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In Memory of Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois

Rosemary Hill: Where is Bohemia?, 6 March 2003

Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts 
by Elizabeth Wilson.
Tauris, 288 pp., £11.99, October 2002, 1 86064 782 0
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Quentin & Philip 
by Andrew Barrow.
Macmillan, 559 pp., £18.99, November 2002, 0 333 78051 5
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... subjects of Barrow’s ‘double portrait’, his friends Quentin Crisp and the surrealist poet Philip O’Connor, were both children of the Home Counties. Crisp, who began life as Denis Pratt, found his way to bohemia from the Pooterland of Egmont Road, Sutton. O’Connor spent a significant part of his tumultuous life in Dorking, a fact which the local ...

I used to work for them myself

David Leigh, 4 August 1983

British Intelligence and Covert Action: Africa, the Middle East and Europe since 1945 
by Jonathan Bloch, Patrick Fitzgerald and Philip Agee.
Junction, 284 pp., £5.95, May 1983, 0 86245 113 2
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Through the Looking-GlassBritish Foreign Policy in an Age of Illusions 
by Anthony Verrier.
Cape, 400 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 224 01979 1
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... of the process that began then, and indeed it has a polemical preface by the renegade CIA agent, Philip Agee, who started the thing off, to be followed by other renegades like John Stockwell. Memoirs and exposures by disillusioned men like these, in the teeth of frantic efforts to suppress and discredit them, were only part of a public interplay that ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Playtime’, 20 November 2014

Playtime 
directed by Jacques Tati.
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... like a too heavy satire of the modern world. ‘Modern’ here means tall buildings, lots of glass walls and doors, men in suits and squawking American women. America was always one of Tati’s targets. In Jour de Fête, François sees a supposed documentary about postal services in America – helicopters, daredevils and muscular male beauty contests ...

Blimey

Gillian Darley: James Stirling, 7 September 2000

Big Jim: The Life and Work of James Stirling 
by Mark Girouard.
Pimlico, 323 pp., £14, March 2000, 9780712664226
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... objects made by a meticulous technique of inlay known as micromosaic, in which tiny fragments of glass are assembled to form a picture – not always in the best possible taste. Mark Girouard’s biography of James Stirling is constructed by a similar procedure, an astonishing accumulation of small details, asides and memories building up to a portrait. Big ...

Better than Ganymede

Tom Paulin: Larkin, 21 October 2010

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 475 pp., £22.50, October 2010, 978 0 571 23909 2
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... Philip Larkin met Monica Jones in 1946 at Leicester University College. She was an assistant lecturer there, and Larkin was an assistant librarian. Both had firsts in English from Oxford. Monica Jones was an able lecturer, but she never published anything and so was never promoted, although she stayed at Leicester until she retired in 1981 ...

Barbara Pym’s Hymn

Karl Miller, 6 March 1980

... again, to fame, when readers were alerted to her fiction by the commendations of two admirers, Philip Larkin and David Cecil. Having been out, she became ‘the in-thing to read’, and reviewers rushed to praise the late novel Quartet in Autumn – now in paperback – as if it were a match for her early work.* Meanwhile her early work has been ...

Wallacette the Rain Queen

Mark Lambert, 19 February 1987

The Beet Queen 
by Louise Erdrich.
Hamish Hamilton, 338 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 241 12044 6
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Marya: A Life 
by Joyce Carol Oates.
Cape, 310 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 0 224 02420 5
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The Lost Language of Cranes 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 319 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81290 0
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... This godfather Wallace, civic booster, assiduous joiner of fraternal organisations, collector of glass bells and Hummel figurines, is reponsible for this festival in a more profound sense. Wallace Pfef brought to Argus the large-scale growing and refining of sugar beets, an innovation which in turn brought supermarket shopping and ended the planting of a ...

I am not a world improver

Christopher Turner: Building Seagram, 6 February 2014

Building Seagram 
by Phyllis Lambert.
Yale, 306 pp., £45, January 2013, 978 0 300 16767 2
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Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography 
by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst.
Chicago, 493 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 226 15145 8
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... who owned Seagram distillers, had commissioned Pereira & Luckman to create a gleaming metal and glass edifice that resembled a decanter gift set. ‘This letter starts with one word repeated very emphatically NO NO NO NO NO,’ Lambert responded when she saw the plans. Over eight pages she dismissed the scheme as an alienating, self-consciously futuristic ...

In Le Havre

Andrew Saint: The rebuilding of France, 6 February 2003

... of 1914. Nicknamed the ‘Sainte Chapelle of reinforced concrete’, it is filled with stained glass by Maurice Denis and Marguerite Huré. So far, so progressive. But Perret was also an unabashed upholder of French classical architecture. In temperament he was a dapper, worldly and dignified figure, fond of apophthegms – the architectural counterpart ...

Wagner’s Fluids

Susan Sontag, 10 December 1987

... in art, are now rarely viewed as anything but positive. In the era of rock and roll and of Philip Glass and John Adams, it seems normal and desirable for music to aspire to be a narcotic. We live in the time of the triumph of the ‘theatrocracy’ that Nietzsche deplored, in which we can find many descendants of Wagner’s favourite dramatic ...

I had to refrain

Andrew Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses, 1 December 2005

Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... good, honest building. The ending of The Seven Lamps of Architecture vibrates through the work of Philip Webb, as of those Arts and Crafts architects who were his disciples. Austerity and self-abnegation are its hallmarks. You cannot relish Webb’s buildings without a feeling for puritanism. His was a life shot through with refusals: he would not ...

Dying Falls

John Lanchester, 23 July 1987

Temporary Shelter 
by Mary Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 231 pp., £11.95, July 1987, 0 7475 0006 1
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Bluebeard’s Egg 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 287 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 224 02245 8
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The Native 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 122 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3247 7
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The March of the Long Shadows 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 232 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 24620 1
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... private for his wife, ‘making his almost total blindness into a kind of gift for her, a perfect glass he had blown and polished’. Then his grandchildren, aided by his son, persuade him to perform in public for one more time, at the Fourth of July fair: in a gruesomely embarrassing scene, his tricks fail disastrously; he is too blind to notice, but the ...

Masters or Servants

Conrad Russell, 5 July 1984

The Young Richelieu: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Leadership 
by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick.
Chicago, 276 pp., £27.20, December 1983, 0 226 50904 4
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Richelieu and Olivares 
by J.H. Elliott.
Cambridge, 189 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 521 26205 4
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... Cardinal Richelieu’s sister did not dare sit down, because she believed she was made of glass. Facts such as this cry out for psychological explanation, and an attempt to provide it has been made by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick, in The Young Richelieu. The attempt is bravely made, and it rests on solid archival research in the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Archives, the British Library and other places ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... flowers, and mounds of peaches, figs, nectarines and strawberries ripening in ‘steamy tents of glass’. Champagne bottles stood stacked on sideboards. Electric fans were positioned on huge blocks of ice, hidden by banks of hydrangeas. It’s hard to believe, but people were taking it in turns to recite Swinburne. ...

True Grit

Christopher Tayler: Sam Shepard, 6 March 2003

Great Dream of Heaven 
by Sam Shepard.
Secker, 142 pp., £10, November 2002, 0 436 20594 7
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... of Heaven. He was handsome, butch, gum-chewing and easy-going as Chuck Yeager, the test pilot, in Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff (1983) – by which time his long-term relationship with Jessica Lange had begun on the set of Frances (1982). And he found time to work on screenplays, too, contributing to Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970) and, most ...

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