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At the National Gallery

Julian Bell: Seduced by Art, 3 January 2013

... campus and the street. How generative it has proved: as the works of Ori Gersht, Beate Gütschow, Sam Taylor-Wood and Tom Hunter here demonstrate. Doubtless Luc Delahaye was also influenced by the new academicism when he withdrew from twenty years of war reportage to devise large-scale digitally modified compositions. But the difference in background is ...

What a Ghost Wants

Michael Newton: Laurent Binet, 8 November 2012

HHhH 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 336 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 479 7
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... Laurent Binet has written an excellent novel about the absurdity of writing any kind of novel at all. HHhH retells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architects of the Holocaust, by two Czech special agents, Jozef Gabčik and Jan Kubiš, their subsequent deaths and the terrible retaliation enacted by the Nazis on the Czech people, which culminated in the massacre of all the inhabitants of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky ...

Good Girls

Lauren Elkin: Leïla Slimani, 21 February 2019

Adèle 
by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor.
Faber, 209 pp., £12.99, February 2019, 978 0 571 33195 6
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... There’s an enviable clarity and forthrightness to Slimani’s writing, both in French and in Sam Taylor’s capable translation. A guy called Nicolas she meets in Madrid ‘had a hook nose and very nice hair. They had sex, stupidly. He kept pinching and biting her. She didn’t ask him to wear a condom. True, she was drunk, but she let him sodomise ...

A Young Woman Who Was Meant to Kill Herself

Jeremy Harding: Charlotte Salomon, 8 March 2018

Life? Or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
Duckworth, 840 pp., £125, September 2017, 978 1 715 65247 0
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Charlotte 
by David Foenkinos, translated by Sam Taylor.
Canongate, 224 pp., £8.99, January 2018, 978 1 78211 796 4
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Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory 
by Griselda Pollock.
Yale, 542 pp., £45, March 2018, 978 0 300 10072 3
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Charlotte Salomon: ‘Life? Or Theatre?’ A Selection of 450 Gouaches 
by Judith Belinfante and Evelyn Benesch.
Taschen, 599 pp., £30, November 2017, 978 3 8365 7077 0
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... giving it the deceptive look of a long poem. The success of this approach, loyally managed by Sam Taylor in his translation, is to make Charlotte read as a series of ticker-tape bulletins, delivered in breathless fits and starts. At the entrance to L’Ermitage, something holds Charlotte back: It is a force behind her. She almost has ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... Roland​ Barthes met Valéry Giscard d’Estaing on 9 December 1976 at a lunch hosted by Edgar Faure, the president of the National Assembly, at the Hôtel de Lassay. Michel Foucault had turned down Faure’s invitation as a protest against Giscard’s failure to put an end to the death penalty, and the left-wing figures who went anyway were later subjected, Barthes’s biographer Louis-Jean Calvet reports, to sarcastic inquiries such as ‘So, how was the soup?’ Barthes didn’t like being sneered at for consorting with a patrician representative of the centre-right, and his friends made it known that he had, over coffee, made pointedly Marxisant small talk: he’s said to have asked Giscard if he favoured the withering away of the state, and Giscard is said to have replied: ‘Why not?’ The sneers continued all the same, and when, a little over three years later, Jack Lang invited Barthes to lunch with François Mitterrand, Barthes worried that accepting would be viewed as a craven attempt to make amends ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: Alexander McQueen, 4 June 2015

... while his studio team and friends look on; Isabella Blow and the Chapman Brothers are there, and Sam Taylor-Wood (as was), as well as the jeweller Shaun Leane, and Sarah Burton, who would take over the label after his death and made Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. All McQueen’s earliest associates seemed to have stayed with him the whole way: this ...

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs, 16 July 2020

... travel in order to document the Great Depression for the government with her second husband, Paul Taylor, an economist; then fame, that hard limit. But it turns out that she did photograph almost constantly, leaving behind nearly forty thousand images, of which this – Winters, California, taken in 1955 – is one. Lange’s most famous picture, Migrant ...

