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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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... pause, and the tone and air with which he answered, “It is a haggard existence!”’ Mark Storey, Southey’s most recent biographer, gently describes him as ‘less than completely stable’, and his poetry is a product of his genius for repression, as the handsome and welcome new edition of the verse lets us see with new clarity. No one in ...

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 ...

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 ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 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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... treated ironically, is most vivid in ‘7, Middagh Street’. 7, Middagh Street was the three-storey brownstone rented by George Davis – literary editor of Harper’s Bazaar at the time – and tenanted by Auden, Carson McCullers, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee; shorter-term residents included Louis MacNeice, Auden’s lover Chester Kallman and ...

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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... he made a point of instructing his students in those rare white American writers, such as Mark Twain, who had recognised that there could be no white American culture without black culture. (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Pudd’nhead Wilson were both on his syllabus.) Rampersad also tells us that ‘Ralph deliberately set a framed photograph ...

On Caleb Femi

Amber Medland, 24 February 2022

... Estate. In postwar Britain, this forty-acre ‘mega-estate’, comprising 1444 homes in 65 multi-storey blocks, offered another kind of vision. It was ‘a paradise of affordable bricks, tucked under/a blanket, shielded from the world’, Caleb Femi writes. Here, ‘angels get hit, & fall like loose feathers’; ‘an angel is anyone who visits the desperate ...

In the Studio

Rye Dag Holmboe: Howard Hodgkin, 3 June 2021

... of uncertainty, but it was also because much of the labour took place in the periods between mark-making. Often he would sit on one of the chairs arranged around the studio, making mistakes in his head so as to avoid making them in the work. He also spent a great deal of time in his studio reading Agatha Christie novels – he liked to start at the end ...

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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... flat roofs, which would become a much visited emblem of the International style. The new three-storey studio block had a huge glass wall – it was nicknamed the ‘aquarium’ – through which you could see the students at work. The school was an incubator for the new, modern individuals Gropius hoped to create; the theatre, directed by Schlemmer, was at ...

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions, 21 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 ...

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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... 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 the next rise of land comes into sight. Hills are perfect sites for burial grounds, and giant calendars, or to celebrate a solstice ...

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