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1685

Denis Arnold, 19 September 1985

Interpreting Bach’s ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’: A Performer’s Discourse of Method 
by Ralph Kirkpatrick.
Yale, 132 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 0 300 03058 4
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Bach, Handel, Scarlatti: Tercentenary Essays 
edited by Peter Williams.
Cambridge, 363 pp., £27.50, April 1985, 0 521 25217 2
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Handel: The Man and his Music 
by Jonathan Keates.
Gollancz, 346 pp., £12.95, February 1985, 0 575 03573 0
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Sensibility and English Song: Critical Studies of the Early 20th Century: Vols I and II 
by Stephen Banfield.
Cambridge, 619 pp., £27.50, April 1985, 0 521 23085 3
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... fingers and hands move – this book shows it. The section on Bach in the set of essays edited by Peter Williams mainly deals with matters of performance in a more conventional way. The most interesting of the essays is by the editor himself, on ‘Figurae in the Keyboard Works of Scarlatti, Handel and Bach’. The problem is that in the 18th century ...

What the doctor saw

Peter Ackroyd, 5 March 1981

The Horror of Life 
by Roger Williams.
Weidenfeld, 381 pp., £15, February 1981, 0 297 77883 8
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... and disgust toward life’. As it turns out, the book is more Marie Curie than Mario Praz. Roger Williams, a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wyoming, has supped his full of horror. He opens with a modest disclaimer: he began this study ‘with the understanding that all five had been syphilitic, and with the suspicion that disease had ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: ‘Out of Australia’, 16 June 2011

... the nudes in three etchings by Boyd lie are rougher than European groves and meadows. Fred Williams, from the ‘You Yangs’ series (1963) A group of prints and drawings by Fred Williams shows Australian landscape in a way that ignores European ways of shaping a scene. Returning home after five years in London ...

Seven Poems

Hugo Williams, 31 July 1997

... at your door, papier-mâché heads, a cloud no bigger than ... It might have been blue satin, Peter Stuyvesant Gold, Deep Heat, umbrella pines, familiar two-note calls repeated at intervals, a lifeguard’s upraised hand. It didn’t matter what it was, almost anything would do to bring it all back to you, then take it away again. Till Soon How I laughed ...

Imbalance

Michael Hofmann: The Charm of Hugo Williams, 22 May 2003

Collected Poems 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 288 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 571 21233 6
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... It is a curious thing that of the three judges offering superlatives on the jacket of Hugo Williams’s Collected Poems – Edna Longley, Douglas Dunn and Peter Porter – none is English. And yet Williams, born in Windsor during World War Two, the son of the English actor Hugh Williams, schooled by Life and Eton, a youthful toiler for Alan Ross’s London Magazine, an erstwhile globetrotter and a lifelong London resident, seems as English as they come ...

An Actor’s War

Hugo Williams, 18 April 1985

... I just follow, if I can.                                  Hugh Williams March Well, here we are in our Tropical Kit – shirts and shorts and little black toques, looking like a lot of hikers or cyclists with dead bluebells on the handlebars. It seems we have at last discovered a place where it is impossible to spend ...

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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... snapshots. It is a progress which has been advanced by technology and marked by transgression. Val Williams’s exemplary text allows one to follow both Parr’s technical path and his move from being an implicitly engaged, sympathetic, amused commentator to one whose camera, like a roving spotlight, lets the audience wonder uneasily how the world can have ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... In 1978, at a seminar on John Maynard Keynes held by the University of Kent, Raymond Williams talked about ‘The Significance of Bloomsbury as a Social and Cultural Group’. He accepted Leonard Woolf’s characterisation of Bloomsbury as consisting ‘of the upper levels of the professional middle class and county families, interpenetrated to a certain extent by the aristocracy’ with ‘an intricate tangle of ancient roots and tendrils stretching far and wide’ through those classes ...

