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It ain’t him, babe

Danny Karlin, 5 February 1987

No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan 
by Robert Shelton.
New English Library, 573 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 450 04843 8
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... time.’ (Dave Van Ronk said that.) That must be how every interviewer feels – except, it seems, Robert Shelton. It’s 1966: Dylan is talking to Shelton, whose book about him he has agreed to countenance, if not to ‘authorise’. He says something about his relationship with Joan Baez, and then asks: ‘Can you ...

Among the Bobcats

Mark Ford, 23 May 1991

The Dylan Companion 
edited by Elizabeth Thomson and David Gutman.
Macmillan, 338 pp., £10.99, April 1991, 0 333 49826 7
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Bob Dylan: Performing Artist. Vol. I: 1960-73 
by Paul Williams.
Xanadu, 310 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 1 85480 044 2
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Dylan: Behind the Shades 
by Clinton Heylin.
Viking, 528 pp., £16.99, May 1991, 0 670 83602 8
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The Bootleg Series: Vols I-III (rare and unreleased) 1961-1991 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £24.95, April 1991
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... on the martyr’s role: ‘I have a death-thing, I know ...’ he told his official biographer Robert Shelton in one of his more revealing interviews, as if confiding to an apostle. The concerts themselves often turned into furious confrontations between performers and audience, with disgruntled folk-music lovers heckling throughout the rock ...


Philip Horne and Danny Karlin: Million Dollar Bashers, 22 June 1989

... Spitz,3 purports to supersede all previous efforts; Spitz is especially hostile to insiders like Robert Shelton:4 he himself has abjured the co-operation he knew he would not get and parades his high-mindedness in the preface. According to Spitz, Dylan has been ‘protected by literary sycophants’ right from the start: Spitz engages with ...

That Wild Mercury Sound

Charles Nicholl: Dylan’s Decade, 1 December 2016

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-66 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £60, November 2015
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... the record’s contents. He’d been using the alias since the summer of 1960. His given name was Robert Zimmerman and he had grown up in Hibbing, a small mining town in Minnesota; he was the son of Abe, an electrical goods supplier, and Beatty, and the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The name he chose has often been said to be a tribute to ...

Southern Discomfort

Bertram Wyatt-Brown, 8 June 1995

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism 
by Eugene Genovese.
Harvard, 138 pp., £17.95, October 1994, 0 674 82527 6
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... slaves’ complicity in their own wretchedness, critics denounced Roll, Jordan, Roll, along with Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman’s Time on the Cross, which claimed that slavery was a rational, profitable, even materially beneficial institution not only for masters but for slaves as well. Roll, Jordan, Roll might not have won Genovese much gratitude from ...

Frank Auerbach’s London

T.J. Clark: Frank Auerbach, 10 September 2015

... for once. Scale is uncertain. ‘This might be nature – twenty stories high,’ to borrow from Robert Lowell: We two, one cell here, lie gazing into the ether’s crystal ball, sky and a sky, and sky, and sky, till death – Well – death and the void may be part of it. City parks by night do have something sepulchral about them. The little white blobs of ...

Cardenio’s Ghost

Charles Nicholl: The Bits Shakespeare Wrote, 2 December 2010

The Arden Shakespeare: Double Falsehood 
edited by Brean Hammond.
Arden Shakespeare, 443 pp., £16.99, March 2010, 978 1 903436 77 6
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... his duty to marry Violante. The composition of the play can be dated quite accurately. Thomas Shelton’s translation of the first part of Don Quixote, which includes the Cardenio story, was registered at Stationers’ Hall on 19 January 1612 and published not long afterwards. English writers were certainly aware of Quixote before this – Beaumont’s ...

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