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At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: John White’s New World, 5 April 2007

... for the delay). Raleigh’s attempts at colonisation followed hard on other ambitious voyages. Martin Frobisher thought he had found gold in the course of his 1576 search for the Northwest Passage. In 1578 he retraced his steps and brought home 1350 tons of ore from which ‘neither gold, silver nor any other metal could be drawn’. It was thrown away or ...


Tim Hilton: Art Talk, 19 November 1992

... I hope scholarly ghost. The project was to write a history of the sculpture department at St Martin’s School of Art. Anthony Caro invited me to do it, and the idea was that the book would be a tribute to Frank Martin, the head of the department, and would be published in the year of his retirement. Caro and ...


John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

The Magician’s Doubts 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 252 pp., £18, August 1994, 0 7011 6197 3
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... character to be found in the author’s work’; it is the process that turned Evelyn Waugh into Gilbert Pinfold. Though of course, the transformation is never complete, and never succeeds in fully abolishing the old, vestigial, shyer and more likeable self – if it did, it would be less painful. (Gilbert Pinfold could ...

Finest People

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 December 1992

Letters from Margaret: Correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Margaret Wheeler 1944-50 
edited by Rebecca Swift.
Chatto, 279 pp., £13.99, November 1992, 0 7011 4783 0
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... from Ireland to England. This may be so, although orphans and changelings are also a mainstay of Gilbert and Sullivan, and of the popular Victorian theatre in general. Shaw was certainly sympathetic, but it seems to me that what he appreciated most was the theatrical quality of the situation and its openness to paradox. He is tempted, he tells Margaret, to ...

An Infinity of Novels

Philip Horne, 14 September 1989

A Short Guide to the World Novel: From Myth to Modernism 
by Gilbert Phelps.
Routledge, 397 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 415 00765 8
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The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Longman, 696 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 582 49040 5
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The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel 1875-1914 
by Peter Keating.
Secker, 533 pp., £30, September 1989, 0 436 23248 0
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... on for many of us, as for Trollope, ‘a terrible aspect’. It doesn’t apparently, though, for Gilbert Phelps, John Sutherland and Peter Keating, surveyors and encyclopedists of the form who in their respective fields have laboured with energetic exhaustiveness and not broken down. Each of these books feels as if it takes in an infinity of novels, and each ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... On 16 March 1810​ a Mrs Martin, a ‘labourer’s wife’, was working a field near Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon when she turned up an old gold signet ring bearing on its bezel the initials ‘W.S.’ It was bought for 36 shillings by Robert Bell Wheler, a local historian, and later donated to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, where it still resides ...

Mr Toad

John Bayley, 20 October 1994

Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... Waugh did become interested in himself as a literary model – very much so – and The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold is a masterpiece of self-portraiture, one of the very best in English fiction. Even so it might never have been created had it not been for the remarkable things that happened to its author and his consciousness, as a result of a cocktail of ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... cage of a steel sculpture of 1967 and to either side whitish paintings by Robert Ryman and Agnes Martin. No self-respecting museum would present a combination which was so insouciant art-historically, but it does look very good. The second room is Gallery 12 nearby, diagonally traversed by Dan Flavin’s 1968 piece, knee high and fifty-odd feet long, coolly ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, 19 January 2017

by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... mentions Vespucci, whose accounts of his travels had been published by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in a volume that included a map christening the newly found continents ‘America’. More added detail to lend his fantasy substance, including the Utopians’ alphabet, a woodcut of their croissant-shaped island resembling maps in ...
... shown over the Manchurian affair. Its reward was to be denounced for warmongering by among others Gilbert Murray. Collective security was not a policy. It was a phrase which could become a policy only if its implications were accepted. These, I think, were two, and it was over these that the NS&N dithered. The first was armaments. If collective security means ...

At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... considerably, all the while enjoying a well-rounded private life: after an affair with John Gilbert, she took up with young buck Gary Cooper ... You can feel Nemesis coming on with every drop of a name. Sure enough: Her bedroom was chock-a-block with gardenias and tuberoses; it glowed with the flicker of several dozen candles. In this shrine to her ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele, 6 April 1995

‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... conversion, or at least no account as unequivocal as that of his near contemporary, George Gilbert Scott, the most prolific of the English Goths. Reading Pugin, Scott recounted in his memoirs, persuaded him that Gothic was the only style for a Christian country, leaving him to denounce both trabeation and impure Gothic styles. Rather than suggest the ...


Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... by, I think, 14 publishers’ (its protagonist is ‘Kingsley Amis’, like the character ‘Martin Amis’ in Money); or the unfinished ‘Difficulties with Girls’, written in 1981-82 (a title retained for a quite different novel of 1988, the sequel to Take a Girl like You). One also has to come to the Huntington to read the letters (or many of ...

You can’t argue with a novel

Jerry Fodor, 4 March 2004

Radiant Cool: A Novel Theory of Consciousness 
by Dan Lloyd.
MIT, 357 pp., £16.95, December 2003, 0 262 12259 6
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... a well-established genre. Comp. Lit. 102: readings in Dostoevsky, Kafka, Mann, Gide, Sartre (and Martin Amis if time permits); little or no philosophical sophistication required. In the paradigmatic instances, the form is used to show how things look when viewed from the perspective of some or other philosophical assumptions, the philosophy itself being ...


A.N. Wilson, 14 May 1992

Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... Martin Stannard resisted the temptation to call this story Decline and Fall, but it would not have been a bad title. On one level, the last 27 years of Evelyn Waugh’s life make melancholy reading. The book begins with Waugh’s sometimes bizarre career in the Army; it chronicles his prodigious commercial success as the author of Brideshead Revisited ...

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