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Happy Few

Patricia Beer

23 May 1991
Told in Gath 
by Max Wright.
Blackstaff, 177 pp., £11.95, January 1991, 0 85640 449 7
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... I have not met MaxWright, but a few years ago I read two chapters of a book he was writing about the Plymouth Brethren. I thought highly of the script and looked forward to hearing how it was getting on. Now I have the ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce

22 October 1992
Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... Like many another high-toned writer, I started journalistic life on the Express, initially the Sunday in John Junor’s long days, then the Daily under Roy Wright. Beaverbrook had been dead by then for ten years. The amiable son, who touchingly refused the title in a spirit of unaffected and perhaps warranted humility, reigned rather than ruled in his place ...

Grandiose Moments

Frank Kermode

6 February 1997
Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol. II 
by Max​ Saunders.
Oxford, 696 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 19 212608 3
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... Ford Madox Ford, an appealingly talented and gossipy subject, has naturally attracted biographers. In 1971 Arthur Mizener’s The Saddest Story seemed adequately exhaustive, but now Max Saunders comes along with two vast volumes, even more thorough and more than doubling the page count. Alan Judd, faithful to Ford’s own lack of respect for academic pieties, brought out his ...

Stuck with Your Own Face

Bee Wilson: The Beauty Industry

8 July 2010
Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 412 pp., £25, February 2010, 978 0 19 955649 6
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... mascara’d and lined, but whose lower lids remained untouched. Elsie’s eyeliner days were long behind her; her grooming consisted of Pond’s Cold Cream, a spritz of L’Air du Temps and a dab of Max Factor’s Truly Fair Crème Puff. Still, when judging others, she clung to the old rules: top lid, good; lower lid, bad. Given how fierce and how conservative our ideas about looks and personal ...

Rat Poison

David Bromwich

17 October 1996
Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Beacon, 143 pp., $20, February 1996, 0 8070 4108 4
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... and she quotes some of their reactions. The rest is reflections on the reflections: a summary of an argument on reason and the emotions, defended more fully in Love’s Knowledge; some pages on Wright’s Native Son and a paragraph on Forster’s Maurice, as successors to Hard Times; and an informal canvass of the opinions of American judges, whom Nussbaum (still in classroom mode) grades on the ...

Omnipresent Eye

Patrick Wright: The Nixon/Mao Show

16 August 2007
Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao 
by Margaret MacMillan.
Murray, 384 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 7195 6522 7
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... from adjacent sofas in Villa 18. In the early afternoon, a State Department interpreter noted that Nixon’s pancake make-up was also yielding to stress: there was, he recorded, ‘a large glob of Max Factor hanging from a hair in the middle of the groove at the end of his nose’. Graver problems beset Mao, who was waiting some distance away in his house in the walled Zhongnanhai compound ...

Man on a Bicycle

Gillian Darley: Le Corbusier

9 April 2009
Le Corbusier: A Life 
by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Knopf, 823 pp., $45, November 2008, 978 0 375 41043 7
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... until 1917. In wartime he saw himself more as an engineer than an architect, preoccupied with technical and industrial questions. With a close colleague and guide, his childhood friend the engineer Max du Bois, he embarked on the manufacture of clinker bricks and the design of a slaughterhouse. Such a functional building accorded better with the factories, grain silos, automobiles and aeroplanes ...

Big Daddy

Linda Nochlin

30 October 1997
American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 635 pp., £35, October 1997, 9781860463723
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...  and even here, his preference seems to lie more with the realist or juste milieu side of the spectrum: his heroes are Copley, Cole and Church; St Gaudens, Eakins and Homer; Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Hopper. When it comes to abstract art, his likings tend to be predictable: nobody could be considered a maverick nowadays for admiring Jackson Pollock or David Smith, and Hughes’s heart ...
10 June 1999
Wonder, the Rainbow and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences 
by Philip Fisher.
Harvard, 191 pp., £21.95, January 1999, 0 674 95561 7
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... in which Fisher ranges well beyond his home territory of literature into science, mathematics, philosophy, architecture, mythology and modern art and where Shakespeare rubs shoulders with Frank Lloyd Wright, Nabokov with Aristotle, Newton with Cy Twombly. Fisher takes wonder where he finds it, in the Chicago skyline, Miranda’s exclamations in The Tempest or Descartes’s explanation of the rainbow ...

Building an Empire

J. Hoberman: Oscar Micheaux

19 July 2001
Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences 
by Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence.
Rutgers, 280 pp., £38.95, August 2000, 0 8135 2803 8
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Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux 
by J. Ronald Green.
Indiana, 368 pp., £21.95, August 2000, 0 253 33753 4
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... in the US; last autumn, the New York Film Festival presented a restored print of his best-known silent, Body and Soul (1925), with a new jazz score performed by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. (Max Roach has composed music for another Micheaux silent, The Symbol of the Unconquered.) There are now the two books and at least two more are on the way. There is, as yet, no Micheaux biography ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett

7 November 1985
... Of all my literary excursions, the grandest by far takes me back to the Rue Jacob where I inherited a flat that was something of a miniature Versailles. Immediately above lived the widow of Richard Wright, author of Native Son. Above above, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known to outsiders as Le Corbusier. At the end of the courtyard, the house – la maison – and this calls for historical extrapolation ...

At the Palazzo Venier

Nicholas Penny: Peggy Guggenheim’s Eye

9 May 2002
Peggy Guggenheim: The Life of an Art Addict 
by Anton Gill.
HarperCollins, 506 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 00 257078 5
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... Works by many of the artists on the list were acquired in Paris just before the outbreak of the Second World War; purchases resumed in 1941, in New York, with André Breton, Howard Putzel and Max Ernst also advising. The catalogue of Guggenheim’s collection, Art of This Century, published in that year, amounted to an ‘anthology of modern art’ – that is, a sourcebook of approved models ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... Milton and Dryden) without reference to Lawrence Lipking or Richard Helgerson. The Forster-Dickens chapter makes no mention of the alternative line of Dickens biography that descends through Thomas Wright and Katherine Longley to our contemporaries Peter Ackroyd and Claire Tomalin. In his chapter on James Joyce Hamilton dwells exclusively on the author’s ‘patron saint’, Harriet Weaver ...

Everything is ardour

Charles Nicholl: Omnificent D’Annunzio

26 September 2013
The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio – Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War 
by Lucy Hughes-Hallett.
Fourth Estate, 694 pp., £12.99, September 2013, 978 0 00 721396 2
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... which includes greyhounds, as well as Ida Rubinstein’s legs and ‘the form and structure of my highly polished cranium’. At the Brescia Air Show in September 1909 – six years after the Wright Brothers’ first lift-off – d’Annunzio recited a poem about Icarus to a crowd estimated at fifty thousand. Among those present was Kafka, holidaying with his friend Max Brod on Lake Garda. Brod ...

Dancing and Flirting

Mark Ford: Apollinaire

24 May 2018
Zone: Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Ron Padgett.
NYRB, 251 pp., £9.99, January 2016, 978 1 59017 924 6
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Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 281 pp., £9.99, November 2015, 978 0 19 968759 6
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... was granted French citizenship only after two years of war service, and two years before his death at the age of 38 of Spanish influenza. If he struck many of those who met him, from Alfred Jarry to Max Jacob to Picasso to Robert Delaunay, as larger than life, as the avant-garde spirit incarnate, and if his long poems, like those of Whitman and O’Hara, seem to expand and prolong themselves as ...

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