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Looking for a Crucifixion

Robert Alter, 9 September 1993

The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered 
by Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise.
Element, 286 pp., £14.95, November 1992, 0 85230 368 8
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... hinted at in the text, has recently been trumpeted by the journalists Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh in The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, which is largely a popularisation of Robert Eisenman’s theories. Unsurprisingly, Baigent and Leigh contribute an effusive blurb to this book. Eisenman for his part has been putting ...

Powerful Moments

David Craig, 26 October 1989

Touching the void 
by Joe Simpson.
Cape, 172 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 224 02545 7
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by M. John Harrison.
Gollancz, 221 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 9780575036321
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... has the suddenness of current film. Each image is stunning while it lasts. Snapshots of people: ‘David was a fireman, whose prematurely white hair give him a kind but slightly overdressed look, like a professional snooker player.’ Of animals (a mortally injured cat): ‘The eye on that side had been pushed in, causing it to turn and lift its head irritably ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... statement that, after their star-crossed Romeo and Juliet on Broadway in 1940, Olivier and Vivien Leigh went to lick their wounds for a month in Vermont with ‘the Alexander Woollcotts’. The English period equivalent would be a month in the country with the Beverley Nicholses. Holden is sometimes forgetful, evacuating the wartime Old Vic in one chapter to ...

Short Cuts

Martin Loughlin: Tax Credits, 19 November 2015

... fingers to democracy’. In an allusion to the 1909 People’s Budget crisis, the Tory MP Edward Leigh claimed that ‘not for a hundred years has the House of Lords defied this elected House.’ This claim was trumped by the insistence of Leigh’s fellow Tory MP, the ‘keen constitutional student’ Jacob ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’, 6 August 2009

Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... Before it was a classic film, Gone with the Wind was a classic PR stunt. The film’s producer, David O. Selznick, announced that he would launch a nationwide search for the young woman who would play Scarlett O’Hara. The move provoked a furore; Margaret Mitchell’s novel, published in 1936, was already a national bestseller – it seemed that everyone was reading it – and the desire to star in the movie version proved irresistible ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays, 8 November 2018

... things​ in the relations between authors and publishers never change. Dear Mr Murray, edited by David McClay (John Murray, £16.99), a collection of letters written to six generations of the Murray family, is full of familiar complaints. Jane Austen was ‘very much disappointed … by the delays of the printers’. Maria Rundell, author of A New System of ...

A Piece of Single Blessedness

John Burrows, 21 January 1988

Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... substantial biographies of Jane Austen within a decade smacks of excess. But, compared with Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Jane Austen (1979) and John Halperin’s The Life of Jane Austen (1984), the work under review is in so many ways the best that it deserves to make its mark. The three authors, moreover, approach their subject (or subjects) from ...
... year to year in Exeter. I knew of his austere reputation and of his reluctance to publish from David Marquand, who was at Magdalen and who told me how he had been scared out of his wits one dark night in the cloisters when Bruce had swept past him in his Spanish cloak. I must have written to him and been told to come down to Magdalen, though I remember ...


Celia Paul: Painting in the Dark, 17 December 2020

... own art.In the second volume of William Feaver’s biography of Lucian Freud (Bloomsbury, £35), David Dawson, Lucian’s long-serving assistant, describes Susanna Chancellor, the woman who remained Lucian’s partner longer than anyone else, as ‘a proper woman, not one of these neurotics’. She is the girlfriend who replaced me.People don’t become ...

Our Soft-Shelled Condition

Katha Pollitt: Corsets, 14 November 2002

The Corset: A Cultural History 
by Valerie Steele.
Yale, 204 pp., £29.95, September 2001, 0 300 09071 4
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Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset 
by Leigh Summers.
Berg, 302 pp., £15.99, October 2001, 9781859735107
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... her a wonderful massage, and instantly transforms her from sex object to sensuous liberated woman. David Kunzle challenged this narrative in Fashion and Fetishism: A Social History of Corsets, Tight Lacing and Other Forms of Body Sculpture in the West (1982), arguing that the dangers of corsets were exaggerated or even invented. Women, he claimed, wore corsets ...


Tom Vanderbilt: ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, 21 August 2003

The Manchurian Candidate: BFI Film Classics 
by Greil Marcus.
BFI, 75 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 85170 931 1
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... by Philip Wylie in Generation of Vipers, the conformist ‘other directed’ man described by David Riesman, the ever distancing nature of reality in the age of Daniel Boorstin’s ‘pseudo-event’, and the seemingly hypnotic new mass medium of television. The Manchurian Candidate was the first film to film television, in a scene in which Lansbury ...

Who is Lucian Freud?

Rosemary Hill: John Craxton goes to Crete, 21 October 2021

John Craxton: A Life of Gifts 
by Ian Collins.
Yale, 383 pp., £25, May, 978 0 300 25529 4
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... the painter Arshile Gorky, with whom she had a turbulent marriage until his suicide in 1948. Joan Leigh Fermor, a former secretary to Osbert Lancaster, was the wife of Patrick Leigh Fermor, famous at that time for his activities during the war, including the controversial kidnapping of the German commander on Crete. The ...


Marilyn Butler: What Jane Austen Read, 5 March 1998

Jane Austen: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Fourth Estate, 578 pp., £20, September 1997, 1 85702 419 2
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Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 341 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 670 86528 1
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... Austen, ‘Biographical Notice’ to Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (1818), the Rev. J.E. Austen-Leigh, Memoir of Jane Austen (1870) and W. and R.A. Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters (1913). These pioneers had two main messages to convey: that the author was a very domestic woman, and that outside her family ...

On the Catwalk

Peter Campbell: Taste and exclusivity, 14 November 2002

... about fashion and its presentation. Rapture: Art’s Seduction by Fashion since 1970 and David LaChapelle’s photographs both run until 23 December. An exhibition at the V&A of Gianni Versace’s clothes runs until 12 January.* All three tangle with the paradoxes of taste and exclusivity. LaChapelle embraces Truman Capote’s ‘Good taste is the ...

At Victoria Miro

Peter Campbell: William Eggleston, 25 February 2010

... Why do people always come off badly? The camera surely doesn’t love them. The one face shown (‘Leigh in black top’) is miserably unhappy. The unexplained strangeness of the ordinary or tacky that has drawn film-makers like David Lynch to Eggleston is evident, but the colour also registers at a different level. As in ...

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