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In Weimar

Richard Hollis, 26 September 2019

... open space suited to party rallies. On May Day 1937, Rudolf Hess laid the foundation stone of the Hall of the People’s Community, with standing room for two thousand. It is now a shopping centre. The huge administrative building for the local party remains, occupied by the Thuringian state government. Weimar is a place of memories and memorials. Visitors ...

A House and its Heads

Christopher Ricks, 7 August 1980

Setting the World on Fire 
by Angus Wilson.
Secker, 296 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 9780436576041
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... Fire: the theory and practice of catastrophe find their focus in Phaethon. For Vanbrugh’s great hall has charted upon its ceilings and walls the headlong career of Phaethon, whose hideous ruin and combustion had thrilled the young Piers and had terrified the young Tom. Then it is discovered that in 1697 there had been a decision to perform in the great ...

Eminent Athenians

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 1 October 1981

The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain 
by Frank Turner.
Yale, 461 pp., £18.90, April 1981, 0 300 02480 0
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... It is natural to contrast this book with The Victorians and Ancient Greece, by Richard Jenkyns, reviewed by me in the issue of this journal for 21 August-3 September 1980 (Vol. 2, No 16). Mr Jenkyns is a Classical scholar and a smooth and polished writer; I wrote that he ‘offers a great deal of information, clearly and pleasingly ...

Simply Doing It

Thomas Laqueur, 22 February 1996

The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain 1650-1950 
by Roy Porter and Lesley Hall.
Yale, 414 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 300 06221 4
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... suggest that maybe there is nothing to tell, only telling itself. Roy Porter and Lesley Hall say they agree with Michel Foucault that ‘sex must be understood as discursively produced.’ (Actually, I don’t think they do agree, but more about that later.) If we take the point, then the history of sexual knowledge becomes the history of the making ...

Solid and Fleeting

David Sylvester, 17 December 1992

... It is interesting that Richard Serra, who is not short of offers of highly promising locations for which to make site-specific sculptures, accepted the Tate’s invitation to do something in their domineering central hall – a space ostensibly built for showing sculpture but serving that purpose rather badly, partly because it makes the things put into it look as if they were lost at the bottom of a well, partly because its huge Ionic columns dwarf other forms in the same field of vision ...

Street-Wise

Richard Altick, 29 October 1987

George Scharf’s London: Sketches and Watercolours of a Changing City, 1820-50 
by Peter Jackson.
Murray, 154 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 7195 4379 7
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... were still smouldering, and continued for three weeks to sketch from the lead roof of Westminster Hall. It was London’s biggest accidental demolition job between the Great Fire and the Tooley Street conflagration of 1861, and he revelled in his good fortune. His finished watercolour, ten feet long by two and a half feet high, was exhibited at the New Water ...

Keep your eye on the tide, Jock

Tom Shippey: Naval history, 4 June 1998

The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol. I, 660-1649 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HarperCollins, 691 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 00 255128 4
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Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe 
by Bert Hall.
Johns Hopkins, 300 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 8018 5531 4
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... even now by memories from school. Till I read N.A.M. Rodger’s book I could not have placed Richard Grenville and the Revenge within twenty years, nor had any idea what he was doing ‘at Flores in the Azores’; nor do I know even yet (for Rodger is certainly not going to mention it) who wrote the poem about him, but I can remember whole stanzas of ...

Weavers and Profs

Katherine Harloe, 1 April 2021

A People’s History of Classics: Class and Greco-Roman Antiquity in Britain and Ireland 1689 to 1939 
by Edith Hall and Henry Stead.
Routledge, 670 pp., £29.99, March 2020, 978 0 367 43236 2
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... things like wages and class struggles. They are so sordid!’The cartoon, reproduced in Edith Hall and Henry Stead’s People’s History of Classics, encapsulates several elements of the debate about classical education at the turn of the 20th century. In Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities and Society in England, 1830-1960, published in ...

Peacocking

Jerry Fodor, 18 April 1996

Climbing Mount Improbable 
by Richard Dawkins.
Viking, 320 pp., £20, April 1996, 0 670 85018 7
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... How do you get to Carnegie Hall?’ ‘Practice, practice.’ Here’s a different way: start anywhere you like and take a step at random. If it’s a step in the right direction, I’ll say ‘warmer’; in which case repeat the process from your new position. If I say ‘colder’, go back a step and repeat from there ...

Lancastrian Spin

Simon Walker: Usurpation, 10 June 1999

England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399-1422 
by Paul Strohm.
Yale, 274 pp., £25, August 1998, 0 300 07544 8
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... Six hundred years ago this summer, Richard II lost his throne. Preoccupied by the attempt to shore up his failing Irish peace settlement, Richard unwisely delayed his return to the mainland in order to confront a rumoured uprising, and landed to find his kingdom already slipping from his grasp ...

What did it matter who I was?

Gaby Wood, 19 October 1995

The Blue Suit 
by Richard Rayner.
Picador, 216 pp., £9.99, July 1995, 0 330 33821 8
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The Liar’s Club 
by Mary Karr.
Picador, 317 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 33597 9
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... Richard Rayner’s The Blue Suit is a memoir, a work of non-fiction. In it his father dies several times: of cancer, in a car crash, missing presumed drowned and, finally, of a heart attack. He makes guest appearances in between, as a sick man in Scotland, as a diplomat in Australia, as a stepfather. These events all form part of a story, a sort of Arabian Nights of the confessional, in which Rayner admits his real life to his girlfriend (‘one confession veiling the next’), and the whole truth turns out to be a narration of the lies he has told ...

George Crabbe: Poetry and Truth

Jerome McGann, 16 March 1989

George Crabbe: The Complete Poetical Works, Vols I-III 
edited by Norma Dalrymple-Champneys and Arthur Pollard.
Oxford, 820 pp., £70, April 1988, 0 19 811882 1
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... and, were it better known, the story ‘Delay has danger’, part of the very uneven Tales of the Hall (1819), would be known for what it is, a masterpiece. But Crabbe’s work, like that of the contemporary Austrian master Thomas Bernard, is still not widely read. In his own day Crabbe was a famous and distinguished author – the favourite of both Jane ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... Sir Peter Hall is a man of Notes. He is a director of plays who has become Director of the National Theatre. The skills of play directors are not those of performers (like his predecessor at the National, Lord Olivier). Play directors pride themselves on their ability to give what they call Notes. This sort of Note (scarcely recognised by dictionaries) is not the sort manual workers make, in notebooks or on notepaper: it is mouth work ...

At the Funfair

Peter Campbell: ‘Winter Wonderland’, 7 January 2010

... but the quieter but still content-free manifestations of the higher fairground art in the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern – it invites comparison with the aspects of reality that in the past would have been called sublime. To enter into direct competition with a big waterfall, or the excavations of an iron ore mine, or a blast furnace seen by night, or ...

The Hippest

Terry Eagleton, 7 March 1996

Stuart HallCritical Dialogues 
edited by David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen.
Routledge, 514 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 415 08803 8
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... to link its various trends and phases, would find themselves spontaneously reinventing Stuart Hall. Since he arrived in Britain from Jamaica in 1951, Hall has been the sort of radical they might have despatched from Central Casting. Charming, charismatic, formidably bright and probably the most electrifying public ...

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