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Gestures of Embrace

Nicholas Penny, 27 October 1988

Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market 
by Svetlana Alpers.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 226 01514 9
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The Light of Early Italian Painting 
by Paul Hills.
Yale, 160 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03617 5
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Italian Paintings in the Robert Lehman Collection 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Metropolitan Museum and Princeton, 331 pp., £50, December 1987, 0 87099 479 4
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... paintings of the mid-13th to the mid-15th century, which is the subject of a remarkable book by Paul Hills. The Light of Early Italian Paintings opens with a reminder that ‘the preoccupation with representing light that is characteristic of the Western tradition from the Renaissance to the Impressionists is a peculiarity.’ And whilst ...

Now for the Hills

Stephanie Burt: Les Murray, 16 March 2000

Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 476 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 1 85754 369 6
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Fredy Neptune 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 256 pp., £19.95, May 1999, 1 85754 433 1
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Conscious and Verbal 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £6.95, October 1999, 1 85754 453 6
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... were no leaders but they were first into the dark on Dog Fox Field: Anna who rocked her head, and Paul who grew big and yet giggled small, Irma who looked Chinese, and Hans who knew his world as a fox knows a field. Insisting that the dignity of persons is not based on intellect or achievement, Murray can be astonishingly good at expressing bodily feelings ...

In Fife

Kathleen Jamie, 23 April 2015

... I live lies a loch called Lochmill. Half a mile long, it occupies a natural bowl in the Ochil hills, and is orientated almost exactly east-west. On its north and south banks grow sparse hawthorns tufted with lichen and old stunted oaks. At its western end, where the springs that feed the loch rise, Scots pines and larches dominate. On winter afternoons ...

At the Palace Museum

John-Paul Stonard: Chinese Painting, 15 June 2017

... and later installed in the National Palace Museum, built specially for it in the subtropical hills of northern Taipei. Detail from Wen Zhengming’s ‘Zhong Kui in a Wintry Grove’ (1534) Before visiting the museum I spent some time looking through books of Chinese painting, making a list of works to see. One expert I spoke to warned me not to get ...

Lutfi’s bar will not be opening again

Basil Davidson, 7 January 1993

Fitzroy Maclean 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 413 pp., £25, October 1992, 9780719549717
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Franz Joseph 
by Jean-Paul Bled, translated by Teresa Bridgeman.
Blackwell, 359 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 631 16778 1
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... North beyond Sarajevo is where the hills of Bosnia become less grey and gaunt than they are elsewhere, and a little further north again they slope away to the plain of Semberija along the Sava River. It is a pleasant enough country in normal times although a hungry one, with its peasants inhabiting scattered hamlets and family homesteads ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: L is Lorentzen, 23 January 2014

... Earth: two little clusters of about a dozen structures known as Katund-Stratobërdhë in the hills south-west of Korçë, about 15 miles from the Greek border. ‘That’s it,’ an Albanian told me. ‘The name doesn’t mean something special. It’s just a village name.’ Before my birth it was agreed that I would be called Christina or Otis, but ...


Esther Chadwick: Edgar Degas, 30 June 2016

... of other tutus in the first impression are subsumed into the foliate green of the backcloth. Paul Valéry wrote in 1935 that Degas’s ‘passion was to reconstruct the body of the female animal as the specialised slave of the dance, the laundry … or the streets’; the woman as ‘specialised slave’ of her repeated movements. For the dancer trained ...

Nothing beside remains

Josephine Quinn: The Razing of Palmyra, 25 January 2018

Palmyra: An Irreplaceable Treasure 
by Paul Veyne, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 88 pp., £17, April 2017, 978 0 226 42782 9
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... its rose-tinged limestone buildings rising from the grey sand in a shallow basin framed by low hills. It would have been an alien place to a visitor from Greece or Rome, full of strange temples to strange divinities such as the Mesopotamian god Bel, whose enormous sanctuary stood on the south-eastern edge of the city. A building resembling a rectangular ...


Paul Theroux: My Gaggle, 20 June 2019

... a remote part of a Hawaiian island, on a steep bluff among my own clumping bamboo, surrounded by hills covered in dense forests of casuarina trees. The beach is half a mile down the hill, and if the day is sunny, which it usually is, after lunch I set up my folding chair under the palms and continue to write. When I’m done, I go for a swim. I feel lucky to ...

Sri Lanka’s Crisis

Paul Seabright, 29 October 1987

... evidence of any militant activity in response. Most Indian Tamils live on the plantations in the hills at the centre of the island, separated physically and socially from the more numerous Sri Lankan Tamils concentrated in the north and east of the country. The precise origins of this latter group, which comprises one-eighth of the population, are heatedly ...


Chauncey Loomis, 10 March 1994

Young Men and Fire 
by Norman Maclean.
Chicago, 301 pp., £8.75, October 1993, 0 226 50062 4
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... winds coming down off the highlands. The forms of earth are clear to see because the flanks of the hills and mountains are not so overgrown that their shapes and textures are concealed; their underlying geology shows in their contours and outcroppings of rock. In less open country, with less broad valleys and less immense skies, such rugged earth would be ...


Paul Foot, 4 August 1988

Britain’s Nuclear Nightmare 
by James Cutler and Rob Edwards.
Sphere, 200 pp., £3.99, April 1988, 0 7221 2759 6
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... Glasgow solicitor, and a prominent objector to the dumping of nuclear waste in the Galloway hills, is found shot dead in his car with the revolver some twenty yards away in a stream? Are we to assume, as the authorities in Scotland did, that the solicitor had shot himself? How did he manage to hurl the gun that distance before his ...


Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London, 17 March 2005

Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... Rills, Mix’d with red Mountains of unmelted Fire! Hissing, perplex’d, with Show’rs of Icy Hills, And Cat’ract Seas, that roar, from Worlds still higher; Mingled, like driving Hail, they pour along. You could hardly do better than this for a textbook example of the verbosity (‘flaming Regions of the burning Air’), meaninglessness (‘unmelted ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... I am assuming,’ Paul Fussell said in Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars (1980), ‘that travel is now impossible and that tourism is all we have left.’ To be a traveller, you have to move about alone, eschew standard procedures, avoid the commonplace of maps, and hold yourself ready for adventure ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... of the ritual, had he known about it, can only be a matter for speculation, but as recounted by Paul Ferris in Sir Huge the episode quaintly anticipates the row which has broken out over the publication of this biography, and brought such champions of Wheldon’s reputation as Sir Denis Forman, Ludovic Kennedy and Melvyn Bragg trumpeting into the field. In ...

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