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Shatost

John Bayley, 16 June 1983

Dostoevsky and ‘The Idiot’: Author, Narrator and Reader 
by Robin Feuer Miller.
Harvard, 296 pp., £16, October 1981, 0 674 21490 0
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Dostoevsky 
by John Jones.
Oxford, 365 pp., £15, May 1983, 9780198126454
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New Essays on Dostoyevsky 
edited by Malcolm Jones and Garth Terry.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24890 6
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The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes 
by Robert LouisJackson.
Princeton, 380 pp., £17.60, January 1982, 0 691 06484 9
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... intelligentsia – but it is a scholar’s approach to the novels, not to their author. Professor Jackson’s study is more nicely balanced between, as it were, the human and the critical; and it is particularly strong on the relation of Dostoevsky’s novels to the literature of the time, complementing in that respect the massive literary biographies of ...

Balls and Strikes

Charles Reeve: Clement Greenberg, 5 April 2007

Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg 
by Alice Goldfarb Marquis.
Lund Humphries, 321 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 85331 940 5
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... might verge on narrow-mindedness; the game might bore us. But the rulings were clear: by 1954, Jackson Pollock’s paintings were ‘forced’ and ‘dressed up’; Clyfford Still never left the minor league; Marcel Duchamp was a joker (not in a good way); Morris Louis painted as brilliantly as Raphael. In a 1959 ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... years’. In Newsweek, Walter Shapiro found it ‘the best aide’s-eye view of politics since Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men’. In the New Republic, Matthew Cooper, after revealing (‘full disclosure’) that he himself is now dating Mandy Grunwald, who held the position in the Clinton campaign of the novel’s sexy heroine Daisy ...

Naderland

Jackson Lears: Ralph Nader’s novel, 8 April 2010

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 
by Ralph Nader.
Seven Stories, 733 pp., $27.50, September 2009, 978 1 58322 903 3
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... of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, as well as politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Robert La Follette and even (for a while) Woodrow Wilson, whose New Freedom campaign of 1912 proposed to renew entrepreneurial opportunities through anti-trust and regulatory policies. He recalls a certain kind of populist progressive: distrustful of big business ...

Oh God, what have we done?

Jackson Lears: The Strange Career of Robert Oppenheimer, 20 December 2012

Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 224 06262 6
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... the blinding flash of the first atomic explosion revealed their labours had not been in vain.J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist in charge of the Manhattan Project and hence ‘father of the atomic bomb’, was never openly remorseful. But he was nothing if not ambivalent, as Ray Monk makes clear in his superb biography. When the fireball burst Oppenheimer ...

Inside Every Foreigner

Jackson Lears: America Intervenes, 21 February 2019

Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life 
by Robert M. Dallek..
Allen Lane, 692 pp., £30, November 2017, 978 0 241 31584 2
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... The welfare state became the warfare state – an outcome Roosevelt neither foresaw nor desired. Robert Dallek is troubled by the absence of leadership in contemporary American politics, and his biography of FDR is meant to show us what the real thing looks like. ‘In this time of demoralisation,’ he writes, ‘it seems well to remind Americans that the ...

Rub gently out with stale bread

Adam Smyth: The Print Craze, 2 November 2017

The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820 
by Antony Griffiths.
British Museum, 560 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 7141 2695 1
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... The Compleat Drawing-Book​, published by Fleet Street printseller Robert Sayer in 1755, is a handbook for the amateur artist that aims to provide ‘Proper Instructions to Youth for their Entertainment and Improvement in this Art’. The core of the book is a series of ‘Many and Curious Specimens’: prints from images ‘engrav’d on one hundred copper-plates’ that present vignettes to study and copy ...

