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‘Faustus’ and the Politics of Magic

Charles Nicholl, 8 March 1990

Dr Faustus 
by Christopher Marlowe, edited by Roma Gill.
Black, 109 pp., £3.95, December 1989, 0 7136 3231 3
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Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare 
by John Mebane.
Nebraska, 309 pp., £26.95, July 1989, 0 8032 3133 4
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Robert Fludd and the End of the Renaissance 
by William Huffman.
Routledge, 252 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 415 00129 3
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Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England 
by Patrick Curry.
Polity, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 7456 0604 0
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... thirty years, and left alchemical manuscripts totalling some 650,000 words. In Prophesy and Power, Patrick Curry explores another item in the occultist repertoire – astrology – and effectively overturns the accepted view that astrology had become marginalised by the end of the 17th century. In many ways it was more popular than ever, and it ...

Bananas

Jane Campbell, 20 April 1995

The Death of Old Man Rice: A Story of Criminal Justice in America 
by Martin Friedland.
New York, 423 pp., $29.95, October 1994, 0 8147 2627 5
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... his employer, refused: ‘I told him that I was afraid of bananas and wouldn’t try any.’ Dr Curry, who attended the body, found that the 84-year-old man had died of natural causes. Worry about the Galveston hurricane, which had taken place a fortnight before, in August 1900, had exacerbated his decline, but eating bananas had been the major cause of ...

Crapper

Thomas Lynch, 21 March 1996

... Thomas Crapper. This was at early o’clock in the morning on our way back from an awful curry at the only Indian restaurant open in Galway in the wee hours. The night was mild, and our thoughts drifted towards talk of Crapper as the air behind us burned with the elemental fire of flatulence. It was an awful ...

Plato Made It Up

James Davidson: Atlantis at Last!, 19 June 2008

The Atlantis Story: A Short History of Plato’s Myth 
by Pierre Vidal-Naquet, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Exeter, 192 pp., £35, November 2007, 978 0 85989 805 8
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... kingdom described in great detail by Plato in the Timaeus and Critias. But the reality was Patrick Duffy with webbed hands and fluorescent green contact lenses, painfully painted on. Sole survivor of Atlantis, he used his special powers, notably the ability to survive high atmospheric pressure, to foil the evil plans of an evil-looking villain with an ...

Utopian about the Present

Christopher Turner: The Brutalist Ethic, 4 July 2019

Alison and Peter Smithson 
by Mark Crinson.
Historic England, 150 pp., £30, June 2018, 978 1 84802 352 9
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Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing 
by John Boughton.
Verso, 330 pp., £9.99, April 2019, 978 1 78478 740 0
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... Smithson identified, and made romantic, ‘the children overturning wrecked cars, the smell of curry on the stairs of rejected tenements, oddments of past character’. The architect wanted, in her words, ‘to knit together what is good in the surroundings by the insertion of a new building. To inject, thereby, new life even into buildings that are old ...

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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... north Norfolk coast. Some edge of the golf course, out of season resort like Sheringham – where Patrick Hamilton dried out, on a regimen of no booze before lunchtime, Hopalong Cassidy novels, and the occasional glimpse from behind net curtains of schoolgirls on horseback. They should have known the real story, because it was there from the start. Staring ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... best (or worst) of them combined the secrecy of Whitehall with the languor of Fitzrovia. It was Patrick Hamilton in conversation with George Smiley down a blind alley off Rathbone Place, with froth sliding down the insides of pint tumblers and lipsticked fags in every ashtray. Men such as Gamlin practically lived in Langham Place: their outer bounds were ...

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