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Rodney Hilton

21 January 1988
Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies 
edited by David Cannadine and Simon Price.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33513 2
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... took place because he symbolised a divine order, was a guardian against chaos and when angry with misrule replaced bad by good kings – a useful legitimation of conquest or usurpation. According to SimonPrice, the symbolic apotheosis to divinity of the Roman emperors from their funeral pyre, with Senatorial control of the deification process in judging the ‘candidate’s’ virtue, reconciled ...

Mythology in Bits

Tim Whitmarsh: Ancient Greek ‘Religion’

20 December 2018
The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion 
edited by Esther Eidinow and Julia Kindt.
Oxford, 736 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 19 881017 9
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... there are some earlier instances). As Petrovic points out, before the late 20th century, this phenomenon was seen primarily as a symptom of Hellenistic decline. Then studies by Christian Habicht and SimonPrice argued that the ruler cult was in effect a mechanism for dealing with the concentration of vast power in the hands of individuals: the cities extended their traditional honorific system, using ...

The Monte Lupo Story

Simon​ Schama

18 September 1980
Faith, Reason and the Plague 
by Carlo Cipolla.
Harvester, 112 pp., £7.50, November 1980, 0 85527 506 5
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... Professor Cipolla’s new book puts one in mind of a Florentine espresso: minuscule in size; briefly stimulating in effect; and extortionate in price. At £7.50 for 85 pages of text his readers will be shelling out eight pence a page, a tariff which, I couldn’t help but calculate, would have put my own first book in the shops for around £65 a ...

Apollo’s Ethylene

Peter Green: Delphi

2 July 2014
Delphi: A History of the Centre of the Ancient World 
by Michael Scott.
Princeton, 422 pp., £19.95, February 2014, 978 0 691 15081 9
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... needs to explain just how what he regards as a management consultancy so consistently, and for so long, confirmed the religious faith of its clients. He quotes, approvingly, the question posed by SimonPrice in 1985, and echoed by many scholars since: ‘Why was it that the sane, rational Greeks wanted to hear the rantings of an old woman up in the hills?’ Scott’s explanation is essentially in ...

This is America, man

Michael Wood: ‘Treme’ and ‘The Wire’

27 May 2010
The Wire 
created by David Simon.
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created by Eric Overmyer and David Simon.
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... slotting the DVDs into your machine. There was a hiatus after season Three, which ended in December 2004. Seasons Four and Five picked up just under two years later. The creator of The Wire is David Simon, who wrote many of the episodes and by the third season was executive producer. He is a reporter who became a full-time writer of books: Homicide (1991) and, with Ed Burns, The Corner (1997), both of ...

A Peece of Christ

Charles Hope: Did Leonardo paint it?

22 December 2019
Leonardo da Vinci 
at the Louvre, until 24 February 2020Show More
Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered 
by Carmen Bambach.
Yale, 2350 pp., £400, July 2019, 978 0 300 19195 0
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The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting 
by Ben Lewis.
William Collins, 396 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 00 831341 8
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Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts 
by Margaret Dalivalle, Martin Kemp and Robert Simon.
Oxford, 383 pp., £35, November 2019, 978 0 19 881383 5
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... in the history of art, by which a painting first recorded for certain around 1900 in the collection of Sir Francis Cook, when it was not regarded as of any particular merit, acquired its astonishing price tag in only 12 years is told in absorbing detail by Ben Lewis. The key moment in this history of the painting was its inclusion in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan held ...

Household Sounds

Michael Irwin

22 November 1979
The Old Jest 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 167 pp., £4.95
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The Goosefeather Bed 
by Diana Melly.
Duckworth, 139 pp., £5.95
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The Snow Man 
by Valerie Kershaw.
Duckworth, 159 pp., £5.95
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Spring Sonata 
by Bernice Rubens.
W.H. Allen, 215 pp., £4.94
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... knows all that he needs to know for the purposes of this particular story. There is the perfect adjustment of means to ends that one associates with Jane Austen. As in Austen’s case, if there is a price to be paid for elegance and economy it may lie in a limitation of range. The only scene in The Old Jest that seemed to me descriptively a little unsure was the dramatic climax. There is also an ...
20 December 1979
The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the ‘Encyclopédie’ 1775-1800 
by Robert Darnton.
Harvard, 624 pp., £13, September 1979, 0 674 08786 0
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... with Paris turpentine and linseed oil which made the ink (six monstrous 250-livre barrels) which primed the type which printed the 36 million sheets which comprised the quarto which lowered the price which Spread the Word which overthrew superstition which disarmed the Old Regime and inaugurated the rationalist millennium. Or was it? Historians have long been given to attributing the French ...


