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Fathomless Strangeness of the Ordinary

Stephen Greenblatt: Disenchantment, 7 January 1999

Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 
by Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park.
Zone, 511 pp., £19.95, June 1998, 0 942299 90 6
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... categories. The physical arrangement of the Wunderkammern, about which Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park write with great learning, was often calculated to heighten the sense of that heterogeneity, and the objects were typically chosen or fashioned to emphasise category confusion, to exemplify metamorphosis and to produce a dizzying collapse of ...

Bored Hero

Alan Bell, 22 January 1981

Raymond Asquith: Life and Letters 
by John Jolliffe.
Collins, 311 pp., £10.95, July 1980, 9780002167147
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... cleverness of the youthful letters was tempered, but not muzzled, by Asquith’s courtship of Katharine Horner and particularly by his experiences in the trenches. Many of the early letters have traces of what he himself called ‘the prize essay manner’, displayed least agreeably in a disdainful Wykehamist superiority, clever enough but too easily ...

A Minimum of Charity

Katharine Fletcher: The obstacles to seeking asylum, 17 March 2005

... for two nights outside, my solicitor gave me money and a blanket. I slept in a train station and a park.’ Another solicitor, found for him by the Refugee Council, put in for an injunction against the decision to refuse support. It failed, and Ibrahimi was once again on the streets, ‘for fifteen, twenty days’, until he met another Kurdish man, who let him ...

Bournemouth

Andrew O’Hagan: The Bournemouth Set, 21 May 2020

... to England from America and was living again in his rooms at 3 Bolton Street, just off Green Park. ‘Instead of superficial contacts with the British upper classes,’ James’s biographer Leon Edel reports, ‘James began to form friendships of a more significant kind – with members of his own class, the writers and artists of London.’ There was ...

A Use for the Stones

Jacqueline Rose: On Being Nadine Gordimer, 20 April 2006

Get a Life 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 187 pp., £16.99, November 2005, 0 7475 8175 4
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... impressed by Gordimer’s literary transvestism. ‘Do I really want to be a man?’ she wrote to Katharine White, the fiction editor of the New Yorker, in 1958. ‘I can’t believe I do.’ But this allusion to the earlier work, with its heavily ironic title, acts as a caution against the more romantic aspects of Bannerman’s quest, which only occasionally ...

Icicles by Cynthia

Clarence Brown, 21 March 1996

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov 
edited by Dmitri Nabokov.
Knopf, 659 pp., $35, October 1995, 0 394 58615 8
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... starts as a story. A helpless old Russian émigré named Vasily Ivanovich sits on a park bench to recuperate his strength after going to a funeral. The narrator sits down beside him and ‘recruits’ him as just the type needed to fill out a chapter of a novel he has been working on for two years. This trifle manages thus to be a pseudo-story ...

Mr and Mrs Hopper

Gail Levin: How the Tate gets Edward Hopper wrong, 24 June 2004

Edward Hopper 
edited by Sheena Wagstaff.
Tate Gallery, 256 pp., £29.99, May 2004, 1 85437 533 4
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... For example, she accompanies her essay with a quotation from Hopper’s interview with the critic Katharine Kuh in 1962: ‘There is a sort of elation about sunlight on the upper part of the house. You know, there are many thoughts, many impulses, that go into a picture . . . I was more interested in the sunlight on the buildings and on the figures than in ...
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... knew the indestructible irony that plays around life and death: he had seen his surgeon father park a cigar between the toes of a stiff. Nabokov shared the same knowledge. In hospital with chronic diarrhoea and vomiting, he not only observed his own throes, but also an old dying man: ‘all very interesting and useful to me’. Boyd quotes a newspaper ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... cheerleaders. In a corner, under a high wall that gives away the previous identity of this public park as a decommissioned energy-generating plant, retired workers sway, stiffly and slowly, in t’ai chi ballets. I’m fascinated by the elderly Chinese couple who circle every morning for more than an hour around the perimeter fence of the newly laid, too ...

Plain girl’s revenge made flesh

Hilary Mantel, 23 April 1992

Madonna Unauthorised 
by Christopher Andersen.
Joseph, 279 pp., £14.99, December 1991, 0 7181 3536 9
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... in one case, a beau ‘asked her if she wanted to take a walk through Samuel A. Howlett Municipal Park’. And she did, it seems; she did not deem it too exciting. One of her swains reports: I realised I’d actually kissed a girl, though in my case it happened to be Madonna.’ However, when party-going, ‘she guarded her virginity by sometimes wearing a ...

It was sheer heaven

Bee Wilson: Just Being British, 9 May 2019

Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant 
by Barbara Hosking.
Biteback, 384 pp., £9.99, March 2019, 978 1 78590 462 2
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... one night on holiday in Spain that her group of closest friends, which included the journalist Katharine Whitehorn and the Conservative peer Heather Brigstocke, had had no idea about her sexuality until she mentioned it. ‘If I had produced a gun and fired it through the roof the reaction couldn’t have been stronger.’ Just to have been a woman who ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... come across them in the flesh was as unlikely as coming across Gulliver pegged out in Gott’s Park or Horatio keeping the bridge over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. When, years later, I was playing in Beyond the Fringe on Broadway and wrote home to say I had actually met Rosalind Russell and Alexis Smith and a host of others besides, my weekly letters listing ...

Seductress Extraordinaire

Terry Castle: The vampiric Mercedes de Acosta, 24 June 2004

‘That Furious Lesbian’: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta 
by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 210 pp., £16.95, June 2004, 0 8093 2579 9
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Women in Turmoil: Six Plays 
by Mercedes de Acosta, edited by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 252 pp., £26.95, June 2003, 0 8093 2509 8
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... the sapphic world of her time: from Isadora Duncan, Alla Nazimova, Pola Negri, Tamara Karsavina, Katharine Cornell, Marie Laurencin, Michael Strange and Eva Le Gallienne in the 1920s and 1930s to Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Hope Williams, Libby Holman, Ona Munson (Belle Watling in Gone with the Wind), Poppy Kirk (a Schiaparelli model and prominent ...

One, Two, Three, Eyes on Me!

George Duoblys, 5 October 2017

... cannot be said of Michaela Community School, a free school that opened in Brent in 2014. Its head, Katharine Birbalsingh, came to prominence with a speech at the 2010 Conservative Party Conference in which she denounced a ‘culture of excuses, of low standards’. In 2016 there was a fuss when Michaela sent the parents of one student a letter telling them ...

Magnifico

David Bromwich: This was Orson Welles, 3 June 2004

Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life 
by Peter Conrad.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20978 5
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... The station cut away to a weather report, and then to a swing band in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, playing, with numbing tediousness, a tango, ‘La Cumparsita’, sodden at half-tempo, followed by a sleepwalk through that ‘perennial favourite, "Stardust"’. The music was interrupted once for a bulletin, something about an atmospheric ...

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