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In the Tart Shop

Murray Sayle: How Sydney got its Opera House, 5 October 2000

The Masterpiece: Jørn Utzon, a Secret Life 
by Philip Drew.
Hardie Grant, 574 pp., AUS $39.95, October 1999, 1 86498 047 8
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Jørn Utzon: The Sydney Opera House 
by Françoise Fromonot, translated by Christopher Thompson.
Electa/Gingko, 236 pp., £37.45, January 1998, 3 927258 72 5
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... the Danish master Jørn Utzon; the inside by a confused committee, or, as the Australian critic Philip Drew sourly calls them, ‘a conspiracy of nobodies’. It is a bittersweet story, and one that goes far to explain why most modern architecture is so awful. Like Sydney, the Opera House was a British idea. Sir Eugene Goossens, the violinist and ...

Friend to Sir Philip Sidney

Blair Worden, 3 July 1986

The Prose Works of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke 
edited by John Gouws.
Oxford, 279 pp., £40, March 1986, 0 19 812746 4
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... Four hundred years ago, on 17 October 1586, Sir Philip Sidney died at the age of 31 of a wound sustained in a skirmish at Zutphen, where his forces had fought for the Dutch cause against Spanish domination of the Netherlands. It was one of the great deaths of English history. His early biographers – or hagiographers – wrought a tale of battlefield heroism and deathbed stoicism that helped the myth of Sidney to become more powerful than the man had ever been ...

A Valediction for Philip Larkin

Clive James, 6 February 1986

... Around my tent until I couldn’t see. Only a small rhinoceros chased me. The spectral sun-bird drew the mountain near, And if the rain-bird singing soon soon soon Turned white clouds purple, still the air was clear – The radiant behind of a baboon Was not more opulent than the full moon. So one more tourist should have been agog At treasure picked up ...

The Dwarves and the Onion Domes

Ferdinand Mount: Those Pushy Habsburgs, 24 September 2020

The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power 
by Martyn Rady.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £30, May, 978 0 241 33262 7
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... Philip​ Habsburg landed at Southampton on 20 July 1554 and married Mary Tudor five days later at Winchester Cathedral, where he was declared king ‘de jure uxoris’, though Parliament refused to let him be crowned, to his considerable annoyance. If Mary had borne him a son, there would have been a Habsburg dynasty in England ...


Philip Horne: Common Assault, 2 March 1989

... a tussle, and the youth jumped back a step or two. His intention, though, was not conciliatory. He drew something metallic from his pocket and raised it above his head ready to strike, and also set his feet further apart in a combat posture. ‘Now you’re fucking dead,’ he told us. René raised his hands to defend himself and was shoved back against a ...

Against the Same-Old Same-Old

Seamus Perry: The Brownings, 3 November 2016

The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 21 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 432 pp., $110, April 2014, 978 0 911459 38 8
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The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 22 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 430 pp., $110, June 2015, 978 0 911459 39 5
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Robert Browning 
edited by Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan.
Oxford, 904 pp., £95, December 2014, 978 0 19 959942 4
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Browning Studies: Being Select Papers by Members of the Browning Society 
edited by Edward Berdoe.
Routledge, 348 pp., £30, August 2015, 978 1 138 02488 5
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... country, pines for the specious distractions of the big smoke: ‘The whole point,’ the scholar Philip Drew maintained, ‘is that the contrasts drawn by the speaker, with his exaggerated ideas of savoir vivre, are all reversed by the reader.’ But you don’t need independently to know about Browning’s love for a bustling urban scene to realise ...

The First Consort

Thomas Penn: Philip of Spain, 5 April 2012

Philip of Spain, King of England: The Forgotten Sovereign 
by Harry Kelsey.
I.B. Tauris, 230 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84885 716 2
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... It always comes as something of a surprise to remember that thirty years before the Armada, Philip of Spain was king of the country he later attempted to invade. What was more, he had been a new kind of king, the consort of England’s first ruling queen, and one to whom England had violently objected before he had even set foot there ...

Who, me?

