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I don’t know what it looks like

Madeleine Schwartz: Brutalist Paris, 14 December 2023

Brutalist Paris 
by Nigel Green and Robin Wilson.
Blue Crow, 192 pp., £24, February, 978 1 912018 73 4
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Chêne Pointu, Clichy-sous-Bois 
by Éric Reinhardt.
EXB, 319 pp., €39, November, 978 2 36511 387 8
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... of an architect’s model, not designed for real life. In Brutalist Paris, Nigel Green and Robin Wilson praise the ‘important architectural interventions’ that resulted in ‘an often radical departure from the familiar, historical Paris, towards the establishment of multiple satellite centres’. But few of the buildings have weathered ...

According to A.N. Wilson

Patricia Beer, 3 December 1992

by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 269 pp., £15, September 1992, 1 85619 114 1
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... to the point of sprightliness sometimes, but without becoming facetious. Even when, for example, Wilson speaks of Jesus in the same breath and tone as he speaks of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, he is making a serious point about the traditional techniques of rhetoric as used by St Luke, who, in this ...

Stormy Weather

E.S. Turner, 18 July 1996

Passchendaele: The Untold Story 
by Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson.
Yale, 237 pp., £19.95, May 1996, 0 300 06692 9
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... Four score years is a long time to wait for the so-called ‘untold story’ of Passchendaele. Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson are Australian historians who tell us, a little loftily, that ‘Great War studies have yet to escape their protracted adolescence.’ Their adult investigation is reminiscent of those relentless ...

A Sequence from ‘Camera Obscura’

Robin Robertson, 22 August 1996

... Centre, 1858Exactly halfway through his life, panning easton Princes Street, George Washington Wilson stoppedthe moving world into focus. After long exposure,ghosts returned to their bodies. Calton Hill roseat the top of the frame, the grave-slots of the cemeterya perfect memento. The first snapshot. Steady traffic.     *Atget Comes to Edinburgh1. The ...

Maria Isabel

Graham Hough, 22 January 1981

The Duchess’s Diary 
by Robin Chapman.
Boudicca Books, 126 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 9506715 0 9
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The Interceptor Pilot 
by Kenneth Gangemi.
Boyars, 127 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7145 2699 1
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Judgment Day 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 167 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 434 42738 1
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by Niall Quinn.
Wolfhound, 163 pp., £5.95, December 1980, 0 905473 61 2
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... duchess who thereafter plays a considerable part in their adventures. In The Duchess’s Diary Robin Chapman imagines her to have been an actual person, who had met not the fictitious Quixote but the real Cervantes; and the diary, supposedly translated from the original MS, tells her story. The first book of Don Quixote came out in 1605, the second book ...

Good Jar, Bad Jar

Ange Mlinko: Whose ‘Iliad’?, 2 November 2023

The Iliad 
by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson.
Norton, 761 pp., £30, September 2023, 978 1 324 00180 5
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Homer and His Iliad 
by Robin Lane Fox.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £30, July 2023, 978 0 241 52451 0
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... observe a ruined form.’ What seems like a dawn to us was belated to begin with. As Emily Wilson says in the introduction to her new translation of the Iliad, it ‘came at the end, not the beginning, of a long poetic tradition. Whoever created the Iliad used the myths, tropes and techniques developed by many generations of oral poets, and reinvented ...


Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... White is the most ordinary and engaging little man in the world ... Charlie Wilson, the sort of father you see by the hundred in France on Sunday outings ... [Gordon] Goody, nerves of steel and the wolfish handsomeness of the pack leader ... The events were so vividly in the minds of the actors that they remember, like Henry V at ...

In Cardiff

John Barrell: Richard Wilson, 25 September 2014

... currently staging a large loan exhibition of the Welsh ‘father of English landscape’, Richard Wilson, curated by Martin Postle and Robin Simon. It is a magnificent show, the first on this scale for more than thirty years. It will be at Cardiff until 26 October, and it is accompanied by a sumptuous catalogue, the ...

I have gorgeous hair

Emily Wilson: Epictetus says relax, 1 June 2023

The Complete Works: Handbook, Discourses and Fragments 
by Epictetus, translated by Robin Waterfield.
Chicago, 460 pp., £44, October 2022, 978 0 226 76933 2
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... we cannot. For Epictetus, nothing is up to us except our own purpose, attitude or ‘will’, as Robin Waterfield translates it (the Greek is prohairesis): ‘wealth, health, status – these things aren’t up to us.’ Rhetorically, it’s no coincidence that these lists of unimportant things – there are many of them in the teachings of Epictetus ...

Cowboy Coups

Phillip Knightley, 10 October 1991

Smear! Wilson and the Secret State 
by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay.
Fourth Estate, 502 pp., £20, August 1991, 9781872180687
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... Intelligence Service had penetrated British life. The MI5 officer quickly dispensed with the Wilson Government – its penetration was taken as read – slandered Wilson’s own loyalties and those of several members of his Cabinet, and then moved on to the Royal family. The thrust of his accusations was that ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... and an old sideboard hand-decorated by my mother. The animal was killed by my great-uncle, Robin Meek, and a local huntsman, Belli, in the Nilgiri hills in southern India in 1931. Originally – that is, when I was a child – the leopard was in two parts, the skin and the head. The skin was backed with felt, the legs splayed out, the claws still ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... Labour candidate for the safe seat of desperately impoverished Dunfermline East, he co-edited with Robin Cook another series of socialist essays, The Great Divide. In his Introduction, he grappled with the familiar argument that the shocking conditions of the poor could only be improved in times of economic growth. ‘The era of economic growth,’ he ...

It was sheer heaven

Bee Wilson: Just Being British, 9 May 2019

Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant 
by Barbara Hosking.
Biteback, 384 pp., £9.99, March 2019, 978 1 78590 462 2
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... started out as a Cornish scholarship girl and rose to become a senior civil servant under Harold Wilson and Edward Heath and, later, a top executive at breakfast television – has written a memoir of her rise to the top of the British establishment. Sentence by sentence, her story is likeable and impressive but never very exciting to read. Most of the great ...

Labour and the Bouncers

Paul Foot, 4 June 1987

Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... it represented were not the only enemies of the elected government. Like Joe Haines, Harold Wilson’s adviser in the first part of the 1974-1979 Labour Government, Bernard Donoughue finds plenty of important people lurking in the background to defend the existing order from any levelling which the Labour Government might threaten. He reveals that in ...


Frank Kermode, 8 June 1995

Angus Wilson 
by Margaret Drabble.
Secker, 714 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 436 20038 4
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... At a party given forty-odd years ago by the suddenly-famous Angus Wilson, Dwight Macdonald ‘introduced himself, American-style, to Rose Macaulay, describing himself as an editor of the Partisan Review and founder of his own journal Politics: she stared at him and said, “Have you come all the way across the room to tell me that? How kind ...

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