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Curriculum Vitae

Peter Robb, 2 May 1985

... Despite a new paralysis – my back –Am stirred, perhaps, to mine the new resource,Put down my worn suitcases and unpack.[Publications]Reader, should I turn another page?Fly off to somewhere, maybe even worse?Or limp serenely into middle ageAnd try to flog this flimsy book of verse? [c/o Fig Tree PocketQldAustraliaphotopies ofrelevantdocumentati ...


Peter Robb, 6 March 1997

by Janette Turner Hospital.
Virago, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1996, 1 86049 123 5
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... Ten or so years ago I stayed with a friend who was a senior doctor in Queensland’s largest hospital, the Royal Brisbane. Most weekends he was on call to attend emergencies in remote inland areas by medical service plane or helicopter. The trips sometimes generated their own emergencies, since the helicopter pilot was a Vietnam veteran with a need for extreme situations and ready to create them when they didn’t come naturally ...


Peter Robb, 20 June 1985

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920, Vol. II: 1921-1970 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... Printing even a writer’s letters is at times an equivocal business. There’s always the question of what, exactly, of value they may tell us, of what there is that makes their publication more than merely intrusive. Forster lived a long time, and there’s some sorry reading in the second of these volumes. To Joe Ackerley in 1947 from the USA: ‘the view from the window is the Californian desert, mistaken by me for the Nevadan ...

Models and Props

Nicholas Penny: Caravaggio in the Studio, 10 August 2000

by Catherine Puglisi.
Phaidon, 448 pp., £24.95, May 2000, 0 7148 3966 3
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Caravaggio’s Secrets 
by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit.
MIT, 118 pp., £18.50, September 1998, 0 262 02449 7
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by Peter Robb.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7475 4599 5
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Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History 
by Mieke Bal.
Chicago, 305 pp., £28.50, October 1999, 0 226 03556 5
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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio 
by Atle Naess, translated by Anne Born.
Owen, 159 pp., £14.95, June 2000, 0 7206 1082 6
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Caravaggio: A Life 
by Helen Langdon.
Pimlico, 447 pp., £15, November 1999, 9780712665827
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... even more, say, than one of the great social pariahs of our own time, Jean Genet – an outlaw.’ Peter Robb is well aware that it was Caravaggio’s detractors – and chiefly the great theorist and critic Bellori – who associated the dark, dirt and violence of his character and deeds with the subjects and style of his paintings, but ...

Three Weeks Wide

Rosemary Hill: A Psychohistory of France, 7 July 2022

France: An Adventure History 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 527 pp., £25, March, 978 1 5290 0762 6
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... causing considerable annoyance to the Ministry of Works with its activities at Stonehenge. Graham Robb’s archaeo-psycho-geographical-antiquarian bicycle tour of France has something of all of these about it. Like Patrick Keiller’s film Robinson in Space (1997), which pursues the ‘problem of England’ through the eyes of an unseen narrator travelling in ...

It’s the moral thing to do

James Meek: ‘Breaking Bad’, 3 January 2013

Breaking Bad: Complete Seasons 1-4 
produced by Vince Gilligan.
Sony Pictures, £32.75, October 2012
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... an early glimpse of the real allure that drives him on, although he doesn’t yet realise it. As Peter Robb writes in Midnight in Sicily: The colossal wealth brought by the drug trade brought no improvement to the lives of those who risked their necks for it. The furtive enjoyment of a fast car or a gold Rolex or expensive clothes was cold comfort in a ...

Make Something Happen!

Julian Bell: Paint Serious, Paint Big, 2 December 2010

Salvator Rosa: Bandits, Wilderness and Magic 
by Helen Langdon, Xavier Salomon and Caterina Volpi.
Paul Holberton, 240 pp., £40, September 2010, 978 1 907372 01 8
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Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of 17th-Century Italian Painters 
by Richard Spear and Philip Sohm et al.
Yale, 384 pp., £45, 0 300 15456 9
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Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Allen Lane, 514 pp., £30, July 2010, 978 0 7139 9674 6
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The Moment of Caravaggio 
by Michael Fried.
Princeton, 304 pp., £34.95, 0 691 14701 9
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... historical frame, above all the Catholic triumphalism manifested in Bernini’s colonnades for St Peter’s piazza or in the impeccably prim altarpieces of Carlo Maratta, the president of the Accademia di San Luca. And so little moved forward in the fractured Italy of those days. Rich families vied for the papacy; loyalties inclined to this or that ...

Radio Fun

Philip Purser, 27 June 1991

A Social History of British Broadcasting. Vol. I: 1922-29, Serving the Nation 
by Paddy Scannell and David Cardiff.
Blackwell, 441 pp., £30, April 1991, 0 631 17543 1
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The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. III: Serious Pursuits, Communication and Education 
Harvester Wheatsheaf, 470 pp., £30, May 1991, 0 7450 0536 5Show More
The British Press and Broadcasting since 1945 
by Colin Seymour-Ure.
Blackwell, 269 pp., £29.95, May 1991, 9780631164432
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... day war broke out’, many will instinctively hear the phrase in the baffled tones of the comedian Robb Wilton who began a famous monologue with it. If I try to recall the actual day war broke out, on 3 September 1939, I can calculate that I was just 14, and remember that about that time, give or take a week, I had a stiff neck from diving into Hoylake Baths ...

Shovelling Clouds

Adam Mars-Jones: Fred Vargas, 23 April 2015

Temps glaciaires 
by Fred Vargas.
Flammarion, 490 pp., €19.90, March 2015, 978 2 08 136044 0
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... bachelors, and that’s still the template. Dorothy L. Sayers hardly seemed to believe in Peter Wimsey’s passion for Harriet Vane, and no one else is likely to. In his book Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century, Graham Robb made a strong case that the granddaddy of them all, Poe’s Dupin, is coded as ...

For a Lark

Patricia Beer, 21 March 1996

Hearts Undefeated: Women’s Writing of the Second World War 
edited by Jenny Hartley.
Virago, 302 pp., £12.99, May 1995, 9781853816710
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... shone into the deepest social and political corners. There were exceptions, of course: Nesca Robb, a temporary civil servant, wrote a strong piece about the difficulty of finding serious employment in wartime for middle-aged, middle-class women who, in keeping with the convention of the time, had never been trained for anything and now needed the ...

When did you get hooked?

John Lanchester: Game of Thrones, 11 April 2013

A Song of Ice and Fire: Vols I-VII 
by George R.R. Martin.
Harper, 5232 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 0 00 747715 9
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Game of Thrones: The Complete First and Second Seasons 
Warner Home Video, £40, March 2013, 978 1 892122 20 9Show More
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... party, is a dwarf, a worldly, jaded, funny, highly intelligent cynic and, as incarnated by Peter Dinklage, the indisputable star turn of the HBO series. The king and his entourage take up residence at Winterfell, ancestral home of the Starks. We see much of their antics from the perspective of Bran Stark, second-youngest son of Eddard, a ...

£ … per incident

Melanie McFadyean: Suicides in immigration detention, 16 November 2006

Driven to Desperate Measures 
by Harmit Athwal.
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... when Stephen Shaw writes about a death at Colnbrook in November 2004 the subject is clearly Kenny Peter, a 24-year-old who had fled from Nigeria. In a report published after the inquest, Shaw comments on a ‘lack of understanding by healthcare staff . . . failure in systems of psychiatric referrals and shortcomings in the communication between centre staff ...

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