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Of the Mule Breed

David Bromwich: Robert Southey

21 May 1998
Robert Southey: A Life 
by Mark Storey.
Oxford, 405 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 19 811246 7
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... was never a ‘marvellous boy’, but he lived a boyish life in books for half a century, and Mark Storey’s Life promises to solve a puzzle about his reputation: how someone so earnest and full of ideals could draw the loyalty of one generation, the livid contempt of another, and the nostalgic indulgence of a third, without any noticeable change of ...


Mark Rudman

16 September 1999
... Mormons hunkered over cups, And the handful of impassive faces Placed against the windows Of one-storey cinder-block houses, There was no one in Provo beyond the jack-rabbits – Glimpsed in abundance en route – Who vanished as we crossed the town line, And drove past the population sign. Or was it a warning in disguise?      * There was something ...

A Better Life

Peter Campbell

2 April 1981
Homes fit for Heroes 
by Mark Swenarton.
Heinemann, 216 pp., £14.50, February 1981, 0 435 32994 4
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The Shell Book of the Home in Britain 
by James Ayres.
Faber, 253 pp., £8.95, March 1981, 0 571 11625 6
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... The ‘homes fit for heroes’ of Mark Swenarton’s title – or some relation of them – can be found on the outskirts of almost any British town. Yet they are more seen than noticed, and it may take a description to bring them to mind: ‘two-storey cottages, built in groups of four or six, with medium or low-pitched roofs and little exterior decoration, set amongst gardens, trees, privet hedges and grass verges, and often laid out in cul-de-sacs or around greens ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice

11 October 2018
... mercury vapour lamps. Behind it, half-hidden in the shadows of early morning or evening, is a four-storey tenement, probably built in the early part of the last century, and indistinguishable from the building my maternal grandparents lived in, just a mile or two down the road. ‘Esso Station and Tenement House, Hoboken, New Jersey’ (1972) George ...


Seamus Perry: Southey’s Genius for Repression

26 January 2006
Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793-1810 
edited by Lynda Pratt, Tim Fulford and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts.
Pickering & Chatto, 2624 pp., £450, May 2004, 1 85196 731 1
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... alive for near sixty years?’ Given this insight, it was mischievous of Carlyle to go on to remark casually to Southey that Shelley must have led a haggard sort of existence. Carlyle found the response unsettling: ‘I remember Southey’s pause, and the tone and air with which he answered, “It is a haggard existence!”’ ...

Utopian about the Present

Christopher Turner: The Brutalist Ethic

4 July 2019
Alison and Peter Smithson 
by Mark Crinson.
Historic England, 150 pp., £30, June 2018, 978 1 84802 352 9
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Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing 
by John Boughton.
Verso, 330 pp., £9.99, April 2019, 978 1 78478 740 0
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... and the timber-screened Garden Building (1967-70) at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. They were, in Mark Crinson’s description, ‘writerly, artistic-minded, avant-garde and unabashedly intellectual’, known for their many books as much as for their relatively few buildings (a third, posthumously published volume of their collected works, Alison and Peter ...

At the New Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: Isa Genzken

30 April 2009
... which explains the blank painted space between the two attached towers that frame the upper storey. (The design for Crane’s panel is illustrated in The Buildings of England, London 5: East.) You would hardly guess anything was missing; the building is a showpiece, Whitechapel High Street’s strongest and most interesting frontage. The ...

When Chicago Went Classical

Andrew Saint: A serial killer and the World’s Fair

1 April 2004
Devil in the White City 
by Erik Larson.
Bantam, 496 pp., £7.99, April 2004, 0 553 81353 6
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... longer could any city claiming to be civilised allow its skyscrapers to pile one raw, steel-framed storey on another. Instead, they had to have a stone-clad base, middle and top, in attenuated mimicry of the temple-front. No longer could Louis Sullivan, that intellectual loner among American architects, coax businessmen into lavishing his ...

Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands

5 March 2015
Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... megaliths – were made and placed there because people found those heights important. Natural landmarks were valued, even worshipped, and people were impelled to carve and erect the liths to mark and celebrate them. We do lift up our eyes unto the hills. We use them to guide our ways by land and sea. We are relieved when ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: ‘Inside the Dream Palace’

6 February 2014
... star appearances, but it’s the denizens of the place, their celebrity and sheer numbers – from Mark Twain through several generations of artists, cranks and druggies, to Sid Vicious – that warrant its reputation. Almost no one on the New York arts scene fails to put in an appearance in Tippins’s book, starting with William Dean Howells and Stephen ...

Stepping Stone to the New Times

Christopher Turner: Bauhaus

5 July 2012
Bauhaus: Art as Life 
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... for adults. Parties, festivals and masked balls formed a large part of the curriculum, each marked by a frenzy of preparation. Gropius sought to encourage ‘friendly relations’ between students and teachers, who competed with one another to create the most outlandish, abstract costumes and decorations based on Bauhaus principles of geometry, space ...

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions

20 April 2016
Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics 
by Beatriz Preciado.
Zone, 303 pp., £20.95, October 2014, 978 1 935408 48 2
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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny 
by Holly Madison.
Dey Street, 334 pp., £16.99, July 2015, 978 0 06 237210 9
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... were published in the May 1962 issue of the magazine. The ‘almost cartoonishly modern’ three-storey building, as Preciado describes it, was to have a Miesian glass façade, under which a basement garage would harbour a bright blue Porsche. It was to be built around an indoor pool designed to resemble a natural grotto. Here was modern architecture as pure ...

Black and White Life

Mark Greif: Ralph Ellison

1 November 2007
Ralph Ellison: A Biography 
by Arnold Rampersad.
Knopf, 657 pp., $35, April 2007, 978 0 375 40827 4
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... areas of black and white life. You can also make an impressive list of events of struggle which marked Ellison before Invisible Man. Born in Oklahoma in 1913, just six years after the ‘Indian Territory’ became part of the United States as its 46th state, the young Ralph Waldo Ellison – named by his working-class father for the philosopher and poet ...
10 December 1987
Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John Hartley Williams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... So characteristic of Paul Muldoon’s poetry as to be almost a hallmark is the moment, unnerving and exciting in about equal measures, when his speaker is suddenly revealed to himself as someone else. The whole world expands and changes in ‘Cass and Me’ when, as a boy, he climbs on the older Cass’s shoulders, and they lean out                across the yard As a giant would across the world ...
26 October 1989
From Moorepark to Wine Alley: The Rise and Fall of a Glasgow Housing Scheme 
by Sean Damer.
Edinburgh, 209 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 85224 622 6
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... imagined that a Briton’s (or at least an Englishman’s) perfect living arrangement was a two-storey cottage with a garden front and back. If the ‘garden cities’ of the Home Counties were the happiest consequences of this idea, then Moorepark, the subject of Sean Damer’s study, must be one of the saddest. Moorepark is not the most infamous of ...

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