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How They Brought the Good News

Colin Kidd: Britain’s Napoleonic Wars, 20 November 2014

In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 739 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 571 26952 5
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... Wars, a patriotic mythology fixated on the achievements of Nelson, Wellington and Sir John Moore at Corunna tends to filter out fear and uncertainty in favour of a seemingly inevitable procession of victories. As Jenny Uglow stresses in her gripping account of Britain during the Napoleonic era, contemporaries had no such feeling of security. There were ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... Hemingway, Hammett and Nabokov, and employed Thornton Wilder, Steinbeck, Chandler, Brian Moore and Anthony Shaffer). Spoto has found many ready to testify to Hitchcock’s inadequacy without them (like Brian Moore of Torn Curtain: ‘I found that he had absolutely no concept of character’); and to his inadequacy ...

Bring me another Einstein

Matthew Reisz, 22 June 2000

American Pimpernel: The Man who Saved the Artists on Hitler’s Death List 
by Andy Marino.
Hutchinson, 416 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 0 09 180053 6
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... is only one moment in Marino’s lively account which strikes an odd note. Fry tried to get Henry Moore to produce a picture for an album commemorating the escapes from France, and he told the young artist he sent to meet Moore: ‘He’s an old dear and, if he doesn’t give you tea, will at least show you his Courbet ...

The Marxist and the Messiah

Terry Eagleton: Snapshots of Benjamin, 9 September 2021

The Benjamin Files 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 262 pp., £20, November 2020, 978 1 78478 398 3
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... Fredric​ Jameson points out in this study that Walter Benjamin never wrote a book, or not of a traditional kind. His account of German baroque theatre, translated into English as The Origin of German Tragic Drama, was written in the early 1920s as an academic thesis, though it was later published as a book. Since the examiners couldn’t understand a word of this stunningly original work, Benjamin withdrew it, putting paid to his hopes of a university career ...

A Young Woman Who Was Meant to Kill Herself

Jeremy Harding: Charlotte Salomon, 8 March 2018

Life? Or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
Duckworth, 840 pp., £125, September 2017, 978 1 715 65247 0
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Charlotte 
by David Foenkinos, translated by Sam Taylor.
Canongate, 224 pp., £8.99, January 2018, 978 1 78211 796 4
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Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory 
by Griselda Pollock.
Yale, 542 pp., £45, March 2018, 978 0 300 10072 3
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Charlotte Salomon: ‘Life? Or Theatre?’ A Selection of 450 Gouaches 
by Judith Belinfante and Evelyn Benesch.
Taschen, 599 pp., £30, November 2017, 978 3 8365 7077 0
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... women, hundreds with young children. Several were well known: Hannah Arendt; Dora Benjamin, Walter’s sister; Marta Feuchtwanger, wife of Lion; the actress Dita Parlö, whose character falls in love with Jean Gabin’s in La Grande Illusion; Lisa Fittko, a passeuse who risked her life guiding scores of refugees out of France across the Pyrenees ...

Apoplectic Gristle

David Trotter: Wyndham Lewis, 25 January 2001

Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis 
by Paul O'Keeffe.
Cape, 697 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 224 03102 3
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Wyndham Lewis: Painter and Writer 
by Paul Edwards.
Yale, 583 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 300 08209 6
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... He had begun writing verse, and his sonnets won the approval of the scholar and critic T. Sturge Moore. The painters with whom he consorted – Walter Sickert, William Rothenstein, Augustus John – chose to regard him as a poet. ‘The Fine Arts they imagined were already in good hands,’ he recalled in Rude Assignment ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... pressed our iron into its ponderable body’.To return to the necessary choices: I thought Walter’s account of Anson’s squadron in the Le Maire Strait very fine – this was a true sea-man’s sea – and Cowper’s ‘Castaway’ (related to an incident in Walter) prodigious. Then there was ‘The Ancient ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration, 4 May 2017

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... BDC disintegrated, but one of Hassan’s spiritual protégés, a local nationalist called Douglas Moore, took up his cause in the mid-1970s on the city council. Long controlled by racist Southern Democrats, DC won the right to elect its own mayor in 1973, when Congress passed the Home Rule Act; a year later, it elected a black mayor, ...

She gives me partridges

Bee Wilson: Alma Mahler, 5 November 2015

Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Donald Arthur.
Northeastern, 360 pp., £29, May 2015, 978 1 55553 789 0
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... scene came to pay homage to the widow of the composer Gustav Mahler and the writer Franz Werfel, Walter Gropius’s divorced wife and Oscar Kokoshka’s former lover. Thomas Mann, who was one of the guests, offered ‘cordial felicitations on your special day’. Some of Mann’s friends were astonished that he could maintain his friendship with Alma when he ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley, 8 February 2001

Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... 20 April 1816) Claire Clairmont finally manoeuvred him into bed. Seymour’s statement that Thomas Moore ‘had never bothered to read the memoirs which Byron gave him when he visited Venice in the autumn of 1819’, and so was entirely dependent in 1827, after they had been destroyed, on Mary Shelley’s own account when writing his biography of Byron, is ...

Glaucus and Ione

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 17 April 1980

The Last Days of Pompeii 
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
Sidgwick, 522 pp., £6.95, December 1979, 0 283 98587 9
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... William Gell published the two handsome volumes of his Pompeiana. He guided round the sites Sir Walter Scott, then nearing the end of his life. Like Shelley, Scott was less moved by the remains than by the thought of the destruction of the cities, and repeatedly exclaimed: ‘The City of the Dead!’ Meanwhile, excavation continued to be desultory and ...

Shoe-Contemplative

David Bromwich: Hazlitt, 18 June 1998

The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 382 pp., £22.50, June 1998, 0 571 17421 3
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... under the sponsorship of Lord Byron – with an opening salvo against Byron’s hanger-on Tom Moore: I was sorry to find the other day, on coming to Vevey, and looking into some English books at a library there, that Mr Moore had taken an opportunity, in his ‘Rhymes on the Road’’ of abusing Madame ...

What’s wrong with Desmond?

Ian Hamilton, 30 August 1990

Clever Hearts: Desmond and Molly MacCarthy 
by Hugh Cecil and Mirabel Cecil.
Gollancz, 320 pp., £18.95, July 1990, 0 575 03622 2
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... laws’ and, true enough, a year earlier – in Portraits – he had rapturously hymned Oxford’s Walter Raleigh as ‘the most spirited of professorial critics’. Even so, it was evident that for Leavis the real crime of this powerful weekly ‘critic’ was in his deep disinclination to take criticism seriously. According to MacCarthy, ‘the first step to ...

The ‘R’ Word

Adam Smyth: For the Love of the Binding, 4 November 2021

Book Ownership in Stuart England 
by David Pearson.
Oxford, 352 pp., £69.99, January, 978 0 19 887012 8
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... had perhaps the largest of the day at around six thousand volumes. A hundred years later, John Moore, bishop of Ely, had more than thirty thousand books. Moore’s collection is now a star of Cambridge University Library.This was the period in which institutional and civic libraries emerged after the traumatic dispersal ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... chapter of Brideshead Revisited, Elizabeth Bowen’s descriptions of London, even stories by Walter de la Mare – could be taken as appropriate starting-points for a journey into the neo-romantic visual art of England in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. Minton’s drawings make a romance of the facts of wartime England: ruins, deserted docks and ...

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