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The White Tree

Colin Dayan: The Jena Six, 1 November 2007

... who hung the nooses were suspended from school for three days. An all-white jury convicted Mychal Bell, one of the black students, on a reduced charge of aggravated second-degree battery, which could have brought a 15-year sentence. The saga of the Jena Six began, a story of unequal punishment before the law that is all too familiar. ...

Eyeballs v. Optics

Julian Bell: Western art, 13 December 2001

Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters 
by David Hockney.
Thames and Hudson, 296 pp., £35, October 2001, 0 500 23785 9
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... Hockney’s correspondence on the subject over the last two years, chiefly with the art historian Martin Kemp, author of The Science of Art (1990), a magisterial study of painting and optics. David and Martin, seemingly unedited, exchange chitchat, aperçus and mutual encouragement between Los Angeles and Oxford, artlessly ...

Jewishness

Gabriele Annan, 7 May 1981

When memory comes 
by Saul Friedländer, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 185 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 28898 4
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... He discovered something else in Sweden too: in his uncle’s library he came upon the works of Martin Buber and ‘felt ... the hidden grace of this secret world of Hasidism’, as different from the rough banality of Israel as it was from ‘Biblical austerity and the cold rigour of the Law’. Was this the style he was looking for? At any rate, it had an ...

A Long Silence

David A. Bell: ‘Englishness’, 14 December 2000

Englishness Identified: Manners and Character, 1650-1850 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 389 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780198206811
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... national contexts at all, and misses some of the best French material altogether (such as Robert Martin Lesuire’s corrosively funny 1760 novel Les Sauvages de l’Europe, a virtual catalogue of anti-English stereotypes). And without contextualisation, the observers, like the observed, blend together into a homogeneous mass. This problem undermines ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: The Reopening, 22 March 2018

... stayed on for a while as live-in curators. In 1970 a new modernist extension was added, by Leslie Martin and David Owers, to show off more of the work in a larger space with more generous sofas. The latest development – funded by £3.65 million from Arts Council England and £2.32 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund – has involved entirely remodelling ...
Rembrandt by Himself 
edited by Christopher White and Quentin Buvelot.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781857092523
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Rembrandt: The Painter at Work 
by Ernst van de Wetering.
Amsterdam University Press, 340 pp., £52.50, November 1997, 90 5356 239 7
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... sum, is our culture’s chief pictorial repository for the so-called human condition. John Rupert Martin, Kenneth Clark, H.P. Chapman and E.H. Gombrich (respectively) were, each of them, writing out of a scholarly knowledge of the 17th century. Nonetheless, their terminologies raise a major problem: does the strength of our emotional response to Rembrandt ...

The Irish Savant’s Problem

Julian Bell: Diderot on Blindness, 21 June 2012

Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay 
by Kate Tunstall.
Continuum, 238 pp., £17.99, August 2011, 978 1 4411 1932 2
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... monitor, that watching-machine. ‘The Enlightenment and the Revolution it helped spawn,’ Martin Jay wrote in Downcast Eyes, his historical survey of the rhetoric of vision, may ‘be justly said to have expressed that privileging of sight so often taken to characterise the modern era in general.’ By ‘so often taken’, he is referring to the ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... interior does that), as is the paparazzi in-your-face flash snapshooting used by Paul Reas and Martin Parr. Photography now builds on its own history. In the exhibition you see the influence on later pictures of William Eggleston’s prints of penetratingly ordinary American things and places, which released art photography from puritanical black and white ...

The Atmosphere of the Clyde

Jean McNicol: Red Clydeside, 2 January 2020

When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside 
by Maggie Craig.
Birlinn, 313 pp., £9.99, March 2018, 978 1 78027 506 2
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Glasgow 1919: The Rise of Red Clydeside 
by Kenny MacAskill.
Biteback, 310 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 1 78590 454 7
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John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside 
by Henry Bell.
Pluto, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 0 7453 3838 5
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... Sunday night meetings on Bath Street in the city centre that Maclean began in late 1914 are Henry Bell’s nomination, in his biography of Maclean, for ‘the birthplace of Red Clydeside’.The city itself became a huge armaments factory: the Clyde Munitions Area. Most of the industrial unrest during the war took place in the engineering works: Beardmore’s ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... He has come into all the material collected by John Lehmann’s commissioned biographer, Martin Taylor, who died before he could write a word of it. He has seen photocopies of the extensive diaries, and he has interviewed the survivors and their descendants. Lehmann himself wrote three volumes of dignified autobiography about his work, his ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: Hitchens, 31 March 2011

... life How you played the dice … That ‘played’, in the past tense, has the ring of a funeral bell and a cracked one at that. I’d like to think that Sexton Corner had got this wrong, but what do I know? ‘I’m dying,’ Christopher Hitchens told Jeffrey Goldberg last year. ‘Everybody is, but the process has suddenly accelerated on me.’ The worry ...

The Moral Solipsism of Global Ethics Inc

Alex de Waal: Human rights, democracy and Amnesty International, 23 August 2001

Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty International 
by Jonathan Power.
Allen Lane, 332 pp., £12.99, May 2001, 0 7139 9319 7
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Future Positive: International Co-operation in the 21st Century 
by Michael Edwards.
Earthscan, 292 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 1 85383 740 7
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East Meets West: Human Rights and Democracy in East Asia 
by Daniel Bell.
Princeton, 369 pp., £12.50, May 2000, 0 691 00508 7
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... is Michael Edwards’s formulation, and his book, Future Positive, urges them to do better. Daniel Bell rises to this challenge in East Meets West, a series of fictional dialogues about human rights in East Asia. Bell’s East Asian interlocutors express some of the bewilderment felt by the recipients of America’s moral ...

Keep talking

Julian Loose, 26 March 1992

Vox 
by Nicholson Baker.
Granta, 172 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 14 014232 0
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... network and ‘reach out and touch someone’ in ways entirely unforeseen by Alexander Graham Bell. Speculating about the impact of such artificial erotic experience, Rheingold turned to an already up and-running technology – to ‘telephone sex’, the adult party lines where you pay to make conversation with a member of the preferred gender. While the ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne, 8 December 1988

A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... crime writer Ruth Rendell), whose narrator Elizabeth Vetch has in the 1980s to deal with a friend, Bell Sanger, who has served a ‘life sentence’ for a late Sixties murder and come out again. Murderers used to be hanged. Now they are set free and come back to live among us. Or to exist. I look at people and I wonder ... People like me ... know them and go ...

Newtopia

Christopher Hitchens, 24 August 1995

To Renew America 
by Newt Gingrich.
HarperCollins, 260 pp., £18, July 1995, 9780060173364
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... new Speaker. The advance was $4.6 million: not bad for an untried new writer. The row was not of Martin Amis proportions – this is not a very literary town – but there were some ugly whispers about conflict of interest. Mr Gingrich himself agreed to waive the advance in exchange for a share of royalties that will probably net him about the same. Nobody ...

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