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Multiplying Marys

Marina Warner: On Mary Magdalene, 22 February 2024

Mary Magdalene: A Cultural History 
by Philip C. Almond.
Cambridge, 347 pp., £30, December 2022, 978 1 009 22169 6
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Mary Magdalene: A Visual History 
by Diane Apostolos-Cappadona.
T&T Clark, 154 pp., £17.99, February 2023, 978 0 567 70574 7
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... theories of The Da Vinci Code and the bestselling soi-disant historical studies that inspired them.Philip Almond surveys the torrent of claims and counterclaims in theological and popular literature across two millennia and sets out to show that Mary Magdalene has always represented ‘the sinner we should aspire not to be and the saint we should desire ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy, 4 March 1999

Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... and Eliot were up to. It seems odd that Stallworthy has kept his distance. Maybe he agrees with Philip Larkin that the Modernism of Pound and Eliot, like the paintings of Picasso and the jazz of Charlie Parker, was a regrettable diversion from the main issue. In English poetry, the main issue was Hardy, in Larkin’s judgment incomparably the greatest poet ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre, 20 November 2003

Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... materialistic mother, who spends most of the novel waiting longingly for the delivery of a new ‘almond on almond’ side-by-side fridge. Mrs Little is very good at turning the knife in her son’s back, as Vernon reflects: I’ll tell you a learning: knife-turners like my ole lady actually spend their waking hours ...

Propellers for Noses

Dennis Duncan: The Themerson Archive, 9 June 2022

The Themerson Archive Catalogue 
edited by Jasia Reichardt and Nick Wadley.
MIT, three vols, 1000 pp., £190, November 2020, 978 1 9162474 1 3
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... even when the conversion is intrinsically nonsensical. As the late art critic Nick Wadley – co-editor of The Themerson Archive Catalogue, along with his wife (and Franciszka’s niece) Jasia Reichardt – puts it, they ‘celebrated the destruction of boundaries between things’. Franciszka was born in Warsaw in 1907. She came into the world, her ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... opportunity was offered me – to do some research work for a soc[iology] instructor named Philip Rieff, who is working on, among other things, a reader in the sociology of politics + religion. At last the chance to really involve myself in one area with competent guidance. 12/2/49 Last night, or was it early this (Sat.) morning? – I am engaged to ...

Marvellous Boys

Mark Ford, 9 September 1993

The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... old, the same age at death as the most famous of all doomed Romantics: ‘Yet we are as the double almond concealed in one shell,’ he broods in ‘Colloquy with John Keats’, going on to predict his own equally untimely demise in harsh demotic terms – ‘Look! My number is up!’ After his cremation at Rookwood Cemetery Ethel opened his trunk and set ...

Fourteen Thousand Dried Penguins

Patrick O’Brian, 9 November 1989

Last Voyages. Cavendish, Hudson, Ralegh: The Original Narratives 
edited by Philip Edwards.
Oxford, 268 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 19 812894 0
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The Nagle Journal: A Diary for the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor, from the Year 1775 to 1841 
edited by John Dann.
Weidenfeld, 402 pp., £18.95, March 1989, 1 55584 223 2
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Journal of a Voyage with Bering, 1741-1742 
by Georg Wilhelm Steller, edited by O.W. Frost, translated by Margritt Engel and O.W. Frost.
Stanford, 252 pp., $35, September 1988, 0 8047 1446 0
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... found that the adults tasted like beef and the young like veal, while their liquid fat resembled almond oil. Steller made a thorough, painstaking examination of the creature’s vast body, giving an irreplaceable description of its anatomy and stating among other things that it was 30 feet long (its cousin the manatee is a mere 13), 21 in girth and close on ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... chairs very reasonably in an antique shop before going round the much larger antique centre in Philip Webb’s parish hall. 6 January. Papers full of Charles Kennedy being, or having been, an alcoholic. I’d have thought Churchill came close and Asquith, too, and when it comes to politics it’s hardly a disabling disease. Except to the press. But less ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... of pollution that hangs over a pre-Olympic city, fall into quiet conversation. Ice-cream kiss of almond blossom, bridal abundance of cherry: pink and white. Yellow pom-poms of japonica, horticultural cheerleaders. In a corner, under a high wall that gives away the previous identity of this public park as a decommissioned energy-generating plant, retired ...

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