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Adam Phillips: ‘Paranoid Modernism’, 22 May 2003

The Short Sharp Life of T.E. Hulme 
by Robert Ferguson.
Allen Lane, 314 pp., £20, November 2002, 0 7139 9490 8
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Paranoid Modernism: Literary Experiment, Psychosis and the Professionalisation of English Society 
by David Trotter.
Oxford, 358 pp., £35, September 2001, 0 19 818755 6
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... of the abstract art of Bomberg, Epstein and Gaudier-Brzeska against the apparent progressivism of Roger Fry and Bloomsbury. He had found his preferred version of human nature in Byzantine art, and its recovery in these abstract Modernists. One of the many things that is so interesting about him, and that Robert Ferguson illuminates in this first thorough ...

Feigning a Relish

Nicholas Penny: One Tate or Two, 15 October 1998

The Tate: A History 
by Frances Spalding.
Tate Gallery, 308 pp., £25, April 1998, 1 85437 231 9
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... offered on loan. The editorial in the Burlington Magazine, which must have been inspired by Roger Fry, claimed that all ‘enthusiasts’ and collectors of modern French art ‘have come to an agreement about Cézanne ... universally recognised as the father of the whole movement’. This was probably correct but it amounted to a priestly veto on any ...


Frank Kermode, 22 May 1986

Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement 
by C.K. Stead.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 333 37457 6
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The Myth of Modernism and 20th-century Literature 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Harvester, 216 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7108 1002 4
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The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature and the Arts 
by Roger Shattuck.
Faber, 362 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 571 12071 7
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... language would come out at about the length of The Waste Land if it was imaginatively designed. Roger Shattuck has an interesting but fragmentary piece in his book about the aesthetics of the fragment, very much to the point. You could now put poems, novels and films together on principles which had hitherto lain hidden. Their realisation called for a lot ...

Concini and the Squirrel

Peter Campbell, 24 May 1990

by John Allen Paulos.
135 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 670 83008 9
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The Culture of Print 
edited by Roger Chartier.
351 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0575 3
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Symbols of Ideal Life 
by Maren Stange.
Cambridge, 190 pp., £25, June 1989, 0 521 32441 6
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The Lines of My Hand 
by Robert Frank.
£30, September 1989, 0 436 16256 3
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... come about. The essays in The Culture of Print are contributions to this new bibliography. Roger Chartier has assembled detailed studies of print culture in the ‘narrower sense’ of the ‘set of new acts arising out of the production of writing and pictures in a new form’. Even the chapters which deal with printed material make connections both ...


Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier, 4 January 2018

... Mr Alan,’ she said, stroking the sleeve, ‘Prue Taylor! I love her work.’11 December. Roger Lewis in the Oldie calls me ‘trademark lugubrious’. I rather like trademark lugubrious. It makes me sound like the latter-day equivalent of the 17th-century Praise-God Barebones. Trademark Lugubrious could be a character out of Ben ...

Stanley and the Women

Tony Gould, 25 July 1991

Stanley: The Making of an African Explorer 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 411 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 09 462420 8
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Stanley: Sorcerer’s Apprentice 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 499 pp., £25, January 1991, 0 09 470220 9
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Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley 
by John Bierman.
Hodder, 401 pp., £17.95, January 1991, 0 340 50977 5
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... two other young men to accompany him on a voyage to Turkey. The younger one, the 17-year-old Lewis Noe, he subjected to all kinds of humiliations, finally tying him to a tree on some flimsy pretext and whipping him till the blood ran. Worse things would happen to the unfortunate Noe, including homosexual rape, but Stanley was not – at least, not ...

Running on Empty

Christopher Hitchens: The Wrong Stuff, 7 January 1999

A Man in Full 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 742 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 224 03036 1
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... of Atlanta, Wes Jordan (get it?), as he shoots the shit with the upwardly mobile black attorney Roger White II, who is known to homeboys (get it?) as Roger Too White: ‘But you, Wes? As I remember, you used to laugh at all this Afrocentric business. I remember one night – when was it? – ’87 – ’88 – you made ...

A Lone Enraptured Male

Kathleen Jamie: The Cult of the Wild, 6 March 2008

The Wild Places 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Granta, 340 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 1 86207 941 0
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... domesticity. On the beautiful, stormy, truly remote island of North Rona, forty miles north of Lewis, everyone died: there had been a community there for a thousand years, but all at once they died, possibly of starvation, possibly of smallpox, which was the scourge of the islands. But that was in the 17th century. No one has really lived there since. What ...

Quashed Quotatoes

Michael Wood: Finnegans Wake, 16 December 2010

Finnegans Wake 
by James Joyce, edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon.
Houyhnhnm, 493 pp., £250, March 2010, 978 0 9547710 1 0
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Joyce’s Disciples Disciplined 
edited by Tim Conley.
University College Dublin, 185 pp., £42.50, May 2010, 978 1 906359 46 1
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... Lewis Carroll seems an obvious precursor of James Joyce in the world of elaborate wordplay, and critics have long thought so. Harry Levin suggested in 1941 that Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty was ‘the official guide’ to the vocabulary of Finnegans Wake. Why wouldn’t he be? He was the inventor of the portmanteau word (‘You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word’), an inspired parodist of what Saussure later called the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign (that is, its being grounded in nothing but convention) and extremely proud of his ability to ‘explain all the poems that ever were invented – and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane, 24 September 2015

by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... from time to time; John Muir of My First Summer in the Sierra, a farmer’s son and farmer; and Lewis Grassic Gibbon of A Scots Quair, a farmer’s son from the Mearns in north-east Scotland. All three produced work that strikes me as special – as important, if you like – because they saw the countryside and its people as part of human society, rather ...

Nabokov’s Dreams

John Lanchester, 10 May 2018

... accurate. An Experiment seems kooky now, but H.G. Wells took an interest, and so did the Tolkien/Lewis Inklings, and J.B. Priestley, among others. Dunne was an aeronautical engineer and former soldier, and part of the appeal of his book was probably that he dressed his speculations with the correct amount of scientific apparatus. It is also evident from ...

At Charleston

Emily LaBarge: Nina Hamnett, 1 July 2021

... and 1928, Hamnett’s most prolific years, and are on show alongside two large portraits of her by Roger Fry and a bronze sculpture by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, The Dancer (1913), for which she served as model.A trio of early still lifes are apparently influenced by William Nicholson, who taught Hamnett at the London School of Art, though her paintings have none ...

Hegel in Green Wellies

Stefan Collini: England, 8 March 2001

England: An Elegy 
by Roger Scruton.
Chatto, 270 pp., £16.99, October 2000, 1 85619 251 2
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The Faber Book of Landscape Poetry 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 426 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 571 20071 0
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... School and eventually to qualify as a teacher, later moving to leafy Buckinghamshire, where young Roger grew up. But Jack Scruton nursed a vivid sense of the grievances of his class. He was not just Old Labour, he was Paleo-Labour: the country was in the grip of a ruling class whose comfortable way of life rested on the exploitation of the workers. Scruton ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... aphoristic judgment is usually taken to refer to the Post-Impressionist Exhibition, organised by Roger Fry, which opened, in fact, on 8 November 1910. Plainly, this was the moment when the European avant garde shattered the calm of the Edwardian art world. It is still hard to see, however, why it should have changed ‘human character’, or how its ...

Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... a straightforward conspiracy between the Home Secretary (Henry Brooke), the head of MI5 Sir Roger Hollis, and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Sir Joseph Simpson), to ‘shut Ward up’. It is a serious charge. But Knightley, one of the most experienced and reliable investigative reporters in this country, and Caroline Kennedy, are sure of ...

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