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Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May

16 March 2017
Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... club, a little piece of the metropolis that is a haven for the Chipping Norton set. Both May’s maternal and paternal grandmothers were in service and one of her great-grandfathers was a butler. As RosaPrince writes, perhaps unnecessarily, Cameron’s ancestors ‘were more likely to employ maids than to work as servants’.May went to a series of local schools, both state and private (the private ...

I am not a world improver

Christopher Turner: Building Seagram

6 February 2014
Building Seagram 
by Phyllis Lambert.
Yale, 306 pp., £45, January 2013, 978 0 300 16767 2
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Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography 
by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst.
Chicago, 493 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 226 15145 8
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... New York office. ‘Just her presence meant that there was no hanky-panky, nobody cut corners,’ Johnson said. ‘It wasn’t that she knew anything about buildings, but it was like having the crown prince present.’ But Lambert wasn’t the sort of person happy just to supervise. When a model needed to be built, she offered to help: the offer was rejected but she stayed late anyway to watch it being ...


Tobias Jones: Postwar history in Italy

8 March 2001
... had discovered everything.’ What De Mauro had apparently found were plans for a coup, which, more comic opera than military operation, actually took place three months after his disappearance. Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, the organiser of the coup, is one of the most controversial figures in recent Italian history. During the Second World War, he commanded the infamous Decima Mas, the body of ...
3 June 1982
Letters from Africa 1914-1931 
by Isak Dinesen, edited by Frans Lasson, translated by Anne Born.
Weidenfeld, 474 pp., £12.95, September 1981, 9780297780007
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... at ease with books, at the ballet in Paris or in the African bush, where he, too, found pleasure in the freedom from convention. He farmed, traded with the Masai and became a white hunter, taking the Prince of Wales out twice on safari. Karen Blixen writes to her mother that ‘he has a magical effect on me; never have I ever known such a feeling of happiness as I have in his company, it is as if I get ...

Yoked together

Frank Kermode

22 September 1994
History: The Home Movie 
by Craig Raine.
Penguin, 335 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 0 14 024240 6
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... narrator is a fly on the wall, a secret policeman, a pencil on a desk. He begins with a scene in a Black Sea dacha, date 1905, where the Pasternaks, children of the painter Leonid and his Jewish wife Rosa, are at play. Boris makes his first appearance. The 1905 Revolution is in progress offstage. The painter’s palette is compared to a latrine, turds of fresh pigment fresh from their bolsters, and ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith

25 June 1992
The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... high romantic horse. Better to be arriving at a decent inn than to spend one’s life in a damp cave. Later, in the Appenines, there was a night of real horror, as if they had walked into a Salvator Rosa picture: bandits lurked round their squalid inn, they slept on the floor under their greatcoats, and had to make a dawn escape. This was not romantic. At Florence they met the Countess of Albany ...

No Beast More Refined

James Davidson: How Good Was Nureyev?

29 November 2007
Rudolf Nureyev: The Life 
by Julie Kavanagh.
Fig Tree, 787 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 905490 15 8
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... director, and Alla Osipenko, who gave a less than favourable review of her dancing partner’s character – ‘not respected … resented … rude and too self-regarding’. Nureyev’s sister, Rosa, and best friend, Tamara Zakrzhevskaya, tried to see what was going on through a slightly open door, until someone saw them and ‘kicked’ the door closed. Rosa had already provided a statement ...

English Proust

Christopher Prendergast

8 July 1993
In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, £15, November 1992, 0 7011 3992 7
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... an ironic and potentially self-mocking turn, as, for example, in Albertine’s outrageously baroque speech on the subject of ice-cream: ‘Those mountains of ice at the Ritz sometimes suggest Monte Rosa, and indeed, if it’s a lemon ice, I don’t object to its not having a monumental shape, it being irregular, abrupt, like one of Elstir’s mountains ...’ Try as the narrator might to distinguish ...

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