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When Medicine Failed

Barbara Newman: Saints, 7 May 2015

Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 787 pp., £27.95, December 2013, 978 0 691 15913 3
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... appalled by the touch of a female. After a brisk march through the history of sainthood – from Peter and Paul to the Reformation in just ninety pages – Bartlett turns to a leisured exploration of liturgical commemoration, relics and shrines, pilgrimage, church dedications, personal and place names, images of the saints and literary genres, including ...

My Feet Are Cut Off

Barbara Newman: Lives of the Saints, 3 December 2009

Gilte Legende Vol. I 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 496 pp., £65, November 2006, 0 19 920577 9
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Gilte Legende Vol. II 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 1036 pp., £65, August 2007, 978 0 19 923439 4
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... in these pains … as one who has found great treasures.’ After her breasts are cut off, St Peter heals them (over her protests) so that she can survive to face new torments. A kind of double vision is required of the spectator: where pagan kings and their minions see only unbearable pain, martyrs experience the invisible power of God. Their legends ...

At the Newport Street Gallery

Ben Eastham: John Hoyland , 7 January 2016

... cloak the awe with which he regarded New York’s generation of post-war abstractionists: Barnett Newman, Rothko, Hans Hofmann and Motherwell chief among them. A Yorkshireman like Hirst, Hoyland also knew scandal early: his abstract work was initially removed from the 1960 graduate exhibition at the Royal Academy Schools, then restored when the school’s ...


Peter Wollen, 19 October 1995

Sex and Suits 
by Anne Hollander.
Knopf, 212 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 43096 2
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... turned out to be so strangely decisive, the most illuminating book I have read is Gerald Newman’s The Rise of English Nationalism. As many others have done, Newman describes how English patriotism arose from below during the 18th century and was directed specifically against France and Frenchness, but he lays ...

Seven Centuries Too Late

Barbara Newman: Popes in Hell, 15 July 2021

Dante’s Bones: How a Poet Invented Italy 
by Guy Raffa.
Harvard, 370 pp., £28.95, May 2020, 978 0 674 98083 9
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Poetry in Dialogue in the Duecento and Dante 
by David Bowe.
Oxford, 225 pp., £60, November 2020, 978 0 19 884957 5
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Dante’s Christian Ethics: Purgatory and Its Moral Contexts 
by George Corbett.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £75, March 2020, 978 1 108 48941 6
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Why Dante Matters: An Intelligent Person’s Guide 
by John Took.
Bloomsbury, 207 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 1 4729 5103 8
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Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio: Literature, Doctrine, Reality 
by Zygmunt Barański.
Legenda, 658 pp., £75, February 2020, 978 1 78188 879 7
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... Purgatory, while only one is in Paradise. This is John XXI, but among the blessed he is hailed as Peter of Spain, a notable logician – with no hint of his high office. Corbett sees a ‘pamphlet-like immediacy’ in Dante’s view of the papacy, as he held not just that individual popes were sinners, but that the institution itself was profoundly ...

She Who Can Do No Wrong

Jenny Turner, 6 August 1992

Curriculum Vitae 
by Muriel Spark.
Constable, 213 pp., £14.95, July 1992, 0 09 469650 0
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... frantically, sending out poem after poem, keeping critical projects on T.S. Eliot, Cardinal Newman and possibly the Book of Job all bubbling on the back-burner at the same time. Spark then became anorexic, using dexedrine as a substitute for regular meals. Her breakdown when it came appeared as a visitation from Eliot, whose poetry, Spark convinced ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... is proudly displayed (as are the many builders’ cracks in the drawing), Barry Fantoni, Nick Newman, Martin Honeysett, Willie Rushton … the list is long. Most of this, including the strips, is topical, socio-comic work, or lunatic observational – the country seen from another planet – or simply anarchic. Scarfe and Steadman, the two high ...

Whipping the wicked

Peter Clarke, 17 April 1980

The Optimists: Themes and Personalities in Victorian Liberalism 
by Ian Bradley.
Faber, 301 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 571 11495 4
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... in turn meant leaving a great deal to individual responsibility and judgment, for good or ill. Newman put the philosophical objection here with some precision: ‘Liberalism is the mistake of supposing that there is a right of private judgment, that is, that there is no existing authority on earth competent to interfere with the liberty of individuals in ...

