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St Malcolm Martyr

Michael Wood, 25 March 1993

Malcolm
directed by Spike Lee.
May 1993
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By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of ‘Malcolm X’ 
by Spike Lee and Ralph Wiley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 09 928531 2
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Malcolm X: The Great Photographs 
compiled by Thulani Davis and Howard Chapnick.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 168 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 1 55670 317 1
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... The reviews and the hype hadn’t prepared me for Malcolm X at all. I expected it to be dull and worthy, a straight and long-winded retelling of a famous life. I found it lively, pretty dramatic, not all that much too long. It is a glossy parable of the sinner who came to virtue, found fame and power, was threatened and killed: the work, death and glorification of St Malcolm Martyr ...

Goddesses and Girls

Nicholas Penny, 2 December 1982

... the immobile profile portrait to the three-quarter view of the face in the Renaissance was, as Malcolm Warner puts it in an elegant essay, ‘largely the achievement of Netherlandish artists in the first half of the 15th century’.4 The Italians, indeed, despite their love of difficult foreshortening, seem at first to have felt strong inhibitions ...

Fancy Dress

Peter Campbell: Millais, Burne-Jones and Leighton, 15 April 1999

Millais: Portraits 
by Peter Funnell and Malcolm Warner.
National Portrait Gallery, 224 pp., £35, February 1999, 1 85514 255 4
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John Everett Millais 
by G.H. Fleming.
Constable, 318 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 09 478560 0
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Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer 
by Stephen Wildman and John Christian.
Abrams, 360 pp., £48, October 1998, 0 8109 6522 4
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Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity 
edited by Tim Barringer and Elizabeth Prettejohn.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, March 1999, 0 300 07937 0
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... In 1886 there was an exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery of the work of John Everett Millais (Sir John, in fact: he had recently been made a baronet). There were pictures from his Pre-Raphaelite infancy, like Isabella and Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop; anecdotal ones, like My First Sermon (a child portrait in the Bubbles line); landscapes (Chill October); pictures with stories (The Proscribed Royalist) and pictures from stories (Mariana ...

Mortal on Hooch

William Fiennes: Alan Warner, 30 July 1998

The Sopranos 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 336 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05108 3
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... Morvern Callar, the narrator of Alan Warner’s Morvern Callar (1995) and These Demented Lands (1997), reacts to the suicide of her boyfriend by lighting a Silk Cut, opening her Christmas presents and shaving her legs in a hot bath. The boyfriend is lying in a pool of blood but Morvern remains emotionally numb: ‘Trying to get in the oven to heat up the pizza ...

Performances for Sleepless Tyrants

Marina Warner: ‘Tales of the Marvellous’, 8 January 2015

Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, introduced by Robert Irwin.
Penguin, 600 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 14 139503 6
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... Or so it is said in this compendium of stories, freshly unearthed by the Arabists Robert Irwin and Malcolm Lyons, who also worked on the recent Penguin three-volume Arabian Nights.* In Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange, the storytellers are mostly described as learned sheikhs with vast libraries and, in contrast to the lectrices of the ...

Travelling Text

Marina Warner: ‘The Arabian Nights’, 18 December 2008

The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, with Ursula Lyons.
Penguin, 2715 pp., £125, November 2008, 978 0 14 091166 4
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‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context: Between East and West 
edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum.
Oxford, 337 pp., £55, November 2008, 978 0 19 955415 7
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... only a handful of stories. The ambitious new Penguin edition, translated by the veteran Arabist Malcolm Lyons, can claim to be the first ‘complete’ English version rendered from the original without recourse to Galland. But the inverted commas are needed, because there can never really be a definitive edition of this book. Nor, in some sense, can it ...

The Labile Self

Marina Warner: Dressing Up, 5 January 2012

Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe 
by Ulinka Rublack.
Oxford, 354 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 19 929874 7
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... and she fights shy of the propaganda attacks on extravagance and vanity so richly documented in Malcolm Jones’s superb catalogue, The Print in Early Modern England: An Historical Oversight (where The Cure of Folly is reproduced).* The places she studies were rich trading centres, some of them free cities rather than feudal possessions, and their ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘Niche’, 3 March 2011

... At least since the New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell’s first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, became a bestseller ten years ago, publishers have churned out popular social science books, several but not all of them by New Yorker staffers (including a couple more from Gladwell), with short, catchy titles and long, friendly subtitles, and if one or other of them appears paradoxical, so much the better ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties, 1 April 1999

The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... Woolf, Charlotte Mew, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Nancy Cunard, Katherine Mansfield, Sylvia Townsend Warner) allowed the old Victorian spinster a few escape-routes: killing off the controlling father who kept her at home (Mansfield’s ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’); investing her with milk-curdling powers (Sylvia Townsend ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... There’s Bette Davis and Joe Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. There’s Basil Dean and James Dean, Jack Warner of Dock Green and Jack Warner of Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore. Kim Novak and Ivor Novello are ...

Just off Lexham Gardens

John Bayley, 9 January 1992

Through a Glass Darkly: The life of Patrick Hamilton 
by Nigel Jones.
Scribner, 408 pp., £18.95, December 1991, 0 356 19701 8
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... life (he died aged 58) Patrick Hamilton was taking the cure in some Metroland establishment while Malcolm Lowry was being dried out in another not far off. That was around l960, and the two writers never met; but both had become something of a cult. Hamilton died two years later in more than averagely gloomy circumstances, back on the bottle again; and most ...

Into Thin Air

Marina Warner: Science at the Séances, 3 October 2002

The Invention of Telepathy 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Oxford, 334 pp., £35, June 2002, 0 19 924962 8
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... thinking’ reverberated in fiction and its portrayal of character and perception; and Malcolm Gaskill recently tackled, with amused brio, the life and times of the last of the materialising mediums, Helen Duncan, who was imprisoned for her activities and died only in 1956.2 In this lucid and richly layered study, Luckhurst echoes Terry Castle’s ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: Alexander McQueen, 4 June 2015

... keep the tradition’ was another of McQueen’s maxims. Customising was a watchword of punk, with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood the subject of a more recent show at the Met also created by Andrew Bolton. Customising is a form of bespoke and bespoke relies on those trades that go back to the Middle Ages and are commemorated in the names of the City ...

Knowledge Infinite

D.J. Enright, 16 August 1990

The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... The essayists approach the subject from varying angles, and not all of them approach very close. Malcolm Baker writes on tomb sculpture, ‘the static intermediary between the earthly and the eternal’, where the stone figure of the Commendatore is undeniably a case in point. Peter Gay explores the opera’s ‘hidden agenda’, long ago exposed to the ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... had died, but because events since his death – the marches from Selma; the assassination of Malcolm X – had changed the national mood. This is what gives Redding’s coda such force. ‘There’s been times when I thought I couldn’t last for long,’ are the last lines Cooke sang: But now I think I’m able to carry on It’s been a long, a long ...

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