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At Tate Britain

Frank Kermode: William Blake, 14 December 2000

... and holy … This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment’) or insulting Joshua Reynolds (‘This Man was Hired to Depress Art’). A few may have been excited by the promise addressed to Christians at the top of one of the Jerusalem plates: I give you the end of a golden string, Only wind it into a ball; It will lead you in at Heavens ...

Let us breakfast in splendour

Charles Nicholl: Francis Barber, 16 July 2015

The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir 
by Michael Bundock.
Yale, 282 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20710 1
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... The engraving​ called A Literary Party at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s shows nine men seated around a table convivially cluttered with decanters and after-dinner debris. From left to right they are James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Edmund Burke, Pasquale Paoli, Charles Burney, Thomas Warton and Oliver Goldsmith ...

Jamming up the Flax Machine

Matthew Reynolds: Ciaran Carson’s Dante, 8 May 2003

The ‘Inferno’ of Dante Alighieri 
a new translation by Ciaran Carson.
Granta, 296 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 1 86207 525 5
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... W.G. Sebald (say), whereas really it is Vertigo, a version of Sebald’s Schwindel. Gefühle. by Michael Hulse. In the Belfast poems, the movement of words from one place or voice to another is a focus of attention. Carson encourages us to see that the slightest transposition matters. When he writes, ‘Spokesman for censored political party spoke in someone ...

Sounds like hell to me

Michael Wood, 13 November 1997

Duchamp: A Biography 
by Calvin Tomkins.
Chatto, 350 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 7011 6642 8
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The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp 
by Arturo Schwartz.
Thames and Hudson, 292 pp., £145, September 1997, 0 500 09250 8
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... his numerous, rather one-sided affairs with women seem to have left little bitterness behind. Mary Reynolds, an American woman he lived with for many years in Paris, said when she was dying that she couldn’t bear to have people around her. ‘Am I people, too?’ a close friend said. Mary Reynolds answered: ‘Yes, even ...

Lord Cardigan’s Cherry Pants

Ferdinand Mount: The benefits of the Crimean War, 20 May 2004

The Crimean War: The Truth behind the Myth 
by Clive Ponting.
Chatto, 379 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 7011 7390 4
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... the ‘black bottle’ incident when he accused a respected ‘Indian’ officer, Captain John Reynolds, of ordering a bottle of porter at the mess table of the 11th, where only champagne was allowed. Reynolds protested that he had in fact ordered Moselle, which came in a similar black bottle. Cardigan refused to accept ...

Diary

David Denby: Deaths on Camera, 8 September 2016

... as it is happening – recorded on 6 July in Falcon Heights, Minnesota by Diamond ‘Lavish’ Reynolds. She was riding with her four-year-old daughter in a car driven by her boyfriend, Philando Castile, when they were pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez for driving with a broken tail-light. Reynolds turned on her ...

Disaster

Ronan Bennett, 16 December 1993

De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow 
by Tim Pat Coogan.
Hutchinson, 772 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780091750305
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... gang killed 14 Catholics in the Millfield district of Belfast after a constable was shot. Although Michael Collins brought these killings to the attention of Winston Churchill during the London negotiations, Nixon was never arrested or charged. He became an embarrassment only when Sir James Craig and the Unionist hierarchy got involved with the Governments of ...

Hoydens

Susannah Clapp, 18 February 1988

A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924 
by Julia Briggs.
Hutchinson, 473 pp., £16.95, November 1987, 9780091682101
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Narratives of Love and Loss: Studies in Modern Children’s Fiction 
by Margaret Rustin and Michael Rustin.
Verso, 268 pp., £22.95, November 1987, 9780860911876
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... the names of her intimate friends. Julia Briggs shows that two of Nesbit’s lovers – Richard Reynolds and Oswald Barron – are saluted in the figures of Dicky and Oswald Bastable. She also suggests that in these books Nesbit represented herself as twins: a weedy boy poet and his spirited sister. The weed’s name is Noel: Mrs Briggs has discovered that ...

