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Fat and Fretful

John Bayley, 18 April 1996

Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... be standardised critically in terms of other people and their conventional problems. To assert, as Adrian Wright continually does, that familiar traumas and ‘terrible truths’ lie under it collapses art into convention, and indeed into banality. Shorn of the disguise that is itself, the allurements and the personality of its humours, it can look no more ...

What architects said before they said ‘space’

Andrew Saint: The vocabulary of modern architecture, 30 November 2000

Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture 
by Adrian Forty.
Thames and Hudson, 335 pp., £28, April 2000, 0 500 34172 9
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... discoursing as you went. The clamour among competing exegetes today has become deafening. Adrian Forty’s enterprise in Words and Buildings is to reap all this architectural verbiage and run it ruthlessly through the logic-mill. Having winnowed his crop, he sorts it into heaps of words, of different sizes and kinds; then he takes 18 of the most ...

Momentous Conjuncture

Geoffrey Best: Dracula in Churchill’s toyshop, 18 March 2004

Prof: The Life of Frederick Lindemann 
by Adrian Fort.
Cape, 374 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 224 06317 0
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... World War on the winning side should count ‘the Prof’ as one of those who helped win it. Adrian Fort, in his good-natured but shrewd biography, comes down on that side of the argument, and so do I. But it was touch and go at times. The momentous conjuncture of Churchill with Lindemann did not occur until both were in their middle age. Lindemann in ...


Mary Ann Caws: Dadaglobe Reconstructed, 8 September 2016

... prayer like a furious wind, preparing the great spectacle of disaster, fire, decomposition.’ As Adrian Sudhalter, the co-curator of this show, puts it: ‘The idea of an international Dada anthology for which contributions might travel through the mail as surrogates, in effect, for individuals forbidden to do so in that epoch, registered as not only ...

A Fine Time Together

Lorna Scott Fox: Bullfighting, 20 July 2000

Death and Money in the Afternoon: A History of the Spanish Bullfight 
by Adrian Shubert.
Oxford, 280 pp., £15.99, July 1999, 0 19 509524 3
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... have mystified the corrida, obscuring the fact that it’s manmade – i.e. has a history. Adrian Shubert’s most bracing contention is that, far from epitomising the anti-modernity periodically mourned by Spanish intellectuals, bullfighting was from the start a sign of advanced capitalism. Rather than confirming Spain as the savage of Europe (Ortega ...

Rite of Corruption

James Wood: Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’, 21 October 2010

by Emma Donoghue.
Picador, 321 pp., £12.99, July 2010, 978 0 330 51901 4
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... small worlds – boarding houses, hotels, a plague-sealed town, a single day in a prison, a bare room. These reduced spaces intensify the fictionality that made them: they are as bound as a book. Depending on the intensity of the reduction, plot slows down to an agonising verisimilitude, because the writer needs both to entrap the reader and to persuade the ...

Holy Terrors

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 December 1986

‘Elizabeth’: The Author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ 
by Karen Usborne.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 370 30887 5
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Alison Uttley: The Life of a Country Child 
by Denis Judd.
Joseph, 264 pp., £15.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2449 9
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Richmal Crompton: The Woman behind William 
by Mary Cadogan.
Allen and Unwin, 169 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 04 928054 6
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... three children in three years – Henning only had to sneeze, she said, on the far side of the room for her to become pregnant – and endured the correct society of Berlin. Then she was transferred ninety miles away to Nasserheide, the Count’s vast derelict estate in Pomerania. It was there, during the blissful months of his absence on business, that ...

Palpitating Stones

Roger Scruton, 3 April 1997

The Dancing Column: On Order in Architecture 
by Joseph Rykwert.
MIT, 598 pp., £49.95, May 1996, 0 262 18170 3
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... literature on this all-important topic – Sir William Chambers’s Architecture, for instance, or Adrian Stokes’s Stones of Rimini – does not feature among Rykwert’s two thousand volumes, and even Ruskin (who, for all his impetuous dismissal of the Greek and Roman styles, showed more understanding of their point than most of their defenders) is ...

Topping Entertainment

Frank Kermode: Britten, 28 January 2010

Journeying Boy: The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten 
edited by John Evans.
Faber, 576 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 571 23883 5
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... at Gresham’s he is said to have spent as much time in the nets and at ping pong as in the music room playing piano duets, trios and quartets with his fortunate fellow pupils. He was also quite often sick, being especially vulnerable to ‘beastly colds’. About music Britten had, from very early days, strong opinions, to which the privacy of the diary ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... by Notes. When I was a student I appeared in a play by Michael Codron, directed by his friend, Adrian Brown: just before we went on, Codron appeared to give us a Note. ‘Adrian is making this too heavy and Germanic,’ he said. ‘I want it to be light, French, a soufflé.’ This confused us performers and wrecked the ...

A Glorious Thing

Julie Peters: Piracy, 4 November 2010

Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 626 pp., £24, February 2010, 978 0 226 40118 8
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... property was over. Makers of ideas would henceforth have to live on prestige alone. In Adrian Johns’s account, intellectual property rights have always been precarious. According to him, the concepts of intellectual property and intellectual piracy arose as delayed responses to the advent of printing and the development of a commercial book ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... amusements made possible the affair with Wallis Simpson and so led eventually to the abdication. Adrian Tinniswood, whose book combines a panoramic view of life and architecture in the interwar years with pin-sharp detail and the sort of springy prose that comes with a complete command of the material, takes the idea of the weekend as both an embodiment of ...


Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... He grabbed my suitcase with one hand and my elbow with the other and guided me off to the Press Room. Therein, dead-centre, was a small stage flooded with television lights, and on the stage a couple of black leatherette TV armchairs. An airport interview! Reluctantly, I marched towards the lights: ‘Where do I sit?’ The pressman was not in the least ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 June 1986

The Unknown Conan Doyle: Letters to the Press 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 377 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 436 13303 2
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... attained by psychical study.’ But this study has been tending to widen for him from the séance-room of ectoplasm and jingling tambourines to experiences of his own in common life. Thus his younger son Adrian has shown an apparently inexplicable awareness of something his elder son Denis has done in another ...

Dad’s Going to Sue

Christopher Tayler: ‘My Struggle’, 5 April 2012

A Death in the Family: My Struggle: Vol. I 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 393 pp., £17.99, March 2012, 978 1 84655 467 4
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... found his father’s body. He also describes his incontinent grandmother moving spectrally from room to room and asking if it’s time for a drink while he and Yngve scrub the place down. One night before the funeral they give in and get drunk with her. She tells them that the Occupation wasn’t so bad, that the ...

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