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My Runaway Slave, Reward Two Guineas

Fara Dabhoiwala: Tools of Enslavement, 23 June 2022

Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London 
by Simon Newman.
University of London, 260 pp., £12, February 2022, 978 1 912702 93 0
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... appealing to a public – and a legal system – that took racialised bondage entirely for granted.Simon Newman’s new book takes this story back to its origins in late 17th-century London, the birthplace both of large-scale English involvement in transatlantic slavery and of the first popular printed English newspapers and advertisements. As colonial ...

Conservative Chic

Michael Mason, 6 May 1982

The Politics of Culture and Other Essays 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 245 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 85635 362 0
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... answers to the diverse problems that have composed the muddle. The American journalist John Simon has for some years been writing a column in Esquire in which he takes a conservative view of linguistic change in true dinner-party fashion: opposing almost every innovation in contemporary usage, and mixing up several independent considerations in the ...

‘I was such a lovely girl’

Barbara Newman: The Songs of the Medieval Troubadours, 25 May 2006

Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours 
translated by Ezra Pound, W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Kehew, edited by Robert Kehew.
Chicago, 280 pp., £35, May 2005, 0 226 42933 4
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Medieval Lyric: Middle English Lyrics, Ballads and Carols 
edited by John Hirsh.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.99, August 2004, 1 4051 1482 7
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An Anthology of Ancient and Medieval Woman’s Song 
edited by Anne Klinck.
Palgrave, 208 pp., £19.99, May 2004, 9781403963109
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... practice. It is as if we had only the lyrics, without recordings or melodies, of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Joan Baez – and those only in indifferent Portuguese translations. Most of their power and all of their subtlety would vanish. For similar reasons, the troubadours have more often been honoured as cultural pioneers than admired as ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al, 1 September 2005

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... then walking out of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here. The rise and fall of PiL, recounted by Simon Reynolds with great vividness and detail, is the archetypal story of the tumultuous pop music era of the late 1970s and early 1980s, known rather bloodlessly since as post-punk. Until recently, the PiL story was one of the few about post-punk that even keen ...

At the Serpentine

Paul Myerscough: Cy Twombly, 20 May 2004

... naivety – Twombly’s, or possibly their own – and tend to overcompensate for it. Here’s Simon Schama in his introduction to the catalogue for Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper: ‘Twombly’s Apollo is not the fine-limbed hunk of the Belvedere, but the pitiless flayer of Marsyas … what Twombly draws from archaic mythology is its poetic ...

Top Brands Today

Nicholas Penny: The Art World, 14 December 2017

The Auctioneer: A Memoir of Great Art, Legendary Collectors and Record-Breaking Auctions 
by Simon de Pury and William Stadiem.
Allen and Unwin, 312 pp., £9.99, April 2017, 978 1 76011 350 6
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Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and Its Dealers 
by Philip Hook.
Profile, 282 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78125 570 4
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Donald Judd: Writings 
edited by Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray.
David Zwirner, 1054 pp., £28, November 2016, 978 1 941701 35 5
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... Simon​ de Pury, assisted by ‘a regular contributor to Vanity Fair’, has written a book about his ascent to the top of the art world: the auctions he conducted, the deals he struck, the parties he attended. It resembles a board game, with smaller parts assigned to the ‘hedge fund overlord’, the ‘polo-playing playboy millionaire’, the ‘James Bond of the Russian oligarchy’, the ‘French luxury goods tycoon’ (also appearing as the ‘French luxury titan’), the ‘serial dater of supermodels’, and the ‘leveraged-buyout king ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... Pevsner’s is more difficult than it looks. It defeats A.N. Wilson in Who Was Oswald Fish?, as Simon Bradley points out in a wide-ranging essay on ‘Pevsner in Fiction, Theatre and Cinema’. Imitation even of the most laconic entries is difficult. Only Alan Hollinghurst, among Bradley’s examples, gets it nearly right. But Pevsner was if not an ...

The Great Dissembler

James Wood: Thomas More’s Bad Character, 16 April 1998

The Life of Thomas More 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 435 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 711 5
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... identical with heresy, when he, an early anti-clerical, knew this to be untrue. In reply to one Simon Fish, who had argued that England’s travails had to do with the greed and idleness of the clergy, More claimed that things were much the same as they had always been, and then appealed to Henry VIII’s vanity as Defender of the Faith to stamp out the ...

Post-Modern Vanguard

Edward Mendelson, 3 September 1981

After the Wake: An Essay on the Contemporary Avant-Garde 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 177 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 815766 5
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... praises for it. The more minimal the gesture, the more rapturous the explanation offered. Barnett Newman painted a vertical stripe on a canvas, and Thomas Hess saw it as a version of divine creation – ‘as God separated light from darkness, with a line drawn in the void’. (The metaphor does not even correspond to the painting, since ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... of Wharton’s novels: not only in its use of the international theme or the echoes of Christopher Newman and Isabel Archer in the naming of its protagonist, but in the implicit argument that the imagination of fulfilment may be superior to the experience itself. ‘It’s more real to me here than if I went up,’ Archer thinks as he pictures the scene in ...

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