Sex’n’Love

Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

The Chatto Book of Love Poetry 
edited by John Fuller.
Chatto, 374 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3453 4
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The Faber Book of Blue Verse 
edited by John Whitworth.
Faber, 305 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14095 5
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Self-Portrait with a Slide 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 62 pp., £5.95, June 1990, 0 19 282744 8
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The Virago Book of Love Poetry 
edited by Wendy Mulford.
Virago, 288 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 1 85381 030 4
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Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing 
edited by Margaret Reynolds, foreword by Jeanette Winterson .
Pandora, 362 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 9780044406723
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Daddy, Daddy 
by Paul Durcan.
Blackstaff, 185 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 85640 446 2
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... without the other. Those who have both will find that, among contemporaries, Christopher Reid and Michael Hofmann are classified as love poets but Craig Raine and Tony Harrison as blue versifiers. Only a few poets make both, including Seamus Heaney, who has two poems unworthy of him in the Whitworth (one about unfreezing a vaginal pump, one about a ...

A Skeleton My Cat

Norma Clarke: ‘Poor Goldsmith’, 21 February 2019

The Letters of Oliver Goldsmith 
edited by Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £64.99, July 2018, 978 1 107 09353 9
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... necessary to consider his Irishness, but the editors of this new edition of Goldsmith’s letters, Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy, urge its importance, and they are surely right. Some of the ideas that persistently recur in Goldsmith’s work – opposition to imperialism, scepticism about English notions of liberty – seem to be manifestations of ...

Brought to book

Gordon Williams, 7 May 1981

Ronnie Biggs: His Own Story 
by Michael Joseph.
Sphere, 238 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 9780718119720
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A Sense of Freedom 
by Jimmy Boyle.
Pan, 264 pp., £1.25, September 1977, 0 330 25303 4
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... Biggs ambles from a Brixton boyhood into petty thieving and friendship with big-timer Bruce Reynolds, who asks him to make one for the big job because he can produce a bent train-driver: ‘I knew before the meeting that there were qualms about my being included on the job, because I was such an unlucky thief; even Bruce was worried. Jobs I had done ...

Goddesses and Girls

Nicholas Penny, 2 December 1982

... confronts the beholder far more boldly. Charles Hope, in his remarkable monograph on Titian, like Michael Jacobs in a brisk and entertaining polemic on the nude in painting, rejects the idea that this is a painting of Venus.1 It represents simply ‘a mortal female lying on a bed’, as Hope puts it, ‘gazing at us with a startlingly direct and unambiguous ...

Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 
by Alethea Hayter.
Robin Clark, 224 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 0 86072 146 9
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Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850 
edited by John Barrell.
Oxford, 301 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198173922
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London: World City 1800-1840 
edited by Celina Fox.
Yale, 624 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 300 05284 7
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... startling to someone used to – say – Marxist criticism, or to the work of art historians like Michael Baxandall and Frances Yates. The emphases and conclusions differ – as they do between the essayists here – but the principle of balancing evidence intrinsic to the painting against material that lies outside the frame to make a critical account is the ...

Fraternity

Nicholas Penny, 8 March 1990

The Image of the Black in Western Art. Vol. IV, Parts I-II: From the American Revolution to World War One 
by Hugh Honour.
Harvard, 379 pp., £34.95, April 1989, 9780939594177
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Primitive Art in Civilised Places 
by Sally Price.
Chicago, 147 pp., £15.95, December 1989, 0 226 68063 0
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The Return of Cultural Treasures 
by Jeanette Greenfield.
Cambridge, 361 pp., £32.50, February 1990, 0 521 33319 9
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... the most sympathetic and beautiful portraits of blacks ever made by Europeans. One of these is Reynolds’s incomplete and undated study of a young black man listening (it seems) to the winds that disturb the sky behind him, a painting long believed to be a portrait of Dr Johnson’s beloved black servant, Frank Barber. Houdon’s radiant patinated plaster ...

A Snake, a Flame

T.J. Clark: Blake at the Ashmolean, 5 February 2015

William Blake: Apprentice and Master 
Ashmolean Museum, until 1 March 2015Show More
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... and suchlike, and would not be caught dead ranking Blake as a painter and draughtsman against Reynolds or Fuseli or even his older contemporary Goya. (The Black Paintings and The Book of Urizen seem to me to inhabit comparable worlds.) But Blake himself, we know, would have understood and sympathised immediately with Bloom’s terms, if not his ...

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