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Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce

10 September 2014
Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... to Scotland in 1996, brokered by the then Scottish secretary and Conservative MP for Stirling, Michael Forsyth. Contemporaries, like later generations, were moved by the notion of a rightful king struggling to have his authority recognised and to free his kingdom from oppression. In his new book Michael Penman makes ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman

19 March 1998
Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... One of the myths that fuzzes the shadowy outline of Ian Penman, a laureate of marginal places, folds in the map, is that Paul Schrader, the director of a sassy remake of Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, admired Penman’s review so much that he invited him over to Los Angeles to talk product ...

Lola did the driving

Inigo Thomas: Pevsner’s Suffolk

4 May 2016
Suffolk: East, The Buildings of England 
by James Bettley and Nikolaus Pevsner.
Yale, 677 pp., £35, April 2015, 978 0 300 19654 2
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... For him there was no such thing as a ruin. SUDBOURNE HALL. The house was demolished in 1951. Sir Michael Stanhope’s house had been rebuilt by James Wyatt for the 1st Marquess of Hertford, c.1784, a plain, stuccoed, three-storey affair, nine bays wide. Remodelled for Sir Richard Wallace (of the Wallace Collection), natural son of the 4th ...

Man-Eating Philosophers

Will Self: David Cronenberg

17 June 2015
Consumed 
by David Cronenberg.
Fourth Estate, 288 pp., £18.99, October 2014, 978 0 00 729915 7
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... of the Useless; and Bruce Robinson’s farcical Künstlerroman, The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman. However, I’m not so sure Cronenberg’s filmic output is equal to that of Jean Cocteau, Marguerite Duras or Peter Handke. Part of the problem with creative polymaths is that on exposure to their work in a new medium the viewer, reader or listener ...

The Question of U

Ian Penman: Prince

20 June 2019
Prince: Life and Times 
by Jason Draper.
Chartwell, 216 pp., £15.99, February 2017, 978 0 7858 3497 7
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The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince 
by Mayte Garcia.
Trapeze, 304 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4091 7121 8
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... shaky start, it was the deus ex (hit) machina of MTV that was the key, as it was for Madonna and Michael Jackson. People of a certain age will never forget the lush, melodramatic promo for ‘Purple Rain’ and the cheeky, pared-down video for ‘Kiss’.2How did he get away with some of this stuff? Controversy came with a full-colour fold-out poster of ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan

16 December 2004
Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... and influential writers and preachers of his age to a dull and worthy figure. Both Greaves and Michael Davies appear to accept, and even collude with, Bunyan’s diminished presence in contemporary British culture. Bunyan, however, remains an enduring presence in Ulster Protestantism. In a lecture given many years ago, ‘The Triumph of the Word of God in ...

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