I want to be an Admiral

N.A.M. Rodger: The Age of Sail, 30 July 2020

Sons of the Waves: The Common Seaman in the Heroic Age of Sail 1740-1840 
by Stephen Taylor.
Yale, 490 pp., £20, April, 978 0 300 24571 4
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... it is still possible to work aloft as a topman, encountering many of the same dangers as Stephen Taylor’s subjects did – but few of those who write about seamen have ever gone aloft on a dirty night to lay out on a yard and hand sail. There is at least one modern authority (Sam Willis) who deliberately went to sea in ...

When the Jaw-Jaw Failed

Miles Taylor: Company Rule in India, 3 March 2016

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon & Schuster, 784 pp., £12.99, January 2016, 978 1 4711 2946 9
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... of love, war, intrigue and treachery’. Mount has written some historical fiction: in Jem (and Sam) he invented a 17th-century forebear, Jeremiah Mount, who rivalled Pepys as a diarist, and he has Wolf-Halled his way around the French Revolution and the Crimean War. Here he sticks to the facts, although there is some poetic licence: John Low is the centre ...

At the Grey Art Gallery

J. Hoberman: Inventing Downtown , 30 March 2017

... scene as well. The Five Spot Café, an artists’ hangout just off the Bowery, opened with Cecil Taylor, gave Thelonious Monk his first extended gig, and introduced New York to Ornette Coleman.) Many of the pieces in Inventing Downtown are proudly uncommercial. The exhibition includes work by a number of black and women painters, many of whom dropped out or ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... confused with the actors who played them. The new retro cool I wallowed in had Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade as its source: the hard men with soft, democratic centres, American Romantics tinged with the Founding Fathers and Melville’s melancholic sense of humanity, the people’s Lancelots, who were dragged, flinching with distaste, into the dirty underworld ...

Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... with fantasy-league teams of big-name authors: Borges and Márquez up front, Kundera in midfield, Sam Beckett ‘in the hole’. They like to assure you that Gunter Netzer’s hairdo belongs in the same world as Gunter Grass’s prose. They know all about Nabokov and Camus, and not just because the pair of them kept goal. A recent new-wave soccer-book gives ...

Bardbiz

Terence Hawkes, 22 February 1990

Rebuilding Shakespeare’s Globe 
by Andrew Gurr and John Orrell.
Weidenfeld, 197 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 297 79346 2
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Shakespeare and the Popular Voice 
by Annabel Patterson.
Blackwell, 195 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 631 16873 7
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Re-Inventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History from the Restoration to the Present 
by Gary Taylor.
Hogarth, 461 pp., £18, January 1990, 0 7012 0888 0
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Shakespeare’s America, America’s Shakespeare 
by Michael Bristol.
Routledge, 237 pp., £30, January 1990, 0 415 01538 3
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... They don’t, in themselves, ‘mean’. It is we who mean, by them. In just this spirit, Gary Taylor’s Re-Inventing Shakespeare offers a lively ‘cultural history’ of our use of the Bard. In fact, he proposes a new discipline, somewhat clumsily dubbed ‘Shakesperotics’, whose field is more or less everything that a culture gets up to in the ...

Perfect Companions

C.K. Stead, 8 June 1995

Christina Stead: A Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... it must have been written in 1939, before the horror of the death camps had occurred – in which Sam Pollit, the father, tells the children in his amiable, garrulous way that if he had ‘supreme power’ he might arrange the killing off of nine-tenths of mankind ‘in order to make room for the fit’. This would be done by gas attacks on people living ...

Tacky Dress

Dale Peck, 22 February 1996

Like People in History: A Gay American Epic 
by Felice Picano.
Viking, 512 pp., $23.95, July 1995, 0 670 86047 6
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How Long Has This Been Going On? 
by Ethan Mordden.
Villard, 590 pp., $25, April 1995, 0 679 41529 7
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The Facts of Life 
by Patrick Gale.
Flamingo, 511 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 602 24522 2
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Flesh and Blood 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 9780241135150
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... At my high school, Daphne du Maurier was on the English department reading list, along with Taylor Caldwell and all those other books by Twain. I read Sydney Sheldon’s first five novels, Judith Krantz’s first three; until I went to college, I believed that Watership Down was the best book I’d ever read – and I was right. What attracted me ...

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