dirty socks, put it in an envelope which she didn’t ...

Fade to Greige

Elaine Showalter: Mad for the Handcuff Bracelets, 4 January 2001

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion 
by Holly Brubach.
Phaidon, 232 pp., £19.95, October 1999, 9780714838878
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Fashion Today 
by Colin McDowell.
Phaidon, 511 pp., £39.95, September 2000, 0 7148 3897 7
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Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Society in Clothing 
by Diana Crane.
Chicago, 294 pp., £19, August 2000, 0 226 11798 7
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Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries 
by Avril Hart and Susan North.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 223 pp., £19.95, October 2000, 1 85177 258 8
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Don We Now Our Gay Appalrel: Gay Men’s Dress in the 20th Century 
by Shuan Cole.
Berg, 224 pp., £42.99, September 2000, 1 85973 415 4
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The Gallery of Fashion 
by Aileen Ribeiro.
Princeton, 256 pp., £60, November 2000, 0 691 05092 9
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Giorgio Armani 
by Germano Celant and Harold Koda.
Abrams, 392 pp., £40, October 2000, 0 8109 6927 0
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... Everyone seemed to agree on the semiotic message given out by Florida’s Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, who appeared in Nancy Reaganesque red suits, blue eyeshadow and false eyelashes, and was roasted by the American press, with one especially cruel review from Robin Givhan in the Washington Post: ‘She took fashion – which speaks in ...

Summarising Oneself

Julian Barnes: Degas’s Vanity, 19 November 2020

The Letters of Edgar Degas 
edited by Theodore Reff.
Wildenstein Plattner Institute, 1464 pp., £150, June, 978 0 9988175 1 4
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... to submit his own plate, now in its ninth state as he sought for perfection, capsized the project. Katherine Cassatt, Mary’s mother, certainly knew whom to blame. Degas, she wrote, ‘got them all to work for [the journal] so that Mary had no time for painting and as usual with Degas when the time arrived it appears he wasn’t ready … Degas is never ready ...

Sounds like hell to me

Michael Wood, 13 November 1997

Duchamp: A Biography 
by Calvin Tomkins.
Chatto, 350 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 7011 6642 8
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The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp 
by Arturo Schwartz.
Thames and Hudson, 292 pp., £145, September 1997, 0 500 09250 8
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... of picture or painting ... a delay in glass as you would say a poem in prose or a spittoon in silver.’ Paz says the Large Glass is ‘the last really significant work of the West ... Our tradition ends with it. That is, the painting of the future needs to start with it and against it.’ Since many people have seen in it nothing but an elaborate ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole, 2 February 2017

Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... the tenements around as workshops, stables and an inn. Inventories paint the picture: tableware of silver and gold, Venetian glass, mother-of-pearl, tapestries portraying the journeys of Ulysses and the discovery of Newfoundland; the countess herself, tall, stately, wears ermine, tawny damask, black satin and black velvet. Looking to her last end, Margaret ...

You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate 
by Paul Lay.
Head of Zeus, 352 pp., £30, January 2020, 978 1 78185 256 9
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... Charles I raised his droopy standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642, by seizing most of the silver plate the Cambridge colleges were sending off to the king. Unlike the other leading Parliamentarians, Essex and Fairfax and Montagu, from first to last Cromwell was all for absolute victory. As a cavalry commander, he immediately cut a dash. Both at ...

The Great Fear

William Lamont, 21 July 1983

Charles I and the Popish Plot 
by Caroline Hibbard.
North Carolina, 342 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 8078 1520 9
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Charles I: The Personal Monarch 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 426 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 9780710094858
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The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County 
by William Hunt.
Harvard, 365 pp., £24, April 1983, 0 674 73903 5
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... Who was the Earl of Antrim? He was the Irish Catholic, Randall McDonnell, who had married Katherine, the widow of the Duke of Buckingham and herself a Catholic convert. Until moving to Ireland late in 1638 with her new husband, the Duchess occasionally carried messages between Archbishop Laud and the Papal agent at the Court of Henrietta Maria, George ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... the king again. When they next appeared in the lists, it was as a team of two, wearing identical silver beards. Until the birth​ of Prince Edward in 1537, Henry did not have a legitimate male heir, so the children of his two sisters were potential successors. Charles and la reine blanche had two daughters, a son called Henry, who died, and then another ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... painted across his own features a Kathakali mask of violent emotions, the grinning red, black and silver face of a tormented demon. This, his text declared with great cries of guilt, was the real Olivier: but what readers took in primarily was the enormous theatrical energy and gusto of the breast-beating. It was as if A. A. Milne’s Tigger, for some ...

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