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“... movements which developed within France, as they did in London, Africa and elsewhere. It is true that a number of historians have modified the picture of a collapse which was confined to the French. PhilipWarner, in an incisive piece of writing, equates the fate of the Dutch, Belgian, British and French armies as they were all confounded by German boldness and ruthlessness. He shows how it was not ...”
“... previous biographers, John Connell and Roger Parkinson, and Correlli Barnett, who, in The Desert Generals (1960), went so far as to describe Montgomery’s Alamein as ‘an unnecessary battle’. Now PhilipWarner has attempted a reassessment of Auchinleck’s career in the light of newly-available sources, including revelations of the significant part played by Ultra intelligence in the later stages of ...”
“... the doomed onset in the mud which has often prompted exclamations of ‘They’d never get troops to go through that again.’ In his Passchendaele, which marks the 70th anniversary of that occasion, PhilipWarner argues that the worst feature of the battle was that it so ‘disheartened the democracies’ that they ‘became less willing to preserve peace by preparing for war’. Yet in the military ...”
“... still believe it. Kitchener has never lacked biographies, either in his lifetime or since his death. The last, by the Canadian George Cassar, appeared as recently as 1977. Before that there was Philip Magnus’s in 1958 and one by General Ballard in 1930, in addition to the three-volume official life published by his former private secretary, Sir George Arthur, in 1920, a host of shorter studies ...”
“... times its size. Throughout the war there were episodes not only of remarkable bravery but of skill and improvisation which suggest that the British army was not entirely officered by titled ninnies. PhilipWarner argues in The Crimean War: A Reappraisal (1972) that ‘ultimately the British expeditionary force numbered close on a hundred thousand and was an efficient, balanced, well-supported command ...”
“... A memorable image in Robert Musil’s Man without Qualities likens the impact of a certain character to that of a powdery avalanche. The effect of reading Marina Warner’s magisterial works of cultural history is somewhat similar: the cool temperature, the graceful touch, the sensation of resistance being gently annihilated under an accumulation of brilliant ...”
“... Reviewers rarely feel it prudent to begin by confessing bafflement, but the admission may sometimes be unavoidable. This is my sentiment as I contemplate the four novels of Alan Warner. He has been highly praised (‘dazzling’, ‘classic’, ‘significant’, ‘vastly gifted’, ‘a genius’, ‘one of the most influential literary mould-breakers ever’), and I’m sure ...”
“... a close shave. For all the show of fantasy, pastiche and burlesque, these are also long novels, with an amplitude which cannot dispense with the realistic description of everyday events. Marina Warner is best at it. The art of close shaving, for instance, can never have been more vividly and minutely set down than in her narrator’s depiction of her grandfather (whom the narrator has never seen ...”
“... I face More of the epic would be discovered under the sand as time went on. In 1990 Stephanie Dalley added more lines to her edition from newly recovered pieces, but most of what’s left has probably been smashed in the course of the Iraq wars. It seems proper that a place of fire and dust, its skin scarred by warfare, should be the origin of the story of the Flood today: devastation in negative ...”
“... as creatures possessed with a virtuality that their progenitors can never match, but sentimentality has blurred the unsettling adoration of the primitive found in the art of the German visionaries Philip Otto Runge and Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Sentimentality has become a great offence in contemporary aesthetics and – less justifiably – in politics, and with the new art brut, there has been a leap ...”
“... who ruled much of South Wales sometime around the 12th century. The Welsh thing obviously appealed to a wild, romantic longing in Powell’s otherwise rather tight-buttoned upbringing. His father, Philip, was from Melton Mowbray, and his mother, Maud, from Lincolnshire. Philip Powell was commissioned into the Welch Regiment, though ‘not on account of the Powells’ Welsh extraction’, as Powell ...”
“... minded at the expense of our art.’ His novel of 1920, The Black Curtain, dedicated to D.H. Lawrence, is ‘about envisaging a possible socialist future for England’. It plots protagonist Philip Kane’s brush with Woman (in the guise of Anne, a smoking, free-loving acolyte of the feminist, socialist and gay sociologist, Edward Carpenter) and with Soviet Communism (in the guise of the ...”
“... You may not like the book, but you will be impressed by the index. There’s Bette Davis and Joe Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. There’s Basil Dean and James Dean, Jack Warner of Dock Green and Jack Warner of Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore. Kim Novak and Ivor Novello are neighbours, but ...”
“... this kind of tale, as Borges and Calvino have shown, can be told in a narrative style so direct that the novel of gossip can seem, by comparison, over-fleshed. In her introductory essay, Marina Warner mentions W.W. Jacobs, James Stephens, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Harry Graham: a reading-list which suggests a mix of the commonsensical and the fantastical which consorts easily with the insect ...”
“... dissidents: they came – or were forced – back into the fold, at least for long enough to launch their careers. H.W. Stubbs of Charterhouse went on to teach classics at the University of Exeter. Philip Toynbee was expelled from Rugby, but then handed over to the monks of Ampleforth to be crammed, successfully, for a history scholarship to Oxford. John Peet ended up as head of the Reuters bureau in ...”