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Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens, 21 September 1995

... appear over long roads and in big skies, glow strangely and don’t do a lot – a few scorch marks in the grass, some mutilated cattle. The CIA know all about boys’ aliens, the radar blips and the pilot’s black box, because boys can not only verify their aliens scientifically, they also conspire to cover this scientific proof up. Hence the 1947 ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve, 5 February 1981

Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... to be the muse of true irony. This biography does useful service, but not much more, bearing the marks of one kind of worthy but unadventurous labour history. If Carpenter is to make sense in a new version, it will only be because he managed, in an actual historical struggle, to combine politics with other things: sexual emancipation, an anarchism not ...

It leads to everything

Patricia Fara: Heat and Force, 23 September 2021

Einstein’s Fridge: The Science of Fire, Ice and the Universe 
by Paul Sen.
William Collins, 305 pp., £20, April, 978 0 00 826279 2
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... entropy in the universe gets ever so slightly larger. Because entropy is constantly increasing, it marks a direction in time: eventually, no energy will be available for use and the universe will grind to a halt. In The Time Machine (1895), H.G. Wells evoked this grim prospect. As his travellers approach the far distant future, ‘the darkness grew apace ...

Colette

Angela Carter, 2 October 1980

... After all these years, De Beauvoir still appears to be proud that only Sartre achieved higher marks in those first exams than she. What would have happened, one wonders, if she had come top? What would it have done to Sartre? Merely to think of it makes the mind reel. Only love can make you proud to be an also-ran. But Colette simply did not believe that ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... advancing in politics. Seldom did he miss an opportunity, whether through the chance patronage of Leo Amery or an unexploited gap in the insurance market. He stood for Parliament at 23, ran the Young Conservatives at 26, was beginning to be seriously rich before he was 30. He has a chapter on his money-making, which was shadowed by vicarious controversy after ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... drawn underneath them – it’s this that helps give them their three-dimensional appearance, and marks them out as works of art, as though they are drawings for stand-alone sculptures. Underneath the man-cone he has marked the words:JJ BEEGANSCULPTURERDUNLOP HILLBALLINASLOEThe voice narrating the film David and I watched that day on his NHS computer sounded ...

Preposterous Timing

Hal Foster: Medieval Modern Art, 8 November 2012

Medieval Modern: Art out of Time 
by Alexander Nagel.
Thames and Hudson, 312 pp., £29.95, November 2012, 978 0 500 23897 4
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Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum 
by Amy Knight Powell.
Zone, 369 pp., £24.95, May 2012, 978 1 935408 20 8
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... Renaissance less as the ‘rebirth’ of antiquity than as its ‘afterlife’). This shift also marks a renewed appreciation of less renowned scholars such as the Frenchman Henri Focillon, a medievalist who saw the ‘life of forms’ as an almost autonomous force in art, and the American George Kubler, an expert in pre-Columbian artefacts for whom the ...

Some girls want out

Hilary Mantel: Spectacular saintliness, 4 March 2004

The Voices of Gemma Galgani: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Saint 
by Rudolph Bell and Cristina Mazzoni.
Chicago, 320 pp., £21, March 2003, 0 226 04196 4
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 
by Kathryn Harrison.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 84728 7
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The Disease of Virgins: Green Sickness, Chlorosis and the Problems of Puberty 
by Helen King.
Routledge, 196 pp., £50, September 2003, 0 415 22662 7
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A Wonderful Little Girl: The True Story of Sarah Jacob, the Welsh Fasting Girl 
by Siân Busby.
Short Books, 157 pp., £5.99, June 2004, 1 904095 70 4
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... and when the local convent told her to wait she took advantage of a pilgrimage to Rome to harangue Leo XIII, clinging to his knees until attendants carried her off. Gemma never got near the pope, never managed to get admitted to a convent at any age. They regarded her as too strange and too sick. ‘They don’t want me living,’ she said, ‘but they’ll ...
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... his own clothes were, the funnier he was in someone else’s. In the Hitchcock film, the suit marks a turning-point: having been kidnapped, Grant (Roger Thornhill) is taken to a country house and interrogated by James Mason (Van Damme), who assumes Grant is one George Kaplan. After the bourbon and the car, Grant returns to the scene of the crime with the ...

Mr Lukacs changes trains

Edward Timms, 19 February 1987

Georg Lukacs: Selected Correspondence 1902-1920 
translated by Judith Marcus and Zoltan Tar.
Columbia, 318 pp., $25, September 1986, 9780231059688
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... a lavish level of support (‘though I think that your yearly expenses should not exceed 10,000 marks’). Of course it was possible for beneficiaries of the capitalist system to be anti-capitalist in outlook (Lenin is the outstanding example). But there is little sign, either in Lukacs’s conduct or in his writings prior to 1919, of any principled ...

Making it

Nicholas Penny, 5 November 1992

The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino 
by Bruce Boucher.
Yale, 304 pp., £95, November 1991, 0 300 04759 2
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Giambattista and Lorenzo Bregno: Venetian Sculpture in the High Renaissance 
by Anne Markham Schulz.
Cambridge, 564 pp., £85, November 1991, 0 521 38406 0
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... as part of the ephemeral decorations for the triumphal entry into Florence of the Medici Pope Leo X. Had Sansovino died in the Sack of Rome in 1527, he would be accepted as the third greatest sculptor, after Michelangelo and Giambologna, to have worked in Italy in the 16th century, but he escaped from Rome and settled in Venice where, while continuing his ...

What more could we want of ourselves!

Jacqueline Rose: Rosa Luxemburg, 16 June 2011

The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg 
edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza, translated by George Shriver.
Verso, 609 pp., £25, February 2011, 978 1 84467 453 4
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... the ambivalence of Lenin’s response to Luxemburg. In Britain, the appearance of the letters marks a beginning. Verso is planning to issue her Complete Works in 14 volumes, making the entire body of writing available for the first time in English. The moment has clearly come for a return to Rosa Luxemburg. How far should revolutionary thinking be allowed ...

Who is Stewart Home?

Iain Sinclair, 23 June 1994

... into fugues of inspired counter-terror, then moving on. A suspicion lingers in the scorch marks that Home’s major project is Stewart Home: keeping his intelligence alive, gelling his retaliation in first. Home’s The Art Strike Papers are the ones you’ll find in Compendium Bookshop. The man who composes the post-humous testament controls ...

The Getaway Car

Glen Newey: Machiavelli, 21 January 2016

Machiavellian Democracy 
by John McCormick.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 0 521 53090 3
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Machiavelli in the Making 
by Claude Lefort, translated by Michael Smith.
Northwestern, 512 pp., £32.50, January 2012, 978 0 8101 2438 7
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Redeeming ‘The Prince’: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Princeton, 189 pp., £18.95, October 2013, 978 0 691 16001 6
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... hasn’t. In part that’s because of his irreligion and liking for blasphemy, which Leo Strauss claimed to find shocking. But those who see him as proselytising from an atheistical pulpit misidentify as inverse religiosity what often seems more like simple je-m’en-foutisme. The demonisation of Machiavelli in the anglophone world has often been ...

A Cure for Arthritis and Other Tales

Alan Bennett, 2 November 2000

... her very occasionally urge on me the attractions of the writer’s life, instancing the novels of Leo Walmsley or Naomi Jacob – even, going up the scale a bit, the Brontë sisters, whom she has never actually read, but thinks of as local girls who have kicked over the traces and made good Down South. The novelist and ex-Bingley librarian John Braine of Room ...

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