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Mysteries of Kings Cross

Iain Sinclair, 5 October 1995

Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... work up much enthusiasm for the post-Olsonian outpourings of the Seventies, most notably Allen Fisher’s Place, Place was set largely south of the river, a nowhere defined by unnecessary particulars. Now Roy Fisher, he could do something with him – but the man had the poor taste to base his mythology on Birmingham. My problem was the contrary ...

Smarter, Happier, More Productive

Jim Holt: ‘The Shallows’, 3 March 2011

The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember 
by Nicholas Carr.
Atlantic, 276 pp., £17.99, September 2010, 978 1 84887 225 7
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... I don’t own a computer, have no idea how to work one,’ Woody Allen told an interviewer recently. Most of us have come to find computers indispensable, but he manages to have a productive life without one. Are those of us with computers really better off? There are two ways that computers might add to our wellbeing ...

Turning Wolfe Tone

John Kerrigan: A Third Way for Ireland, 20 October 2022

directed by Kenneth Branagh.
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Small World: Ireland 1798-2018 
by Seamus Deane.
Cambridge, 343 pp., £20, June 2021, 978 1 108 84086 6
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Irish Literature in Transition 
edited by Claire Connolly and Marjorie Howes.
Cambridge, six vols, £564, March 2020, 978 1 108 42750 0
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Ireland, Literature and the Coast: Seatangled 
by Nicholas Allen.
Oxford, 305 pp., £70, November 2020, 978 0 19 885787 7
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A History of Irish Literature and the Environment 
edited by Malcolm Sen.
Cambridge, 457 pp., £90, July, 978 1 108 49013 9
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... major environmentally conscious monograph to appear in Irish Studies only edges onto the land. Nicholas Allen’s Ireland, Literature and the Coast explores the maritime and watery dimensions of the country, from an early novel by W.B. Yeats through the scrapbooks and paintings of his brother, Jack, and on through periodicals and poetry from Sean ...

Tucked in

Nicholas Spice, 24 February 1994

by Amos Oz.
Chatto, 352 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 4004 6
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... between them. The effect of all this is altogether too cosy and reminded me of a passage in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. Sandy (‘Woody Allen’) has hit on ‘a very remarkable idea for a new ending’ for his movie: Sandy: We’re, we’re on a train and there are, there are many sad people on it, you ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: John White’s New World, 5 April 2007

... but more properly a ‘limner’, a painter of works in watercolour. The best-known limner was Nicholas Hilliard, who held a monopoly given by Queen Elizabeth ‘to make portraits . . . of our body and person in small compass in limning only’. Kim Sloan explains in the catalogue (British Museum, £25) that ‘Hilliard would never have described himself ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... he was teaching history of art at Birkbeck, was he able to take it up again with the support of Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin. After two years’ preliminary research, Pevsner and his wife set off with a permit for 30 gallons of petrol to tour Middlesex in a borrowed Wolseley Hornet.At first most of the work was done with the help of fellow ...

A Little Bit of Real Life

Michael Wood: Writing with Godard, 9 May 2024

The Cinema House and the World: The ‘Cahiers du Cinéma’ Years, 1962-81 
by Serge Daney, translated by Christine Pichini.
Semiotext(e), 600 pp., £28, September 2022, 978 1 63590 161 0
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Footlights: Critical Notebook 1970-82 
by Serge Daney, translated by Nicholas Elliott.
Semiotext(e), 212 pp., £16.99, December 2023, 978 1 63590 198 6
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Reading with Jean-Luc Godard 
edited by Timothy Barnard and Kevin J. Hayes.
Caboose, 423 pp., £35, November 2023, 978 1 927852 46 0
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... giving things a name.’ Antonioni is admired for his ‘establishment of distance’ and Woody Allen for the ‘rarefaction of images and particularly of angles … theorised in Annie Hall’. What Charlie Chaplin’s little barber is saying in The Great Dictator comes from somewhere that might be nowhere. Daney’s summary of the speech is: ‘Whatever I ...

