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Virgin’s Tears

David Craig: On nature, 10 June 1999

Nature: Western Attitudes since Ancient Times 
by Peter Coates.
Polity, 246 pp., £45, September 1998, 0 7456 1655 0
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... backed off and charged again, while the nanny waited nearby, a seemingly dispassionate spectator. Peter Coates’s study of the evolving meanings of ‘nature’, in Europe and North America, is preoccupied with the human tendency to invade nature, altering, exploiting and ‘reinventing’ it. He culls a telling image from the Guardian for 9 August ...

Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 22 February 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... During​ the big antiwar protests in early 2003, Ta-Nehisi Coates was a deliveryman for a deli in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He, too, was ‘sceptical’, he wrote a decade later in a blog post for the Atlantic, ‘but if the US was going to take out a mad tyrant, who was I to object?’ After all, as Coates remembered, ‘every “sensible” and “serious” person you knew – left or right – was for the war ...
... have also managed to neutralise much of what they show. Buildings like those of Lubetkin or Wells Coates, for instance, were presented as solutions, not creations, and to suggest, as the exhibition must, that other conventions have equal validity undermines the fragile logic that supported their simplicities. A fragment of a Rex Whistler interior, displayed ...

Born Again

Phillip Whitehead, 19 February 1981

Face the future 
by David Owen.
Cape, 552 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 224 01956 2
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... David Owen has had his prescription for Britain patronised by Grimond and Powell, dissected by Ken Coates, and treated like a first-year undergraduate’s essay by Professor Peter Townsend. With his publishers bringing its publication forward to catch the crisis, the book might look like a hastily-written manifesto for the ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter de Bolla: Abstract Expressionism, 15 December 2016

... that the very term ‘abstract expressionism’ – it was coined in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates writing in the New Yorker about paintings by Hans Hofmann – provides a clue: if one renounces depiction all that is left is expression. But that would be a mistake, one often made when trying to understand some of the best-known works on show here. It ...

Fried Fish

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Colson Whitehead, 17 November 2016

The Underground Railroad 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fleet, 320 pp., £14.99, October 2016, 978 0 7088 9839 0
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... from the cold, he thought that just such a wind had blown … in the time of Ivan the Terrible and Peter, and in their time there had been just the same desperate poverty and hunger, the same thatched roofs with holes in them, ignorance, misery, the same desolation around, the same darkness, the same feeling of oppression – all these had existed, did ...

Put a fist through it

Harriet Baker: The Hampstead Modernists, 8 October 2020

Circles and Squares: The Lives and Art of the Hampstead Modernists 
by Caroline Maclean.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £30, April, 978 1 4088 8969 5
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The See-Through House: My Father in Full Colour 
by Shelley Klein.
Chatto, 271 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 78474 310 9
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... at the Venesta Plywood Company, his wife, Molly, a bacteriologist, and the architect Wells Coates. They would follow the European example: a new style of urban living, one that freed people from the clutter and labour of daily life. ‘How do we want to live?’ Molly asked at the building’s opening in 1934. ‘What sort of framework must we build ...

So, puss, I shall know you another time

Peter Campbell, 8 December 1988

The World through Blunted Sight 
by Patrick Trevor-Roper.
Allen Lane, 207 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7139 9006 6
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Visual Fact over Verbal Fiction 
by Carl Goldstein.
Cambridge, 244 pp., £40, September 1988, 0 521 34331 3
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Hockney on Photography: Conversations with Paul Joyce 
Cape, 192 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 224 02484 1Show More
Portrait of David Hockney 
by Peter Webb.
Chatto, £17.95, November 1988, 0 7011 3401 1
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... him crawls’ as an example of short-sighted imagery, and the translation by the blind poet W.H. Coates of a stanza from Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound shows how distant visual phenomena can be described in close physical terms: The point of one white star is quivering still Deep in the orange light of widening morn becomes One cold metallic grain is ...
... others) have called me a ‘right-wing socialist’ (Michael Foot) and ‘social democratic’ (Peter Sedgwick), perhaps not noticing that I, too, have been on a long journey, affected by Orwell as well as studying him (he does exemplify the non-Marxist ‘English socialist’ tradition, like Tawney, Cole and Foot himself). Many of us have been influenced ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... unprepossessing as my own.’ Evelyn Waugh being ‘our valued friend’, ‘it amused me to hear Peter laughing at Evelyn’s “provincial little Arnold Bennett arriviste appearance”.’ If Chelsea (and Oxford) might be at odds with Bloomsbury (and Cambridge) for territorial competitive reasons, the two were at one when it came to making bad ...

Space Wars

Fredric Jameson, 4 April 1996

The Invisible in Architecture 
edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van Toorn.
Academy, 516 pp., $115, February 1994, 1 85490 285 7
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The Classical Vernacular: Architectural Principles in an Age of Nihilism 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 158 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 1 85754 054 9
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... 24 ‘works’ – project descriptions, actually – range from interior decoration (the Branson Coates Arca di Noe restaurant in Sapporo) to Beth Gali’s Montjuich cemetery; from urban engineering, such as Calatrava’s railway station in Zurich or Norman Foster’s Stansted air terminal, to a sprinkling of housing developments, culminating in Bofill’s ...

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