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Pretty Things

Peter Campbell, 21 February 1980

by Kit Williams.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01617 2
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Beauty and the Beast 
by Rosemary Harris and Errol Le Cain.
Faber, 32 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 571 11374 5
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Mazel and Shlimazel 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Margot Zemach.
Cape, 42 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 224 01758 6
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La Corona 
by Russell Hoban and Nicola Bayley.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01397 1
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by Anthony Taber.
Gollancz, 80 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 575 02664 2
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Comic and Curious Cats 
by Angela Carter and Martin Leman.
Gollancz, 32 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 575 02592 1
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The Wild Washerwomen 
by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake.
Hamish Hamilton, 32 pp., £3.75, October 1980, 0 241 89928 1
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... wants a collection of tales from her, not a single story that has been overdressed. Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Mazel and Schli-mazel also lives well by words alone. There is no feeling that Singer was constrained by his memory of the version of the story he was told by his mother as a child; rather, that he then learnt how to ...

Can’t it be me?

Glyn Maxwell: Amit Chaudhuri’s new novel, 9 April 2009

The Immortals 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Picador, 407 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 330 45580 0
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... held up his hand for them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish tonality and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of his voice. The voice, made plaintive by distance and the singer’s hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words expressing grief: O, the rain falls on my ...

Cad’s Cadenzas

Christopher Driver, 15 September 1988

William Walton: Behind the Façade 
by Susana Walton.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 19 315156 1
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Façade: Edith Sitwell Interpreted 
by Pamela Hunter.
Duckworth, 106 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 9780715621844
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... in the concertante solo violin part of Heldenleben, just as Benjamin Britten’s dependence upon Peter Pears, the sharer of his bed, shines through most of his later music. Susana Gil alighted upon the gossip circuit of musical Europe as a living anachronism. ‘By God, William is going to marry a native,’ said one of Walton’s friends when the eminent ...

What does Fluffy think?

Amia Srinivasan: Pets with Benefits, 7 October 2021

Loving Animals: On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love 
by Joanna Bourke.
Reaktion, 184 pp., £18, October 2020, 978 1 78914 310 2
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... be non-violent. In the 1960s Margaret Lovatt lived for six months with a young male dolphin called Peter as part of a Nasa project to teach dolphins to speak. The pair grew extremely close. Peter would often get sexually aroused and rub himself against Lovatt, disrupting their language lessons. Eventually Lovatt started to ...

In a Faraway Pond

David Runciman: The NGO, 29 November 2007

Non-Governmental Politics 
edited by Michel Feher.
Zone, 693 pp., £24.95, May 2007, 978 1 890951 74 0
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... of political muscle? Take one of the best-known arguments in contemporary moral philosophy: Peter Singer’s attempt to prove that there is no ‘domestic’ and ‘foreign’ when it comes to suffering in a globalised world. Singer first made his case in 1971, in response to the humanitarian crisis in ...

On the Catwalk

Peter Campbell: Taste and exclusivity, 14 November 2002

... includes the dress with its black calyx-like bodice out of which white shoulders flower in John Singer Sargent’s portrait Madame X: a dress as famous as the Versace, and more scandalous. The anxiety/hope that a woman may fall out of her frock goes back further still. In Aurora Leigh, ‘that bilious Grimwald’ (a critic) observes the villainous Lady ...

Uncle Vester’s Nephew

Graham Coster, 27 February 1992

Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
by Greil Marcus.
Viking, 256 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 670 83846 2
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Rythm Oil: A Journey through the Music of the American South 
by Stanley Booth.
Cape, 254 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 224 02779 4
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... hagiography and ridicule. Half the time, as someone once observed, he sounded like the greatest singer who ever lived, and the rest of the time he sounded like somebody singing in the bath. Either you accord him the ultimate homage, and become an Elvis impersonator, remaking yourself as the King right down to the Queen Bess high collars and the heel-shaped ...