Utopian about the Present

Christopher Turner: The Brutalist Ethic, 4 July 2019

Alison and Peter Smithson 
by Mark Crinson.
Historic England, 150 pp., £30, June 2018, 978 1 84802 352 9
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Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing 
by John Boughton.
Verso, 330 pp., £9.99, April 2019, 978 1 78478 740 0
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... In​ 1972, the architects Alison and Peter Smithson completed Robin Hood Gardens, their only council estate. The couple were famous for projects such as the Mies van der Rohe-inspired Hunstanton School (1954) in Norfolk; the three chamfered, stone-clad towers of the Economist Building (1959-65) in Piccadilly; and the timber-screened Garden Building (1967-70) at St Hilda’s College, Oxford ...


Lidija Haas: Niki de Saint Phalle, 12 August 2021

... as a beautiful woman in a white jumpsuit, she was a sensation, and was even satirised in a Paul Newman movie. She made blasphemous altars covered in weapons, vermin, crucifixes (the MoMA show includes the large bronze Altar O.A.S., which attacks the Catholic Church for its role in French colonialism). ‘Le Dragon de Knokke’ (1975) The same ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... malice. Vincent Price was too camp to be really alarming, even as the witchfinder general. Peter Lorre was heartbreaking as a child murderer. James Gandolfini, playing an incorrigibly mean-minded godfather for seven years, strangely held on to the affection of most of his mass audience. James Cagney had his moments of deadpan nastiness, but there’s ...

Can there be such a thing as music criticism?

John Deathridge, 20 February 1986

Music and Civilisation: Essays in Honour of Paul Henry Lang 
edited by Edmond Strainchamps, Maria Rika Maniates and Christopher Hatch.
Norton, 499 pp., £35, March 1985, 0 393 01677 3
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The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-1914 
edited by Kay Dreyfus.
Macmillan, 542 pp., £25, December 1985, 0 333 38085 1
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by Joseph Kerman.
Collins/Fontana, 255 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 00 197170 0
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... Carl Engel (one of the founding fathers of American musicology) is demolished at the end of Ernest Newman’s Wagner biography in a welter of prose that makes the fall of Valhalla look like a harmless firework. The very fact that Newman, whom Adorno called the Anglo-Saxon matador of music criticism, decided to end the most ...

Beyond Zero

Peter Wollen: Kazimir Malevich, 1 April 2004

Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism 
edited by Matthew Drutt.
Guggenheim, 296 pp., $65, June 2003, 0 89207 265 2
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... of abstraction and of the minimalist works produced many years later by such artists as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Yves Klein. Or he can be regarded as a folk artist, or as a visionary who proposed to launch his Suprematist constructions and artworks into outer space, where they would circle the earth as satellites. He was also deeply interested in the ...

Cooking it up

Rupert Christiansen, 19 January 1989

Maria: Callas Remembered 
by Nadia Stancioff.
Sidgwick, 264 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 283 99645 5
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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes 
by John Ardoin.
Robson, 300 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 86051 504 4
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Callas as they saw her 
edited by David Lowe.
Robson, 264 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 9780860514961
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The Great Caruso 
by Michael Scott.
Hamish Hamilton, 322 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 241 11954 5
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by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... their passion and solace from charges of idiocy, rather than from the musicologically qualified: Peter Conrad’s A Song of Love and Death is a distinguished and often fascinating example of this phenomenon. Attempts to transform (or, in Conrad’s case, deconstruct) La Sonnambula or Les Pêcheurs de Perles into matter worthy of learned discourse also ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 December 1994

The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... of Parnell and Casement. Clever readers of a certain type may object that Arthur Scargill and Peter Heathfield made rods for their own backs, dug their own graves, committed various sins of hubris and all the rest of it. Milne himself takes an honest and open line in favour of the NUM’s all-out strategy for the defence of the coalfields and the ...

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