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What’s Left?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Russian Revolution, 30 March 2017

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution 
by China Miéville.
Verso, 358 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 78478 280 1
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The Russian Revolution 1905-1921 
by Mark D. Steinberg.
Oxford, 388 pp., £19.99, February 2017, 978 0 19 922762 4
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Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 
by S.A. Smith.
Oxford, 455 pp., £25, January 2017, 978 0 19 873482 6
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The Russian Revolution: A New History 
by Sean McMeekin.
Basic, 496 pp., $30, May 2017, 978 0 465 03990 6
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Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution 
by Tony Brenton.
Profile, 364 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 78125 021 1
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... So it’s not in my nature to come out as a revolutionary enthusiast. But shouldn’t someone do it? That person, as it turns out, is China Miéville, best known as a science fiction man of leftist sympathies whose fiction is self-described as ‘weird’. Miéville is not a historian, though he has done his homework, and his October is not at all ...

Russian hearts are strange

Andrew Solomon, 20 June 1996

The Romanovs: The Final Chapter 
by Robert Massie.
Cape, 308 pp., £17.99, November 1995, 0 224 04192 4
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The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution 
by Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev.
Yale, 444 pp., £18.50, November 1995, 0 300 06557 4
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... turning pro-tsarist. In fact, the Romanovs were in general dutiful, hard-working and determined to do as much good for Russia as they were capable of. But their deification – Nicholas will probably be canonised before the year is out – is also absurd: the Romanovs were in general inept, remote, narrow-minded, anti-semitic, intolerant, repressive and ...

Ostentatio Genitalium

Charles Hope, 15 November 1984

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Faber, 222 pp., £25, September 1984, 0 571 13392 4
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... The startling claim of Leo Steinberg’s new book is that over the past four centuries the real meaning of much of the religious art of the Renaissance has been lost. He argues that in representations of Christ, both as an infant and as an adult, the genitals had a particular theological significance to which we are now oblivious because of the modern world’s ‘massive historic retreat from the mythical grounds of Christianity ...

Everyone, Then No One

David Nasaw: Where have all the bowler hats gone?, 23 February 2006

Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora and the Death of the Hat 
by Neil Steinberg.
Granta, 342 pp., £12, August 2005, 1 86207 782 7
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... principal’s office to be taught their manners. In what is perhaps the most nightmarish of the Dr Seuss books, the ‘cat’ who enters the home after the mother has gone out is clearly up to no good because he keeps his hat on. The social necessity that hats be worn outside and removed inside resulted in a serious storage problem. One solution for top-hat ...


Frank Kermode, 1 March 1984

The Paper Men 
by William Golding.
Faber, 191 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 571 13206 5
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William Golding: A Critical Study 
by Mark Kinkead-Weekes and Ian Gregor.
Faber, 291 pp., £3.50, February 1984, 0 571 13259 6
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... painting, for the older kind of dialogue with tradition broke down; the criticism of Leo Steinberg, so delicate in its way of relating a work to its context in the oeuvre, so subtle about the now very complex relation to tradition, is a model of the right sort of response. But in writing about fiction we experience some vulgar inhibition that may ...

Which red is the real red?

Hal Foster, 2 December 2021

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror 
Whitney Museum of American Art/Philadelphia Museum of Art, until 13 February 2022Show More
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... Greenberg to champion Abstract Expressionism, and deftly deflected its discourse towards what Leo Steinberg would term ‘other criteria’. ‘The subjects which Jasper Johns chose to paint up to 1958,’ Steinberg wrote in ‘Jasper Johns: The First Seven Years of His Art’ (1962), still the most influential essay on the ...

Italy’s Communists

Jonathan Steinberg, 21 July 1983

After Poland 
by Enrico Berlinguer, translated by Antonio Bronda and Stephen Boddington.
Spokesman, 114 pp., £2.25, March 1982, 0 85124 344 4
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... at 8.30 a.m. The party’s ‘diversity’ arises from what Amendola called ‘un orgoglio di partito’, ‘a pride of party’, that pride in being a Communist which, he writes, restrained Communist prisoners from masturbating during their imprisonment and made them ashamed that they could not discipline their dreams. I saw it in the contempt with ...

At Tate Modern

Hal Foster: Robert Rauschenberg, 1 December 2016

... but also in conceptual gestures? It was during this time, too, that Rauschenberg asked Willem de Kooning, whom he greatly admired, for a drawing, which he then laboriously erased. This is a bizarre collaboration, but a collaboration nonetheless, and this distinctive aspect of his artistic practice was also developed on Fulton Street. Although the White ...

A Suspect in the Eyes of Super-Patriots

Charles Simic: Vasko Popa, 18 March 1999

Collected Poems of Vasko Popa 
translated by Anne Pennington.
Anvil, 464 pp., £12.95, January 1998, 0 85646 268 3
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... dignity and heroic forbearance of the Everyman-Sisyphus figure pushing his rock – or, as Saul Steinberg has it in the old cartoon, pushing a huge, boulder-like question-mark – up a hill. The poems that elicited most controversy were the cycles ‘Landscapes’ and ‘List’. Here’s ‘On the Table’, a poem from ...

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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... in a similar way, anticipating and completing each other across stretches of time. It is we who do not think in this manner: informed by humanists like Panofsky, art historians in particular understand Renaissance perspective not only as a revolutionary technique of picture-making but also as an epochal form of historical consciousness that allowed for ...

Bounce off a snap

Hal Foster: Yve-Alain Bois’s Reflections, 30 March 2023

An Oblique Autobiography 
by Yve-Alain Bois, edited by Jordan Kantor.
No Place, 375 pp., £15.99, December 2022, 978 1 949484 08 3
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... it is closed, and on the spur of the moment she takes the boys to the nearby Musée National d’Art Moderne. For Bois the memory is vivid to this day. There is the Brancusi studio donated to the French state by the Romanian sculptor, a room of Léger paintings, a huge ‘allover’ canvas by the Canadian Jean-Paul Riopelle, a great Matisse ...

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