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When Things Got Tough

Peter Green: The Sacking of Athens

6 September 2017
Athens Burning: The Persian Invasion of Greece and the Evacuation of Attica 
by Robert Garland.
Johns Hopkins, 170 pp., £15, February 2017, 978 1 4214 2196 4
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... like, from their ashes; might Aleppo and Mosul, despite all the suffering and destruction, one day recapture some of their former splendour? Such thoughts were very much in my mind while reading RobertGarland’s retelling of Athens’s tribulations during those two fraught years of Persian invasion. It is a story that has been told countless times, but never before has the narrative concentrated ...

Two Poems

Robert​ Crawford

20 March 2003
... in their sleep. Sappho That cloud-juiced apple at a high twig’s tip, Reddening on the utmost branch. The one the apple-pickers missed. Not missed. They could never reach it. Meleager Though the garland round Heliodora’s head Fades now, she sparkles, she is herself A garland to garland the garland ...

Redesigning Cambridge

Sheldon Rothblatt

5 March 1981
Cambridge before Darwin: The Ideal of a Liberal Education 1800-1860 
by Martha McMackin Garland.
Cambridge, 196 pp., £14.50, November 1980, 0 521 23319 4
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... civic universities. If this is still the popular view of Oxbridge in the early 19th century, it is also true that a relief expedition has been hacking through textbook surveys for several decades. Robert Butts and Walter Cannon have called attention to the scientific and philosophical contributions of the ‘Cambridge Network’ – men like William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, Charles Babbage, George ...

Toto the Villain

Robert​ Tashman

9 July 1992
The Wizard of Oz 
by Salman Rushdie.
BFI, 69 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 0 85170 300 3
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... and levers, is not humble roots but another bright, possibly fraudulent, fantasy world. This position seems hard-hearted and neglectful of emotional facts. In truth, the film ends ambiguously. Judy Garland, showing early signs of the flamboyant masochism of her maturity, makes Dorothy yearn for Kansas: but when she wakes up in Kansas she speaks longingly of the colour and excitement of Oz. Rushdie ...

Among the Picts

John Sutherland

18 August 1994
Stained Radiance: A Fictionist’s Prelude 
by J. Leslie Mitchell.
Polygon, 219 pp., £7.95, July 1993, 0 7486 6141 7
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The Speak of the Mearns 
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Polygon, 268 pp., £8.95, June 1994, 0 7486 6167 0
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... He had already developed his characteristic decentred narrative, with its choric interludes playing over an array of representative lives. He also incorporates a self-portrait in the form of John Garland, a clerk in the RAF struggling to write his first hyper-ironical novel. Garland, we’re told, ‘hated the Air Force. Like 90 per cent of those in the ranks, he had enlisted under the compulsion of ...

Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox

6 November 1980
Garbo 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... to get its name in the papers. The book carries the flawed advantages of being ‘authorised’: there are no anecdotes here about what Louis B. Mayer may or may not have done to the pubescent Judy Garland, or others in his thrall. The worst that is said of the man many still speak of as a monster is that he was a ‘part-affectionate, part-retributive tyrant’. Where Mr Walker excels is where he ...

Skeltonics

Helen Cooper: The maverick poetry of John Skelton

14 December 2006
John Skelton and Poetic Authority: Defining the Liberty to Speak 
by Jane Griffiths.
Oxford, 213 pp., £50, February 2006, 9780199273607
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... and his primary reputation by the end of the 16th century was for buffoonery: he was turned into a jest-book figure, and in Anthony Munday’s Robin Hood play within a play, The Downfall and Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, a ‘real-life’ Skelton takes the role of Friar Tuck. His recovery came on the back of the rise of Modernism, with its opening of readers’ minds to new kinds of non ...
20 October 1994
Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me 
by Marlon Brando and Robert​ Lindsey.
Century, 468 pp., £17.99, September 1994, 0 7126 6012 7
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Greta & Cecil 
by Diana Souhami.
Cape, 272 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 224 03719 6
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... from the legs up until he comes to his head and realises that he can never achieve the final consummation. Dreams are for dreaming about. The Hollywood dream-masters got it right when they had Judy Garland playing a star-struck teenager gazing at a pin-up of Clark Gable and singing ‘If you were the only boy in the world’. It’s if, not when. Mix them up and you remember the story of Gable resting ...

Carved Cosmos

Tom Lowenstein

5 August 1993
Amaravati: Buddhist Sculpture from the Great Stupa 
by Robert​ Knox.
British Museum, 247 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 7141 1452 9
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... grants from Joseph Hotung of Hong Kong, Asahi Shimbun (a Japanese newspaper), and matching funds from the Wolfson Foundation and the British Government. I have condensed this latter-day story from Robert Knox’s 1992 monograph, which for the first time gives a detailed description of the whole Amaravati collection, including the pieces still in storage. The publication of Knox’s beautifully ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett

2 August 1984
... when, in 1971, I wrote my second play it was natural that Stoll Theatres, who’d put the first one on, should want to keep the winning team together. Accordingly, we had the same director, Patrick Garland, the same designer, Julia Trevelyan-Oman; the management even contrived that we should begin rehearsing on the same stage, Drury Lane, and on the same day, August Bank Holiday, as three years before ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter

7 November 1991
Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... is not afraid to die. I have been her kind. Taken from her first book, To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), the poem shows Sexton’s craft, honed with advice from John Holmes, W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Lowell. Retrieved at the last moment from her ‘bone pile’ of discards to fill out the book, it had gone through 19 drafts before Sexton achieved what Middlebrook calls the ‘double “I” ...

The Thought of Ruislip

E.S. Turner: The Metropolitan Line

2 December 2004
Metro-Land: British Empire Exhibition Number 
by Oliver Green.
Southbank, 144 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 1 904915 00 0
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... of Aylesbury. The originators of successful brand names deserve to be remembered. According to Alan Jackson’s London’s Metropolitan Railway (1986), the name Metroland was the inspiration of James Garland, a copywriter in the company’s publicity department, who was laid up with flu but leapt out of bed in high Archimedean excitement when the name entered his head. The public first heard of Metroland ...

At the Hayward

Marina Warner: Tracey Emin

25 August 2011
... expressiveness and emotional sincerity, her transparent love of the money and gorgeous clothes which success has brought her way. She shares many features with other idols – Colette and Callas, Garland, and even Monroe. I am not proposing that Emin has shaped her tale consciously to fit modern myths. Not at all. But it is one of the reasons her art has caught the popular imagination so powerfully ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... agents everywhere. Hoberman often writes history by compiling lists, but the lists themselves are interesting. For example: Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, James Wong Howe, Dudley Nichols, Clifford Odets, Robert Rossen, John Garfield, Charlie Chaplin and Leo McCarey all attended a reception in July 1943 for the Soviet director and administrator Mikhail Kalatozov. At that time Russian and American propaganda ...

Summer Simmer

Tom Vanderbilt: Chicago heatwaves

22 August 2002
Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago 
by Eric Klinenberg.
Chicago, 305 pp., £19.50, August 2002, 0 226 44321 3
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... moment they are raw, as meaningless as g-force measurements to the average non-astronaut. Now, for the summer, we have the heat index, first proposed in 1979 by the Australian environmental scientist Robert Steadman in an article in the Journal of Applied Meteorology entitled ‘The Assessment of Sultriness Part I: A Temperature-Humidity Index Based on Human Physiology and Clothing Science’. Steadman ...

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