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30 October 1997
Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection 
by Norman Rosenthal.
Thames and Hudson, 222 pp., £29.95, September 1997, 0 500 23752 2
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... secretary’ in charge of exhibitions, places Sensation in a very broad art historical context, making ambitious claims for the importance of the work and explaining his choice of title. Next, RichardShone, an associate editor of the Burlington Magazine, perhaps best known for his scholarly work on the Bloomsbury Group, gives a detailed chronicle of the careers of the artists, whom he describes ...

Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa

13 April 2000
The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... pink and lime radiance, its own sarcastic-cum-sensual facture. In fact, if you were to take time over it, you might find that the work of these painters has, if not rigour, its own sort of integrity. Richard Morphet’s catalogue essay speaks with a fine generosity about the slow, steady, affirmative qualities of their later painting. This sort of pleading won’t settle the issue, however. The ...

At the Funfair

Peter Campbell: ‘Winter Wonderland’

7 January 2010
... In an experiment reported many years ago a pencil of light was shone through a tank. The resident goldfish chose to swim back and forth through the beam. This was interpreted as evidence of an appetite, perhaps a need, for sensory stimulation. If it could, the ...

Perfect Light

Jenny Diski

9 July 1992
Diana: Her True Story 
by Andrew Morton.
Michael O’Mara, 165 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85479 191 5
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 285 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 7475 1164 0
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Antonia White: Diaries 1958-1979 
edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 352 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 09 470660 3
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... and in Hampstead, too. Sadly, my vision firmed up quite soon, as they and I got closer to each other, and I recognised the not-quite-extraterrestrial, dumpy, middle-aged forms of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton panting their way up the hill. The glow was not, of course, from their outward perfection, nor their inner beauty and wisdom, but the result of years and years of attention from precision ...

The day starts now

Eleanor Birne: On holiday with Ali Smith

23 June 2005
The Accidental 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 306 pp., £14.99, May 2005, 0 241 14190 7
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... All three of Ali Smith’s novels are set in holiday places. In Like (1997), Amy Shone and her daughter Kate live on a caravan site in Scotland; the characters of Hotel World (2001) are guests and workers at the Global Hotel in an unnamed city; in The Accidental, the new book, the ...

False Brought up of Nought

Thomas Penn: Henry VII’s Men on the Make

26 July 2017
Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 393 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 19 965983 8
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... of his late father’s closest councillors and took them to the Tower of London. Three days earlier, Henry VII, the first Tudor king, had died aged 52, in his privy chamber at Richmond Palace. But Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley, though rarely straying from the king’s side in his last disease-ridden and paranoid years, had been away from court and nobody had bothered to tell them. More than that: a ...

Imperial Graveyard

Samuel Moyn: Richard​ Holbrooke

27 January 2020
Our Man: Richard​ Holbrooke and the End of the American Century 
by George Packer.
Cape, 592 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 1 910702 92 5
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... Richard​ Holbrooke is the only American diplomat since the Vietnam War to have become a full-throttle celebrity, as likely to appear in the tabloids clutching a woman as putting forward a policy proposal ...

Shoulder-Shrugging

Julian Critchley

11 December 1997
Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... to the Government’s advantage. There were, after all, only two other journalists in the Tory Party: Charles Curran, a polemicist who wrote a dull column in the Evening News, and Edwin Leather, who shone on TV. I did not count. Deedes was not a particularly effective minister. Bail water as he might, Macmillan’s ship slowly foundered on de Gaulle’s veto on our entry into the EEC, and was finally ...
6 October 1983
A Variety of Lives: A Biography of Sir Hugh Greene 
by Michael Tracey.
Bodley Head, 344 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 370 30026 2
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... relationship with the moral condition of society,’ an important sentence, is attributed to Sir Arthur fforde, whereas it or ginated in the Pilkington Committee’s report and was drafted by Richard Hoggart, then a member of the committee. The phrase ‘the political establishment’ is used several times. It seems to me portentous and vague. I suspect that if it had to be defined, it would fall ...

Answering back

James Campbell

11 July 1991
The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... and Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury. The Americans, under the guidance first of the great W.E.B DuBois, then of the poets Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, and next a line of novelists headed by Richard Wright, began the task of reclamation about two generations earlier than the Caribbean writers who identified – if one can nowadays put it that way – with Europe, specifically England. Their ...

Joseph Jobson

Patrick Wormald

18 April 1985
Saladin in his Time 
by P.H. Newby.
Faber, 210 pp., £10.95, November 1983, 0 571 13044 5
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Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War 
by Ronald Finucane.
Dent, 247 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 460 12040 9
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... were not.) The Crusading generals quarrelled interminably and destructively among themselves, with results that nearly scuppered the First Crusade and did scupper all the rest. Visiting kings, like Richard and Philip II of France, bickered about precedence; the Christian nobility in Palestine fought each other for the increasingly enfeebled crown of Jerusalem; above all, Crusaders fresh from Europe ...

Poets and Pretenders

John Sutherland

2 April 1987
The Great Pretender 
by James Atlas.
Viking, 239 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 9780670814619
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The Position of the Body 
by Richard​ Stern.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $21.95, November 1986, 0 8101 0730 9
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The Setting Sun and the Rolling World 
by Charles Mungoshi.
Heinemann, 202 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 434 48166 1
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Conversations with Lord Byron on Perversion, 162 Years after his Lordship’s Death 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 9780224024235
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... Lawrence Lipking’s The Life of the Poet: Beginning and Ending Poetic Careers (1981), for instance, elegantly demonstrates how ‘the idea of the poet’ framed literary lives from Keats onwards. Richard Helgerson’s Self-Crowned Laureates (1983) does the same for the English Renaissance. The title of The Great Pretender is triple-loaded: the hero Ben Janis is a claimant for poetic fame, a laureate ...

Unarmed Combat

Richard​ Usborne

21 April 1988
The Anglo-French Clash in Lebanon and Syria, 1940-1945 
by A.B. Gaunson.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £29.50, March 1987, 0 333 40221 9
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Personal Patchwork 1939-1945 
by Bryan Guinness.
Cygnet, 260 pp., £9.50, March 1987, 0 907435 06 8
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Staff Officer: The Diaries of Lord Moyne 1914-1918 
edited by Brian Bond.
Leo Cooper, 256 pp., £17.50, October 1987, 0 85052 053 3
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... and Lebanon made waves that disturbed Algiers and London and finally Churchill had to recall his doughty Paladin, in December 1944, and replace him with the gentler, Foreign Office-trained Terence Shone. Perhaps in 1945, when the mandatory power started shelling Damascus to enforce its mission civilisatrice, and British troops had to be sent to stop them, Churchill may have wished he had left his ...

After-Time

Christopher Hitchens

19 October 1995
Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... several dozen that one knew (but strictly speaking, did not love, except perhaps for one) were killed, and so never lived to know what I have known – the Beatles, black power, the Administration of Richard Nixon – all this has taken place in a trivial after-time and has nothing to do with anything that really mattered, with summer and someone hardly remembered, a youth so abruptly translated from ...
9 December 1999
... the audience was content with poetry suitable for recitation, and not so different from what might be found in the pages of a book. Listen to this, for instance, from III Henry VI, a very early play. Richard, Duke of York has fatally lost a battle: … all my followers to the eager foe Turn back and fly, like ships before the wind, Or lambs pursu’d by hunger-starved wolves. His sons rally to him, and ...

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