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The Immortal Coil

Richard Barnett: Faraday’s Letters, 21 March 2013

The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Vol. VI, 1860-67 
by Frank James.
IET, 919 pp., £85, December 2011, 978 0 86341 957 7
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... In the summer of 1831, James Woods, master of St John’s College, Cambridge, and Wordsworth’s former tutor, decided that his college should have a portrait of its most celebrated living alumnus. He commissioned Henry William Pickersgill – an apprentice Spitalfields silk-weaver turned Royal Academician – to produce a full-length oil painting of Wordsworth in an appropriately sublime setting, and in the early autumn of 1832 Pickersgill made the journey to Rydal Mount ...

The Greatest Geek

Richard Barnett: Nikola Tesla, 5 February 2015

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age 
by W. Bernard Carlson.
Princeton, 520 pp., £19.95, April 2015, 978 0 691 05776 7
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... Over six feet tall​ and thin as wire, with Slavic cheekbones and a ‘Wild West moustache’, Nikola Tesla combined confidence and charisma with a gift for big tech, electro-prophecy and bullshit. He was a near perfect Thomas Pynchon character, and his cameo appearance in Pynchon’s Against the Day in 2006 confirmed his status as a counter-cultural hero ...

The Tooth-Pullers of the Pont Neuf

Will Self: The Art of Dentistry, 29 June 2017

The Smile Stealers: The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry 
by Richard Barnett.
Thames and Hudson, 255 pp., £19.95, April 2017, 978 0 500 51911 0
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... for the requisite extractions) on her 21st birthday, or the occasion of her first marriage. As Richard Barnett points out in his excellent text for The Smile Stealers, it wasn’t uncommon up until the late 1930s for young women to receive just such a benison – the reification, if you like, of the great relief to be obtained once those ...

Against America

Barclay Bram, 2 March 2023

... a taste of what it’s like to be a congressman.’ Under these lines was a picture of the rioter Richard Barnett with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. The nationalist blog Guancha claimed that ‘everyone will feel admiration for Wang’s prophecy … Looking at the United States today, it has fallen even further.’ The general feeling was that ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... and Alison Smithson, who displayed a series of found objects in a post-apocalyptic mirrored shed. Richard Hamilton’s group presented a funfair vision that launched the British Pop Art movement. Robby the Robot, star of the science-fiction movie Forbidden Planet, opened the show because, according to the critic Reyner Banham, he was much ‘easier to book ...

In Denbigh Road

Peter Campbell: David Sylvester, 7 February 2002

... it gifts from artists, is mainly drawings and prints. They were hung in subsidiary spaces – the Barnett Newman etching and lithograph in the kitchen, the de Kooning drawings on the stairs. In the two main rooms half a dozen pieces, bathed in diffused daylight, didn’t so much offer themselves up for attention as demand it. The pieces he chose for the ...

Here come the judges

Conor Gearty: The constitution, 4 June 1998

This Time: Our Constitutional Revolution 
by Anthony Barnett.
Vintage, 371 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 09 926858 2
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The Voice of the People: A Constitution for Tomorrow 
by Robert Alexander.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £17.99, September 1997, 0 297 84109 2
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The Making and Remaking of the British Constitution 
by Lord Nolan and Stephen Sedley.
Blackstone, 142 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 1 85431 704 0
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... the People in their rucksacks. Primus inter people is the founding director of Charter 88, Anthony Barnett, whose book attempts to recapture for his constitutionalist tendency the drama of ‘our constitutional revolution’: ‘“we the people” – to use a long-coined phrase that may finally become currency in Britain – have changed, especially in our ...

Big Daddy

Linda Nochlin, 30 October 1997

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 635 pp., £35, October 1997, 9781860463723
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... Mary Cassatt to Georgia O’Keeffe to Eva Hesse; from the Shakers’ minimalism (good) to that of Barnett Newman (bad); from Bierstadt’s expansive, theatrical Western vistas to Edward Hopper’s cramped, seedy urban interiors. Although a lot of words are expended on matters that have more to do with social and political history than with art, Hughes is ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... and Harpenden would no doubt be trying to get his hands on any proceeds from Dirty Dealing; and Richard Ashcroft, a solicitor in the property department at Withers, would be trying to supplement his income with the royalties from Alone with Everybody and various old Verve albums (at the risk of being sued by the Rolling Stones). My name has been used ...

