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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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... 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 ...

Tilting the day

Lisa Cohen: Writing about Clothes, 7 November 2019

Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes 
by Shahidha Bari.
Cape, 312 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 1 78733 149 5
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... includes, among other examples, the sane, sly, knowledgeable prose of the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan, who not only covers collections but also analyses the looks of American public figures. And there is more reporting on the working and living conditions of the people who make the clothes – from the growing and harvesting of plants (cotton and ...

White Coats v. Bow Ties

Nicholas Penny, 11 February 1993

Jacopo della Quercia 
by James Beck.
Columbia, 598 pp., $109.50, February 1992, 0 231 07200 7
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Michelangelo and the Creation of the Sistine Chapel 
by Robin Richmond.
Barrie and Jenkins, 160 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 7126 5290 6
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Rembrandt. The Master and his Workshop: Paintings 
by Christopher Brown, Jan Kelch and Pieter van Thiel.
Yale, 396 pp., £35, September 1991, 0 300 05149 2
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Michelangelo’s Drawings: The Science of Attribution 
by Alexander Perrig.
Yale, 299 pp., £35, June 1991, 0 300 03948 4
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Michelangelo and his Drawings 
by Michael Hirst.
Yale, 128 pp., £14.95, August 1990, 0 300 04391 0
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The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Annotated Translation 
by James Saslow.
Yale, 559 pp., £22.50, April 1991, 0 300 04960 9
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... on the subject and some have been no less alarmed by what they have seen in the chapel itself. Robin Richmond’s Michelangelo and the Creation of the Sistine Chapel is a popular introduction which will rightly enrage anyone who has been alarmed. ‘I grew up in Rome and was so familiar with Michelangelo that I never questioned whether his work looked now ...

Too Obviously Cleverer

Ferdinand Mount: Harold Macmillan, 8 September 2011

Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Pimlico, 887 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 1 84413 541 7
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The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After 1957-66 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 758 pp., £40, May 2011, 978 1 4050 4721 0
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... the school’s great festival, or to those who pretended not to, like the Harrovian Field Marshal Alexander. There was something strangely fake about his snobbish carry-on, almost as though he was trying to convince himself that he belonged. Some of his smoking-room metaphors were merely mystifying: for example, when pondering whether Cyprus should be granted ...

Get over it!

Corey Robin: Antonin Scalia, 10 June 2010

American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 
by Joan Biskupic.
Farrar, Straus, 434 pp., $28, November 2009, 978 0 374 20289 7
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... the traditional greats of American judicial review – to whom he looks for guidance: it is Alexander Bickel, arguably the most self-conscious of the 20th-century liberal theoreticians, who ‘taught me more than anyone else about this subject’. Like many originalists, Scalia claims that his jurisprudence has nothing to do with his conservatism: ‘I ...

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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... Mod wideboys? Doubtless it was never quite so cut and dried. Skim the sub rosa lit of the time (Robin Cook, Alexander Baron, Colin MacInnes) and you’re plunged into a lost river with discrete but commingled tributaries: gay, criminal, East End Jewish, upper-class drop-out, lower-class dandy; the ‘morries’ of ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 4 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... of thing,’ one woman said to another. ‘He likes photography, but not fashion photography.’ Robin Muir, the curator, and the set designer, Patrick Kinmonth, have no doubt done their best but the Portrait Gallery is an awkward space. From the main corridor and the rooms that usually host the modern part of the NPG’s collection, they’ve created 15 ...

Who wouldn’t buy it?

Colin Burrow: Speculating about Shakespeare, 20 January 2005

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Cape, 430 pp., £20, October 2004, 9780224062763
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... faces flushed with pleasure, dancing around a Maypole, decked with ribbons and garlands. A coarse Robin Hood show, with a drunken Friar Tuck and a lascivious Maid Marion … Topsy-turvy days when women pursued men and schoolboys locked the teachers out of the classroom’. In case anyone thinks Shakespeare was brought up in a Bakhtinian version of Merrie ...

Only More So

Rosemary Hill: 1950s Women, 19 December 2013

Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties 
by Rachel Cooke.
Virago, 368 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 1 84408 740 2
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... War was looming when Alexander Korda’s film Fire over England was released in 1937. It stars Flora Robson as Elizabeth I, and as the opening titles roll the voiceover sets the scene: ‘the free people of a small island’ defy the tyranny of a Continental power and ‘a woman guides and inspires them.’ Robson, firm of jaw and bristling with double-decker ruffs and farthingales, outwits the dastardly Spanish and the Armada is defeated ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... like a confederation of secret masters: Gerald Kersh, James Curtis, Mark Benney, Robert Westerby, Alexander Baron, John Lodwick, Jack Trevor Story. They have been struck from the canon, these technicians, these life-enhanced witnesses. They are noticed only by slumming journalists (who have built up their own collections of the stuff) or by condescending arts ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Education: Who’s in charge?, 6 May 2015

... schools and ‘learning systems’ in ‘emerging markets’ such as Brazil. The main speaker was Robin Alexander, the chair of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust, which began in 2006 as an inquiry into the ‘condition and future’ of primary education. The CPR Trust now receives core funding from Pearson. The topic was the new primary school ...

In the Centre of the Centre

Thomas Meaney: The German Election, 20 September 2017

... demands right-wing concessions, especially as they pertain to refugees.Thanks to the journalist Robin Alexander’s Die Getriebenen: Merkel und die Flüchtlingspolitik (as yet untranslated, but something like ‘The Impelled: Merkel and Refugee Politics’), we now have a fine-grained account of Merkel’s decision to open the border in September ...

The Ribs of Rosinante

Richard Gott, 21 August 1997

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... train Guevara’s Argentine guerrilla group of 1963-4; and Trotsky’s assassin, Ramón Mercader. Alexander Alexiev, the first Soviet Ambassador to Havana, was also a veteran of the Spanish war. Exiled Spanish Republicans and their families were to spread out over the whole of Latin America, stiffening the sinews of the local Left with fresh recruits whose ...

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