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Modern Brecht

Margot Heinemann, 5 August 1982

Bertolt Brecht in America 
by James Lyon.
Princeton, 408 pp., £11, January 1981, 0 691 06443 1
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Bertolt Brecht: Political Theory and Literary Practice 
edited by Betty Webber and Hubert Heinen.
Manchester, 208 pp., £15, February 1981, 0 7190 0806 9
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by Jan Needle and Peter Thomson.
Blackwell, 235 pp., £9, February 1981, 0 631 19610 2
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... direct ‘sensuous’ enjoyment and the central means to political understanding and intervention. Peter Brook once said he himself had no sense of history as a reality: ‘History to me is a way of looking at things, and-not one that interests me very much’; the artist’s vision is concerned with the present. This view, whatever may be said for it, is ...

Return to the Totem

Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... his bleeding face, and if we are as severe as these editors, and if we want to keep that moment (Peter Brook, for example, didn’t), we have really to accept a version of the play that lacks over a hundred lines found only in the Folio. The General Introduction ably defends these editorial principles, and along the way gives a very lucid and engaging ...

The Caviar Club

Azadeh Moaveni: Rebel with a Hermès Scarf, 9 September 2021

The Empress and I: How an Ancient Empire Rejected and Rediscovered Modern Art 
by Donna Stein.
Skira, 277 pp., £38, March, 978 88 572 4434 1
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Epic Iran 
V&A, until 12 September 2021Show More
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... sponsored domestic opera and ballet companies, as well as theatre groups in Europe. Ted Hughes and Peter Brook wrote an experimental play, Orghast at Persepolis, merging the myth of Prometheus with Aeschylus’ The Persians, which was staged at Persepolis as part of the Shiraz Arts Festival. Subsidised in part by the Iranian government, actors from twelve ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... life in which poverty was an accepted condition. The dilapidated 18th-century cottage, The Brook, which Lucien and Esther moved into in 1901, was over the years transformed into what Tyrone Guthrie called ‘the prettiest house in London’ and the books were part of it. At times the family was so poor they had to rent it out and live in the studio ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s study of the Soviet agents who have spied for – or defected to – the West since 1945. Equally inevitably, the same themes, the same episodes criss-cross the four books. But for any armchair addict of the great game as practised since the ...

Who Whips Whom

Leland de la Durantaye: Sade, 19 February 2015

Justine et autres romans 
by D.A.F. de Sade, edited by Michel Delon and Jean Deprun.
Gallimard, 1152 pp., €60, October 2014, 978 2 07 014669 7
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... series presenting adaptations of Sade’s works by Buñuel, von Stroheim, Pasolini, Guy Debord, Peter Brook and Nagisa Oshima. Meanwhile, the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade has published its fourth volume of Sade, a lavish 1150-page edition of the great erotic writings: 120 Days of Sodom, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Justine. The works span the decade ...


Adam Mars-Jones: Not the Marrying Kind, 20 March 2014

... I needed to change the character of his performance by restricting its size, as if I was Peter Brook called on to direct Orson Welles or Donald Wolfit (if anyone remembers that name). The obvious priority was getting rid of any possibility of an audience. If it was just the two of us there would be more prospect of damping down his ...

Gielgud’s Achievements

Alan Bennett, 20 December 1979

An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... I had thought it was the succession of the two parts that broke the mould. But this is to forget Peter Brook’s National Theatre production of Oedipus, which intervened between the film and my play. Gielgud had had a glorious season at Stratford in 1950 in which he had done Measure for Measure with Brook. But this ...


Phillip Knightley, 8 July 1993

Deadly Illusions: The First Book from the KGB Archives 
by John Costello and Oleg Tsarev.
Century, 538 pp., £18.99, June 1993, 9780712655002
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... Philby, went out in May 1990. The second, Strange Neighbours, about the American spy couple, Peter and Helen Kroger, who acted as a communications link between London and Moscow for Gordon Lonsdale and the Portland spy-ring, went out in November 1991. Both were co-productions, in the sense that the Russians provided their end of the material – they did ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... Peter Lilley, an international fraud investigator and no relation of the Tory MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has written a book called Dirty Dealing: The Untold Truth about Global Money Laundering (Kogan Page, £16.99). Before outlining how best to prevent the crime, he explains the various ways to go about committing it, such as opening an anonymous Austrian Sparbuch – savings book – of which there are estimated to be twenty-six million in existence (Austria, for the record, has a population of just over eight million ...

Love with Time Let in

Barbara Everett: ‘The Winter’s Tale’, 8 January 2004

... scenes is Autolycus. The best Leontes (probably) of the last century, John Gielgud, once wrote to Peter Brook that he would love the opportunity to double Leontes with Autolycus; and Autolycus, for all the obvious differences, can be seen as a surrogate Leontes. He alone, of the three seniors, has some spellbinding mastery not defensible in ethical ...

Other People’s Rooms

Peter Campbell, 7 April 1994

Inside Culture 
by David Halle.
Chicago, 261 pp., £23.95, January 1993, 0 226 31367 0
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Michigan 
by Kathryn Bishop Eckert.
Oxford, 603 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506149 7
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Iowa 
by David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim.
Oxford, 565 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506148 9
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... The working class responded better to the letterhead of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. ‘In the end,’ Halle writes, ‘people allowed us into their homes’ – he had a female assistant – ‘because they allow properly credentialed strangers (such as repair people, delivery people) into their homes all the time. We too presented our ...

How we declare war

Conor Gearty: Blair, the Law and the War, 3 October 2002

... is at constant risk from a bout of amnesia. In his recent book on the office of Prime Minister, Peter Hennessy tells the story of how Whitehall forgot how to declare war.* When officials thought it might be useful to know how to do it, just after the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina in 1982, they found that the relevant file was missing. It ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... of exile, a place where he could be a figure of swaggering talent and a marginal actor. Thus when Peter Hall saw MacGowran on stage in London in 1959 he knew immediately what MacGowran was made for on the English stage. He had, Hall decided, ‘the perfect qualities for a Shakespearean clown’ and he invited him to join the Royal Shakespeare Company to play ...

‘How big?’ ‘That big’

Andrew Motion: Tales from the Riverbank, 5 February 1998

Notes on Fishing 
by Sergei Timmofeevich Aksakov, translated by Thomas Hodge.
Northwestern, 230 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780810113664
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... was six but I thought I knew what she meant. I had these friends, the Routledge twins: Andrew and Peter. My own two Christian names, as it happened, but divided up like that I didn’t recognise them as mine. Andrew was quiet and cautious, Peter quick and reckless. They lived on a mucky farm nearby; you turned out of the ...

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