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19 November 1992
Epstein: Artist against the Establishment 
by Stephen Gardiner.
Joseph, 532 pp., £20, September 1992, 9780718129446
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... to stride ahead. This is not a question of academic versus non-academic sculpture. Matisse’s figures are not unresolved in this way, nor are Degas’s, or Moore’s come to that, or even David Smith’s. It can be argued that this lack of poise is a positive thing, part of Epstein’s style, but it seems probable that, at best, it will in the end be judged a provincialism, akin to Hogarth’s ...
6 December 1979
... painting seriousness and weight. As it is, Wyndham Lewis’s portrait of Stephen Spender upstages a row of portraits by Lamb, Coldstream and John because of its linear clarity and bite, and a MatthewSmith holds your eye by force of juicy paint and saturated colour alone. Yet thin paint in the work of Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash is part of an Englishness (or rather of two sorts of Englishness ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud

21 June 2001
Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... of those late years of high prosperity may be had from the catalogue of Sotheby’s sale last April of his effects: chandeliers, Persian carpets, paintings including a Dufy, a Nicholson and a MatthewSmith, drawings by Fuseli and Samuel Palmer and his distinguished cousin Edward Gordon Craig, objects of all sorts along with much fine furniture. By the time they come to the end of their task ...
22 November 1979
The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work 
by Germaine Greer.
Secker, 373 pp., £12.50, November 1979, 1 86064 677 8
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... merely in order to earn ‘golden opinions’ for their ‘enlightened attitude’. Conversely, the sins committed by men seem not to be sins at all when committed by women. Ms Greer relates that MatthewSmith is recorded to have married a fellow painter. ‘We hear nothing more of her,’ says Ms Greer accusingly. A few pages on, Ms Greer herself tells us that the new ‘wife’ who ‘sweetened the ...


Stephen Wall

26 March 1992
Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew​ Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... reclusive and died in 1973, aged 68. The disconcerting emptiness of his last twenty years is now to some extent filled in by Surviving, a book of Green’s uncollected writings edited by his grandson Matthew Yorke, and rounded off with a touching if too brief memoir by Sebastian Yorke. John Updike contributes a gracefully enthusiastic introduction. For Green, writing fiction was so demanding – partly ...

Knobs, Dots and Grooves

Peter Campbell: Henry Moore

8 August 2002
Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations 
edited by Alan Wilkinson.
Lund Humphries, 320 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 85331 847 6
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The Penguin Modern Painters: A History 
by Carol Peaker.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 124 pp., £15, August 2001, 0 9527401 4 1
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... and his nonsense), Blake and Samuel Palmer were plausible influences. As well as exponents of this brand of applied art and romantic landscape, and of what now looks like late Post-Impressionism – MatthewSmith, Duncan Grant, Frances Hodgkins, Victor Pasmore – there were more eccentric talents of various sizes, like Stanley Spencer and David Jones, who were very English (or very Welsh) and not ...


Lorna Sage: Henry Green

25 January 2001
Romancing: The Life and Work of Henry Green 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Faber, 340 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 571 16898 1
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... his favourite British writer was, he answered loftily: ‘Henry Green.’ Treglown thought the reason might have been that Dahl (who anyway loved a put-down) shared a friend with Green, the painter MatthewSmith, whose work he did know and like. For surely Dahl could have had little time for an avant-garde writer like Green? Besides, Green was just the kind of Eton-and-Oxford Englishman who had made ...

The Last Intellectual

Rosemary Hill: The Queen Mother’s Letters

6 December 2012
Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother 
edited by William Shawcross.
Macmillan, 666 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 230 75496 6
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... Her intense appreciation of landscape, colour and light was reflected in a growing taste for painting that was neither easy nor conventional. She became a patron of living artists including MatthewSmith and the Neo-Romantics, writing of Paul Nash’s Landscape of the Vernal Equinox, that it was ‘slightly “magic” … it changes towards evening in a most mysterious manner.’ Meanwhile the ...

What most I love I bite

Matthew​ Bevis: Stevie Smith

27 July 2016
The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Will May.
Faber, 806 pp., £35, October 2015, 978 0 571 31130 9
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... Could​ anything be better than to start off with a fine picture of a sailing ship on the rough sea coming suddenly alive and sucking in the children?’ Stevie Smith asked, reviewing C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 1952. She liked depictions of people who disappeared into the objects of their gaze; a couple of years earlier, her poem ‘Deeply ...


Matthew​ Hughes: The Man Who Killed Hammarskjöld?

9 August 2001
... two by the Rhodesian authorities in the Central African Federation and one by the UN, no firm evidence of skulduggery emerged. In 1992, Conor Cruise O’Brien and the Australian diplomat George Ivan Smith, both of whom were working for the UN in the Congo in the early 1960s, wrote to the Guardian arguing that Hammarskjöld had been the victim of a kidnap that went wrong. The following year, in another ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Fastsellers

22 March 2001
... statistics are thrown up by The Book Sales Yearbook 2001 (Bookseller Publications, £299). For example: the top five consolidated publishing groups – Bertelsmann, Pearson, News Corp, W.H. Smith and Holtzbrinck – were responsible for a whopping 49.3 per cent of sales in the General Retail Market in 2000; grim news for independents (News Corp’s figures include those of Fourth Estate ...
24 August 1995
John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... he so devotedly describes and justifies. The division of labour, whose language is money, helps us to prosperity and liberty but at the price of atomising our picture of the world. The labourer, Smith writes, is ‘not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill

20 August 1981
Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... an ‘intellectual consequence’ of ‘the English Revolution’; and ‘the great revolution in human thought … echoed from England all over Europe … Harrington, Locke, Newton, Hume and Adam Smith gave the lead to the whole of Europe. Richardson and Fielding, building on 17th-century spiritual autobiographies, and on the writings of Bunyan and Defoe, created the novel, the dominant literary ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB

20 January 2005
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... opportunity to include the recently deceased queen). The achievement was hailed as bearing out the familiar truths of national character. The dictionary had been undertaken by the publisher George Smith as a piece of private enterprise, with no official or institutional backing, and it had been brought to completion in record time by a very small staff. Less fortunate nations, in whom the spirit of ...

Stabbing the Olive

Tom McCarthy: Toussaint

11 February 2010
Running Away 
by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated by Matthew Smith.
Dalkey, 156 pp., $12.95, November 2009, 978 1 56478 567 1
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La Vérité sur Marie 
by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.
Minuit, 204 pp., €14.50, September 2009, 978 2 7073 2088 9
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... For any serious French writer who has come of age during the last 30 years, one question imposes itself above all others: what do you do after the nouveau roman? Alain Robbe-Grillet, Claude Simon et compagnie redrew the map of what fiction might offer and aspire to, what its ground rules should be – so much so that some have found their legacy stifling. Michel Houellebecq’s response has been one ...

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