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Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad

29 August 2013
Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... of scooter-borne rock fans, draped in the ambiguous insignia of RAF targets and Union Jacks. What Richard Weight calls the ‘very British style’ of Mod found its initial foothold in late 1950s Soho with the arrival of the jazz ‘modernists’, who defined themselves in strict opposition to the reigning gatekeepers of Trad. Modernists were wilfully ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?

28 November 2002
Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... recording of ‘God Save the King’ and other patriotic anthems. ‘Not surprisingly’, Richard Weight remarks in Patriots, the convoy ‘got a muted reception when it parked in the ruins of Berlin’. In France, the bus crews were treated to mayoral banquets, only for their leader to complain about the ‘strange dishes’ which weren’t ...

Simply Putting on Weight

Richard Hamblyn: Salmon

25 February 2010
To Sea and Back: The Heroic Life of the Atlantic Salmon 
by Richard Shelton.
Atlantic, 213 pp., £18.99, October 2009, 978 1 84354 784 6
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... following year when the fish returned as a splendid silver grilse. ‘Smolt’, ‘grilse’: as Richard Shelton observes, salmon are spoken of in a ‘stained-glass language’ of their own, their life stages marked by an ichthyological lexicon unchanged since Chaucer’s time. Born in a ‘redd’, a shallow, gravel-covered depression dug by the female in ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis

24 May 2018
... and Alison Smithson, who displayed a series of found objects in a post-apocalyptic mirrored shed. Richard Hamilton’s group presented a funfair vision that launched the British Pop Art movement. Robby the Robot, star of the science-fiction movie Forbidden Planet, opened the show because, according to the critic Reyner Banham, he was much ‘easier to book ...
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 ...

At the Met

David Hansen: Richard Serra

30 June 2011
... fell neatly end to end. It was balletic; it was a card trick; it was industrial. It was totally Richard Serra. The artist wouldn’t thank me for the analogy. Analogy isn’t Serra’s thing. But as a foreigner, you can’t visit America and not see the forms and the textures and the dynamics of the Serraverse everywhere you look: in the serial squares of ...

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 ...
4 September 1997
Richard II 
by Nigel Saul.
Yale, 528 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 300 07003 9
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... Each generation fashions its own image of Richard II. To his contemporaries, Richard’s fate was an admonitory instance of changing fortune: the King fell in the midst of his glory and was delivered into the hands of his enemies. To historians of the Tudor age, Richard’s deposition by one of his subjects was a terrible warning of the dangers of rebellion, bequeathing to succeeding generations a legacy of bloodshed and civil strife ...
6 August 1992
Sex and Reason 
by Richard Posner.
Harvard, 458 pp., £23.95, May 1992, 0 674 80279 9
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... Richard Posner, Federal judge, prolific writer and teacher, is the leading figure in the American ‘law and economics’ movement. That movement has pioneered a new way of explaining Anglo-American law and showing how it could be improved. Its method is to analyse topics – for example, the law of compensation for accidents – in economic terms ...

Our Hero

C.H. Sisson

25 January 1990
Richard Aldington: A Biography 
by Charles Doyle.
Macmillan, 379 pp., £19.95, November 1989, 0 333 46487 7
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... Charles Doyle’s biography of Richard Aldington opens so readily at the 24 excellent photographs with which the book is illustrated that the temptation to look at them, before one gets involved with the text, is irresistible. The series starts with a rather determined-looking boy with cap and striped jersey, holding a football ...

At the Watts Gallery

Julian Bell: Richard Dadd

29 July 2015
... What, for the subject, is it like to be still? As far as one can tell, the gentleman facing Richard Dadd in 1853 had nothing that he wished to project: his attire was dapper, his red locks kempt, but his eyes did no more than attend, uninflectedly staring back at those that analysed him. At the same time the painter, adjusting the tonal ...
11 March 1993
Wide Body: The Making of the 747 
by Clive Irving.
Hodder, 384 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 340 53487 7
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... political and cultural changes that individual designs have often in retrospect assumed a symbolic weight out of all proportion to then contemporary technological success. The Short Stirling, the first of the RAF’s World War Two heavy bombers, stands as an aerial metaphor of Britain’s half-cock response in the mid Thirties to the Nazi war threat. The Air ...

Unction and Slaughter

Simon Walker: Edward IV

10 July 2003
Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV 
by Jonathan Hughes.
Sutton, 354 pp., £30, October 2002, 0 7509 1994 9
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... When Richard, Duke of York, laid claim to the English throne in 1460, he presented himself as a physician, sent to heal the ills of the kingdom. In partnership with his apothecaries, the faithful Commons, he would probe ‘the root and bottom of this long-festered canker’ and separate ‘the clean and pure stuff from the old, corrupt and putrefied dregs ...

The Excommunicant

Richard Popkin: Spinoza v. the Synagogue

15 October 1998
The God of Spinoza: A Philosophical Study 
by Richard Mason.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £35, May 1997, 0 521 58162 1
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Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity 
by Steven Smith.
Yale, 270 pp., £21, June 1997, 0 300 06680 5
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... is to see the world from the aspect of eternity, and to achieve the intellectual love of God. As Richard Mason reminds us, Spinoza’s neglect of epistemology made him of little interest to those who insisted that the problem of knowledge as set out by Descartes defined what philosophy was properly about. Spinoza found a little room for that problem only at ...

Oops

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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... Whenever you step on a bridge, every bit of your weight is being transferred – part to one shore, part to the other – down to the bedrock below. If the structure is to continue standing when it takes on a new load, every link in the system has to resist the burden, kilo for kilo. Your weight, technically a ‘live load’ (which is to say transient, as opposed to the resident ‘dead load’ of the structure itself), must be met by the strength designed into the bridge, whether it is a simple beam or arch, one of the myriad types of trusses, or a suspension bridge, either the traditional catenary or the more recent cable-stayed ...

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