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We are all Scots here

Linda Colley: Scotland and Empire, 12 December 2002

The Scottish Empire 
by Michael Fry.
Tuckwell/Birlinn, 580 pp., £16.99, November 2002, 9781841582597
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... and galleries; or the Empire gets reimagined as an indulgence merely of the English. Yet, as Michael Fry argues in this vast, contentious volume, alongside the Reformation, the Treaty of Union and the Enlightenment, Empire was ‘one of the great formative experiences’ in Scotland’s past. The Scottish Empire is a remarkable book that could ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... paedophile, martyr, traitor, major minor writer. In an Omnibus programme broadcast late last year, Michael Bracewell claimed that he was ‘the century’s first pop celebrity’, and tried to persuade us that, in the manner of an Elvis or a McCartney, Wilde was a working-class lad made good. Cut to a shot of Bracewell looking uncomfortable in a gargoyled ...

Beyond Textualism

Christopher Norris, 19 January 1984

Text Production 
by Michael Riffaterre, translated by Terese Lyons.
Columbia, 341 pp., $32.50, September 1983, 0 231 05334 7
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Writing and the Experience of Limits 
by Philippe Sollers, edited by David Hayman, translated by Philip Barnard.
Columbia, 242 pp., $31.50, September 1983, 0 231 05292 8
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The Reach of Criticism: Method and Perception in Literary Theory 
by Paul Fry.
Yale, 239 pp., £18, October 1984, 0 300 02924 1
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Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism 
by Paul de Man, edited by Wlad Godzich.
Methuen, 308 pp., £7.50, November 1983, 0 416 35860 8
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Displacement: Derrida and After 
edited by Mark Krupnick.
Indiana, 198 pp., £9.75, December 1983, 0 253 31803 3
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Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre 
by Susan Rubin Suleiman.
Columbia, 299 pp., £39, August 1983, 0 231 05492 0
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... ingenuity. If Riffaterre holds out for the virtues of a disciplined, methodical criticism, Paul Fry has arguments in plenty for doubting that method can ever be more than a delusive dream. His book is a sustained and elegant meditation on the limits of formalist theory, the ways in which reading confounds or eludes the rules laid down by ...

At Tate Britain (2)

Rosemary Hill: Kenneth Clark, 2 July 2014

... his crew had found themselves in Paris in May 1968 in the thick of the événements. His producer, Michael Gill, recalls ‘riot police … just off-camera’, adding, laconically: ‘I was gassed.’ Despite being so apparently out of sympathy with the temper of ‘these days’, Civilisation was hugely popular. Now, when even more of what Clark stood for ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’, 25 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... seem a little more conventional than it otherwise might. Alan Rickman is the Caterpillar, Stephen Fry is the Cheshire Cat, Timothy Spall is a bloodhound who seems to have dropped in from another movie. The fun of the thing becomes a little stronger than the threat of the thing, and there is a rather dogged narrative logic to the whole structure that takes us ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew’, 21 March 2013

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
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... it is. But not in the same way that the screenplay for John Huston’s The Bible is by Christopher Fry, or for Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ by Paul Schrader. Pasolini hasn’t really written this movie, he has made excerpts from the gospel and filmed them, either as images in the manner we have just looked at, or with images, in the style ...

Journey to Arezzo

Nicholas Penny: The Apotheosis of Piero, 17 April 2003

Piero della Francesca 
by Roberto Longhi, translated by David Tabbat.
Sheep Meadow, 364 pp., £32.50, September 2002, 1 878818 77 5
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... to place it in the National Gallery. In the following year he consoled himself with Piero’s St Michael, which entered the Gallery after his death. On returning from his Italian travels in 1858, Eastlake would have found his friend Austin Henry Layard working on the proofs of a long article on fresco painting which appeared that October in the Quarterly ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Angels aren’t what they used to be, 16 December 2004

... Angel Lady’, who writes a number of columns in the mystical press, teaches at Colin Fry’s International College of Spiritual Science and Healing in Ramsbergsgarden, Sweden, runs www.angellady.co.uk, and has now written a book, An Angel Treasury: A Celestial Collection of Inspirations, Encounters and Heavenly Lore (Element, £12.99).* Colin ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Dinner at the Digs, 20 March 2008

... of the other stuff in supermarkets should just be binned. A recent, very austere contribution by Michael Pollan, In Defence of Food (Allen Lane, £16.99) argues that one should only eat things that have been nourished by sunlight. But what are creatures that are allergic to sunlight supposed to do? I don’t mean moles, who will occasionally make their way ...

Mrs Webb and Mrs Woolf

Michael Holroyd, 7 November 1985

... collected and had been demoted to the cellars of many public galleries. The art criticism of Roger Fry and Clive Bell was no longer considered significant, and few people knew the name of Carrington. The best-known of the Bloomsburgians was probably Maynard Keynes – the man Bloomsbury had sent into the political world to represent their interests during the ...

Townlords

Sidney Pollard, 2 April 1981

Lords and Landlords: The Aristocracy and the Towns, 1774-1967 
by David Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 494 pp., £19, July 1980, 0 7185 1152 2
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... had been in relative decline for over a century, is something that has puzzled numerous observers. Michael Thompson raised the question among economic historians nearly twenty years ago, and whole generations of political historians have offered alternative solutions. It is something which occurs, different in detail but similar in outline, in many other ...

Short Cuts

James Francken: The Booker Prize shortlist, 2 November 2000

... moves’, a problem for shortlisted novelists leading sedentary lives, but not for the impressive Michael Collins – author of The Keepers of Truth and a keen runner. As well as completing his novel, Collins has managed to finish a marathon. A jog through the streets of London dressed up in rhino costume wasn’t quite challenging enough for him, however: he ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Wyndham Lewis, 11 September 2008

... Vorticism, the movement he set up with Pound and others around 1913 after a break with Roger Fry, would probably have had a short life even if the war had not intervened. Lewis was not a team player; looking back he said: ‘Vorticism, in fact, was what I, personally, did, and said, at a certain period.’ Other surviving Vorticists were, with ...

Sashimi with a Side of Fries

Adam Thirlwell: Michael Chabon, 16 August 2007

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union 
by Michael Chabon.
Fourth Estate, 414 pp., £17.99, June 2007, 978 0 00 715039 7
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... This is a miniature dictionary of the invented English in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon’s charming, flawed and exhausting new novel: bik (Yiddish: bull) – doorman latke (Yiddish: potato cake) – 1. police cap 2. policeman noz (Yiddish: nose) – policeman shammes (Yiddish: assistant to rabbi, beadle) – policeman sholem (Yiddish: peace) – gun shoyfer (Yiddish: horn) – cell phone shtarker (Yiddish: strong man, strong arm) – gangster; hard man Yiddish, it turns out, has not said its last word: it is still involved in the business of coinages and slippages ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve, 5 February 1981

Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... asks the question in a striking way. This is Carpenter in 1895, as Bloomsbury (in this case, Roger Fry) captured him. He seems downcast, serious-minded, isolated in a world of glass that reflects him at an odd angle. An awful thought crosses the mind, that Carpenter in fact represents a fastidiousness, an aloofness, a Cambridge donnishness, which, allied to ...

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