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The Potter, the Priest and the Stick in the Mud

David A. Bell: Spain v. Napoleon, 6 November 2008

Napoleon’s Cursed War: Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War 
by Ronald Fraser.
Verso, 587 pp., £29.99, April 2008, 978 1 84467 082 6
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... In March 1962, the German far-right intellectual Carl Schmitt visited Spain. It was a homecoming of sorts, for while Germany now shunned this brilliant jurist, who had given enthusiastic support to the Nazis, the land of Franco still revered him (he spoke fluent Spanish, and his daughter was married to a prominent Franquista ...

Shameless, Lucifer and Pug-Nose

David A. Bell: Louis Mandrin, 8 January 2015

Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground 
by Michael Kwass.
Harvard, 457 pp., £35, April 2014, 978 0 674 72683 3
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... The 18th century​ was a great age for criminals. Western European countries were awash with more private wealth than ever before, but their police forces remained weak, at least by modern standards. Communications were slow and unreliable, and only the most rudimentary means existed for tracking individual malefactors ...

Further, Father, Further!

David A. Bell: ‘The Wanton Jesuit’, 17 November 2016

The Wanton Jesuit and the Wayward Saint: A Tale of Sex, Religion and Politics in 18th-Century France 
by Mita Choudhury.
Penn State, 234 pp., £43.95, December 2015, 978 0 271 07081 0
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... In the autumn​ of 1730, a 20-year-old woman in the southern French port of Toulon claimed that her spiritual director, a middle-aged Jesuit, had repeatedly forced her to have sex with him. When she became pregnant, he made her drink a potion that induced an abortion ...

Violets in Their Lapels

David A. Bell: Bonapartism, 23 June 2005

The Legend of Napoleon 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Granta, 336 pp., £20, August 2004, 1 86207 667 7
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The Retreat 
by Patrick Rambaud, translated by William Hobson.
Picador, 320 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 330 48901 1
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Napoleon: The Eternal Man of St Helena 
by Max Gallo, translated by William Hobson.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £10.99, April 2005, 0 333 90798 1
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The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in 19th-Century France 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Harvard, 307 pp., £32.95, May 2004, 0 674 01341 7
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Napoleon and the British 
by Stuart Semmel.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 09001 3
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... France, it has often been said, is a democracy with the manners of an absolute monarchy. Think of the ceremonial splendour with which French presidents surround themselves, the haughty, distant style they tend to adopt, or the way relationships within their entourages tend to mimic, with delicious self-consciousness, patterns of favouritism and intrigue developed long ago at the court of Versailles ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... relations reached their lowest point was probably 29 May 1794 – 10 Prairial, Year II, as the French then styled it. On that day, the Jacobin Bertrand Barère delivered a typically long-winded and overheated speech to France’s National Convention on his favourite subject, English perfidy. He accused English ...

Revolutionary Yoke

William Doyle: Le Nationalisme, 27 June 2002

The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism 1680-1800 
by David A. Bell.
Harvard, 304 pp., £30.95, November 2001, 0 674 00447 7
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... Samuel Johnson startled his friends in 1775 by declaring patriotism to be the ‘last refuge of a scoundrel’, Boswell felt that the definition needed to be glossed. Johnson ‘did not mean’, he assured readers, ‘a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: At the Test Match, 6 September 2001

... In the piece by David Bell elsewhere in this issue, a number of lines from an 18th-century French poem are quoted fearlessly in the original. At one time, the question of whether or not to translate them would never have arisen, the editors of a paper like this assuming that a sufficiently high proportion of its readers were comfortable with French for a translation to be both patronising and redundant ...

Frege and Analytical Philosophy

Michael Dummett, 18 September 1980

Philosophical and Mathematical Correspondence 
by Gottlob Frege, translated by Hans Kaal, edited by Brian McGuinness.
Blackwell, 214 pp., £15, March 1980, 9780631196204
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Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege 
edited by Peter Geach and Max Black.
Blackwell, 228 pp., £12, July 1980, 0 631 12901 4
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Frege’s Theory of Judgement 
by David Bell.
Oxford, 163 pp., £8.50, July 1979, 0 19 827423 8
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Gottlob Frege 
by Hans Sluga.
Routledge, 203 pp., £12.95, July 1980, 0 7100 0474 5
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... of Frege’s unpublished writings, of which he had charge, by obtaining from those, such as Russell and Husserl, whose letters to Frege were included in the collection, the letters Frege had written to them. On 25 March 1945 the US Air Force bombed Münster. I believe that the object was to destroy an important ...

Global Moods

Peter Campbell: Art, Past and Present, 29 November 2007

Mirror of the World: A New History of Art 
by Julian Bell.
Thames and Hudson, 496 pp., £24.95, October 2007, 978 0 500 23837 0
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... Julian Bell has written a tremendous history of world art, one that will inevitably be compared with Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published nearly sixty years ago. Since then image-making technologies that seemed mature have changed and expanded their reach. In 1950 we lived in an image flood ...

At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: ‘Migrations’, 8 March 2012

... the thankless and well nigh incoherent task of demarcating which of their holdings belonged to a story about a specific nation and which to a story about value systems in general. Equally awkward has been the relation between the nation in question, ruled from London, and the more ...

At Dulwich

Alice Spawls: Vanessa Bell, 17 May 2017

... It​ seems to be a foregone conclusion that Vanessa Bell isn’t much good. There are those devoted types, of course, for whom the sensibility of her paintings, as well as their subjects, makes them windows into a beloved world ...

All This Love Business

Jean McNicol: Vanessa and Julian Bell, 24 January 2013

Julian BellFrom Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War 
by Peter Stansky and William Abrahams.
Stanford, 314 pp., £38.95, 0 8047 7413 7
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... Julian Bell returned briefly to England in the spring of 1937. He was 29; he had been teaching in China for 18 months and was now determined to fight in Spain. Everyone knew this was his plan, or rather everyone except his mother, Vanessa, whom Julian had told that he might not go, that ‘of course it would depend on my persuading you ...

The man whose portrait they painted

Patrick Procktor, 12 July 1990

A Life with Food 
by Peter Langan and Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 128 pp., £16.99, May 1990, 9780747502203
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... From David Hockney’s Lord of Misrule to its repetition on the back of the jacket, this book is a bull shot, like the cocktail at the bar in Langan’s Brasserie. It consists of Langan’s self-portrait, written in the sleepless marches, to which the art critic Brian Sewell has contributed a memoir of friendship which will come as a pleasant surprise to readers more accustomed to his inspired Sowerberry in the columns of the Evening Standard ...

Iraq Must Go!

Charles Glass: The Making and Unmaking of Iraq, 3 October 2002

... There is a dry wind blowing through the East, and the parched grasses wait the spark. John Buchan, Greenmantle (1916) As Lloyd George’s wartime Director of Information, John Buchan urged Britain to support an incomprehensible Eastern war with the cry: ‘The Turk must go!’ At the beginning of 1916, the Turk was not going anywhere: he held fast at Gallipoli, driving off the Allied landings in January, and accepted the surrender of a British Mesopotamian invasion force at Kut, south of Baghdad, in April ...

Get out

Julian Bell: Francis Bacon, 19 October 2000

Looking back at Francis Bacon 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 272 pp., £29.95, June 2000, 0 500 01994 0
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... Somewhere in London, two heads would be nodding together: one tall like the boulder topping a cairn, the other broadened like a Hallowe’en pumpkin. Two lordly sensibilities, the heterosexual critic and the homosexual artist, had converged to discuss painting and the human condition ...

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