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Was Plato too fat?

Rosemary Hill: The Stuff of Life, 10 October 2019

Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life 
by Christopher Forth.
Reaktion, 352 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 78914 062 0
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... A fathead is stupid but a fat cheque is welcome. A fat chance is smaller than a slim chance. Christopher Forth begins his inquiries at the most visceral level, by considering responses to the substance of fat both in and out of the body. It is, he suggests, the capacity of fat to be both in and out that contributes to the widely varying attitudes to ...

People in Kansas, 1910

Christopher Middleton, 5 June 1980

... Just right. Objects, it Was not your fault, objects, if That is what you were, you have to go Forth, shoulder your signs In capital letters, onward to a place I tell you of, A place of blue and yellow. There Mountains and people are one indivisible creature, A grape admits night glow To become its body, Absolute, good as the bread Is dense to the teeth ...

Auden’s Funeral

Stephen Spender, 4 June 1981

... To Christopher Isherwood I One among friends who stood above your grave I cast a clod of earth from those heaped there Down on the great brass-handled coffin lid. It rattled on the oak like a door knocker. And at that sound I saw your face beneath Wedged in an oblong shadow under ground: Flesh creased, eyes shut, jaw jutting, And on the mouth a smile: triumph of one Who has escaped from lifelong colleagues roaring For him to join their throng ...

The Queen Bee Canticles

David Harsent, 6 January 2011

... for Christopher Penfold The Queen and the Philosopher Sun on the sea running white, sun on white walls, yes, on the thick shoulders of the fishermen as they fanned their nets, sun as an engine, a trapdoor, a compass, Democritus in his cell the window framing sea and sky, blue climbing on blue, a glaze shaken by the heat, as she drifted in and held heavy in the thickening air ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... wore on agreeably enough, with daring satirical calls for South African port, Chilean wine and so forth. One of the number could never get enough of the joke. This was John Braine, whose special party-trick was the skipping of ironic bits. When he said that England these days was run by the trade unions and the pansies, he meant it. When he went on about ...
Issues of Death: Mortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy 
by Michael Neill.
Oxford, 404 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 19 818386 0
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... put it, tragedy works like a kind of moral surgery: it ‘Openeth the Greatest Wounds and Showeth forth the Ulcers that are Covered with Tissue’. This is a recurrent trope, as is the idea of the anatomist as the explorer of mysterious regions. The body, rather than its condition, takes on the standing of an ‘undiscovered country’ and the title-page of ...


Christopher Reid, 15 May 1980

by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... confinement to the basement of a hotel, those stories where a descent into the underworld brings forth rich rewards. Unfortunately, the odd circumstances of the poem’s creation become so much its theme that there is soon a disastrous lapse into self-consciousness, coy internal reference, sly tomfoolery and baragouin. This may be explicable in a number of ...

Under the Flight Path

August Kleinzahler: Christopher Middleton, 19 May 2016

... Christopher Middleton​ hated New York. Among the things he particularly disliked, I suspect, is New York’s position as a cultural bazaar, where reputations are bought, sold and traded, with the attendant buzz of speculation. He was incapable of schmoozing, and his career suffered accordingly. New York’s greatest draw, people action and brute energy, would have been lost on him ...


Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks, 26 January 1995

... Dundas, the world’s first practicable steamship, intended for towing barges on the adjoining Forth and Clyde Canal. This she did, successfully, but the wash from the paddlewheel carried the banks away and she was laid up. In 1861, some clown spotted the veteran lying around Grangemouth harbour and had her broken up. This somewhat ominous precedent was ...


Jeremy Harding: Hitchens, 31 March 2011

... I heard a few bars of Chris Corner’s song ‘I Salute You Christopher’ a day or so before the new IAMX album, Volatile Times, was released. The song, which appears on the album, is subtitled ‘Ode to Christopher Hitchens’: I salute you Christopher I salute your life How you played the dice … That ‘played’, in the past tense, has the ring of a funeral bell and a cracked one at that ...

One Stock and Nation

Christopher Kelly: Roman Britain, 11 February 2010

The Recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: A Colony so Fertile 
by Richard Hingley.
Oxford, 389 pp., £83, June 2008, 978 0 19 923702 9
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... turf rampart, now known as the Antonine Wall, built 100 miles north, between the Clyde and the Forth). Sibbald argued in his Historical Inquiries (1707) that finds of Roman coins south of Graham’s Dyke demonstrated that ‘the Romans stayed long in this Country: They did introduce Order and Civility where ever they came, and by the Arts and Policy they ...

Great Creatures

Christopher Small, 17 August 1989

Sacred Elephant 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 175 pp., £9.95, July 1989, 0 224 02642 9
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... blueprint for every detail of an elephant, and also the power (given suitable nutrients and so forth) to produce an elephant. Moreover the parts of this blueprint will be dispersed and reassembled again to serve for the offspring of this elephant; they will survive it and pass on indefinitely (if all goes well) to generate a further series of elephants to ...

Rolodex Man

Mark Kishlansky, 31 October 1996

Liberty against the Law: Some 17th-Century Controversies 
by Christopher Hill.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 7139 9119 4
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The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England: An Essay on the Fabrication of 17th-Century History 
by Alastair MacLaclan.
Macmillan, 431 pp., £13.99, April 1996, 0 333 62009 7
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... It is becoming difficult to remember how influential Christopher Hill once was. When E.P. Thompson dedicated Whigs and Hunters to ‘Christopher Hill – Master of more than an old Oxford college’ he was recognising Hill’s stature as a historian, academic and public figure. From his perch as Master of Balliol, he presided over the education of future mandarins and exerted an influence on the intellectual life of Britain ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William Gibson, 22 May 2003

Pattern Recognition 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... strand. Bigend is given a number of overwritten speeches about history, memory, advertising and so forth. ‘Far more creativity, today, goes into the marketing of products than into the products themselves,’ he sagely observes. Old-fashioned ideas about artistic autonomy have fallen by the wayside of the Information Superhighway: ‘It’s as though the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Dunkirk’, 17 August 2017

... Christopher Nolan​ ’s Dunkirk is worth watching for its final sequence alone. The three stories being told throughout the film intersect rapidly, and no easy solution or reflection results. A young man walks into a newspaper office in Weymouth and hands over a school photograph, pointing out one boy. A Spitfire prepares to land on a French beach, gliding, its propeller still, because it has run out of fuel ...

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