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The Cool Machine

Stephen Walsh: Ravel, 25 August 2011

Ravel 
by Roger Nichols.
Yale, 430 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 0 300 10882 8
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... Trying to pin Ravel down,’ Roger Nichols writes in his penultimate paragraph, ‘is about as futile as trying to catch Scarbo in a bucket.’ It may seem a disconcerting admission to find at the end of a 350-page biography; but in fact it’s a positive and exact assessment, characteristically honest, and at the same time a high compliment to its subject ...

Absolute Modernity

Paul Driver, 26 September 1991

Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life 
by Jean-Michel Nectoux, translated by Roger Nichols.
Cambridge, 646 pp., £45, April 1991, 0 521 23524 3
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Pierre Boulez 
by Dominique Jameux, translated by Susan Bradshaw.
Faber, 422 pp., £25, March 1991, 9780571137442
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Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship 
by Pierre Boulez, translated by Stephen Walsh.
Oxford, 316 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 19 311210 8
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... since much of it was farmed out) than have many commentators. He informs us that, ‘according to Roger Ducasse, Debussy admired the orchestration of [the opera] Pénélope and compared it with that of Parsifal,’ and concludes his discussion with an italicised allusion to Debussy’s description of his aims in his late sonatas: ‘The truth is that ...

Most people think birds just go pi-pi-pi

James Fletcher, 4 April 1996

The Messiaen Companion 
edited by Peter Hill.
Faber, 581 pp., £40, March 1995, 0 571 17033 1
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Olivier Messiaen: Music and Colour. Conversations with Claude Samuel 
translated by Thomas Glasow.
Amadeus, 296 pp., $29.95, May 1994, 0 931340 67 5
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... for violin, each accompanied throughout by the simplest possible throb of chords on the piano. As Roger Nichols wrote twenty years ago, ‘the two accompanied solos for stringed instruments and the third movement for clarinet alone cannot be appreciated by, and could not have been written by, a man in a hurry.’ The first movement consists of a pair of ...

Rogering in Merryland

Thomas Keymer: The Unspeakable Edmund Curll, 13 December 2007

Edmund Curll, Bookseller 
by Paul Baines and Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 388 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 19 927898 5
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... collaborated with at least forty others before Queen Anne’s death in 1714. Paul Baines and Pat Rogers track the process statistically in their biography, the first since 1927, cutting their way with expert vigilance through the maze of obscure, misleading and often downright fraudulent imprints that have hitherto shrouded their subject. They promise a ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... be no intrinsic objection to such a dedication as Thomas Moore’s, of Lalla Rookh: – To Samuel Rogers, Esq., this Eastern Romance is inscribed by his very grateful and affectionate friend, Thomas Moore. But one may object that is not so interesting or original in its wording as to be worth anthologising. Eric Partridge, who was diversely interesting and ...

Made for TV

Jenny Diski, 14 December 1995

Fight & Kick & Bite: The Life and Work of Dennis Potter 
by W. Stephen Gilbert.
Hodder, 382 pp., £18.99, November 1995, 0 340 64047 2
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Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen 
by John Cook.
Manchester, 368 pp., £45, October 1995, 0 7190 4601 7
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... nation. The BBC bureaucrats, for their part, looked on the likes of Potter and David Mercer, Peter Nichols and David Rudkin as the means of fulfilling their commitment to public service broadcasting, which, of necessity included ‘the arts’. Somewhere in between, the executive producer Sydney Newman, the playwright Troy Kennedy Martin, the producer Kenith ...

Best Remain Seated

Jeremy Harding: Travel guides, 1 January 1998

Kenya 
by Hugh Finlay and Geoff Crowther.
Lonely Planet, 376 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 86442 460 4
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Borneo 
by Robert Pelton Young.
Fielding, 632 pp., £13.95, December 1995, 1 56952 026 7
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Asia's Top Dive Sites 
edited by Fiona Nichols and Michael Stachels.
Fielding, 228 pp., £13.95, December 1996, 1 56952 129 8
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Jon Murray et al.
Lonely Planet, 658 pp., £13.99, January 1998, 0 86442 508 2
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Southern Africa 
by Richard Cox.
Thornton Cox, 474 pp., £11.95, July 1995, 0 7818 0388 8
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The World's Most Dangerous Places 
by Robert Pelton Young.
Fielding, 1048 pp., £13.95, December 1997, 1 56952 104 2
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Barbara McCrea et al.
Rough Guides, 697 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85828 238 1
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The Good Honeymoon Guide 
by Lucy Horne.
Trailblazer, 320 pp., £11.95, March 1997, 1 873756 12 7
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Amnesty International Report 1997 
Amnesty International, 378 pp., £18, June 1997, 0 86210 267 7Show More
Morocco 
by Barnaby Rogerson.
Cadogan, 596 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 1 86011 043 6
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... short account of the Western Sahara in a guide to Morocco is in the Cadogan edition by Barnaby Rogerson. But, like the Lonely Planet guides, it incorporates Western Sahara into Morocco on its reference map. It’s an unfortunate decision, particularly for Saharans. The territory is the object of a UN-supervised referendum, postponed in the early Nineties ...

Sudden Elevations of Mind

Colin Burrow: Dr Johnson, 17 February 2011

The Works of Samuel Johnson, Vols XXI-XXIII: The Lives of the Poets 
edited by John Middendorf.
Yale, 1696 pp., £180, July 2010, 978 0 300 12314 2
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... Even with these short cuts, and even with the assistance of the aspiring young antiquary John Nichols, Johnson could not keep pace with the expectations of the commercial press. The prefaces, indeed, became postfaces: the first 22 lives appeared in 1779, after the volumes of poems to which they were supposed to be prefixed had been printed. Johnson toiled ...

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