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I do like painting

Julian Bell: The life and art of William Coldstream, 2 December 2004

William Coldstream 
by Bruce Laughton.
Yale, 368 pp., £30, July 2004, 0 300 10243 7
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... just stood around, uncertain of what to do next … It sort of petered out.’ Bruce Laughton’s William Coldstream is an attempt, 17 years on, to gather up the tatters of a wake held at University College London. The unnamed participant touches on a more general diffidence about how to remember or appraise ...

Rabbits Addressed by a Stoat

Stefan Collini: Émigré Dons, 12 July 2017

Ark of Civilisation: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University, 1930-45 
edited by Sally Crawford, Katharina Ulmschneider and Jaś Elsner.
Oxford, 396 pp., £75, March 2017, 978 0 19 968755 8
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... University 1930-45, isn’t any of the great institutions that may come to mind, but Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man. As the result of a slightly panicky policy of interning ‘enemy aliens’ after the fall of France, large numbers of refugee German scholars – most but not all of whom were Jewish – found themselves in this unlikely spot. They ...

In the Turner Gallery

Peter Campbell: Coleridge’s Note-Taking, 26 February 2009

... In the first volume of his Coleridge biography, Richard Holmes describes Coleridge and Dorothy and William Wordsworth working ‘like plein-air painters, taking elaborate notes on the varied effects of light on the landscape, of plants and water, of wind and cloud and starlight’. They were under surveillance, suspected of Jacobin sympathies ...

At the British Library

Peter Campbell: The lie of the land, 20 September 2001

... is set out, town by town, guided Jew and Gypsy-hunters to the places where potential concentration camp victims were thickest. Made with similar efficiency, earlier on, is the plan of Nuremberg which shows how contingents to a mighty 1939 Nazi rally would make their way to the stadium. In a colour key to a series of maps of German towns made in the 1940s for ...

On the Banks of the Tom

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 10 November 1994

Memoirs of Peasant Tolstoyans in Soviet Russia 
translated and edited by William Edgerton.
Indiana, 308 pp., £25, September 1993, 0 253 31911 0
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... revival as a collective farm in the late Forties, when Mazurin’s release from labour camp coincided with the need to rebuild the kolkhoz on a new location following a decision to start mining coal on the old site. That lasted until 1957, when the kolkhoz was turned into a state farm. There were fresh arrests of Tolstoyan ...

Poison and the Bomb

Norman Dombey, 20 December 2018

... The Manhattan Project, as Merkulov discovered, had commissioned three plants, known as Camps X, W and Y. Camp X, at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was devoted to uranium enrichment; Camp W, at Hanford in Washington State, housed the reactors for producing plutonium; and ...

Prussian Chic

James Sheehan: Frederick the Great, 27 July 2016

Frederick the Great: King of Prussia 
by Tim Blanning.
Allen Lane, 648 pp., £30, September 2015, 978 1 84614 182 9
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... have been more surprised at Frederick’s posthumous reputation than his father, King Frederick William I (1713-40). The Hohenzollern dynasty was unusually lucky; for almost three centuries, they managed to produce relatively healthy, relatively sane males, who all lived long enough to avoid the struggles for succession of so many of Europe’s ruling ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson, 18 December 1986

L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... the new Communist authorities, leading to further imprisonment and torture in a ‘re-education’ camp. Moon was certainly interned for a year but Korean Christian researchers claim to have established that actually he had contracted a bigamous marriage, asserting that God had authorised him to do so. History, once again, violently intervened: the Korean War ...

Terrible to be alive

Julian Symons, 5 December 1991

Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... famous names here, Jarrell’s not one to set beside them. Even in his own country, his biographer William Pritchard says, his reputation ‘is not nearly so firm and pre-eminent as I think it deserves to be’. This biography and a selection from the poems (a severe weeding, no more than a fifth surviving) are meant to put that right. Pritchard’s book is ...

Some Flim-Flam with Socks

Adam Kuper: Laurens van der Post, 3 January 2002

Storyteller: The Many Lives of Laurens van der Post 
by J.D.F. Jones.
Murray, 505 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5580 9
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... Charles on a brief excursion to the fringes of the Kalahari and became the godfather of Prince William. These elevated contacts won him favourable, even awestruck publicity, though Private Eye regularly featured him uttering some New Age balderdash at which Prince Charles would murmur: ‘How true.’ Fortunately for him, no journalist discovered that as ...

All the Cultural Bases

Ian Sansom, 20 March 1997

Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland 
by Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell.
Faber, 160 pp., £7.99, November 1996, 0 571 17539 2
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... to Lord Byron’, but also a number of other putative letters (to Richard Crossman and William Coldstream, for instance), MacNeice’s ‘Eclogue from Iceland’, the famously camp prose-piece ‘Hetty to Nancy’, and the joint-authored ‘Last Will and Testament’. According to Auden, MacNeice wrote about ...

The Man Who Stood Behind the Man Who Won the War

E.H.H. Green: Andrew Bonar Law, 16 September 1999

Bonar Law 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 458 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7195 5422 5
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... by warfare within his own ranks and confronted by a broad alliance of political opponents. Can William Hague draw any comfort from the experience of his similarly beleaguered predecessor Andrew Bonar Law, a scarcely visible figure in the pantheon of Tory leaders? What is best known about him is that he is ‘unknown’. Lord Blake’s celebrated ...

Uncle Kingsley

Patrick Parrinder, 22 March 1990

The folks that live on the hill 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 246 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 09 174137 8
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Kingsley Amis: An English Moralist 
by John McDermott.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 9780333449691
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In the Red Kitchen 
by Michèle Roberts.
Methuen, 148 pp., £11.99, March 1990, 9780413630209
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See Under: Love 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 458 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 224 02640 2
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... Milk. The authenticity of Florence’s spiritual powers was vouched for by a Victorian scientist, William Crookes, who also became besotted with ‘Katie King’, the spirit whose materialisations were the high point of Florence Cook’s séances. There was no middle ground in the 19th-century Spiritualist debate. Either the voice you heard and the form you ...

Try the other wrist

Lara Feigel: Germany in the 1940s, 22 October 2014

The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s 
by Werner Sollors.
Harvard, 390 pp., £25.95, April 2014, 978 0 674 05243 7
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... of their country. Weak with hunger, they slept on straw on the floors of schools or in open-air camps. Sollors’s mother avoided being raped by Russian soldiers by keeping her small son on top of her at night. Her own mother had died after falling from an open freight train outside Dresden; on the road she learned of the death of her daughter, whom the ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... houses. We have not the time to laugh at this speculation because dinner is announced, and William Faulkner is seated next to Candy author Terry Southern. Willie Morris, of the Texas Observer and Harper’s Magazine by way of a place called Yazoo and a university named Oxford, is now listening. ‘Mr Bill,’ Southern whispers into Faulkner’s ...

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