The Comic Strip

Ian Hamilton, 3 September 1981

... the Outer Limits, is more hooked into the media than is Coyote, and more conventionally slick. Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer have been together now for eight years – ‘We do everything together. We piss into each other’s mouths’ – but for most of that time they played music, with the jokes as decoration. Now a lot of the jokes (many of them ...


John Sutherland: Sad Professor, 18 February 1999

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture 
by Roger Scruton.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £14.95, November 1998, 0 7156 2870 4
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... them) of the ‘strangulated cry’: ‘trapped in a culture of near-total inarticulateness the singer can find no words to express what most deeply concerns him.’ Scruton’s knowledge of pop music falls well below the level of modest. He thinks, as is evident from a later parenthetic diatribe, that ‘REM’ is the name of the lead ...

Oud, Saz and Kaman

Adam Mars-Jones: Mathias Enard, 24 January 2019

Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants 
by Mathias Enard, translated by Charlotte Mandell.
Fitzcarraldo, 144 pp., £10.99, November 2018, 978 1 910695 69 2
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... Michelangelo a genius at the moment when he is overwhelmed, as anyone might be, by the beauty of a singer? (Admittedly he goes on to make obsessive sketches of the ankles and calves in question.) The term ‘genius’ has a restricted historical but also geographical and cultural currency: what would a Turkish genius of the period be like? Mesihi of ...

At the Design Museum

Andrew O’Hagan: Peter Saville, 19 June 2003

... I think it likely – or slightly more than likely – that Peter Saville is the only English graphic artist to have had an actor play him in a major motion picture. The film, 24 Hour Party People, was entertaining in the way that films full of intense people with good accents and daft haircuts always are, and Saville comes off quite well, the genius of the piece in fact, which is probably saying quite a lot, since the Manchester music scene of the late 1970s and 1980s (the setting for the movie) bred self-proclaimed geniuses in the way Sheffield used to produce knives and forks ...

Zip the Lips

Lorna Scott Fox: A novel plea for silence, 2 June 2005

Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Chatto, 376 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 9780701176754
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The Man of Feeling 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Vintage, 135 pp., £7.99, February 2005, 0 09 945367 3
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... organisation, possibly founded by Churchill during World War Two? What did Deza’s mentor, Sir Peter Wheeler (modelled on the Oxford professor Sir Peter Russell), do during the Spanish Civil War? And what about the bloodstain on his stairs? What is being set up by the narrator’s constant outing of ‘bogus ...

The Limits of Humanism

Mary Midgley, 7 June 1984

The Case for Animal Rights 
by Tom Regan.
Routledge, 425 pp., £17.95, January 1984, 0 7102 0150 8
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Rights, Killing and Suffering: Moral Vegetarianism and Applied Ethics 
by R.G. Frey.
Blackwell, 256 pp., £17.50, September 1983, 0 631 12684 8
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... the fearful conflicts of interest which surround our ecological predicament. Another such book was Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. Singer, like Passmore, devoted much of his time to clearing the ground – marshalling the relevant facts, surveying the range of existing attitudes, pointing out their confusions, and ...

Types of Intuition

Thomas Nagel: Intimations of Morality, 3 June 2021

... or sociological underpinnings. The approach has also been taken up by non-psychologists like Peter Singer and Cass Sunstein. Like Hume, it ascribes to deontological rules some form of social utility, but it is often disposed to find that utility more pronounced in the past, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in small groups and evolutionary ...


Daniel Johnson, 20 June 1996

The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... Cambridge only woke up to the great achievements of Peter Stern when he died there aged 70 in 1991. Stern’s adoptive university, to which he found himself evacuated from the LSE after arriving from Prague as a refugee from Nazi anti-Semitism, became his home for half a century; but although he taught there for many years and remained devoted to his college, St John’s, Cambridge failed adequately to recognise his stature during his lifetime ...

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