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Do come to me funeral

Mary Beard: Jessica Mitford, 5 July 2007

Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford 
edited by Peter Sussman.
Weidenfeld, 744 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 297 60745 6
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... 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 Berlin, before defecting to the East in 1950. Gavin ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... usually discounted as childish make-believe. It has been most powerfully adopted by writers like Philip Pullman who are read principally by children. It also serves the crucial mythic purpose of mapping limits and prohibitions, demarcating the centre ground where fathers don’t eat their children, brothers don’t marry their sisters, and mothers don’t ...

Back from the Underworld

Marina Warner: The Liveliness of the Dead, 17 August 2017

The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Princeton, 711 pp., £27.95, October 2015, 978 0 691 15778 8
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... through exhuming the dead, as in Zong!, a remarkable prose-poem written in 2008 by M. NourbeSe Philip, which takes off from the notorious incident in 1781 when the captain of the slave ship Zong threw 133 slaves overboard and then claimed insurance on their loss. Using only the words of the surviving legal report, ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... with skin as biliously green as the Wicked Witch of the West and, in a riotous series of drawings, Philip Guston transformed the president’s ski nose and heavy jowls into a glumly expressive set of male genitalia. Nixon’s personality was even richer. Gore Vidal parodied him in his 1960 play The Best Man and, beginning in the late 1960s, an impressive ...

At the Royal Academy

Eleanor Birne: Tacita Dean, 7 June 2018

... All​ the things I am attracted to are just about to disappear,’ Tacita Dean once told Marina Warner. Dean’s three almost simultaneous new shows – at the Royal Academy, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery – are full of transient things: paintings of an ant moving across a rock; images of clouds, of decaying fruit; portraits on film of people who won’t be around much longer, or who have already died ...

Taking it up again

Margaret Anne Doody, 21 March 1991

Henry James and Revision 
by Philip Horne.
Oxford, 373 pp., £40, December 1990, 0 19 812871 1
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... and by the autumn of 1908 he had to realise that his task was thankless, his art unappreciated. As Philip Horne convincingly shows us, however, James’s most powerful motives were far from mercenary. He was driven by the desire to perfect his work. The idea of the complete edition, the final perfected statement, was really his own, not his publisher’s. When ...

Marksmanship

John Sutherland, 14 November 1996

From Potter’s Field 
by Patricia Cornwell.
Warner, 405 pp., £5.99, June 1996, 0 7515 1630 9
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Cause of Death 
by Patricia Cornwell.
Little, Brown, 342 pp., £9.99, October 1996, 0 316 87885 5
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... American rights. British rights were disposed of to Little, Brown and their paperback subsidiary Warner Books for a reported £2 million. A film of From Potter’s Field is in production. An exultant Cornwell described the Putnam deal as ‘the biggest ever for a woman’, which it may not be (Danielle Steel is more discreet about her advances). A ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Grief and the Cameras, 3 December 2009

... readers to download some of their songs. The Soldiers then recorded an album which was released by Warner Brothers. It is number 4 in this week’s UK album chart. ‘Coming Home’, the title song, was on the radio as I turned off the M4 towards Wootton Bassett. It had been raining all morning. That was over now, but the wind was freezing and people were ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... categories a bit by saying: ‘To coin a phrase, we rob the poor to feed the rich.’ But in the Warner Brothers’ cartoon Robin Hood Daffy (1958), when Robin Hood (Daffy Duck) tries to persuade Friar Tuck (Porky Pig) that he is Robin Hood by robbing a rich guy and giving the money to another, presumably poor, guy, Porky is still not ...

Dishonoured

Michael Wood, 5 May 1983

The Rapes of Lucretia: A Myth and Its Transformation 
by Ian Donaldson.
Oxford, 203 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 812638 7
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The Rape of Clarissa 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 109 pp., £10, September 1982, 0 631 13031 4
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Samuel Richardson: A Man of Letters 
by Carol Houlihan Flynn.
Princeton, 342 pp., £17.70, May 1982, 0 691 06506 3
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... All the unhurried day,’ Philip Larkin wrote, addressing a long-dead girl who had been drugged and raped in London, ‘Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives.’ All that day, and many days more, no doubt. But then presumably, since the girl later talked calmly enough to Mayhew, the drawer gradually closed, the glint of the knives softened, and life continued ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... we willingly confused with the actors who played them. The new retro cool I wallowed in had Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade as its source: the hard men with soft, democratic centres, American Romantics tinged with the Founding Fathers and Melville’s melancholic sense of humanity, the people’s Lancelots, who were dragged, flinching with distaste, into ...

That’s America

Stephen Greenblatt, 29 September 1988

‘Ronald Reagan’, the Movie, and Other Episodes in Political Demonology 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 366 pp., £19.95, April 1987, 0 520 05937 9
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... in roles that exposed his vulnerability and weakness. He wanted to play the traditional hero, but Warner Brothers repeatedly made him sicken or die or suffer humiliation at the hands of women. Paradoxically, it was only outside the film industry, in the still more fantastic world of Californian politics, that he could play the idealised fictional character he ...

Górecki’s Millions

David Drew, 6 October 1994

... the West, the true and only Polish master. Two and a half years ago, Elektra Nonesuch – a Time-Warner subsidiary – released their CD of Górecki’s Symphony No 3. At about the same time – on 24 April 1992, to be precise – the city editor of the Daily Mail set his readers ‘two simple questions’: ‘1. Are you in favour of the working classes ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... would police itself. Yet the studios capitulated one by one. Leading the collapse was Jack Warner, just four years out of Mission to Moscow, who anticipated HUAC by naming the writers he thought political activists and notifying the committee that he had fired them. Among the writers in question: Philip and Julius ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... charming. Everyone agrees. You get a glimpse of this in the account of working for him written by Philip Townsend, who was his butler in London during the 1980s. (Townsend had a dog who died, and whom he kept in Murdoch’s freezer.) When Murdoch made the switch to living more healthily – influenced by the fact that his father died at 67 – he did so by ...

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