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The Girl Who Waltzes

Laura Jacobs: George Balanchine, 9 October 2014

Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer 
by Elizabeth Kendall.
Oxford, 288 pp., £22.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 995934 1
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... them. ‘You have to look everywhere, everything, all the time,’ he told the dancer Ruthanna Boris, when she asked him how to be a choreographer. ‘Look at the grass in the concrete when it’s broken, children and little dogs, and the ceiling and the roof. Your eyes is camera and your brain is a file cabinet.’ Balanchine didn’t want to list ...


Iain Sinclair: My Olympics, 30 August 2012

... prepared to pay for the privilege of cycling around town advertising Barclays Bank. The mayor, Boris Johnson, has not been slow to claim credit for this form of cheap transport. You do not need to breech the security-enhanced gate to hear gladiatorial chants of combat from the Big Screen. Mesh fences enclose a zone where a dozen park casuals are reading ...


Iain Sinclair: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps, 21 May 2020

... the influence of a book he never found, but from which he regularly quotes: The Soul of London by Ford Madox Ford. He haunts the special collections of a Jewish bookseller who warns the young man, on the telephone, that he will very soon have to ‘disappear’. The discovery of authors such as John Cowper Powys, about whom ...

A Tentative Idea for a Lamp

Tim Radford: Thomas Edison, 18 March 1999

Edison: A Life of Invention 
by Paul Israel.
Wiley, 552 pp., £19.50, November 1998, 0 471 52942 7
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... his neck up, he is worth anything his brain can produce.’ He remarked of his friend Henry Ford: ‘This fellow Ford is like a postagestamp. He sticks to one thing until he gets there.’ He had a way of making his recipe for success seem dead simple: ‘I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to ...

Amerikanist Dreams

Owen Hatherley, 21 October 2021

Building a New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture 
by Jean-Louis Cohen.
Yale, 544 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 300 24815 9
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Moscow Monumental: Soviet Skyscrapers and Urban Life in Stalin’s Capital 
by Katherine Zubovich.
Princeton, 280 pp., £34, January, 978 0 691 17890 5
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... October 1917 in Petrograd, and the American leap into the technological unknown, embodied in the Ford factories of Detroit as much as the skyscrapers of New York and Chicago. The protagonists were interlinked rival groups of designers and thinkers who interpreted these ‘new worlds’ in varying ways. Building a New World is the culmination of this ...

Why the hawks started worrying and learned to hate the Bomb

John Lewis Gaddis: Nuclear weapons, 1 April 1999

The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons 
by Jonathan Schell.
Granta, 240 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 1 86207 230 2
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... mounting to deal with long-deferred domestic priorities. Neither George Bush nor Bill Clinton nor Boris Yeltsin could claim the authority in foreign affairs that Reagan and Gorbachev had commanded during the mid-Eighties – or, for that matter, their ability to think ahead, however superficially, about where they would like the world to go and how they might ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... it was headed, in red letters. On the first page was a cartoon labelled ‘LOCKDOWN’, showing Boris Johnson in a white coat, holding a syringe, standing over two masked policemen wrestling to the ground a dreadlocked protestor who’d been holding a placard reading ‘GOVERNMENT LIES’.I skimmed the contents of the leaflet. It seemed a combination of ...

Left with a Can Opener

Thomas Jones: Homer in Bijelo Polje, 7 October 2021

Hearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 320 pp., £28.95, April, 978 0 525 52094 8
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... performers who recited or sang epic poems in Ancient Greece did not learn them by rote. (Boris Johnson’s botched renditions of the Iliad are a double failure: failing to learn it by rote and trying to learn it in the first place.) Rather, a poet would improvise his song using formulaic words and phrases. Every performance was in some sense a new ...

Good Things: Pederasty and Jazz and Opium and Research

Lawrence Rainey: Mary Butts, 16 July 1998

Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life 
by Nathalie Blondel.
McPherson, 539 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 929701 55 0
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The Taverner Novels: ‘Armed with Madness’, ‘Death of Felicity Taverner’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 18 6
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The Classical Novels: ‘The Macedonian’, ‘Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 384 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 42 9
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‘Ashe of Rings’ and Other Writings 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £18.50, March 1998, 0 929701 53 4
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... Rodker she met many of the major Modernists: her diaries record encounters with Pound, Lewis, Ford Madox Ford and, during a brief period when she moved on the fringes of Bloomsbury, Roger Fry. Butts registers their comments, advice and obiter dicta. (Plans have now been announced for a published edition of the ...

Flailing States

Pankaj Mishra: Anglo-America Loses its Grip, 16 July 2020

... such as South Korea and Taiwan, could have been adapted and implemented. But Donald Trump and Boris Johnson chose instead to claim immunity. ‘I think it’s going to work out fine,’ Trump announced on 19 February. On 3 March, the day the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned against shaking hands, Johnson boasted after a visit to a ...

Bastard Foreigners

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare v. the English, 2 July 2020

Shakespeare’s Englishes: Against Englishness 
by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £75, October 2019, 978 1 108 49373 4
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... norm Page upholds within the play, though, is the surely unobjectionable one that his friend Frank Ford should not indulge a paranoid, tyrannous and unfounded jealousy over his wife, Alice. (He may be prosaic in and of himself, but if only Othello or Leontes had spent more time with decent fellows like George!) Tudeau-Clayton is surprisingly unsympathetic ...

The Two Jacobs

James Meek: The Faragist Future, 1 August 2019

... of the 18th century – might as well have been answering the question ‘Which politician called Boris Johnson would you like to lead Britain?’ But the true winners in a Johnson victory are the insurgents who have worked inside and outside Parliament to make their version of the ideas propelling the Brexit cause into a ruling ethos for the nation. The new ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... A dowser and ley line tracker called Alan Hayday, formerly employed on the assembly line of the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, contacted me to pass on his research into a tunnel he claimed to have discovered running from Sutton House, a Tudor mansion on the ridge above the culverted Hackney Brook, to a church on the other side of the River Lea. There was ...

One Summer in America

Eliot Weinberger, 26 September 2019

... incredible. They gave it to you for what reason?’*The president comments on the election of Boris Johnson: ‘Good man. He’s tough and he’s smart. They’re saying “Britain Trump”. They call him “Britain Trump”, and there’s people saying that’s a good thing. They like me over there.’*The president tweets: ‘Chairman Kim has a great ...

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