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At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Saul Steinberg’s Playful Modernism

1 January 2009
... In 2006, when a picture from the Saul Steinberg: Illuminations catalogue was reproduced in these pages, the exhibition had just opened in the Morgan Library in New York. Most of the items were (or were very like) drawings made for print. The framed originals would not, I thought, add much to the intense pleasure to be had from the reproductions ...
15 November 1984
The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Faber, 222 pp., £25, September 1984, 0 571 13392 4
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... The startling claim of Leo Steinberg’s new book is that over the past four centuries the real meaning of much of the religious art of the Renaissance has been lost. He argues that in representations of Christ, both as an infant and as an adult, the genitals had a particular theological significance to which we are now oblivious because of the modern world’s ‘massive historic retreat from the mythical grounds of Christianity ...
20 June 1996
The Romanovs: The Final Chapter 
by Robert Massie.
Cape, 308 pp., £17.99, November 1995, 0 224 04192 4
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The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution 
by Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev.
Yale, 444 pp., £18.50, November 1995, 0 300 06557 4
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... orderly world of kings and queens and emperors and empresses falls on their narrow shoulders. Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev’s Fall of the Romanovs is a collection of documents from the very end of the tsarist period which tells the story of Nicholas’s last days. Robert Massie’s The Romanovs: The Final Chapter tells what happened to the Romanovs ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Norman Rockwell

20 January 2011
... tedious to pretend he isn’t’ – and goes on: ‘So famously wrote the New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl in Art News, September 1999.’ You have a sense of Dejardin breathing a sigh of relief – not that he can have had any fear that the great art at Dulwich would be sullied. In a world where Jeff Koons operates there is no need for even the most ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86

20 December 2018
The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... Sylvia Plath​ was scared of letters. The postman always announced his presence with a ‘burst of prophetic whistling’. In May 1958, eating a slice of toast with butter and strawberry jam before going to teach her class at Smith, she spotted the mailman with ‘a handful of flannel: circulars – soap-coupons, Sears sales, a letter from mother of stale news she’d already relayed over the phone, a card from Oscar Williams inviting us to a cocktail party in New York on the impossible last day of my classes ...

Survivors

Jonathan Steinberg

18 December 1986
Strangers in their own Land: Young Jews in Germany and Austria Today 
by Peter Sichrovsky and Thomas Keneally.
Tauris, 177 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 1 85043 033 0
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Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland 
by Malgorzata Niezabitowska and Tomasz Tomaszewski, translated by William Brand and Hanna Dobosiewicz.
Friendly Press, 272 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 914919 05 9
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The Jews in Poland 
edited by Chimen Abramsky, Maciej Jachimczyk and Antony Polonsky.
Blackwell, 264 pp., £29.50, September 1986, 0 631 14857 4
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... lives? What can they tell their children? The answer, according to the interviews carried out by Peter Sichrovsky, would appear to be nothing. Again and again, the respondents in Strangers in their Own Land describe the impossibility of talking to their parents; in some cases they know nothing at all of their parents’ lives before 1945. These are the ...

Dead Man’s Coat

Peter Pomerantsev: Teffi

2 February 2017
Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 169 7
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Rasputin and Other Ironies 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Rose France and Anne Marie Jackson.
Pushkin, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 217 5
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Subtly Worded 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson, Natalia Wase, Clare Kitson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 304 pp., £12, June 2014, 978 1 78227 037 9
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... where to? Teffi was faced with these questions as she tried to make sense of revolution in St Petersburg, as she fled through the Civil War, as she crossed the Black Sea along with other refugees to start a new life in a place which would in turn be engulfed by fascism and war. By the time she left Russia she was one of its most famous journalists and ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year

14 December 1995
... over the past fifteen years: the throngs wailing and waving good-bye outside the funeral of Lisa Steinberg, the celebrated victim of fatal child abuse; the crowds who wanted to do the same for Susan Smith, only to turn instantly into a lynch mob on learning that she killed her children. ‘Vicarious identification’ is just right. You hear bar-room nutters ...
23 January 1997
Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust 
by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.
Little, Brown, 622 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 316 87942 8
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... the differential roles of European nations in the Holocaust. In his All or Nothing, Jonathan Steinberg contrasts the German and Italian cultures of complicity to explain why most Jews under Italian rule escaped death. He ends with the devastating line, ‘Nobody obeyed in Italy anyway’ – Zivilcourage, Italian ...

Not very good at drawing

Nicholas Penny: Titian

6 June 2013
Titian: His Life 
by Sheila Hale.
Harper, 832 pp., £30, July 2012, 978 0 00 717582 6
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... has been replaced by less physical forms of homage. (Had the convention survived, the late Leo Steinberg might have been less successful in persuading so many of his fellow scholars that the eldest of the magi, who kneels to kiss Christ’s foot in Renaissance paintings, is actually trying to examine Christ’s genitalia.) Hale often provides more than a ...
6 January 2000
The Holocaust in American Life 
by Peter Novick.
Houghton Mifflin, 320 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 395 84009 0
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... wrong,’ one of Holt’s senior editors Sara Bershtel replied, ‘is precisely the issue.’ Elan Steinberg, the executive director of the World Jewish Congress, pronounced Holt’s decision a disgrace: ‘If they want to be garbagemen they should wear sanitation uniforms.’ ‘I have never experienced a similar attempt of interested parties to publicly cast ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks

6 June 1985
The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... speaking which would offer an advance. There is no sign that this is likely to happen. True, Sir Peter Medawar effected a brief release when challenging his field’s version of the nature-nurture antithesis with the instance of innate potentialities never to be actualised unless the environment were right. But feud is collusive, and the parties usually ...

Too Much

Barbara Taylor: A history of masturbation

6 May 2004
Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Zone, 501 pp., £21.95, March 2003, 1 890951 32 3
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... well. While some increase in luxury was an inevitable concomitant of commercial progress, Dr Peter Kürn wrote in 1792, when the sum of sensual pleasures surpasses the sum of more noble and more useful pursuits, when natural needs can no longer be distinguished from the crowd of imagined and fantastic ones, when reason does not choose, but only ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed

5 February 2015
Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... as an ironic shorthand for the futility and mendacity of US policy. Eventually the filmmaker Peter Davis used the phrase as the title for his 1974 documentary which exposed the American invaders’ casual brutality and indifference towards Asian lives. Clinton was involved, however tangentially, in the antiwar counterculture. Yet, like everyone else in ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997

1 January 1998
... thighs are concealed by dancing draperies, and since I’m currently reading the new edition of Steinberg’s The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion, I scan the floating linens for the erection Steinberg often manages to detect, though not, I think, here. In the crowd at the foot of the Cross is a ...

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