Alphabetophile

Michael Hofmann: Eley Williams, 7 September 2017

Attrib. and Other Stories 
by Eley Williams.
Influx, 169 pp., £9.99, March 2017, 978 1 910312 16 2
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Frit 
by Eley Williams.
Sad, 35 pp., £6, April 2017
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... Before​ I embarked on Eley Williams, of whom I had read nothing and knew nothing, I flipped through Attrib., her first book of stories. Even on first flip, I got a sense of something I sometimes find in things I like and that seem good to me, something that subliminally distinguishes writing that is careful and alive: a kind of alphabetical justice, to give this sheepish and probably disreputable thing a name in public ...

A Life of Its Own

Jonathan Coe, 24 February 1994

The Kenneth Williams Diaries 
edited by Russell Davies.
HarperCollins, 827 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 00 255023 7
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... stands English comedy,’ David Frost is reported to have declaimed, as Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams stood side by side on his doorstep. Williams was unimpressed. ‘I thought to myself, “Then many people would be lacking in perception,” but shouted drunken goodbyes and reeled down the street into a taxi.’ What ...

Literature and the Left

Marilyn Butler, 18 August 1983

English Literature in History: 1730-80: An Equal, Wide Survey 
edited by Raymond Williams, by John Barrell.
Hutchinson, 228 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149820 1
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English Literature in History: 1350-1400: Medieval Readers and Writers 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Janet Coleman.
Hutchinson, 337 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 09 144100 5
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English Literature in History: 1780-1830: Pastoral and Politics 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Roger Sales.
Hutchinson, 247 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149830 9
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The Cambridge Guide to English Literature 
by Michael Stapleton.
Cambridge/Newnes Books, 992 pp., £15, April 1983, 9780521256476
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... It is a surprise to find Raymond Williams, in the year of his retirement as Professor of Drama at Cambridge, editing a series called ‘Literature in History’. In a writing career that almost spans the post-war period, he has established himself as this country’s leading critic within academic English of the very concept of ‘Literature ...

Letting it get out

Bernard Williams, 18 October 1984

Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation 
by Sissela Bok.
Oxford, 332 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 19 217733 8
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TheSecrets File: The Case for Freedom of Information in Britain Today 
edited by Des Wilson, foreword by David Steel.
Heinemann, 166 pp., £4.95, September 1984, 9780435839390
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... past espionage is obscene partly because fact and fiction have merged: Blunt, Bill Haydon, Smiley, Peter Wright seem by now all at the same distance. This obsession with espionage is that of investigators, of unmaskers. Its motives even with regard to secrecy are complex. It is obvious that the need to unmask and then unmask again assorted Cambridge spies is ...

The View from Here and Now

Thomas Nagel: A Tribute to Bernard Williams, 11 May 2006

The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Myles Burnyeat.
Princeton, 393 pp., £26.95, March 2006, 0 691 12477 9
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In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Geoffrey Hawthorn.
Princeton, 174 pp., £18.95, October 2005, 0 691 12430 2
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Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline 
edited by Bernard Williams and A.W. Moore.
Princeton, 227 pp., £22.95, January 2006, 0 691 12426 4
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... Bernard Williams had a very large mind. To read these three posthumously published collections of essays (there will be a fourth, on opera) is an overwhelming reminder of his incandescent and all-consuming intelligence. He brought philosophical reflection to an opulent array of subjects, with more imagination and with greater cultural and historical understanding than anyone else of his time ...

Modernity

George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... makes our current grayness and prudential sleekness the more shaming. Two meditations by Raymond Williams (in sadness, one imagines them to have been his epilogue) frame the contents. The prefatory statement is hesitant and somewhat opaque. Too briefly, it seeks to discriminate between Modernism and avant-garde, between authentic socialist impulses and those ...

Dream Ticket

Peter Shore, 6 October 1983

The Diary of Hugh Gaitskell 1945-1956 
by Philip Williams.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, September 1983, 0 224 01911 2
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... Political diaries are the raw material of both biography and history. Philip Williams, who has already quarried Gaitskell’s diary for his own massive biography, is not likely to have found significant new material in subsequently editing it for publication, or to have gained new insights. If he has, he has not drawn attention to them ...

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