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Christian Lorentzen: ‘Head Shot’, 24 May 2012

... a vertebra, reflecting again at a high angle before exiting just below his Adam’s apple,’ Paul Chambers writes in Head Shot: The Science behind the JFK Assassination, published in 2010 and now appearing in an expanded edition. Chambers, a shock physicist, has worked for Nasa (optics branch), the Naval Surface Warfare Center (energetic materials and ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... rhyme and, while they were at it, conventional morality … They studied the lives of artists like Vincent van Gogh and Gauguin for guidance and did their best to imitate them.’ They were, then, ripe for an encounter with the famous Beat poets of America. Ginsberg had the pleasure of introducing them to Williams even as he clucked at their devotion to ...

Who mended Pierre’s leg?

David A. Bell: Lourdes, 11 November 1999

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age 
by Ruth Harris.
Allen Lane, 473 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7139 9186 0
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... but of Protestants, Freemasons and Jews. Le Pèlerin, edited by the Assumptionist priest Vincent de Paul Bailly, regularly printed caricatures of Jews and accounts of Jewish ritual murder of Christians. The Assumptionists helped lead the campaign against Drefyus, strongly supported the anti-Semitic, monarchist ...

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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... set against a dull gold ground on the walls of the churches of Saint Germain-des-Prés and Saint Vincent-de-Paul, works in which the Greek and the Gothic are condensed into an exalted style that may one day be acknowledged as more original than the gross realism of Courbet. In these murals, Flandrin had made an artistic ...

Institutions

Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... have edited an engaging collection of essays on post-war British governments, starting with Paul Addison on the wartime background to Attlee’s success, and ending with some surprisingly detached reflections on Mrs Thatcher from the pen of John Vincent. As a final savoury, Tony Benn, Michael Fraser, David Marquand ...

Among the Bobcats

Mark Ford, 23 May 1991

The Dylan Companion 
edited by Elizabeth Thomson and David Gutman.
Macmillan, 338 pp., £10.99, April 1991, 0 333 49826 7
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Bob Dylan: Performing Artist. Vol. I: 1960-73 
by Paul Williams.
Xanadu, 310 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 1 85480 044 2
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Dylan: Behind the Shades 
by Clinton Heylin.
Viking, 528 pp., £16.99, May 1991, 0 670 83602 8
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The Bootleg Series: Vols I-III (rare and unreleased) 1961-1991 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £24.95, April 1991
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... to conduct seminars to his groupies on the Dylan family’s garbage; fervent hagiographers like Paul Williams; politicians (Jimmy Carter was always quoting Dylan when on the stump), rock journalists, music historians, cultural historians, hard-core fanzine-types; and even an English international fast-bowler – Bob ‘Dylan’ Willis changed his name by ...

Who has the biggest books?

Craig Clunas: Missionaries in China, 7 February 2008

Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724 
by Liam Matthew Brockey.
Harvard, 496 pp., £22.95, March 2007, 978 0 674 02448 9
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... about in Nanjing as in Rome and Lima. As ‘The Wise Man from the West’, he was the subject of Vincent Cronin’s laudatory 1955 biography, still in print today. He was also at the centre of Jonathan Spence’s 1984 study, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, which focused on Ricci’s use of the classical ars memoriae as a way of gaining access to members ...

Just a Way of Having Fun

Eleanor Birne: John Piper, 29 March 2017

The Art of John Piper 
by David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright.
Unicorn, 472 pp., £45, June 2016, 978 1 910787 05 2
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... artists working on the home front produced suitably boosterish images of British resilience – Paul Nash with his flying boats in Defence of Albion, Duncan Grant with his lush pictures of blooming countryside – Piper wasn’t afraid of a little darkness. In the ARP regional control centre in Bristol he found modernist typography stencilled on the ...

English Marxists in dispute

Roy Porter, 17 July 1980

Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... to Marxist history. In France, Louis Althusser and his disciples, and in England followers such as Paul Q. Hirst and Barry Hindess, have argued that the business of Marxist intellectuals is to construct not history but theory (e.g. a rationally water tight account of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, not one purportedly told from the ‘facts’ and ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... plain to downright ugly, if you don’t count Glen Ford or Dana Andrews (who weren’t exactly Paul Newman or Montgomery Clift themselves). My generation have Cahiers du cinéma, Godard and Truffaut to thank for the earlier generation of movie stars we might have overlooked. More fundamentally, we have to thank Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, who ...

Quite a Night!

Michael Wood: Eyes Wide Shut, 30 September 1999

Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrik and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ 
by Frederic Raphael.
Orion, 186 pp., £12.99, July 1999, 0 7528 1868 6
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Dream Story 
by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by J.M.Q. Davies.
Penguin, 99 pp., £5.99, July 1999, 0 14 118224 5
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... ponderousness of his new work, Eyes Wide Shut, must have forgotten what the other films were like. Vincent LoBrutto, from whose biography (Faber, 1998) I’ve borrowed the above quotation, inadvertently sums up a whole career when he says: ‘Stanley Kubrick didn’t take vacations.’ We could sum up the master’s film style by saying: ‘Stanley Kubrick ...

Is it still yesterday?

Hilary Mantel: Children of the Revolution, 17 April 2003

The Lost King of France 
by Deborah Cadbury.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £18.99, October 2002, 1 84115 588 8
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... and beat him into signing a statement accusing his mother. Her authority is ‘the historian Vincent Cronin, writing in 1974’ – close to source, then. The effect of the accusations, brought out in open court, was to swing some sympathy Antoinette’s way, at least in the public gallery. That didn’t, of course, influence the verdict. It was a show ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... with the new leader by pointing out ‘his chair’ when visitors came to the Crossman casa in Vincent Square. I doubt that even Widmerpool would have gone that far, but it’s easy to imagine him stressing, as did Crossman the intellectual populist, that ‘without any affectation’ Wilson ‘prefers the kind of unassuming, comfortable home life which he ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... malevolence is to Dennis Hopper. Very few actors specialised as Hopper did in convincing malice. Vincent Price was too camp to be really alarming, even as the witchfinder general. Peter Lorre was heartbreaking as a child murderer. James Gandolfini, playing an incorrigibly mean-minded godfather for seven years, strangely held on to the affection of most of ...

Stalin is a joker

Michael Hofmann: Milan Kundera, 1 July 2015

The Festival of Insignificance 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 115 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 571 31646 5
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... of Being and Immortality are basically the sexual biographies of Tomás, Tereza and Sabina, of Paul and Agnes and Laura and Bernard and Rubens – whose sex life (Kundera does love his taxonomies) goes through five phases, from ‘the period of athletic muteness’ to something called (coyness is also of the process) ‘the mystical period’. Slowness ...

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