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Mortal Beauty

Paul Delany, 21 May 1981

Feminine Beauty 
by Kenneth Clark.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 297 77677 0
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Of Women and their Elegance 
by Norman Mailer.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 340 23920 4
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Nude Photographs 1850-1980 
edited by Constance Sullivan.
Harper and Row, 204 pp., £19.95, September 1981, 0 06 012708 2
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... movie still of Greta Garbo in The Kiss. The major turning-point is Romney’s ‘Portrait of Lady Hamilton as Circe’. His sexual infatuation with his model is so intense and palpable as to define a tradition that continues unbroken down to the latest Playboy centrefold: the loosened hair, the eyes set in a lustful stare, the half-open rosebud ...

Refuge of the Aristocracy

Paul Smith: The British Empire, 21 June 2001

Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire 
by David Cannadine.
Allen Lane, 264 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 7139 9506 8
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... of rank and race is more ambiguous than he wants to admit. He quotes the wife (unnamed) of Arthur Hamilton Gordon, installed as Governor of Fiji in 1874, who found the manners of the high-ranking Fijians ‘so perfectly easy and well bred. Nurse can’t understand it at all, she looks down on them as an inferior race. I don’t like to tell her that these ...


Donald Davie, 7 March 1985

The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... his back, he was under no obligation to scratch yours: Edwin Morgan, Robert Garioch and Ian Hamilton Finlay are three Scottish poets whose work he dismisses where he might have been expected, if only for tactical reasons, to approve it. It is the same with Scottish literature of the past. MacDiarmid is almost alone among its formal and informal ...
... 1989 If you want to see the cutting edge of Thatcherism, go to Basingstoke. There, as we learn in Paul Hirst’s After Thatcher, the local council (careful, no doubt, with its ratepayers’ money) has allowed an insurance company to take over and manage a large part of the town’s shopping centre. In the interests of ‘safety’, this company now patrols ...

Short Cuts

Rory Scothorne: Class before Nation, 14 December 2017

... alien and a programme revealing the secrets of alchemy, both shunted from Scottish screens by ‘a Paul Coia quiz show about hills’ and a ‘cartoon series about Gaelic accidents’. There has been no better expression of the deeply Scottish suspicion that the English might be having more fun than we are. ‘Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on,’ the ...

In the Body Bag

Adam Mars-Jones: Ian McEwan’s ‘Nutshell’, 6 October 2016

by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 198 pp., £16.99, September 2016, 978 1 911214 33 5
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... down to his last quarter million), and would dearly like to get his hands on the house in Hamilton Terrace, while Trudy’s love for John has turned to an exasperated hatred, made fully toxic when she discovers, or imagines, that he has a new partner of his own. But somewhere along the line what started out as cosmic tragedy has turned into an example ...
... never read The Road to Oxiana,’ and then telling us his opinion of it, in a recent review of Paul Fussell’s Abroad.By an amiable irony, the same issue of the Spectator which contains Ingrams’s announced intention not to read Amis’s novels also contains a page of reflections ‘On book reviewing’ by, wait for it, Christopher Booker. He discusses ...


David Bromwich: The Snowden Case, 4 July 2013

... among others, while working as an analyst for the CIA, the NSA and the security outfit Booz Allen Hamilton (whose present vice chairman, Mike McConnell, is a former director of the NSA). Imperialism has been defined as doing abroad what you would like to do at home but can’t. Snowden, from the nature of his work, was made to recognise with growing dismay ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 June 2015

New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... unclutter that trumps the occasional temptation to clutter. Writing in these pages long ago, Ian Hamilton took mocking issue with something Heaney said to another interviewer: ‘About the only enmity I have is towards pride.’* But it’s the simple truth. When you think of Yeats’s ‘Cast a cold Eye/On Life, on Death./Horseman, pass by!’ or Rilke’s ...

Muldoon – A Mystery

Michael Hofmann, 20 December 1990

Madoc – A Mystery 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 261 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14489 6
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... output at a stroke. But in another way, it does remarkably little to change the sense one has of Paul Muldoon. It is a book for initiates, more of the same. Each of his previous five volumes has ended with something a little longer, a relaxing gallop after the dressage – even ‘The Year of the Sloes, for Ishi’ in New Weather (1973) was four pages ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... fuzzes the shadowy outline of Ian Penman, a laureate of marginal places, folds in the map, is that Paul Schrader, the director of a sassy remake of Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, admired Penman’s review so much that he invited him over to Los Angeles to talk product. Penman in California was truly the vision of a man who fell to earth, a pale alien in an X ...

An Urbane Scholar in a Wilderness of Tigers

Robert Irwin: Albert Hourani, 25 January 2001

A Vision of the Middle East: An Intellectual Biography of Albert Hourani 
by Abdulaziz Al-Sudairi.
Tauris, 221 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9781860645815
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... becoming Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford. It is possible that Paul Kraus, the half-crazed student of Arab alchemy and another of Hourani’s friends, was murdered in Cairo in 1944, because of a suspected connection with the assassins of Lord Moyne. Hourani’s own life, however, was, outwardly at least, a tranquil affair ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... steal. In 1975, following a series of mergers which transformed the firm, the Routledge and Kegan Paul archive, dating back to George Routledge’s ‘railway library’ in the mid-19th century and coming forward to Wittgenstein, was deposited, on ‘permanent loan’, at nearby UCL. The Penguin and Hamish Hamilton archives ...

Reading with No Clothes on

Michael Hofmann: Guernsey’s Bard, 24 January 2008

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by G.B. Edwards.
NYRB, 400 pp., £10.99, July 2007, 978 1 59017 233 9
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... all round London, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, to his enormous credit, acquired it for Hamish Hamilton, who published it, with Fowles’s introduction, in 1981. It grieves me that I wasn’t aware of its publication at the time, because surely I would have loved it then as I love it now: I have read few books of such wide and delightful appeal. There is a ...

Erase, Deface, Transform

Hal Foster: Eduardo Paolozzi, 16 February 2017

Eduardo Paolozzi 
Whitechapel Gallery, until 18 May 2017Show More
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... critic John McHale alludes to Rudolf Arnheim, who first applied Gestalt theory to art, and cites Paul Schilder on the ‘fragmentary associations’ that we fold into our body images. Similar reflections on the infantile development of the corporeal imago had been made by Jacques Lacan in his celebrated paper on the ‘mirror stage’ a decade earlier. In it ...

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