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Bloody Horse

Samuel Hynes

1 December 1983
Roy Campbell: A Critical Biography 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 277 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 19 211750 5
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The Selected Poems of Roy Campbell 
edited by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 131 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 9780192119469
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... reputation, and drive away any remaining readers. Flowering Rifle has neither poetic merit nor moral decency nor even polemical coherence: it is, in every way, a bad book. And it is a fascist book. PeterAlexander, in his biography, dismisses the charge that Campbell was a fascist as a ‘slur’: he was, says Alexander, merely a political simpleton. That’s true, certainly: but then, fascism is a ...
2 March 1989
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... Shanks – obviously the most significant and influential voices of the time. During or just after the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly ...
19 September 1985
Pound’s Artists: Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts in London, Paris and Italy 
by Richard Humphreys.
Tate Gallery, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 946590 28 1
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Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1909-1914 
edited by Omar Pound and A. Walton Litz.
Faber, 399 pp., £25, January 1985, 0 571 13480 7
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... and sculpture, photography and architecture, first in London 1908-1920, then in Paris 1920-1925, and thereafter in Italy. Carpenter, predictably, finds the three essayists – Richard Humphreys, John Alexander and Peter Robinson – ‘taking a rather solemn approach to the whole thing’; whereas, he assures us, Pound’s exertions on behalf of these arts partook ‘more than a little of the amiable joke ...

The Tsar in Tears

Greg Afinogenov: Alexander​ I

7 February 2013
Alexander​ I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon 
by Marie-Pierre Rey, translated by Susan Emanuel.
Northern Illinois, 439 pp., £26, November 2012, 978 0 87580 466 8
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... I am satisfied with Alexander and he ought to be satisfied with me,’ Napoleon wrote to the Empress Josephine in 1807. ‘If he were a woman, I think I would make him my mistress.’ Within five years, the tsar would repay ...

State Theatre

Peter​ Burke

22 January 1987
The Rome of Alexander​ VII: 1655-1667 
by Richard Krautheimer.
Princeton, 199 pp., £16.80, November 1985, 9780691040325
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Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in 16th-century Siena 
by Simon Pepper and Nicholas Adams.
Chicago, 245 pp., £21.25, October 1986, 0 226 65534 2
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... of building programmes and even with ‘art as a tool of politics’ is particularly clear in his latest book, which focuses on Rome in the middle of the 17th century, in the age of Bernini and Pope Alexander VII. Written with a marvellous economy and clarity in a prose at once elegant and colloquial, sound in its scholarship, and penetrating in its judgments, stripped bare of superfluities and going ...

At the Hayward

Peter​ Campbell: Alexander​ Rodchenko

24 April 2008
... When Alexander Rodchenko began taking photographs in 1924 he was in his early thirties and already known as a painter of severe abstracts and maker of constructions and photomontages. He produced many of his most ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren

5 November 1981
Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter​ Sellers 
by Alexander​ Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... It is not easy to determine which is the better book. Richard Burton was printed by Butler and Tanner Limited, Peter Sellers by the Fakenham Press, and since the one establishment is in Somerset and the other in Norfolk, it is fair to absolve both of them from the sort of catchpenny opportunist hustling which these ...

Barclay’s War

David Chandler

19 March 1981
The Commander: A Life of Barclay de Tolly 
by Michael Josselson and Diana Josselson.
Oxford, 275 pp., £12.95, June 1980, 0 19 215854 6
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... Nor did he enjoy the mystique of the veteran Kutusov, detested by the Tsar and with the stigma of Austerlitz on his reputation, but set over Barclay’s head as supreme commander (after Tsar Alexander) as the crisis of the 1812 campaign was reached after the abandonment of Smolensk. Of course, Kutusov’s reputation with posterity owes much to Tolstoy’s portrait in War and Peace, where the ...
6 May 2015
Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE 
by Matt Waters.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £19.99, January 2014, 978 0 521 25369 7
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... since the bulk of the sum was paid in gold and silver, with the talent set at a weight somewhere above 57 lbs, the Persian empire’s reputation for vast wealth wasn’t a literary myth. When Alexander raided the Achaemenid treasuries a century later, the takings funded his costly campaigns – including vast bribes to battle-weary veterans – for several years, and still left plenty for his ...
10 May 2007
William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... By 1756, nine collected editions of Shakespeare’s plays had been produced – the First Folio (1623) and its reprints (1632, 1663-64, 1685), followed by the editions of Nicholas Rowe (1709), Alexander Pope (1725), Lewis Theobald (1733), Sir Thomas Hanmer (1744) and William Warburton (1747) – and each had been able to offer what a modern commissioning editor would call a Unique Selling Point. The ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney

3 June 2015
New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... or Les Murray – have come huge and unlikely distances from obscure origins: ‘Like starlight that is light years on the go/From far away and takes light years arriving.’ Murray’s biographer, PeterAlexander, makes the striking claim that Murray had the poorest background of any English poet since Keats. Enough to bend anyone not double – which is a misnomer really – but half. One might as ...

Who was in Tomb II?

James Romm: Macedon

6 October 2011
Heracles to Alexander​ the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy 
by Angeliki Kottaridi et al.
Ashmolean, 264 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 1 85444 254 3
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A Companion to Ancient Macedonia 
edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington.
Wiley-Blackwell, 668 pp., £110, November 2010, 978 1 4051 7936 2
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Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD 
edited by Robin Lane Fox.
Brill, 642 pp., €184, June 2011, 978 90 04 20650 2
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... great controversy began. The tomb housed the cremated remains of a man aged between 35 and 55 and of a younger woman, a pair Andronikos soon identified as the Macedonian king Philip II – father of Alexander the Great, builder of the army and the European empire that gave his son the means to conquer the world – and one of his seven wives. But it was not long before different candidates were proposed ...

Transfigurations

Roger Garfitt

20 March 1980
The Weddings at Nether Powers 
by Peter​ Redgrove.
Routledge, 166 pp., £2.95, July 1979, 0 7100 0255 6
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... One of the tropes of Classical rhetoric, which surfaced again in the Jacobean fascination with death, was that of the relentless mutability of matter – Alexander the Great could be turned in his clay to the bung in a wine barrel. It is a trope that recurs repeatedly in Peter Redgrove’s recent work, You take turns to be food, Before you can grind wheat you ...

At the Guggenheim

Hal Foster: Russian Art

3 November 2005
... 19th-century art and painted over in 20th-century work. In effect, Jacques Grange, the French designer of the show, has turned the Guggenheim into a ‘Russian Ark’. In his 2002 film of that title, Alexander Sokhurov used the conceit of a promenade through the Hermitage, shot in one long take, to evoke the complicated history of old Russia. At the Guggenheim we spiral up through nine centuries of culture ...

Against Hellenocentrism

Peter​ Green: Persia v. the West

8 August 2013
Trouble in the West: Egypt and the Persian Empire, 525-332 BC 
by Stephen Ruzicka.
Oxford, 311 pp., £45, April 2012, 978 0 19 976662 8
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King and Court in Ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE 
by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones.
Edinburgh, 258 pp., £24.99, January 2013, 978 0 7486 4125 3
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... power and a uniquely creative cultural and intellectual centre; and the final disruption and takeover of the Persian empire (335-23) by the short-lived and ambiguously Hellenic world conqueror Alexander III of Macedon. These extraordinary events – and the Greek writers who, propagandists all, preserved them for posterity – dictated, in definitive and compelling fashion, the triumph, over two ...

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