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Possibility throbs

Richard Altick, 23 July 1987

by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 274 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14718 6
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... the ramshackle structures and erecting in their stead a pair of shining, spacious arcades with iron frameworks and roofs and walls of glass. London’s Burlington Arcade, opened a dozen years earlier, was the partial model for the new Galerie d’Orléans, but this enterprise was far to outdo it in innovative boldness and size. The architect the duke ...

The Rise of Richard Adams

Graham Hough, 4 December 1980

The Girl in a Swing 
by Richard Adams.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7139 1407 6
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... The remarkable literary career of Richard Adams began only eight years ago, but it has already reached substantial dimensions. Watership Down in 1972 was followed by two other works of mystery and imagination, relying more or less heavily on the animal world, and now by The Girl in a Swing, which is ostensibly about human beings ...

Doing Some Measuring ahead of Time

Richard Davenport-Hines: Sade in Prison, 9 August 2001

Letters from Prison 
by the Marquis de Sade, translated by Richard Seaver.
Harvill, 401 pp., £20, October 2000, 1 86046 807 1
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De Sade's Valet 
by Nikolaj Frobenius, translated by Tom Geddes.
Marion Boyars, 242 pp., £9.95, November 2000, 0 7145 3060 3
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... confinement in the ‘horrible hell’ of Vincennes. ‘I am in a tower locked up behind 19 iron doors, my only source of light being two little windows each outfitted with a score of bars,’ he wrote. ‘For about ten or twelve minutes a day I have the company of a man who brings me food. The rest of the time I spend alone and in weeping.’ The bad ...

Blood on the Block

Maurice Keen: Henry IV, 5 June 2008

The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King 
by Ian Mortimer.
Vintage, 480 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 1 84413 529 5
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... unbidden from exile in July 1399 to claim his confiscated inheritance as Duke of Lancaster while Richard II was in Ireland, Henry Bolingbroke was greeted tumultuously as the prospective saviour of the realm. Richard, hurrying home, found himself deserted in mid-Wales and faced with no alternative to putting himself in his ...


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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... so were the streets themselves with the constant pounding of horses’ hooves and the rumble of iron-shod wheels. But so was every locality where there was a chance, present or prospective, of money changing hands: the raucous cries of street merchants and showmen with their ‘enormous fat women’, alleged cannibals, hirsute boys and monster Egyptian ...

An Exploration of Geography

W.R. Mead, 18 March 1982

Shell Guide to Reading the Landscape 
by Richard Muir.
Joseph, 368 pp., £10.50, May 1981, 0 7181 1971 1
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The Environment in British Prehistory 
edited by Ian Simmons and Michael Tooley.
Duckworth, 334 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 9780715614419
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Geography, Ideology and Social Concern 
edited by D.R. Stoddart.
Blackwell, 250 pp., £12, May 1981, 0 631 12717 8
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... present the geographer as the student of landscape, as the environmentalist and as the ideologist. Richard Muir looks at the landscape as nature’s stage. Ian Simmons and Michael Tooley, with their team of scientists, identify the stages of nature as they have changed through the successive periods of British prehistory. David Stoddart’s conclave of ...


Richard Wollheim: In South Africa, 3 July 1986

... what looked like the embers of an Australian bush fire. Charred wood, broken bits of corrugated iron, grass long trodden to dust, and pools of water the colour of milk chocolate. At regular intervals young fair-haired soldiers peered out of their troop-carriers to see if somewhere in this scene of desolation there was still the threatening presence of ...

Homage to André Friedmann

Peter Campbell, 7 November 1985

Robert Capa 
by Richard Whelan.
Faber, 315 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 571 13661 3
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Robert Capa: Photographs 
edited by Cornell Capa and Richard Whelan.
Faber, 242 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 571 13660 5
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... embroidery made the meaning of a story clearer, or more amusing, Capa would sometimes embroider. Richard Whelan, reasonably enough, is not interested in giving Capa good and bad marks for his conduct, but begs almost all the questions about the morality of photographing sadness, sickness and death when he writes of Capa’s most famous photograph ...

