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The Ultimate Magical Synaesthesia Machine

Rob Young: Painting Music, 22 September 2011

The Music of Painting 
by Peter Vergo.
Phaidon, 367 pp., £39.95, November 2010, 978 0 7148 5762 6
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... media than in the hierarchy between them. Gauguin called the ear ‘inferior to the eye’, and Robert Delaunay confessed, in a letter to Franz Marc, that he was ‘horrified by music and noise’ and mistrusted ‘auditory perception’. August Endell, an architect associated with the Jugendstil movement, believed that no visual art had yet succeeded in ...

Advice for the New Nineties

Julian Symons, 12 March 1992

HMS Glasshouse 
by Sean O’Brien.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, November 1991, 0 19 282835 5
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The Hogweed Lass 
by Alan Dixon.
Poet and Printer, 33 pp., £3, September 1991, 0 900597 39 9
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Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £18.95, November 1991, 0 85635 923 8
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... George Barker and Edith Sitwell. Less than a decade later, with those roses seen as over-blown, Robert Conquest was deploring ‘the omission of the necessary intellectual component from poetry’, gathering several disparate writers under one umbrella, and announcing the striking out of New Lines. The Movement was succeeded by the Group (now what was ...

Keeping mum

Stephen Sedley, 2 March 1989

The Spycatcher Trial 
by Malcolm Turnbull.
Heinemann, 228 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 434 79156 3
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Reform of the Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911: Government White Paper 
HMSO, 16 pp., £2.60, June 1988, 0 10 104082 2Show More
Official Secrets Bill 
HMSO, 14 pp., £3, December 1988, 0 10 300989 2Show More
Security Service Bill 
HMSO, 8 pp., £2.60, November 1988, 9780103007892Show More
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... The only real difference is that the obliquity is not too well concealed in Sir Robert Armstrong’s impromptu response: in the White Paper it lies low. But there is not much to choose between Armstrong’s fluent evasion and the White Paper’s gracious acceptance of the swingeing injustice of Section 2 (which this government has willingly ...

How to Grow a Weetabix

James Meek: Farms and Farmers, 16 June 2016

... tune of about £650,000. Between Agnew’s place and Sandringham is Houghton Hall, family seat of Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, now the home of David, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, Lord Great Chamberlain and beneficiary of £260,000 in subsidies. The land Agnew’s house stands on was part, until relatively recently, of Marquess ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... I visited the US Army Armor Center in Fort Knox, the colonel in charge of training recommended Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers as ‘pinsharp’ on ‘the ethics and morality’ of the future soldiery) and step into plastic cabinets made by Jacuzzi to simulate warfare as it might be fought by ‘the Army after Next’. Meanwhile, the software ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... galvanising and transformative writers, to remain the Scotland Yeats had declared the ‘fruit of Robert Burns and Scott’ – ‘not a nation’ at all, but merely ‘a province with a sense of the picturesque’? I thought about that challenge when I attended a performance in Lochcarron by the Gaelic band Daimh. Their piper and singer, Calum Alex ...

Entanglements

V.G. Kiernan, 4 August 1983

The Working Class in Modern British History: Essays in Honour of Henry Pelling 
edited by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 315 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 521 23444 1
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The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working-Class Radicalism and Culture, 1830-60 
edited by James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £16, November 1982, 0 333 32971 6
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Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of 19th-Century Working Class Autobiography 
by David Vincent.
Methuen, 221 pp., £4.95, December 1982, 0 416 34670 7
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... supply a good deal to trim the balance. It is a mistaken though still lingering idea, Robert Sykes writes, that Chartism and trade-unionism had only marginal connections: they were in close touch in Lancashire throughout the early Chartist years. Chartists there were workers as well, a cross-section of ‘skilled but insecure artisans and factory ...

Skimming along

Ross McKibbin, 20 October 1994

The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... to Mr Major. But this is not to deny the two meanings. When I watched him paying tribute to Billy Wright on an ITV programme, evoking (as, according to Richard Holt and Alan Tomlinson in their essay, he often does) the lost world of a handful of heroes – Wright himself, Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews – it ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... co-authored in 1968. Mr John Costello has produced Mask of Treachery, dealing with Blunt, while Mr Robert Cecil has written a biography of his former Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s study of the Soviet agents who have spied for – or defected to – the West since 1945. Equally ...

Cry Treedom

Jonathan Bate, 4 November 1993

Forests: The shadow of Civilisation 
by Robert Pogue Harrison.
Chicago, 288 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 226 31806 0
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... for spiritual regeneration as much as a manifesto for environmentally-sensitive policies. For Robert Harrison, too, the Enlightenment took a wrong turning: The new Cartesian distinction between the res cogitans, or thinking self, and the res extensa, or embodied substance, sets up the terms for the objectivity of science and [its] abstraction from ...

Do Not Fool Around

E.S. Turner, 24 November 1994

A Passion for Wings: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1908-1918 
by Robert Wohl.
Yale, 320 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 300 05778 4
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... French vers, or lines). It seems the poems still lie in a musty box in the archives. Robert Wohl, who teaches European intellectual and cultural history at the University of Los Angeles, does not say whether he rummaged through that musty box, but he has turned up many a fascinating source for his book. His purpose is to remind us of the tangled ...

Nature’s Chastity

José Harris, 15 September 1983

Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the 19th Century 
by Barbara Taylor.
Virago, 402 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 86068 257 9
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Virgins and Viragos: A History of Women in Scotland from 1080 to 1980 
by Rosalind Marshall.
Collins, 365 pp., £13.50, June 1983, 0 00 216039 0
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... whom the term would have embraced at any later period, but one specific group – the followers of Robert Owen. Like Engels himself, Robert Owen was an unusual figure among the founding fathers of socialism in that he was also a successful capitalist entrepreneur. Born in 1771, the son of a humble Welsh saddler, Owen soared ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... they were tussling with, A. Alvarez’s The New Poetry (which was tussling with its predecessor, Robert Conquest’s New Lines). ‘This anthology,’ they wrote in their preface to the Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry, ‘is intended to be didactic as well as representative.’ Though the things anthologies make happen may be confined to ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... who helped maintain the minority Labour government in power was fair game. Thanks to Peter Wright’s revelations we are more or less familiar with what went on in this period, though it is important to say that Wallace was the first to make public admission of these campaigns, well before Wright. Homosexual smears ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... Vendler to distort major figures helps her discriminate among lesser planets. Her inclusion of Robert Hayden, for example, is bold and welcome. Moreover, her promise to present writers ‘whole’ has more chance of being fulfilled with subsidiary figures. When Eliot judged anthologies less just to major than minor poets, he was, as often, lending his ...

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