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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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... too, is often a calculated amnesia. Imperial relics are confined to the basements or attics of museums and galleries; or the Empire gets reimagined as an indulgence merely of the English. Yet, as MichaelFry 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 ...

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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... obliging of renters, Wilde will be anything you want him to be: socialist, socialite, pedagogue, 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 ...

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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... is a shrewd operator, but his readings do seem very often self-condemned to a kind of routine 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 ...

At Tate Britain (2)

Rosemary Hill: Kenneth Clark

2 July 2014
... suggested. Civilisation, broadcast in 1969, had been filmed over the previous three years. Clark and 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 ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Dinner at the Digs

20 March 2008
... happiness, but by and large these books always have the same message: eat fish and plants. Most 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 ...

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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... died in 1861, Eastlake bought the Baptism for himself; after a couple of days’ reflection he decided 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Angels aren’t what they used to be

16 December 2004
... at first ‘troubled’ by Gabriel’s visit. No such anxieties seem ever to have afflicted Jacky Newcomb, ‘the 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’

25 March 2010
Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... hover in the soundtrack, creating a fine aural stroll down memory lane, but also making the film 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 ...

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) – doormanlatke (Yiddish: potato cake) – 1. police cap 2. policemannoz (Yiddish: nose) – policemanshammes (Yiddish ...

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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... in her is of the Holy Ghost. The credits tell us that the screenplay is by Pasolini, and so 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 ...

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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... wealth and power into the late 19th and early 20th century, when their agricultural base 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 ...

Short Cuts

James Francken: The Booker Prize shortlist

2 November 2000
... didn’t make the shortlist; it seems a shame. Frank Gauci is happy to ‘gamble on anything that 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 ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Wyndham Lewis

11 September 2008
... were foreign to the amateurishness that, he believed, vitiated Bloomsbury’s insular Post-Impressionism. 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 ...
7 May 1981
Their trade is treachery 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 240 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 283 98781 2
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... out too in his treatment of Blunt, Burgess, Driberg, and a civil servant called John Cairncross. All these geese become swans in Pincher’s skilled hands. How unfair to suggest that they were small fry, dilettanti, wartime temporary agents or upper-class decadents. Blunt, in particular, he praises as an agent of a supreme professionalism and commitment, with Driberg, an alleged treble agent ...

Boys wearing wings

Nicholas Penny

15 March 1984
Caravaggio 
by Howard Hibbard.
Thames and Hudson, 404 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 500 09161 7
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Circa 1600: A Revolution of Style in Italian Painting 
by S.J. Freedberg.
Harvard, 125 pp., £21.25, January 1983, 0 674 13156 8
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Domenichino 
by Richard Spear.
Yale, 382 pp., £75, November 1982, 0 300 02359 6
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... There is also one Michael Agnolo from Caravaggio who is doing marvellous things in Rome ... He thinks little of the works of other masters ... All works of art he believes to be ‘Bagatelli’, child’s play, whoever by ...

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