From Script to Scream

Richard Mayne, 18 December 1980

Caligari’s Children 
by S.S. Prawer.
Oxford, 307 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 9780192175847
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The Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese, Altman 
by Robert Phillip Kolker.
Oxford, 395 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 19 502588 1
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... have we now become that gaping graves, clawing skeletal fingers, jagged lightning, and creaking iron-studded doors have an air of apple-pie folksiness: come on in, kids, the gang’s all here. ‘Camp’ was once the highbrow’s word for it: but lowbrows too have long relished the mock-terrors of the old dark house. Movies in that genre rarely scared ...

Mansions in Bloom

Ruth Richardson, 23 May 1991

A Paradise out of a Common Field: The Pleasures and Plenty of the Victorian Garden 
by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards.
Century, 256 pp., £16.95, May 1990, 0 7126 2209 8
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Private Gardens of London 
by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 297 83025 2
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The Greatest Glasshouse: The Rainforest Recreated 
edited by Sue Minter.
HMSO, 216 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 11 250035 8
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Religion and Society in a Cotswold Vale: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, 1780-1865 
by Albion Urdank.
California, 448 pp., $47.50, May 1990, 0 520 06670 7
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... old gardens. From my last visit to the botanical gardens at Kew a sad memory persists of the huge iron ribs of the Palm House glassless and empty, like the skeleton of a great beached whale. Piles of shiny new ribs awaiting transplantation lay alongside. Now the building is looking magnificent, and full of new, though often younger, plants. Sue Minter’s ...


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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... cantilevered span. The rings (before they were replaced by smooth stainless steel) were made of iron, left sharp and allowed to rust. Petroski celebrates the Canadian ‘iron ring tradition’ – which includes the reading of a poem written by Kipling for the bestowal ceremony, and its later, less poetic offshoot in the ...


Richard Rorty: Anti-terrorism and the national security state, 1 April 2004

... States is probably lost to militarism.’* Johnson produces a lot of evidence to show that the ‘iron triangle’ (the defence contractors, the Pentagon, and the armed services committees of Congress) has already acquired so much power that the best an American president can do is to negotiate with the Pentagon, rather than to give it orders. The military ...

Stop all the cocks!

James Lasdun: Who killed Jane Stanford?, 1 December 2022

Who Killed Jane Stanford? A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of a University 
by Richard White.
Norton, 362 pp., £25, August 2022, 978 1 324 00433 2
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... Smith and Williams, in Massachusetts, sprang up to commemorate their donors. But for sheer iron-willed capriciousness and morbid narcissism, nothing comes close to Stanford – or rather, Leland Stanford Junior University, as it is still officially called. As the historian Richard White puts it in his lively account ...


Malcolm Bull: Three Cheers for Apocalypse, 9 December 1999

Conversations about the End of Time 
by Umberto Eco and Stephen Jay Gould.
Allen Lane, 228 pp., £14.99, September 1999, 0 7139 9363 4
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Apocalypses: Prophesies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs throughout the Ages 
by Eugen Weber.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £18.99, July 1999, 0 09 180134 6
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Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium 
by Richard Popkin and David Katz.
Allen Lane, 303 pp., £18.99, October 1999, 0 7139 9383 9
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... of a thousand years, the first of gold, the second of silver, the third of steel, and the last of iron alloy. Each age represents a decline on the previous one, and the same is true of Hesiod’s sequence, which goes from gold, to silver, to bronze, to iron save that there is an unnamed fourth age, interspersed between the ...

These are intolerable

Richard Mayne: A Thousand Foucaults, 10 September 1992

Michel Foucault 
by Didier Eribon, translated by Betsy Wing.
Faber, 374 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 571 14474 8
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... means of expression for muzzled populations. The liberal left in the West ought to know what an iron mantle Islamic law is capable of becoming, for societies who are eager for change. It should not let itself be seduced by a remedy that is worse, perhaps, than the illness.In response, Foucault admitted that ‘the problem of Islam as a political force is ...

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