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Super-Real

Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... the first the Pre-Raphaelites were able to rouse both anger and admiration; a Soho sex shop with Burne-Jones posters as its sole window decoration suggests that whatever it was about their work that made people uneasy still tells. Pre-Raphaelite pictures can be memorable even when they are unlikeable: indeed, are sometimes most memorable when most ...

The Art of Being Found Out

Colm Tóibín: The need to be revealed, 20 March 2008

... In Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, the narrator contemplates the words of passion used by Edward Ashburnham to a young girl, Nancy, and his need to speak them, and what happened once these words were spoken aloud: ‘It was as if his passion for her hadn’t existed; as if the very words that he spoke, without knowing that he spoke them, created the ...

One’s Rather Obvious Duty

Paul Smith, 1 June 2000

Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values 
by Philip Williamson.
Cambridge, 378 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 521 43227 8
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... Crowson), made when he read Baldwin’s skilful statement to the Commons on the abdication of Edward VIII: ‘He is a veritable Bagstock of a fellow – “deep, deep and devilish sly, is tough old Joe, sir.”’ But tough old Stan was only doing what a politician, or indeed anyone else at large in the world, has to do. Posing is a necessary part of ...

Mutual Friend

Richard Altick, 22 December 1983

Lewis and Lewis 
by John Juxon.
Collins, 320 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 00 216476 0
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... figure of them all, the Prince of Wales, who became Lewis’s personal friend. The future King Edward sought legal advice from him in connection with, among other embarrassments to the cherished image of royalty as the seat of virtue, the sticky Mordaunt divorce case, in which the Prince was forced to testify, and the Tranby Croft cheating-at-baccarat ...

Ventriloquism

Marina Warner: Dear Old Khayyám, 9 April 2009

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám 
by Edward Fitzgerald, edited by Daniel Karlin.
Oxford, 167 pp., £9.99, January 2009, 978 0 19 954297 0
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... of the London Library opposite the lift holds a collection of rare and beautiful editions of Edward FitzGerald’s poem, Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Since its first publication in 1859, it has appeared in every size and shape, giant and toy, on vellum and silk, in fabulous bindings stamped with peacocks’ tails and nightingales’ eyes; it has ...

Fitz

John Bayley, 4 April 1985

With Friends Possessed: A Life of Edward FitzGerald 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Faber, 313 pp., £17.50, February 1985, 0 571 13462 9
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... and gave some to friends, including Monckton Milnes, Richard Burton and D.G. Rossetti. Ruskin and Burne-Jones discovered it; Meredith was bowled over by it. By the century’s end it had already gone through hundreds of editions. In his ABC of Reading Ezra Pound proposed the critical exercise: try to find out why the Rubaiyat has been so successful. Not so ...

The Same Old Solotaire

Peter Wollen, 4 July 1996

‘Salome’ and ‘Under the Hill’ 
by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.
Creation, 123 pp., £7.95, April 1996, 1 871592 12 7
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Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque 
by Chris Snodgrass.
Oxford, 338 pp., £35, August 1995, 0 19 509062 4
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... life, Beardsley told Smithers that the Peacock should ‘untiringly and unflinchingly attack the Burne-Jones and Morrisian medieval business’. Beardsley was committed to ‘usurpation’: he was determined to use the work of his elders and betters in his own manner, cleverly transporting it into a new and original style of his own – to outdo Morris at ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... the grounds that ‘it would sound like a circus.’ It was her second book. The first, a life of Burne-Jones, appeared two years earlier, in 1975, when she was nearly 60. Until then child-rearing, teaching, a difficult marriage and the constant struggle to keep the family afloat – which failed several times, once literally when their houseboat sank in the ...
... I’ve sat on the lawn reading the Block Prince’s Register and other sources for the reign of Edward III. On Tuesday I took a complete holiday. Taking sandwiches I left college at 8.40 a.m., called for Rowse at All Souls, and walked through the early morning sunshine to the station. There we took the train to South Leigh. It was ten by the time we arrived ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... manor house, home of the Horners. Opposite the church door is Munnings’s equestrian statue of Edward Horner, its Lutyens plinth like a smaller Cenotaph, though how the dates compare I’m not sure. But it’s only the most striking of First War mementoes in a church that is virtually a shrine: nearby is the white-painted wooden cross erected on Horner’s ...

Kermode’s Changing Times

P.N. Furbank, 7 March 1991

The Uses of Error 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 432 pp., £18, February 1991, 9780002154659
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... things were required, wrote Kermode: ‘opinion’, in the form of a felt need, on the part of Burne-Jones, Swinburne and Walter Pater, for a certain kind of early Renaissance art; ‘knowledge’ (that is to say, solid art-history), since Pater and co got a great deal wrong – for instance, the ‘cadaverous’ colour so admired by Pater in The Birth of ...

The Shoreham Gang

Seamus Perry: Samuel Palmer, 5 April 2012

Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer 
by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Bloomsbury, 382 pp., £25, June 2011, 978 0 7475 9587 8
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... Ancients’, among whom the most gifted, besides Palmer, were George Richmond and Edward Calvert. Shoreham for the Ancients functioned as, in Henry James’s phrase, ‘the Great Good Place’ – ‘a valley so hidden,’ Calvert said, ‘that it looked as if the devil had not yet found it out.’ The Shoreham spirit that emerges from the ...

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