Excellent Enigmas

Christopher Reid, 24 January 1980

Lies and Secrets 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 70 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 436 16753 0
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by John Matthias.
Anvil, 125 pp., £3.25, October 1980, 0 85646 035 4
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Growing Up 
by Michael Horovitz.
Allison and Busby, 96 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 85031 232 9
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Report to the Working Party. Asylum. Otiose [preceded by] After 
by Anthony Barnett.
Nothing Doing, 121 pp., £4.80, August 1980, 0 901494 17 8
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... the British champion and a Shakespearian scholar, speaking in witty, allusive pentameters; Richard Morphy, his young American challenger, with a suitably wilder six-stress line, barely controlled by a caesura in the middle. Staunton addresses his wife, while Morphy writes to his mother, and both women, though silent, are felt as strong dramatic ...

White Hat/Black Hat

Frances Richard: 20th-Century Art, 6 April 2006

Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism 
by Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh.
Thames and Hudson, 704 pp., £45, March 2005, 0 500 23818 9
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... in particular, of the studio research undertaken by Matisse and Mondrian, and later by Barnett Newman, in their separate journeys towards abstraction capture a thrilling sense of ambition and discovery. He is also good on the reinstatement of Russian Productivism and Constructivism as central episodes in the development of Modernist ...


Gabriele Annan, 7 June 1984

Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild 
edited by Joan Littlewood.
Cape, 247 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 224 02208 3
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I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir 
by Jean MacGibbon.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 575 03412 2
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... heart’. She fosters nostalgie de la banlieue, the feeling that made one wish V. S. Pritchett and Richard Cobb would never get to the last page of their childhood memories. You could adapt the famous remark about religious sects and say that England has sixty kinds of suburb and only one sauce – except that sixty would be an underestimate and all of them ...

Cities of Fire and Smoke

Oliver Cussen: Enlightenment Environmentalism, 2 March 2023

Affluence and Freedom: An Environmental History of Political Ideas 
by Pierre Charbonnier, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 327 pp., £19.99, July 2021, 978 1 5095 4372 4
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... serve Promethean notions of dominance or Baconian instrumental reason. It could, as the historian Richard Grove argued in Green Imperialism (1995), just as easily prompt anxieties about the harmful effects of human activity. Grove argued that modern environmentalism emerged at the peripheries of 18th-century European empires, especially in the plantation ...

A Long Forgotten War

Jenny Diski: Sheila Rowbotham, 6 July 2000

Promise of a Dream: A Memoir of the 1960s 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Allen Lane, 262 pp., £18.99, July 2000, 0 7139 9446 0
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... on her paper ‘Cinderella Organises Buttons’. She cowered in the pub lavatory to escape Anthony Barnett, who had been detailed by the board to fetch her, while he stood outside demanding that she come out and discuss her article ‘rationally and politically’. A week later the board received her letter of resignation, which suggested that ‘they sit ...

Zero Grazing

John Ryle, 5 November 1992

To Blight with Plague: Studies in a Literary Theme 
by Barbara Fass Leavy.
New York, 237 pp., £27.95, August 1992, 0 8147 5059 1
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Epidemics and Ideas: Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence 
edited by Terence Ranger and Paul Slack.
Cambridge, 346 pp., £35, April 1992, 9780521402767
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The Fourth Horseman: A Short History of Epidemics, Plagues and Other Scourges 
by Andrew Nikiforuk.
Fourth Estate, 200 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 1 85702 051 0
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In Time of Plague: The History and Social Consequences of Lethal Epidemic Disease 
edited by Arien Mack.
New York, 272 pp., $35, November 1991, 0 8147 5467 8
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Miasmas and Disease: Public Health and the Environment in the Pre-Industrial Age 
by Carlo Cipolla, translated by Elizabeth Potter.
Yale, 101 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 300 04806 8
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International Journal of STD and Aids. Vol. II, Supplement I: Aids and the Epidemics of History 
edited by Harry Rolin, Richard Creese and Ronald Mann.
Royal Society of Medicine, January 2000, 0 00 956462 4
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Monopolies of Loss 
by Adam Mars-Jones.
Faber, 250 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 571 16691 1
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Aids in Africa: Its Present and Future Impact 
edited by Tony Barrett and Piers Blaikie.
Belhaven, 193 pp., £35, January 1992, 1 85293 115 9
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... Aids is simply called matenda a boma, the ‘government disease’. In Tanzania, report Tony Barnett and Piers Blaikie in Aids in Africa, the acronym itself has been recast as Acha Iniue Dogodogo Siachi, a Swahili phrase meaning ‘Let it kill me as I will never abandon young ladies’. And in Côte d’lvoire, Sida, the French version of the acronym, is ...

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