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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Spider-Man 3’, 24 May 2007

Spider-Man 3 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2007
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... idling. Like the new movie itself, we have our memories, and Tobey Maguire is still with us as Peter Parker, the goofiness wearing a little thin, but the earnestness holding up (in Spider-Man 2 the woman Peter loves appears in a Broadway production of The Importance of Being Earnest), and he does something very few ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan, 16 February 1984

The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
by Ted Hughes and Peter Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... Certainly, to read a collection like The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, newly-edited by Iona and Peter Opie, is to be reminded of the powerful appeal that’s made in poetry by ‘the kind of story in which, you want to know what happens next’. The Opies’ choice is often cautious and occasionally perverse. In some respects, moreover, their book belongs ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Ben Nicholson, 20 November 2008

... very English painter, a practitioner of the restraint and charm that English art in the 1960s was keen to distance itself from, but which – in Hockney’s drawings, for example – keeps breaking through. The minimalism of the reliefs that gave Nicholson a claim to the title of England’s most thorough Modernist was not, like the Russian work it bears some ...

The Gold Mines of Kremnica

Maurice Keen: From Venice to Visa, 20 February 2003

Power and Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe 
by Peter Spufford.
Thames and Hudson, 432 pp., £24.95, September 2002, 0 500 25118 5
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... commerce that it generated over the three centuries from 1200 to 1500, provide the themes for Peter Spufford’s splendid book. Spufford’s magisterial study Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe (1988) laid the foundations for this larger project; it is the fruit of extensive further research, both in the archives and on the ground, following the routes ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... by a sentimental fit, take down this book and blow the dust off it recalling: ‘Bosley was quite keen on me.’ What on earth were they looking for – Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and Charles Causley – that they should have rated Bosley’s heart-warming dexterity (feelingful as well as formal) below, for instance, 18 solid unpunctuated ...

Fancy Dress

Peter Campbell: Millais, Burne-Jones and Leighton, 15 April 1999

Millais: Portraits 
by Peter Funnell and Malcolm Warner.
National Portrait Gallery, 224 pp., £35, February 1999, 1 85514 255 4
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John Everett Millais 
by G.H. Fleming.
Constable, 318 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 09 478560 0
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Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer 
by Stephen Wildman and John Christian.
Abrams, 360 pp., £48, October 1998, 0 8109 6522 4
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Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity 
edited by Tim Barringer and Elizabeth Prettejohn.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, March 1999, 0 300 07937 0
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... The trouble is, Millais’s judgment, in whatever spirit it was made, has been that of posterity. Peter Funnell’s essay in the catalogue of the exhibition now at the National Portrait Gallery quotes Arthur Symons, writing in 1896, a few months after Millais’s death: ‘a finer promise than any artist of his time’ was wasted. His later pictures were done ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Goya, 14 January 2002

... it would seem, for the session to be over, may be the composer Luigi Boccherini (Don Luis was keen on music as well as on hunting and science). The man smiling out at us, like a child looking to catch the eye of a parent when he should be attending to his part in the school play, is Boccherini’s constant companion the violinist Manfredi or (a less ...
... fanfare, like an elephant cry. At nightfall in this quarry a few kilometres outside Avignon, Peter Brook’s staging of Jean-Claude Carrière’s adaptation of The Mahabharata begins. Wisdom-book and story-repository, fifteen times the size of the Bible, The Mahabharata was written in Sanskrit, but the words you hear are French, spoken with a piquant ...

Spot the Gull

Peter Campbell: The Academy of the Lincei, 20 March 2003

The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History 
by David Freedberg.
Chicago, 513 pp., £35, December 2002, 0 226 26147 6
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... towards botany and zoology as physics and astronomy. It was named after both Lyncaeus, ‘the most keen-eyed of the Argonauts’, and the lynx – a small, sharp-eyed creature (even if it looks more fierce than far-seeing in the woodcut that appears on the Galilean and other Lincean title pages). Cassiano’s ‘paper museum’ – drawings of antiquities ...

Royal Pain

Peter Campbell, 28 September 1989

A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture 
by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Doubleday, 156 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 9780385269032
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The Prince of Wales: Right or Wrong? An architect replies 
by Maxwell Hutchinson.
Faber, 203 pp., £10.99, September 1989, 0 571 14287 7
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... one thinking how far buildings can, like clothes, be worn for effect, not comfort. The Prince is keen on preservation of the old urban textures. He is also keen on the Rod Hackney do-it-yourself concept of Community Architecture. The implication of Hutchinson’s comments on the second of these princely enthusiasms is that ...

Loot, Looter, Looted

Peter Howarth: John Haynes, 3 January 2008

Letter to Patience 
by John Haynes.
Seren, 79 pp., £7.99, April 2006, 1 85411 412 3
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... his employer because uneducated Muslims like him are being manipulated by Babangida’s cronies, keen to stir up inter-ethnic hatred to legitimise perpetual military government and maintain private oil revenues. This mimics the endlessly postponed democracy put forward by Lord Lugard, governor-general of Nigeria, in his Dual Mandate in British Tropical ...

At Home

Peter Campbell, 22 September 2011

... ones and a dingy backyard. The last possible direction to take was down. Town planners, always keen to preserve profiles and details, presumably worry less about new basements than new UPVC glazing bars. It used to seem to me that terraced houses were infinitely adaptable. But after reading Rasmussen I came to believe that the changes from dwelling house ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Osbert Lancaster’s Promontory, 25 September 2008

... and hat, and in another illustration he is taking tea with aunts whom Lartigue would have been keen to snap. In his guides to British architecture (Pillar to Post and Homes Sweet Homes), the excesses of the latest thing are identified. The story advances spread by illustrated spread, so that ‘Early English’ and ‘Modernistic’ get the same degree of ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gainsborough, 28 November 2002

... unaggressive; both, the sharp highlights suggest, damp-eyed), seems to listen to you quietly, keen to agree, to conciliate, perhaps even to persuade you to improve your ways. The portraits attended to, one turns to the ‘fancy pictures’ (country scenes, pictures of poor children) and landscapes: not dismissively, like the London sitters who passed the ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: How to Draw Horses, 9 October 2003

... don’t think it is as good as the one of a horse and cart which was quite uninfluenced.’ He is keen to let children know that they are the best judges of their own work and warns them against knowledgable criticism from horsey people. A sculptor as well as a draughtsman, Skeaping had been married to Barbara Hepworth, and the first three children’s ...

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