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Dwarf-Basher

Michael Dobson, 8 June 1995

Edmond Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography 
by Peter Martin.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 46030 1
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... whose glinting eyes, in Reynolds’s 1778 portrait, stare fixedly past us from the dust-jacket of Peter Martin’s biography. Indeed the book’s steady prose, for all its professions of admiration, does little to suggest that Martin (the first writer to undertake a life of Malone since 1860) has managed to muster much ...

Pay me for it

Helen Deutsch: Summoning Dr Johnson, 9 February 2012

Samuel Johnson: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Faber, 415 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22636 8
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Selected Writings 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Peter Martin.
Harvard, 503 pp., £16.95, May 2011, 978 0 674 06034 0
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The Brothers Boswell: A Novel 
by Philip Baruth.
Corvus, 336 pp., £7.99, January 2011, 978 1 84887 446 6
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The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. 
by John Hawkins, edited by O.M. Brack.
Georgia, 554 pp., £53.50, August 2010, 978 0 8203 2995 6
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... art with life by imagining him thinking, speaking and writing in perfect print-ready copy. Peter Martin’s introduction to the tercentenary edition of Selected Writings sets up an echo chamber of affirmations of Johnson’s eternal appeal ranging from Ruskin to Beckett to Seamus Heaney to that American avatar of Johnson, Harold Bloom, who places ...

Heritage

Martin Green, 7 August 1980

... revolutionary wheeled in a pram – Speakers’ Corner meant more to me Than did the statue of Peter Pan. The first theatre I ever saw The inside of was the Unity; Lenin and Stalin were nursery gods And at night behind the curtain There were meetings, meetings, meetings. At nursery school (Methodist, Kingsway Hall) I came across gentle Jesus meek and mild ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... Angleton became convinced that Wilson was a Russian agent and he conveyed this certainty to Arthur Martin and Peter Wright. Arthur Martin took on board Angleton’s ‘certainty’ that Hugh Gaitskell, Wilson’s predecessor as leader of the Labour Party, had been poisoned by the Russians ...

The Strange Case of Peter Vansittart

Martin Seymour-Smith, 6 March 1986

Aspects of Feeling 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 251 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 7206 0637 3
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... Peter Vansittart, novelist, historian and writer for children, has been singled out for praise by critics as diverse as Philip Toynbee, Francis King, Angus Wilson and Andrew Sinclair. All feel that he lacks the large audience he deserves. Yet the curious reader, anxious to gain more information about this somewhat enigmatic writer, of undoubted power (and above all vision), may easily find himself defeated ...

The Impostor

Peter Burke, 19 April 1984

Le Retour de Martin Guerre 
by Natalie Davis, Jean-Claude Carrière and Daniel Vigne.
Robert Laffont, 269 pp.
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The Return of Martin Guerre 
by Natalie Davis.
Harvard, 162 pp., £12.75, October 1983, 0 674 76690 3
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... a term which is prominent on the title-page of the account of the case published in 1561. Martin Guerre was a peasant, of Basque origin but settled in the village of Artigat in the French South-West, between Toulouse and Foix. He married a local girl, Bertrande de Rols, when they were in their early teens; ten years later, he disappeared. Eight years ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: John Martin, 20 October 2011

... I begin to write about John Martin: Apocalypse (at Tate Britain until 15 January) before looking at the pictures. Maybe, I say to myself, if I set memories of Martin’s pictures against the words in the catalogue (Tate, £19.99), if I learn what he achieved in more than a century and a half of (variable) success, I’ll find that we owe his memory some kind of apology ...

At the Barbican

Peter Campbell: Martin Parr, 4 April 2002

Martin Parr 
by Val Williams.
Phaidon, 354 pp., £45, February 2002, 0 7148 3990 6
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... it. A natural history of such uneasy tussles, some vocal, some unspoken, could be illustrated from Martin Parr’s work. His pictures can be seen both at the Barbican until 14 April and in the well-made book which accompanies the exhibition. They can be read as a recapitulation of the history of the unsolicited photograph: a history which begins with the first ...

Shockers

Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... romantic affair of opposing powers. There is inevitably nothing in Richler’s book, either, from Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow. Amis, too, was born in 1949, and one of the critical objections raised against his novel was that he hadn’t lived through the events which he seemed to be treating so cavalierly. You can see what was meant by this, but the ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Gerrit Dou, 5 October 2000

... of wealthy Americans (Widener, Frick, Morgan, Altman and Marquand). The Dutch art historian Willem Martin, in the introduction to a monograph of 1901, almost apologised for giving time to the work. Like Joshua Reynolds, he said, he turned from Dou ‘with admiration on the lips but indifference in the heart’. This is the story told by Arthur Wheelock in his ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Amis Biz, 19 April 2001

... Martin Amis’s memoir, Experience, was recently published in paperback. The banned ads have returned to the Underground, now that the offending image of the boy Amis ‘smoking’ in short trousers – never mind that the cigarette was unlit – has been overlaid by a minimalist design of red and white text stamped on a wash of black, intimating No Logo chic ...

It’s Been a Lot of Fun

David Runciman: Hitchens’s Hitchens, 24 June 2010

Hitch-22: A Memoir 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 435 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84354 921 5
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... In his book about religion, Peter Hitchens has a lot more to say about his brother Christopher than Christopher has to say about Peter in his book about himself.* ‘Some brothers get on,’ Peter writes mournfully, ‘some do not. We were the sort that just didn’t ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Unpopular Culture, 5 June 2008

... hit the same sweetly rasping note as Tish Murtha’s unemployed man and his family in Newcastle, Martin Parr’s empty, rained-on tables for a Jubilee street party, Tony Ray-Jones’s group on deckchairs making the best of a cold day on Brighton Beach, Homer Sykes’s naked girls in a fairground peepshow. They all say ‘this is how we are,’ in black and ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... more than Venus and Mars. The reputation of An Allegory soon went downhill; by 1951 the curator Martin Davies wrote that it was by ‘some feeble imitator of Botticelli’. It is certainly, according to all the tests, an old picture: the support, ground, pigments and medium are appropriate for Italy around 1500. Science in this case can only say that the ...

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