Frank Kermode: William Golding

5 November 2009
William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... shows him to have been a generous and accessible man, with a deep, almost superstitious respect for goodness in others. He honoured that sanctity, which he first sought to express in the character of Simon in Lord of the Flies. Hence his special interest in the case of the curé d’Ars, a semi-literate French village priest, born in 1786 and canonised in 1925. Such was the fame of this priest as a ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony Howard

25 January 1996
Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... in the 60 years of its life in which, as the official voice of the Tory Party, it vied with the Times in the morning market. (Incidentally, it was the Standard that pioneered the Murdoch strategy of price-cutting by competitively bringing its price down to a penny in 1858.) Some awkward questions are raised even by this era of its history. There is ample evidence that the Standard was regularly in ...

The Mess They’re In

Ross McKibbin: Labour’s Limited Options

20 October 2011
... to have stayed there. At present there are two Lib Dem Parties: the ministers, who must bear joint responsibility for coalition policies; and the non-ministerial MPs, who include the deputy leader, Simon Hughes, and various spokespeople, and who often act as though the coalition doesn’t exist. Nick Clegg has been an ineffective leader: he made a mess of the negotiations that led to the formation of ...

‘I worry a bit, Joanne’

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Casual Vacancy’

25 October 2012
The Casual Vacancy 
by J.K. Rowling.
Little, Brown, 503 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 4087 0420 2
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... through where a young wizard, having placed a curse on his father, burns the scrap of paper on which the spell was written. The wizardry concerned is of the computer sort. A schoolboy called Andrew Price posts a defamatory statement about his hated father, Simon, on the website of Pagford Parish Council. Simon has put his name forward for election as a councillor, to replace the popular Barry ...


Colin Robinson: Publishing’s Demise

26 February 2009
... though filled with erudite, well-written books, was not the most profitable. If anyone was for the chop, it was likely to be me. And the possibility of staff cuts seemed far from remote. The share price of the corporation I worked for had fallen more than 80 per cent in the previous 18 months. The CEO of Barnes and Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the US, had just announced that ‘never in all ...

Baseball’s Loss

Geoffrey Hawthorn: The Unstoppable Hugo Chávez

1 November 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope 
by Tariq Ali.
Verso, 244 pp., £14.99, November 2006, 9781844671021
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Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today 
by D.L. Raby.
Pluto, 280 pp., £18.99, July 2006, 0 7453 2436 3
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Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s Revolution, Latin America Report No. 19 
by International Crisis Group.
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... a few industrial investments (metal companies produced trade unions that are now hostile to Chávez’s championing of the poor), and extended a placating patronage. In the mid-1980s, however, the price of oil fell, borrowings made against future revenue could not be repaid, the patronage dried up, and in February 1989, faced with rising prices imposed in an emergency agreement with the IMF, the ...
10 February 1994
Russia 2010 
by Daniel Yergin and Thane Gustafson.
Random House, 302 pp., $32, October 1993, 0 679 42995 6
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What About the workers: Workers and the Transition to Capitalism in Russia 
by Simon​ Clarke.
Verso, 248 pp., £34.95, September 1993, 0 86091 650 2
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After the Soviet Union: From Empire to Nation 
edited by Timothy Colton and Robert Levgold.
Norton, 208 pp., $24.95, November 1992, 0 393 03420 8
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... heartland of the Communist experiment, was modelled according to their own youthful fantasies by two of the century’s most ruthless and insouciant planners, Lenin and Stalin. ‘Stalin,’ Simon Clarke writes in the collection of neo-Marxist essays about the whirlwind which has hit Soviet workers, sought to overcome the economic weakness of his regime by expanding heavy industry as rapidly ...

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