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Unmistakable

Michael Rogin

20 August 1998
Celebrity Caricature in America 
by Wendy Wick Reaves.
Yale, 320 pp., £29.95, April 1998, 0 300 07463 8
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... Freuhauf, grew up (so far as I can tell) in New York City. Nurtured in the prewar milieu of Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work and Gallery 291, celebrity caricature announced its popular triumph in RalphBarton’s Chauve-Souris Curtain (1922) that dropped down at the intermission of a popular Russian musical revue to reveal the faces of 139 recognisable first-nighters staring back at an audience ...

Understanding Forwards

Michael Wood: William James

20 September 2007
William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism 
by Robert Richardson.
Mariner, 622 pp., £15, September 2007, 978 0 618 43325 4
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... philosophical practice are caught in this swift picture. I take these quotations from Robert Richardson’s William James, the most recent in a long run of biographies. Its predecessors were by RalphBarton Perry (1935), Gay Wilson Allen (1967) and Linda Simon (1998). There are also fine portraits in Jean Strouse’s biography of Alice James (1980) and in Louis Menand’s Metaphysical Club (2001 ...

Copying the coyote

Richard Poirier

18 October 1984
The Principles of Psychology 
by William James, introduced by George Miller.
Harvard, 1302 pp., £14.95, December 1983, 0 674 70625 0
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A Stroll with William James 
by Jacques Barzun.
Chicago, 344 pp., £16, October 1983, 0 226 03865 3
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Becoming William James 
by Howard Feinstein.
Cornell, 377 pp., $24.95, May 1984, 0 8014 1617 5
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Essays in Psychology 
by William James, edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Fredson Bowers.
Harvard, 467 pp., £32, April 1984, 0 674 26714 1
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... the severe, suicidal depressions of 1869-70, for example, to which the death of his beloved cousin Minny Temple greatly contributed, all commentators, except Feinstein, follow James himself and RalphBarton Perry’s great two-volume The Thought and Character of William James (1935) in saying that his recovery was due in large part to his reading of the French philosopher Charles Renouvier. In ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Hail, Caesar!’

17 March 2016
Hail, Caesar! 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... It’s too often,’ the priest replies. ‘You’re not that bad.’ He’s not. He does all kinds of good deeds for the film studio he works for, Capitol Pictures, last seen in the Coens’ Barton Fink. He is concerned, for example, about the portrayal of Christ in the movie that provides the title for the one he is in: a grand epic with lots of Romans trudging about in a desert provided with ...

Hedonistic Fruit Bombs

Steven Shapin: How good is Château Pavie?

3 February 2005
Bordeaux 
by Robert Parker.
Dorling Kindersley, 1244 pp., £45, December 2003, 1 4053 0566 5
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The Wine Buyer’s Guide 
by Robert Parker and Pierre-Antoine Rovani.
Dorling Kindersley, two volumes, £50, December 2002, 0 7513 4979 8
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Mondovino 
directed by Jonathan Nossiter.
November 2004
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... descriptions are at least as effective as any other wine writer’s in the fiendishly difficult task of conveying some idea of taste, smell and texture. Compare Parker on the 1998 Château Léoville-Barton (‘opaque purple, muscular, full-bodied’, displaying ‘impressive concentration, chewy, highly extracted flavours of black fruits, iron, earth and spicy wood’) with Andrew Jefford in the ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole

2 February 2017
Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... a plot began, or perhaps was manufactured by agents provocateurs; just at this time, to increase the alarm of Henry Tudor, another Warwick impersonator showed his face in Kent. The new pretender, Ralph Wilford, was arrested and killed before the conspiracy bred any action. But the king’s horoscope was looking nasty and, according to a Spanish commentator, he aged twenty years in two weeks. It was ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking

29 January 2009
The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... night-club’. Hamilton’s final books, the Gorse novels, were meant to be a moral panorama of his generation. He initially spoke of a ‘whole series’, a ‘Human Comedy’ tracking Ernest Ralph Gorse, ‘a really wonderful monster of a villain’, from 1912 to the early 1950s. But his energies gave out as he dictated Unknown Assailant, the slim third and final volume of the sequence ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother

3 January 2013
The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... Abinger edition of Forster’s Indian memoir The Hill of Devi). In the ultra-laconic entries for 1924 he records: ‘Aug 19. Had B.S. at 46 Gordon Square. Aug 25. Had R.P. at Ham Spray’ (R.P. is Ralph Partridge, then married to Dora Carrington). What were these ‘havings’, one wonders? It’s a rakish term which discourages further questions. In Denmark in 1926, there was ‘the great escapade ...

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