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Thatcher’s Artists

Peter Wollen, 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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... making ambitious claims for the importance of the work and explaining his choice of title. Next, Richard Shone, 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 as loosely ‘entwined’ in a single history. He ...

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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... 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 exhibition in question was just too big: ‘pleasure’, whatever ...

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 goldfish too might pay good money to be dropped from a great height or whirled through the air ...

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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... 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 hoping to crown himself. His claims, he suspects with ...

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 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-ground lenses and high-wattage lights being focused and ...

Writing about Shakespeare

Frank Kermode, 9 December 1999

... 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 they counter-attack: With this we charg’d again; as ...

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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... 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 Paladin in place. Churchill had given Spears a knighthood in ...

Dignity and Impudence

Oliver Whitley, 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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... 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 out of use. The whole political establishment is said ...

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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... 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 sunk by the doctor who wrongly diagnosed the Prime ...

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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... 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 faction of the late king’s advisers had decided to ...

Imperial Graveyard

Samuel Moyn: Richard Holbrooke, 6 February 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 in Foreign Affairs. In his thirst for publicity and enthusiasm for the pantomime of statesmanship, only Holbrooke’s nemesis, Henry Kissinger, compares ...

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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... 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 literary industry, centred largely in London, only really ...

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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... 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, with all the bigoted ignorance of their modern successors ...

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 Smart family are spending their summer in a mock-Tudor holiday house near the Norfolk Broads ...

Fault-Finders

Michael Dobson, 18 November 1993

‘Hamlet’ versus ‘Lear’: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare’s Art 
by R.A. Foakes.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £30, March 1993, 0 521 34292 9
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Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels 
by Brian Vickers.
Yale, 508 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 300 05415 7
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Shakespeare, Poet and Citizen 
by Victor Kieran.
Verso, 261 pp., £18.95, March 1993, 0 86091 392 9
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... Left and Right (1991), in which one can not only see many of the same points being made (by Richard Levin), but also see numbers of them convincingly refuted. Like ‘Hamlet’ versus ‘Lear’ which laments the unprecedented ‘processing’ of Shakespeare carried out nowadays by explicitly political critics, Appropriating Shakespeare is founded on a ...

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