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Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis, 6 September 2007

C. Day-Lewis: A Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... was less likely than his contemporaries to be seen in his full complexity and thereby reassessed. Peter Stanford, prompted and supported by Day-Lewis’s widow, the actress Jill Balcon, has now undertaken the work of recovery, and he makes clear that he believes this biography should provide the occasion for a major reassessment of his subject’s ...


Nina Bawden, 2 February 1984

At the Jazz Band Ball: A Memory of the 1950s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 251 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 233 97591 8
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... life, anyway, offers diversions. There is an affectionate portrait of another fellow conscript, Peter Stanford, who feels as passionately as Philip does about books and music and painting. More particularly, they feel the same way about writing. Writers were spies and interpreters who could undergo hardship and excess and emerge from the ordeal with ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Eadweard Muybridge, 23 September 2010

... taken from the tower of the house of one tycoon and looking down on the house of another, Leland Stanford. The houses, large, but crowded together on the slopes of Nob Hill like limpets on a rock, are new, the environment treeless. San Francisco was expanding, a lot of money was being spent, and the results were florid: one of Muybridge’s commissions was a ...


Christopher Tayler: The Fabulous Elif Batuman, 17 February 2011

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them 
by Elif Batuman.
Granta, 296 pp., £16.99, April 2011, 978 1 84708 313 5
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... Russian spirit would not have felt at home in the intellectual world Elif Batuman comes from. A Stanford comp. lit. PhD, raised in New Jersey by Turkish parents, Batuman draws strength from Foucault and Roman Jakobson, studied with Franco Moretti and has a blog on which she uses words like ‘w00t!!’. Still, both the Russians and the people who read ...

Desperately Seeking Susan

Terry Castle: Remembering Susan Sontag, 17 March 2005

... do for the bedazzling, now-dead she-eminence. The most beautiful photo I downloaded was one that Peter Hujar took of her in the 1970s, around the time of I, Et Cetera. She’s wearing a thin grey turtleneck and lies on her back – arms up, head resting on her clasped hands and her gaze fixed impassively on something to the right of the frame. There’s a ...


Anthony Holden, 6 November 1980

The United States in the 1980s 
edited by Peter Duignan and Alvin Rabushka.
Croom Helm, 868 pp., £14.95, August 1980, 0 8179 7281 1
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... both. More than half of them are Fellows of the volume’s parent body, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, California, a lavishly-endowed think-tank founded by Herbert Hoover in 1919 ‘to demonstrate, by its research and publications, the evils of the doctrines of Karl Marx’. If you are not already familiar with Hoover and its works, all you ...

Just about Anything You Want

Ben Jackson: Guerrilla Open Access, 6 October 2016

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz 
by Aaron Swartz.
Verso, 368 pp., £15.99, February 2016, 978 1 78478 496 6
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... His lack of deference helped to open doors. At 15, he emailed Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford, with a list of suggestions for how to write the code for Creative Commons. ‘Good idea,’ Lessig responded. ‘Why don’t you do that for us?’ Swartz had been at the fringes of the internet’s free culture movement; this was his ticket ...

To hell with the lyrics

Peter Campbell, 25 March 1993

The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell 
edited by Stephanie Terenzio.
Oxford, 325 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 19 507700 8
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... It is easy to see why painters without his philosophical bent – he had studied philosophy at Stanford – found laconic, real men’s talk to be appropriate, like blue jeans and plaid shirts, to a way of working which set the visceral and energetic against the intellectual and analytic. But Motherwell, too, could talk macho. He describes how he and David ...

Competition is for losers

David Runciman: Silicon Valley Vampire, 23 September 2021

The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power 
by Max Chafkin.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £25, September 2021, 978 1 5266 1955 6
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... Peter​ Thiel is known for so many different things it can be hard to keep up. He co-founded PayPal, which provided the basis for his early fortune as well as Elon Musk’s. He is the eerily prescient angel investor who helped launch Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook on the path to global domination. He is the man who bankrupted Gawker, the online gossip site, by funding Hulk Hogan’s libel action, fulfilling a decade-long vendetta that started after Gawker outed Thiel as gay ...

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 ...

Forms and Inspirations

Vikram Seth, 29 September 1988

... other Timothy Steele. Let me talk about Donald first. In the middle of my studies in Economics at Stanford University, I was given the chance to spend a year in the Creative Writing Program in the English Department. I was not at all convinced that creative writing could be taught in the classroom, but I felt I could do with a year’s time to think and ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson, 7 March 2013

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... mettle in the towns, where they could prepare for government once the Red Army had come through. Peter Conradi handles this material extremely well, and draws on E.P. Thompson’s lectures in Stanford in 1981 about his brother, later collated by his widow, Dorothy Thompson, as Beyond the Frontier. E.P. is more committed ...

When the pistol goes off

Peter Clarke, 17 August 1989

Arnold Toynbee: A Life 
by William McNeill.
Oxford, 346 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 19 505863 1
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... himself with his hosts. Before Toynbee’s final tour in 1967, at the age of 78, a professor at Stanford spoke out with a pithiness and directness which Lady Carlisle herself might have envied: ‘He is a congenital windbag, and now a senile windbag. Of course he cannot help that. But he could stay home.’ Naturally Toynbee ignored this advice. He pressed ...


Jenny Diski: Doing what we’re told, 18 November 2004

The Man who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram 
by Thomas Blass.
Basic Books, 360 pp., £19.99, June 2004, 0 7382 0399 8
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... dedicated to Milgram: empowerment … taking responsibility), as well as being the source for a Peter Gabriel song entitled ‘We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)’. A French punk rock group called Milgram put out a CD called Vierhundertfünfzig Volt (‘450 Volts’). A British band called Midget issued The Milgram Experiment. Plays have been written ...

Golden England

Martin Wiener, 3 December 1981

Condition of England 
by Lincoln Allison.
Junction, 221 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 86245 032 2
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... their past. Allison points to the environmental planning which has restricted development and, in Peter Hall’s phrase, ‘contained urban England’. Such restriction is in one sense costly – the price of land and population density have been raised – but it was a price well worth paying for the protection of a countryside unsurpassed in the ...

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