Lethal Pastoral

Paul Keegan: Housman’s Lethal Pastoral, 17 November 2016

Housman Country: Into the Heart of England 
by Peter Parker.
Little, Brown, 446 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 4087 0613 8
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... aftermaths of soft September/Or under blanching mays.’ A year later, reviewing a life of Louis-Napoleon, he drily noted some inexact uses among ‘the daisies and dandelions of contemporary metaphor’: ‘I did not know that a storm could have an aftermath, nor that an aftermath could reach a throne.’ The unforgiving scholar and the poet who ...

Diary

Wendy Lesser: On O.J. Simpson, 21 July 1994

... Hitler – who were, in any case, only ‘arrested’ in the sense of being stopped. I proposed Louis Althusser, but was condescendingly told that an academic political theorist who strangled his wife hardly counted as famous in the terms we were using. (The first response of my tablemates was: ‘Who?’) ‘How about Fatty Arbuckle?’ someone said, but ...

Hospitalism

Sarah Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’, 5 July 2018

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... sanctuary in music. Surgeons took pride in aprons so dirty they could have stood up on their own; Robert Liston, who pioneered the use of anaesthesia, stored his instruments up his sleeve between surgeries to keep them warm. The mortality rate among medical students – who were liable to let the knife slip – was high: the surgeon John Abernethy concluded ...

Andy Paperbag

Hal Foster: Andy Warhol, 21 March 2002

Andy Warhol 
by Wayne Koestenbaum.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £12.99, November 2001, 0 297 64630 3
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... art history has mostly glanced over the commercial design in some embarrassment (at least Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns had the good taste to treat their window displays as rent-money work), sidelined the films and bemoaned his supposed decline after the 1968 shooting. Along with a few other contemporaries, Koestenbaum writes against all three ...

The Revolution is over

R.W. Johnson, 16 February 1989

The Permanent Revolution: The French Revolution and its Legacy 1789-1989 
edited by Geoffrey Best.
Fontana, 241 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 00 686056 7
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... Britain, where, as a South African, he is banned from TV, but bigger than Springsteen or Michael Jackson in France). What would Danton have thought of the Revolution being commemorated by a left-wing South African singing Zulu rock in the South Pacific? Perhaps it’s best we don’t know. One longs, at times, for the more considered attitude of Mao ...

The Medium is the Market

Hal Foster: Business Art, 9 October 2008

... made evident by the rise of high-return auctions, the most infamous being the 1973 sale of the Robert and Ethel Scull collection, which centred on Pop. Enraged artists saw none of the profits (with Hirst, in this respect, there has been a complete turnabout). After the recessionary 1970s, the anti-regulatory policies of Reagan and Thatcher promoted a new ...

Mud, Mud, Mud

Nathaniel Rich: New Orleans, 22 November 2012

The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans 
by Lawrence Powell.
Harvard, 422 pp., £22.95, March 2012, 978 0 674 05987 0
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... abandoning the town: ‘It is more than likely we will have to give it up,’ Voltaire said. Louis XV required few incentives to cede the territory to Spain in 1762. Why build a city on land that was described, as early as 1720, as ‘flooded, unhealthy, impracticable; fit for nothing save growing rice’? It is the crucial question about New ...

What Life Says to Us

Stephanie Burt: Robert Creeley, 21 February 2008

The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1945-75 
California, 681 pp., £12.55, October 2006, 0 520 24158 4Show More
The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1975-2005 
California, 662 pp., £29.95, October 2006, 0 520 24159 2Show More
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay 
by Robert Creeley.
California, 89 pp., £12.95, April 2006, 0 520 24791 4
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Selected Poems: 1945-2005 
by Robert Creeley, edited by Benjamin Friedlander.
California, 339 pp., $21.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25196 0
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... For a spell during the 1960s, Robert Creeley’s ‘I Know a Man’ may have been the most often quoted, even the most widely known, short poem by a living American. Here is the poem: As I sd to my friend, because I am always talking, – John, I sd, which was not his name, the darkness sur- rounds us, what can we do against it, or else, shall we & why not, buy a goddamn big car, drive, he sd, for christ’s sake, look out where yr going ...

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