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Steamy, Seamy

David Margolick: The Mob’s Cuban Kleptocracy

20 March 2008
The Havana Mob: Gangsters, Gamblers, Showgirls and Revolutionaries in 1950s Cuba 
by T.J. English.
Mainstream, 400 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 1 84596 192 3
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... frolic around rooftop swimming-pools. Meantime, a few storeys below, a revolution looms. These relics are the hotels the Mob built, monuments of the decadent, lavish mid-century Cuba depicted in T.J.English’s The Havana Mob. As their uniform architecture suggests, they were all built during the period bookended by the reigns of Fulgencio Batista, who seized power in 1952, and Fidel Castro, who sent ...
19 March 2015
... church tower – a high square tower With battlements and coats of arms like Erpingham’s or Wighton’s, maybe the west tower Of Weasenham St Peter’s, ‘unbuttressed’, says Pevsner, ‘Early English … Note the remarkably ornate north side (Perp), with flushwork decoration.’ It was just over the hill, goddamn it!                                     Major ...

At Tate Britain

T.J.​ Clark: Paul Nash

2 February 2017
... Paul Nash​ is as close as we come, many think, to having a strong painter of the English landscape in the 20th century. The uncertainties built into the wording here are part of the point: Nash spent his working life trying to decide if ‘the English landscape’ was something that had ...

Goethe In Britain

Rosemary Ashton

19 March 1981
Goethe’s Plays 
translated by Charles Passage.
Benn, 626 pp., £12.95, July 1980, 0 510 00087 8
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The Classical Centre: Goethe and Weimar 1775-1832 
by T.J.​ Reed.
Croom Helm, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1979, 0 85664 356 4
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Goethe on Art 
translated by John Gage.
Scolar, 251 pp., £10, March 1980, 0 85967 494 0
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The Younger Goethe and the Visual Arts 
by W.D. Robson-Scott.
Cambridge, 175 pp., £19.50, February 1981, 0 521 23321 6
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... become once more unpalatable to British literary taste. Some years ago D.J. Enright asked the question: ‘Aimez-Vous Goethe?’ The rest of his essay title supplied the answer: ‘An Enquiry into English Attitudes of Non-Liking towards German Literature’. In the introduction to their translation of the Italian Journey (1962), W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer sought to explain and excuse British ...

At the Courtauld

T.J.​ Clark: Symptoms of Cézannoia

2 December 2010
... and all the more fanatical for knowing that the cult is dead – but I have no way to answer the contemporary shrug. I almost prefer it to the residual symptoms of Cézannoia, especially the English variant of the condition. There’s a bit of all this about in the room at the Courtauld. Well-bred pagans hanging on to the old gods in face of Christianity (or postmodernism), exchanging glances in ...

At the V&A

T.J.​ Clark: ‘The Cult of Beauty’

19 May 2011
... and out of muslin be eternally interesting?’ Cruel, and obtuse about Burne-Jones; but accurate – indeed, the very voice of modernism – about Albert Moore and Flaming June. There is, however, an English counter-proposal on this very question of nature and beauty, and Arscott’s book has opened our eyes to it. If for some reason the eternal untouchable middle distance of landscape-in-the-eye is ...
27 June 1991
Ngaio Marsh: A Life 
by Margaret Lewis.
Chatto, 276 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 7011 3389 9
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... had been among her closest friends. Nelly is Lord Plunket’s eldest daughter, and the family are depicted as the aristocratic Lampreys in the detective story Surfeit of Lampreys. Her view of English society is formed by this first encounter, and persists throughout her novels – to their detriment, it might be considered. In 1955 a BBC memorandum, considering the adaptation of Scales of Justice ...

At the Royal Academy

T.J.​ Clark: James Ensor

1 December 2016
... and he rarely stirred far from the place) shared its bathing beaches with a hard-scrabble fishing industry – it was Bognor with a large dash of Grimsby. In August 1887 fish packers set on three English boats trying to undersell the locals, and gendarmes shot dead six or more of the rioters, wounding scores of others (the numbers are disputed) before order returned. There is a drawing at the Academy ...
12 May 1994
Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... approximately to Symons’s ‘crime novel’ and ‘detective story’, which latter he has been eager to declare obsolete beyond redemption. But other schemata are possible, such as the ‘English’ and ‘American’ varieties (though both sorts are written in both places). The English model, as famously discussed by Auden in his essay ‘The Guilty Vicarage’, is essentially hermetic (the ...