Philip Purser, 3 December 1992

The Sieve of Time: Memoirs 
by Leni Riefenstahl.
Quartet, 669 pp., £30, September 1992, 0 7043 7021 2
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... by side until, after a long silence he halted, looked at me, slowly put his arms around me, and drew me to him. I had certainly not wished for such a development. He stared at me in some excitement but when he noticed my lack of response he instantly let go and turned away. Then I saw him raise his hands beseechingly: ‘How can I love a woman until I have ...

Who was in Tomb II?

James Romm: Macedon, 6 October 2011

Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy 
by Angeliki Kottaridi et al.
Ashmolean, 264 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 1 85444 254 3
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A Companion to Ancient Macedonia 
edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington.
Wiley-Blackwell, 668 pp., £110, November 2010, 978 1 4051 7936 2
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Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD 
edited by Robin Lane Fox.
Brill, 642 pp., €184, June 2011, 978 90 04 20650 2
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... between 35 and 55 and of a younger woman, a pair Andronikos soon identified as the Macedonian king Philip II – father of Alexander the Great, builder of the army and the European empire that gave his son the means to conquer the world – and one of his seven wives. But it was not long before different candidates were proposed, as experts started to examine ...

Górecki’s Millions

David Drew, 6 October 1994

... sense, the popular success of Górecki constitutes a threat distinctly different from that of a Philip Glass or a Steve Reich – not to mention Michael Nyman, the most candidly and astutely ‘commercial’ of Post-Modern British composers. Even at the lowest level, the real benefits (if not the cost-benefits) of performing Górecki’s Third are quite ...


Philip Nobel: What makes things break, 21 February 2013

To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure 
by Henry Petroski.
Harvard, 410 pp., £19.95, March 2012, 978 0 674 06584 0
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... Leon Moisseiff, the chief engineer, who also designed the clunky but resilient Manhattan Bridge, drew up the Tacoma Narrows as he did in part for artistic reasons; before it failed he called it ‘the most beautiful bridge in the world’. It was the beauty of a design culture seeking the sleek and the fine as an expression of an insurgent modernism, and of ...

Round the (Next) Bend

Simon Adams: Sir Walter Ralegh, 6 July 2000

The Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh 
edited by Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings.
Exeter, 403 pp., £45, July 1999, 0 85989 527 0
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... In the summer of 1618, Diego Sarmiento de Acuna, Count of Gondomar, Ambassador of Philip III to the Court of James I had a clever idea. For four years the proposal that James’s son Prince Charles should marry the Infanta Maria had been batted to and fro between London and Madrid in an attempt to bring about an Anglo-Spanish alliance ...


Peter Burke, 21 May 1987

The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline 
by J.H. Elliott.
Yale, 733 pp., £19.95, August 1986, 0 300 03390 7
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Philip IV and the Decoration of the Alcazar of Madrid 
by Steven Orso.
Princeton, 227 pp., £36.70, July 1986, 0 691 04036 2
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... his major task. As for Elliott’s studies of the court and palaces of the Count-Duke’s master, Philip IV, and of the revolt of the Catalans against their joint regime, they complement rather than compete with the book now under review. There are two obvious reasons for this neglect of a major Spanish statesman. The first is that he failed, while his rival ...

Stanley and the Activists

Philip Williamson, 13 October 1988

Baldwin and the Conservative Party: The Crisis of 1929-1931 
by Stuart Ball.
Yale, 266 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 300 03961 1
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... of possible candidates. Rather, Neville Chamberlain, Hailsham, Horne and others felt inhibited or drew back from striking at Baldwin because they feared that allegations that the party leadership had been changed at the behest of newspaper proprietors might severely damage the Party and their own prospects. While not underestimating the hierarchical and ...

The Real Life of Melodrama

Philip Horne, 16 June 1983

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 374 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 571 13021 6
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... possible is called out too.’Vargas Llosa’s powerful first novel, The Time of the Hero, drew on memories of the Leoncio Prado Military Academy to enforce his grim conviction of the 1960s, expressed to Luis Harss: ‘I think in a country like mine violence is at the root of all human relations.’ This led him to state, rather chillingly: ‘I’ve ...

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