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Tom Phillips: An Interview

Tom Phillips, Adam Smyth and Gill Partington

4 October 2012
... Tom Phillips, who was born in 1937, is a painter, printmaker and collagist, and the creator of ‘A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel’, which was reviewed by Adam Smyth in the issue of 12 October 2012. The following conversation took place on 16 September 2011 at the South London Gallery, between Phillips (TP), Smyth (AS) and Gill Partington (GP ...

End of Story

Robert Taubman

20 November 1980
A Humument 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 367 pp., £12, October 1980, 0 500 09146 3
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The Past 
by Neil Jordan.
Cape, 232 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 224 01845 0
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Black Tickets 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Allen Lane, 194 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7139 1354 1
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... comic strip as it has entered Pop Art – or as in the single words of type in a Cubist painting. Tom Phillips is a painter who has exhibited earlier versions of these pages as a form of Gesamtkunstwerk, with the Coleridgean aim of ‘keeping the greatest number of things suspended in a unity’. In the past, he has also used other material such as ...

Echoes

Tom Phillips

2 April 1981
English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... If that famous omnibus has not yet reached Clapham, its poor browbeaten passenger, the unwitting touchstone of our century’s discourse, should he turn his thoughts towards art, might reasonably assume that Modernism and Modern Art were acceptable ways of referring to what is going on at the moment. He would perhaps be bewildered and dismayed to learn that we are so well into Post-Modernism that Neo-Modernism must be just over the hill ...

Double Act

Adam Smyth: ‘A Humument’

11 October 2012
A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 392 pp., £14.95, May 2012, 978 0 500 29043 9
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... On a Saturday morning in November 1966, Tom Phillips picked a book at random from a pile of novels at a house-clearance sale in Peckham Rye. Phillips had never heard of W.H. Mallock’s A Human Document (1892), but he liked the title and the yellow cover and handed over threepence ...

At the Royal Academy

Jeremy Harding: Botticelli

5 April 2001
Botticelli's Dante 
Royal Academy, 360 pp., £48, March 2001, 0 900946 85 7Show More
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... through 180 degrees in order to emerge head first in the southern hemisphere. An erasure at the bottom of the parchment tells us it had once been reserved for the Paradise cycle. The change of plan – and the touching mark of defeat – alerts us, again, to the fact that Hell is a doddle. A magnificent place, nonetheless, where the literal almost always ...

Finding Words

Stanley Cavell

20 February 1997
Terrors and Experts 
by Adam Phillips.
Faber, 128 pp., £6.99, February 1997, 0 571 17584 8
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... EARLY in his lovely and useful book on D.W. Winnicott, published in 1988, Adam Phillips gives a sketch of certain aims and fates of that increasingly treasured figure of British psychoanalysis which maps certain of his own directions in his recent collection of psychoanalytic essays, Terrors and Experts. Winnicott would also enjoy playing off a language of common-sense against a language of professional expertise ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... through Thomas Wright and Katherine Longley to our contemporaries Peter Ackroyd and Claire Tomalin. In his chapter on James Joyce Hamilton dwells exclusively on the author’s ‘patron saint’, Harriet Weaver. Surprisingly – for a study whose main concern is the suppression or revelation of intimate materials – he does not discuss the Stanislaus ...

Hong Pong

Thomas Jones: John Lanchester

25 July 2002
Fragrant Harbour 
by John Lanchester.
Faber, 299 pp., £16.99, July 2002, 0 571 20176 8
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... talking about”’ (the decorous asterisks are Tarquin’s). In Lanchester’s second novel, Mr Phillips (2000), the protagonist is very different, and so is the voice, but the effect of detached intimacy isn’t dissimilar. Mr Phillips is an ordinary man (although the novel calls into question what it means to describe ...

Answering back

James Campbell

11 July 1991
The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... savage in Conrad’s steamship.’ He could have added that American literature is too, from Uncle Tom to Nigger Jim to Porgy and Bess and Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury. The Americans, under the guidance first of the great W.E.B DuBois, then of the poets Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, and next a line of novelists headed by Richard Wright, began the ...

Me and Thee

Justine Jordan: Jayne Anne Phillips

22 February 2001
MotherKind 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Cape, 292 pp., £15.99, September 2000, 0 224 05975 0
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... Everything happens at once’ in the year charted by Jayne Anne Phillips in MotherKind – her heroine Kate becomes and loses a mother. The book records tiny actions and reactions: Kate changes baby Tatie’s nappy and her mother’s sickroom flowers, spoonfeeds mashed-up banana to one and morphine to the other ...

Its Own Dark Styx

Marina Warner

20 March 1997
The Nature of Blood 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 224 pp., £15.99, February 1997, 0 571 19073 1
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... ourselves; and from A State of Independence his second novel (1986), to The Nature of Blood, Caryl Phillips, too, has been scrying for glimpses of troubled histories. The Nature of Blood opens in a Displaced Persons camp in Cyprus after the Second World War, where the British are holding Jews before releasing them in quotas to travel to Palestine; a boy ...

Because We Could

David Simpson: Soldiers and Torture

18 November 2010
None of Us Were Like This Before: American Soldiers and Torture 
by Joshua Phillips.
Verso, 237 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 1 84467 599 9
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... to conclude that the disposition to torture is the rule, not the exception. The title of Joshua Phillips’s book is a quote, not an assertion. Those who find themselves acting as torturers really do think, when they speak about their actions, that they underwent some radical change of personality. It would have been possible to write a book entirely given ...

Out of Puff

Sam Thompson: Will Self

19 June 2008
The Butt 
by Will Self.
Bloomsbury, 355 pp., £14.99, April 2008, 978 0 7475 9175 7
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... unable to bear the touch of his wife and children, he is permanently marooned among the savages. Tom Brodzinski, the protagonist or victim of Will Self’s satirical nightmare The Butt, meets a comparable fate. On holiday on an imaginary post-colonial island continent, Tom decides to give up smoking, and, distracted by the ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: On being photographed

15 April 2004
... in paint or on film, by another artist. What makes one go on looking at the selection from Tom Phillips’s collection of fifty thousand photographic postcards, also at the Portrait Gallery, until 20 June, is what Beaton was good at hiding: the heterogeneity of the unmasked human face. In the terms of this exhibition, a ‘photographic ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis

1 July 1999
The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... which is controlled by agents, TV networks, tournament bosses, sports equipment conglomerates, automobile and, until recently, cigarette companies. At the same time, an ever-increasing number of former non-tennis countries, besides having the de rigueur national airline and lavish arms procurement agencies, today put on at least one international tournament ...

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