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Robbing banks

George Melly

25 June 1992
Magritte 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £45, May 1992, 0 500 09227 3
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Magritte 
by Sarah Whitfield.
South Bank Centre, 322 pp., £18.95, May 1992, 1 85332 087 0
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... the end it is impossible to work out exactly why we are moved by so many (but by no means all) of these pictures. The exhibition at the Hayward, fastidiously selected by Sylvester and his colleague SarahWhitfield, who is also responsible for the illuminating catalogue, will move to America and then break up. Those of us who are obsessed by Magritte will wait, with keen anticipation, for the first ...
19 March 1998
Bonnard 
by Timothy Hyman.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, February 1998, 0 500 20310 5
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Bonnard 
by Sarah Whitfield and John Elderfield.
Tate Gallery, 272 pp., £35, June 1998, 1 85437 243 2
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... visiting Bonnard to ‘steal his tricks’. She had a ‘weirdly savage, harsh voice’, and ‘hopped about on very high heels like some bright-plumaged bird’. It is not that Hyman’s Bonnard or SarahWhitfield’s essay in the Tate catalogue – both excellent, and usefully complementing each other – gives a very different account of the relationship from the one that limited anecdotal evidence ...
1 June 2000
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography 
by Simon Singh.
Fourth Estate, 402 pp., £16.99, September 1999, 1 85702 879 1
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In Code: A Mathematical Journey 
by Sarah​ Flannery.
Profile, 292 pp., £14.99, April 2000, 1 86197 222 9
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Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption 
by Whitfield​ Diffie and Susan Landau.
MIT, 346 pp., £10.50, April 1999, 0 262 54100 9
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... a paradox. If keys aren’t secret, what’s the point of them? How can a cipher work to conceal a message if everybody has access to the information designed to encrypt it? The answer, pioneered by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman in the early 1970s, is to reject a principle of cryptography apparently so obvious as to go unchallenged until then: namely, that deciphering is the reverse of enciphering ...

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