Two Americas and a Scotland

Nicholas Everett, 27 September 1990

Collected Poems, 1937-1971 
by John Berryman, edited by Charles Thornbury.
Faber, 348 pp., £17.50, February 1990, 0 571 14317 2
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The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Faber, 427 pp., £17.50, February 1990, 0 571 14318 0
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Poems 1959-1979 
by Frederick Seidel.
Knopf, 112 pp., $19.95, November 1989, 0 394 58021 4
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These Days 
by Frederick Seidel.
Knopf, 50 pp., $18.95, October 1989, 0 394 58022 2
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A Scottish Assembly 
by Robert Crawford.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.99, April 1990, 0 7011 3595 6
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... one for public consumption. When Homage to Mistress Bradstreet was completed, five years later, Allen Tate, Lowell and others gave its studied historicism and technical effects unqualified approval. Berryman’s reputation was made, but his best work was still to come. The poem involves a modern, gnostic poet, for whom nothing is more important than writing ...

Blackberry Apocalypse

Nicholas Guyatt: Evangelical Disarray, 15 November 2007

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America 
by Chris Hedges.
Cape, 254 pp., £12.99, February 2007, 978 0 224 07820 7
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... Christopher Hitchens has been shouting at many of these people on conservative talk shows. Keith Allen, who travelled to Kansas earlier this year to make a Channel 4 programme about the founders of the ‘God Hates Fags’ website, ended up screaming ‘Fool!’ at his host. Hedges tells us that ‘debate is useless’ and warns that ‘tolerance coupled ...

On a par with Nixon

Stephen Alford: Bad Queen Bess?, 17 November 2016

Bad Queen Bess? Libels, Secret Histories, and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I 
by Peter Lake.
Oxford, 497 pp., £35, January 2016, 978 0 19 875399 5
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Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years 
by John Guy.
Viking, 494 pp., £25, May 2016, 978 0 670 92225 3
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... the coexistence in Elizabethan court politics of essential harmony and potential rivalry. Nicholas Hilliard’s portrait of Robert Dudley (1576) The limitations on Elizabethan governance were not different from those faced by many governments in other times and places. The queen’s advisers sought plausible, easy and cheap solutions to complex and ...


Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Grotto, 5 October 2023

... of an English Country House: St Giles House (2018), Kirk had learned that the new earl, the 12th, Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, had in 2012 returned with his wife, Dinah, from an expatriate life as a night-club proprietor and DJ in New York and set about restoring the family seat to its former splendour. The Rebirth of an English Country House, written by the new ...


Inigo Thomas: Berry Bros, 20 December 2018

... wine trade at the British Library later that day. That older trade tends to be skated over. Nicholas Faith’s The Winemasters of Bordeaux (1978) begins, more or less, with Pepys’s visit to the Royal Oak Tavern on Lombard Street in 1663, where he encountered ‘a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan, that hath a good and most particular taste that I ...

Possible Enemies

M.A. Screech, 16 June 1983

Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. V: The Correspondence of Erasmus 
edited by Peter Bietenholz, translated by R.A.B Mynors.
Toronto, 462 pp., £68.25, December 1979, 0 8020 5429 3
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Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. XXXI: Adages Ii 1 to Iv 100 
edited by R.A.B. Mynors, translated by Margaret Mann Phillips.
Toronto, 420 pp., £51.80, December 1982, 0 8020 2373 8
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Le Disciple de Pantagruel 
edited by Guy Demerson and Christiane Lauvergnat-Gagnière.
Nizet, 98 pp.
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... he warned, but those who ‘accept Erasmus as a guide will not wander far out of the way’. P.S. Allen’s edition of the Letters, and Toronto’s elegant translation of them, makes that true still. Events unroll, week by week, without the perversions of hindsight. Erasmus shows himself a good judge of character. In the 1530s many in France and England came ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... or of Cocteau or Fritz Lang or von Sternberg or Arthur Penn or Pasolini or Warhol or Woody Allen, nor a film directed or choreographed by Busby Berkeley, nor, amazingly, a film starring either Garbo or Fred Astaire, nor Shoah. Instead, it finds room for The Quiet Man and The Bridge on the River Kwai, three films by Nicolas Roeg and four by Powell and ...


Tom Carver: Philby in Beirut, 11 October 2012

... times at his house, and mentored James Angleton, the future CIA head of counterintelligence. As Allen Dulles later said, Philby had the keys to the CIA safe. An internal investigation was inconclusive. He was asked to tender his resignation and, according to his highly unreliable autobiography, My Silent War, he tried to make a living as a freelance ...

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