Frank Auerbach’s London

T.J.​ Clark: Frank Auerbach

9 September 2015
... otherwise, and couldn’t for the life of me imagine why. Weeks went by. I don’t know how many times I sat staring at the Van Gogh zigzag crows over a cornfield – I had no idea that they were English sunbeams over NW1 – but slowly, and not as a result of an act of judgment (or not one I was aware of), the painting took hold of me. I still didn’t dare, or didn’t bother, to ask who had done ...

After the Referendum

LRB Contributors

8 October 2014
... Marchmont. ‘Yes’ posters again well outnumbered ‘No’. The suburbs had been different: we saw plenty of perjink signs saying ‘No Thanks’, stuck on privet hedges. My friends are Scots born, English born, Italian born. Why do I have to insist on that? Because of the constant bitching that the ‘Yes’ movement was simply ‘anti-English’. No one wanted to be alone that evening. We ate a carry ...

A Snake, a Flame

T.J.​ Clark: Blake at the Ashmolean

5 February 2015
William Blake: Apprentice and Master 
Ashmolean Museum, until 1 March 2015Show More
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... aside: I have slighted Blake’s illustrations to his engraved poems, though to do so is to go against Blake’s intentions … Blake’s poems, especially his epics, seem to me the best poetry in English since Milton, but about Blake’s illustrations my judgment is uncertain. Some of them seem to me very powerful, some do not; but I am in any case not qualified to criticise them. As a critic I have ...
15 September 1988
Children of the Arbat 
by Anatoli Rybakov, translated by Harold Shukman.
Hutchinson, 688 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 09 173742 7
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Pushkin House 
by Andrei Bitov, translated by Susan Brownsberger.
Weidenfeld, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 297 79316 0
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The Queue 
by Vladimir Sorokin, translated by Sally Laird.
Readers International, 198 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 9780930523442
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Moscow 2042 
by Vladimir Voinovich, translated by Richard Lourie.
Cape, 424 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 224 02532 5
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The Mushroom-Picker 
by Zinovy Zinik, translated by Michael Glenny.
Heinemann, 282 pp., £11.95, January 1988, 0 434 89735 3
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Chekago 
by Natalya Lowndes.
Hodder, 384 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 340 41060 4
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... Pushkin House, originally published in Russian in 1978, probably the most interesting work to come out of Soviet literature since the Twenties. It is pleasingly coincidental that its appearance in English should coincide with the first appearance in the Soviet Union of Nabokov’s works, for it is, both in tone and manner, undeniably Nabokovian. Where Rybakov deals with a group, Bitov probes an ...
20 March 1986
The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers 
by T.J.​ Clark.
Thames and Hudson, 338 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 23417 5
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Cellini 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Macmillan, 324 pp., £85, October 1985, 0 333 40485 8
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Alessandro Algardi 
by Jennifer Montagu.
Yale in association with the J. Paul Getty Trust, 487 pp., £65, May 1985, 0 300 03173 4
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... or at least unsureness, as to the nature of representation in art’ which emerged in European painting with Manet, and he dwells on Mallarmé’s suggestion (which frustratingly survives only in an English translation) that Manet’s aim was for painting to be ‘steeped in its cause’ – i.e. to be about the way painting is made. This hypothesis, in modified form, could perhaps be reconciled with ...

False Moderacy

T.J.​ Clark: Picasso and Modern British Art

22 March 2012
Picasso and Modern British Art 
Tate Britain, 15 February 2012 to 15 July 2012Show More
Mondrian Nicholson: In Parallel 
Courtauld Gallery, 16 February 2012 to 20 May 2012Show More
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...  student of the second kind, battling away at the enigma of Cubist space; he failed to solve it; and where he ended up is another matter.) The question remains why. What stood in the way of the English doing as well as the Czechs or the Dutch? My answer begins from the special hold here of class on culture. The culture of art in England is genteel. It is tied to Home Counties, late-imperial class ...

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