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Visa Requirement

D.D. Guttenplan: Whitehall and Jews, 6 July 2000

Whitehall and The Jews 1933-48 
by Louise London.
Cambridge, 313 pp., £30, March 2000, 0 521 63187 4
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... Three scenes from London life. 1) Westminster in 1999, when the tidal wave of ‘bogus asylum seekers’ that would break across tabloid front pages was just a gentle swell on the horizon. A House of Commons standing committee is discussing the Government’s proposal to replace welfare benefits (of around £46 a week) with a system of food vouchers worth £35 a week ...


Tessa Hadley: Dan Jacobson, 20 October 2005

All for Love 
by Dan Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 262 pp., £16.99, February 2005, 0 241 14273 3
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... to high-flown romanticism. One spring morning in 1895, in the Prater Gardens in Vienna, Princess Louise – daughter of King Leopold of Belgium, wife of Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg – exchanged glances with a handsome young uhlan struggling to control the black stallion he rode. Géza Mattachich, the ‘stepson of a backwoods Croatian count’, belonged ...

Love and Hate, Girl and Boy

Juliet Mitchell: Louise Bourgeois, 6 November 2014

... Louise Bourgeois​ died, aged 98, in May 2010. Shortly before her death Jerry Gorovoy, her long-time assistant, found a forgotten box of her jottings, unpublished papers and diaries from her time in psychoanalysis. He had uncovered a similar stash six years earlier; together, the materials came to a thousand pages of notes ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard, 6 February 2014

All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... of Villy having her old governess sit with them at dinner, Villy disapproves of her daughter Louise wearing trousers. She encourages Louise to think she is clumsy and ugly, because it’s good for her; and, besides, the family ‘did not mention, let alone discuss, people’s appearance’ – a problem when ...


Louise Foxcroft: W.B. Yeats and her great-uncle, 7 September 2000

... that the editor wanted to thank Albert for his letter and a subsequent visit he had made to their London office, but they had decided that ‘it would be best for us not to pursue the matter further in Picture Post, if only out of respect for the Yeats Family’s feelings’. He enclosed an office memo: Dr William Patrick Griffin, who is a Harley Street ...

Prosecco Notwithstanding

Tobias Gregory: 21st-Century Noir, 3 July 2008

The Lemur 
by Benjamin Black.
Picador US, 144 pp., $13, June 2008, 978 0 312 42808 2
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... to keep the secret in the family. Then the lemur is found shot through the eye. Glass’s wife, Louise, Big Bill’s daughter, is formidable in her own right. She’s gorgeous, of course, tall and thin, ‘48 but looked thirty’, with elegant manners, firm handwriting, a top-drawer education – ‘her three years of study in England, a postgraduate course ...


D.J. Enright, 18 September 1980

Flaubert and an English Governess 
by Hermia Oliver.
Oxford, 212 pp., £9.50, June 1980, 0 19 815764 9
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The Letters of Gustave Flaubert 1830-1857 
edited and translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Harvard, 270 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 674 52636 8
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... a case of seeking hopefully rather than arriving. Born in 1829 as the daughter of a London builder, Juliet came from ‘the artisan rather than the professional classes’. Miss Oliver is faintly surprised that Flaubert should have been devoted (if devoted he was) to so humble a being, ‘It seemed far more probable that the father of a woman ...

I hear, I see, I learn

Nicholas Spice, 4 November 1993

The Green Knight 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 472 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 6030 6
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... Lucas and Clement Graffe, Harvey Blacket, Bellamy James and his dog Anax, the Anderson women – Louise and her daughters Alethea (Aleph), Sophia (Sefton) and Moira (Moy) – Emil and Clive and the Adwardens. A reader alert to social differences will find such names far from neutral. An odour of class hangs about them. As emphatically as Tracy or ...

Dark Places

John Sutherland, 18 November 1982

Wise Virgin 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 186 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 436 57608 2
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The London Embassy 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 241 10872 1
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The frog who dared to croak 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 182 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11989 1
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Vintage Stuff 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.50, November 1982, 0 436 45810 1
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Rogue Justice 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 174 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 7181 2178 3
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... failed). With all this wretchedness stacked behind it, the novel opens: ‘ “Marry me,” said Louise Agar.’ Will he? The monstrously tragic prelude (given in terse and intermittent flashback) permeates Wise Virgin with a kind of post-operative exhaustion. It is as if the writer had aimed at a juicy plot, missed and hit the epilogue instead. But, of ...

How Shall I Know You?

Hilary Mantel, 19 October 2000

... One summer at the fag-end of the 1990s, I had to go out of London to talk to a literary society, of the sort that must have been old-fashioned when the previous century closed. When the day came, I wondered why I’d agreed to it; but yes is easier than no, and of course when you make a promise you think the time will never arrive: that there will be a nuclear holocaust, or some other diversion ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Underground Bunkers, 6 November 2008

... of tower blocks and overhead walkways, the Barbican is one of the most undervisited places in London. I love it as I love hospitals and airports, for the way they allow you to occupy public space without being seen, without being public. Ignore the signs and they ignore you. At the top of the staircase, on the seventh floor, another door opened onto a ...

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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... he also lived with seven Degas paintings. In 1876 he bought four ballet pictures from the London branch of the Paris dealer Durand-Ruel, quickly followed by two more plus a picture then called Figures in a French Café. Hill was striking early: the first Degas had entered a British collection only in 1872. It also made his holdings the largest in ...

Royals in Oils

Peter Campbell, 13 November 1997

The Sweetness of Life: A Biography of Elizabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
by Angelica Goodden.
Deutsch, 384 pp., £19.99, June 1997, 0 233 99021 6
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... In her portraits Elizabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun did her very best to give a pleasing account of the facts of the flesh. The faces are attractive, the expressions forthcoming and responsive. The phrase ‘a smile played around her lips’ could have been invented to describe them. Her trademarks are half-disclosed rows of little pearly teeth; up-and-under looks; draped shawls, Greek smocks, Oriental accessories and loosely gathered curls; or a heavenward gaze (which owed something to Greuze, but doesn’t have the repellent sentimentality of his tearful bearers of crushed blossoms ...

The Real Thing!

Julian Barnes: Visions of Vice, 17 December 2015

Splendeurs et misères: Images de la prostitution 1850-1910 
Musée d’Orsay, until 17 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Grand Palais, until 11 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9 February 2016 to 15 May 2016Show More
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... was complicated, as one might expect. In 1853 he explained it to – of all people – his lover Louise Colet: It may be a perverted taste, but I love prostitution, and for itself, too, quite apart from its carnal aspects. My heart begins to pound every time I see one of those women in low-cut dresses walking under the lamplight in the rain, just as monks ...

The Virgin

David Plante, 3 April 1986

... her breasts, she said, ‘Bye.’ At his desk in the office, he took from a bottom drawer the London telephone directory, S to Z, and just when his eyes stopped, with a sinking feeling as if having to face a choice which would mean the loss of everything he had, on the bold lettering VENEREAL DISEASES, a colleague came to the desk and Charles shut the ...

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