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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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... had been cautioned for shoplifting, and Ronnie Wood for assaulting his girlfriend; and Tracy Bell, a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst, who had sold five stories about Princes William and Harry in 2005 and 2006 for around £1000. The arrests of journalists began on 4 November 2011 with Jamie Pyatt, a prolific reporter for the Sun. On 28 January ...

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 ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... was being pushed off the booksellers’ shelves by such robustly patriotic novels as Robert-Martin Lesuire’s Les Sauvages de l’Europe (1760), in which a young French couple travel to England, the land of advanced philosophy, only to hurry back home after near-fatal experiences with English riots, prisons, highway robberies and insane asylums, not to ...

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 ...

Oh, My Aching Back

Roy Porter, 2 November 1995

The History of Pain 
by Roselyne Rey, translated by Elliott Wallace and J.A. Cadden , and S.W. Cadden.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.50, October 1995, 0 674 39967 6
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... power to communicate feeling). Early in the 19th century, François Magendie in France and Charles Bell in Britain established the sensory/motor division of the spinal roots as fundamental to nervous organisation. Experimenters sliced and snipped, but they also looked to philosophy, their theory of the ‘reflex arc’ being suggested by the Cartesian model of ...

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