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Most Curious of Seas

Richard Fortey: Noah’s Flood, 1 July 1999

Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries about the Event that Changed History 
by William Ryan and Walter Pitman.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., £17.99, February 1999, 0 684 81052 2
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... to challenge what he sees as Creationist nonsense. A group of local fundamentalists, led by one Allen Roberts, claimed to have found ‘scientific’ evidence of the remains of Noah’s Ark. Plimer counter-claimed that this alleged evidence is a natural geological structure, a syncline, located about 20 miles from Mount Ararat in Turkey – not far as the ...

Southern Comfort

Claude Rawson, 16 April 1981

Jefferson Davis gets his citizenship back 
by Robert Penn Warren.
Kentucky/Transatlantic Book Service, 114 pp., £4.85, December 1980, 0 8131 1445 4
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Being here: Poetry 1977-1980 
by Robert Penn Warren.
Secker, 109 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 36650 9
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Ways of light: Poems 1972-1980 
by Richard Eberhart.
Oxford, 68 pp., £5.95, January 1981, 9780195027372
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... memories of old gallantries downtrodden. From Warren at his best, as from Faulkner, and the Allen Tate of The Fathers, we expect the former. The blurb from which I quoted arouses apprehensions of the latter. Warren’s latest book falls somewhere in between, alas tilting somewhat to the blurb. We begin with memories of the author’s ...

Possible Enemies

M.A. Screech, 16 June 1983

Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. V: The Correspondence of Erasmus 
edited by Peter Bietenholz, translated by R.A.B Mynors.
Toronto, 462 pp., £68.25, December 1979, 0 8020 5429 3
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Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. XXXI: Adages Ii 1 to Iv 100 
edited by R.A.B. Mynors, translated by Margaret Mann Phillips.
Toronto, 420 pp., £51.80, December 1982, 0 8020 2373 8
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Le Disciple de Pantagruel 
edited by Guy Demerson and Christiane Lauvergnat-Gagnière.
Nizet, 98 pp.
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... he warned, but those who ‘accept Erasmus as a guide will not wander far out of the way’. P.S. Allen’s edition of the Letters, and Toronto’s elegant translation of them, makes that true still. Events unroll, week by week, without the perversions of hindsight. Erasmus shows himself a good judge of character. In the 1530s many in France and England came ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... there, and staying, for a short while at least, in an unemployed miner’s house. His friend Allen Hutt later wrote of this as a turning point in Jennings’s life: his upbringing had instilled in him a Ruskinian obsession with the impact of mechanisation on work and on ways of thinking, but he now encountered at first hand ‘the land of industry, of ...

Bloody

Michael Church, 9 October 1986

The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... this piece of oral history has been turned by skilful editing into an immensely readable memoir. Walter Gregory’s tale is in many ways archetypal. ‘Setting off for Spain ... I was like a holidaymaker going abroad for the first time.’ He had moved through trade-union activism inexorably leftward via the Hunger Marches into the Communist Party – the ...

Pretenders

Kenneth Fowler, 13 June 1991

Ways of Lying: Dissimulation and Conformity in Early Modern Europe 
by Perez Zagorin.
Harvard, 337 pp., £27.95, September 1990, 0 674 94834 3
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Lucrecia’s Dreams: Politics and Prophecy in 16th-Century Spain 
by Richard Kagan.
California, 229 pp., £24.95, July 1990, 0 520 06655 3
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‘In his Image and Likeness’: Political Iconography and Religious Change in Regenshurg, 1500-1600 
by Kristin Zapalac.
Cornell, 280 pp., $29.95, October 1990, 0 8014 2269 8
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... While such authority was granted to a number of English clerics, including Father William Allen, who in 1568 founded the seminary in Douai for the training of English missionary priests, and the Jesuit Robert Parsons, the position taken by the Catholic and Protestant authorities alike was that men faced damnation in dissembling their ...

At Tate Modern

Hal Foster: Robert Rauschenberg, 1 December 2016

... without frames, and Rauschenberg often photographed them among everyday things. As the curator Walter Hopps commented, they also underscore ‘the fact of a new urban surface’. Nevertheless, the two series do share an essential operation in negation. After two White Paintings were exhibited in September 1953, Cage offered this litany: ‘No subject/No ...

Kipling’s Lightning-Flash

Barbara Everett, 10 January 1991

... we may feel, cannot be far from the Epiphany. And, in fact, for some decades now (from Walter Allen to David Lodge) critics have found it worth while to see ‘Mrs Bathurst’ in terms of the new movement of Modernism. Certainly it does no harm to recall that Kipling’s story was written nearly two decades before the so much more apparently ...

Mirror Images

Christopher Andrew, 3 April 1986

World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 297 78745 4
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... While writing World of Secrets, Walter Laqueur had discussions with the present and all surviving past directors of the Central Intelligence Agency save one, as well as with other senior Intelligence official and their main customers. Such goings-on would be unthinkable, or at the very least unavowable, in Britain ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... read what everybody was reading,’ Sontag wrote in her most gorgeous pen-portrait, the essay on Walter Benjamin called ‘Under the Sign of Saturn’: she might as well have said it of herself. For Benjamin, this was just part of the charm of his collector’s passion for oddities, a result of his eccentric alternation of lassitude with enthusiasm. One ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... But choosing New York for the convention was overweening even by Republican standards: like Woody Allen, only less humorously, they wanted the sweep of Manhattan to enlarge a panoply of private concerns, and blinded with tears and outrage, they wanted to forge a kind of unity in commemoration of the disaster. Cynicism is not news in politics: the Republicans ...

Lace the air with LSD

Mike Jay: Brain Warfare, 4 February 2021

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control 
by Stephen Kinzer.
Henry Holt, 384 pp., £11.99, November 2020, 978 1 250 76262 7
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... Communist Party allegedly referred to such techniques as hsi nao, ‘washing the brain’.In 1951, Allen Dulles, a former OSS officer, was appointed the CIA’s deputy director for plans. Dulles, who was convinced that the future would belong to the world power that could master the new ‘brainwashing’ technologies, was instrumental in shifting the ...
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... matters, such as whether or not Grant was Jewish, there is no way of setting the record straight. Walter Matthau thought he must be Jewish, even though Grant denied it, because ‘he was so intelligent’, but also because he ‘pronounced the r in “yarmulke”. An Englishman wouldn’t pronounce the r.’ As if Cary Grant’s accent was anything to go ...

Formication

Daniel Soar: Harry Mathews, 21 July 2005

My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 
by Harry Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 203 pp., £8.99, July 2005, 1 56478 392 8
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... subtly shifting chapter devoted to a particular pairing of characters: Owen, who is blackmailing Allen, whose daughter Priscilla has an affair with Walter, who is the mentor of Phoebe, who forges a portrait of Elizabeth, who everyone loves. One of his quieter books is Twenty Lines a Day (1988), the result of his decision ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... Men. But their tenure was in jeopardy, because the owner of the land on which it stood, Giles Allen, was refusing to extend their lease, which was due to expire in April 1597. It was this imminent threat of eviction which brought Burbage to the Blackfriars in search of alternative accommodation for the company. He paid the owner of the former ...

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