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Kevin Brownlow, 18 April 1985

Chaplin: His Life and Art 
by David Robinson.
Collins, 792 pp., £15, March 1985, 9780002163873
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... French – still searching for an English publisher), Richard Schickel’s D. W. Griffith and now David Robinson’s Chaplin. All have one vital quality in common, and are preceded in this respect by Alexander Walker’s book on Garbo: they depend far less upon books of film history than upon first-class and first-hand research. Instead of a furtive ...

Sappho speaks

Mary Beard, 11 October 1990

The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome 
by Jane McIntosh Snyder.
Bristol Classical Press, 199 pp., £25, May 1989, 1 85399 062 0
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The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece 
by J.J. Winkler.
Routledge, 240 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 415 90122 7
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Greek Virginity 
by Giulia Sissa, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 240 pp., $29.95, March 1990, 0 674 36320 5
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... laws of vocal harmony, imaginative portrayal, and arrangement of the details of thought.’ For David Robinson, writing in the Twenties and reprinted in the Sixties, the ‘perfection’ of Sappho’s verse was clear enough proof of her unblemished character. He was perhaps unusual in his unshakable confidence that (at least in the case of female ...

Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies, 10 September 2009

The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... images on a wide range of writers and critics in the first three decades of the 20th century. As David Trotter notes in Cinema and Modernism,* his account of the impact of film on Woolf, Joyce and Eliot, critics have tended to associate modernist literature with montage, a term used by Russian film-makers of the 1920s to indicate a quick succession of ...

David Nokes on the duality of Defoe

David Nokes, 19 April 1990

Daniel Defoe: His Life 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 671 pp., £20.50, November 1989, 0 8018 3785 5
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... this work of domestic piety, Backscheider presents it as the key to a proper understanding of Robinson Crusoe. The two works, she suggests, function in parallel, with the dialogue of Robinson Crusoe echoing sections of the two-part Family Instructor. ‘Small children and Tobey in The Family Instructors ask the same ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Patrick Keiller, 7 June 2012

... this time accompanied by a blue tractor. This pairing of views in Patrick Keiller’s 2010 film Robinson in Ruins – glimpsed again as part of his current installation at Tate Britain (on display until 14 October) – is almost too typical to be true and must, among other things, be a joke at his own expense. Since the early 1980s Keiller’s work has ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... to be gaining a presence not just in politics but in pop culture too. That same month, May 1976, David Bowie was photographed at Victoria Station on his return to Britain after two years in North America. Standing in an open-topped Mercedes, he appeared to give his fans some kind of open-handed, straight-armed – possibly fascist – salute. Soon afterwards ...

The Case for Geoffrey Hill

Tom Paulin, 4 April 1985

Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Work 
edited by Peter Robinson.
Open University, 259 pp., £18, March 1985, 0 335 10588 2
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... that fable in his second volume inevitably attaches a disabling reminder of the Dunciad to Peter Robinson and his assembled chorus of scholars. There is something cosy and desperate in their yawping enterprise. It could be that Ricks, in his essay ‘Tenebrae and At-One-Ment’, is deliberately baiting ‘the current scientism and theoreticity’, but his ...

At the National Gallery

Nicholas Penny: El Greco, 4 March 2004

... John Charles Robinson, perhaps the greatest connoisseur Britain has ever known, was turned down on four occasions for the post of director of the National Gallery. He was thought to be too closely associated with the trade (‘little better than a dealer’), and was known to have operated with scant respect for officialdom when employed by the South Kensington museum ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: David Davis v. Miss Great Britain, 3 July 2008

... When David Davis, the shadow home secretary, announced his resignation as an MP on 12 June – in order to fight a by-election for his own seat on an issue about which he was in total agreement with his party’s line, on which in fact he was his party’s line – the media nearly choked with delight. The BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, called the resignation ‘without precedent’, and rubbed his hands at the thought of the Tory divisions that must surely lie beneath; only to be told by eager citizen bloggers that there were clear precedents – George Lansbury in 1912, Enoch Powell in 1958 – and that Davis was an incarnation of that forgotten thing: the politician with principles, a man standing up for his beliefs ...

Journey to Arezzo

Nicholas Penny: The Apotheosis of Piero, 17 April 2003

Piero della Francesca 
by Roberto Longhi, translated by David Tabbat.
Sheep Meadow, 364 pp., £32.50, September 2002, 1 878818 77 5
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... the National Gallery. Piero della Francesca was a figure of special interest for both John Charles Robinson, an agent for South Kensington as well as for private collectors, and Charles Eastlake, the first director of the National Gallery, because of the extreme rarity of his portable pictures. There was only one work by him in any public – or indeed any ...

Rongorongo

John Sturrock: The Rosetta Stone, 19 September 2002

Keys of Egypt 
by Lesley Atkins and Roy Atkins.
HarperCollins, 335 pp., £7.99, September 2001, 0 00 653145 8
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The Rosetta Stone: The Story of the Decoding of Hieroglyphics 
by Robert Solé and Dominique Valbelle, translated by Steven Rendall.
Profile, 184 pp., £7.99, August 2002, 1 86197 344 6
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Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts 
by Andrew Robinson.
McGraw Hill, 352 pp., £25.99, June 2002, 0 07 135743 2
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The Man who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris 
by Andrew Robinson.
Thames and Hudson, 168 pp., £12.95, April 2002, 0 500 51077 6
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... do better to read the summary expertly given in The Rosetta Stone, or, best of all, in Andrew Robinson’s lucid and well illustrated chapter on hieroglyphics in Lost Languages (whose many line drawings are at once valuable and deceptive, since they make the signs displayed look a great deal easier to identify than they are in the worn and weathered ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... of Fair Trading, and a director of Mirror Group Newspapers, whose anti-trade union regime under David Montgomery was ushered in with the blessing of the Mirror’s new accountants, Arthur Andersen. Borrie’s introduction to the Social Justice Commission report was full of praise and gratitude for the free help given by Andersen Consulting. The ...

Sideswipes

Stephen Walsh: Prokofiev, 25 September 2003

Prokofiev: From Russia to the West 1891-1935 
by David Nice.
Yale, 390 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09914 2
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... wrote. Stravinsky of course remained immune – but that’s another story. The first volume of David Nice’s Prokofiev biography stops when the 44-year-old composer settles in Moscow with his Spanish wife, Lina, and two young sons at the end of 1935. But it describes in detail the eight preceding years, during which Prokofiev lived and worked as a ...

Received Accents

Peter Robinson, 20 February 1986

Collected Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 351 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 19 211974 5
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Selected and New Poems: 1939-84 
by J.C. Hall.
Secker, 87 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 436 19052 4
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Burning the knife: New and Selected Poems 
by Robin Magowan.
Scarecrow Press, 114 pp., £13.50, September 1985, 0 8108 1777 2
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Englishmen: A Poem 
by Christopher Hope.
Heinemann, 41 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 434 34661 6
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Selected Poems: 1954-1982 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 175 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 436 16754 9
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Writing Home 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 19 211970 2
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... perceptual and moral insight that it might appear. ‘Against Portraits’ and ‘A Self-Portrait: David’, both from later collections, make such insecurity their theme. The poet prefers here a face half-hesitant, face at a threshold. Still, his poems remain preserved, for reasons given in ‘Against Extremity’, from more threatening instabilities of the ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... journal how dismayed he had been to see in the master’s library a copy of the quarto edition of David Hume’s Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects of 1758, handsomely bound in morocco leather. Boswell believed, Sher writes, that an ‘infidel’ writer such as Hume had no right to such marks of ‘politeness and respect’ from Christian ...

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