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Perfectly Mobile, Perfectly Still

David Craig: Land Artists, 14 December 2000

Time 
by Andy Goldsworthy.
Thames and Hudson, 203 pp., £35, August 2000, 0 500 51026 1
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... respectfully plinthed in gallery or plaza; or a curvaceous wooden form strung like a harp which we gaze at in dumbfounded silence. These days, it may well be a drystone wall winding between trees before burying its end in a lake, like the great Norse serpent for ever drinking the world’s waters dry. Or a cairn on a Highland headland with a fire flaming ...

At the Royal Academy

Mark Whittow: Byzantium, 4 December 2008

... looking at things has been a major theme of recent writing on Byzantine art, not least by Thomas Matthews, who contributes to the catalogue, it’s a pity the exhibition wasn’t curated with it more in mind. Still, there has been no shortage of exhibitions on Byzantium in recent years and doing something different is not easy, not least because Byzantine ...

Paralysing posterity

Dan Jacobson, 20 June 1985

Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th-Century England 
by Louis Crompton.
Faber, 419 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 0 571 13597 8
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... to be at pains to insist that your misgivings are purely literary and intellectual in character. We are told on the dust-jacket of his book that Professor Crompton is a founder of the Gay Caucus for the Modern Languages. The ‘Greek Love’ which preoccupies him is not to be confused with Byron’s philhellenism – with his denunciations of those Scots and ...

Interesting Fellows

Walter Nash, 4 May 1989

The Book of Evidence 
by John Banville.
Secker, 220 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 436 03267 8
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Carn 
by Patrick McCabe.
Aidan Ellis, 252 pp., £11.50, March 1989, 0 85628 180 8
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The Tryst 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 168 pp., £10.99, April 1989, 0 571 15450 6
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Gerontius 
by James Hamilton-Paterson.
Macmillan, 264 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 333 45194 5
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... The presiding policeman humorously rejects Freddie’s account as a fantasist’s pack of lies. We readers may think we know better, but perhaps it is in our own interest to take sides. There is something sadly familiar about Freddie’s attempts – oh, in those studied sentences, that precise diction – to retrieve the ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... that a young Londoner had been looking for him that night. Could he find any of these people, we asked? Yes, he would try. The following week Jo Mennel and John Morgan, the reporter, went back to interview the Rhyl witnesses on camera. Over a cup of tea in a café, Terry Evans gave them the disappointing news that he could not find the main man he was ...

Diary

Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair, 16 November 1995

... one of the favourites for the prize; indeed, the press was understandably anxious to know whether we had intended shortlisting the book, and only withdrawn it under pressure. In fact, we had determined weeks before the Demidenko affair reached its final phase to give the prize to Richard Flanagan, for his magical-realist ...

Higher Man

John Sutherland, 22 May 1997

The Turner Diaries 
by ‘Andrew Macdonald’.
National Vauguard Books, 211 pp., $12.95, May 1978, 0 937944 02 5
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... of the System, as they call the federal government. The stakes are apocalyptically high: ‘If we fail, God’s Great Experiment will come to an end, and this planet will once again, as it did millions of years ago, move through the ether devoid of higher man.’ Before God’s Great American Experiment can be fulfilled, however, material needs must be ...

What does Fluffy think?

Amia Srinivasan: Pets with Benefits, 7 October 2021

Loving Animals: On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love 
by Joanna Bourke.
Reaktion, 184 pp., £18, October 2020, 978 1 78914 310 2
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... animal? Jack, my family’s golden retriever, put on an admirable show of adoring all of us, but we knew his deepest attachment was to my mother, on whose lap he liked to lie, having his silky ears stroked as he slept. Jasper, the ill-advised beagle that followed, loved no one but himself. The heart of my hamster, Kramer, was an enigma. When one morning I ...

They were all drunk

Michael Brock, 21 March 1991

The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol I: 1872-1889 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 386 pp., £45, November 1990, 0 333 36086 9
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The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol II: 1890-1899 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 386 pp., £45, November 1990, 0 333 36087 7
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... have been taken to the point where help is denied to the reader. For instance, writing to Brander Matthews on 13 December 1894 Kipling returned, and commented on, a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Matthews about ‘A Walking Delegate’. Nothing is said about the Roosevelt letter, although it is included in the first ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... from this edition of their letters or from the notes and interviews at the end of the book. All we know is that Lois’s mother was a socialist and that Lois herself had been a high-school supporter of the Socialist Party of America under Norman Thomas and perhaps, at university, an admirer of the young militants whose star rose in the party during the ...

Snap among the Witherlings

Michael Hofmann: Wallace Stevens, 22 September 2016

The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens 
by Paul Mariani.
Simon and Schuster, 512 pp., £23, May 2016, 978 1 4516 2437 3
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... a little sadly on their long springs. ‘As for Wallace, he had once again transformed himself,’ we read, or ‘It was Jane who had telephoned her uncle with the news of his sister’s death.’ Amazingly, it was Elsie’s profile that was depicted on American dimes and half-dollar coins of the time; but don’t expect to find an illustration here, or any ...

I jolly well would have

Paul Foot, 20 August 1992

Claire clairmont and the Shelleys 
by Robert Gittings and Jo Manton.
Oxford, 281 pp., £20, April 1992, 0 19 818594 4
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Mab’s Daughters 
by Judith Chernaik.
Pan, 229 pp., £5.99, July 1992, 0 330 32379 2
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... Byron Society in Albemarle Street way back in 1978. I went with three fellow Shelleyans, Geoffrey Matthews, Claire Tomalin and Judith Chernaik, to hear Marion Stocking talk about Claire. Marion Stocking’s beautifully-edited Journals of Claire Clairmont had just come out, and she knew more about Claire than all the brains of the Byron Society put ...

The Braver Thing

Christopher Ricks, 1 November 1984

T.S. Eliot 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 241 11349 0
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Recollections Mainly of Artists and Writers 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Chatto, 195 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 7011 2791 0
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... book. It has none of the sleazy sanctimony of Robert Sencourt’s biography, or the vanity of T.S. Matthews’. That it is a feat to be without spite is coincidentally manifested by the appearance of Geoffrey Grigson’s Recollections. Grigson’s jacket proffers, as a representative gnome: ‘I never heard T.S. Eliot laugh.’ Back in the book this stands on ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... a public appetite. Twenty thousand people went to watch William Palmer hang outside Stafford Gaol (we owe the drinkers’ ‘What’s your poison?’ to public interest in his trial). Coventry Patmore’s rousing poem ‘A London Fête’, describing ‘the wicked treat’ of a public hanging at Newgate, conveys the public’s ‘horrid thirst’ for ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: The End of Solitary Existence, 17 March 1983

... have a perfect text of the Diary provided for me. How grateful I am to Robert Latham and William Matthews. I have happy domestic news to report. My wife is safely back from hospital. Her malady has passed over, even though the doctors are not sure what was the cause of it. I do not like leading a solitary existence in an otherwise empty house. I do not like ...

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