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I want to be real

Rosemary Dinnage, 27 May 1993

Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: Theosophy and the Emergence of the Western Guru 
by Peter Washington.
Secker, 470 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 436 56418 1
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... of a century of cults and gurus, of sincerity and fraudulence, of hopes and disappointments, Peter Washington detects the faint sound of Blavatsky’s baboon having the last laugh. Washington presents his subject as the rise of the Western guru: in fact, charisma, faith, leader and follower, have never been absent ...

Radical Literary Theory

John Ellis, 8 February 1990

Fraud: Literary Theory and the End of English 
by Peter Washington.
Fontana, 188 pp., £4.99, September 1989, 0 00 686138 5
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... as the reference of a word which used to be about the business of analysing such things. Peter Washington’s book is a polemic against the viewpoint which is often spoken of as if it were quite simply modern theory of literature rather than the particular critical ideology that it is. While his title accepts the identification of theory with ...

The man who missed his life

Michael Wood, 10 February 1994

The Age of Innocence 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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The Age of Innocence 
by Edith Wharton, introduced by Peter Washington.
Everyman, 308 pp., £9.99, September 1993, 1 85715 202 6
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... assumptions of his social set, and to suffer under them, but nowhere near tough enough to get out. Peter Washington’s edition of The Age of Innocence is discreet and handsome, like all the new Everymans; has a chronology and a helpful and often subtle introduction. Washington reports, for example, that Wharton made a ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age, 21 June 2001

The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... cover, are Burr (1973), Lincoln (1984), 1876 (1976, of course), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1989), Washington, DC (1967) and now The Golden Age. According to Vidal’s biographer, Fred Kaplan, it was while at work on Lincoln, in the early 1980s, that Vidal conceived of the series in its totality (though there were earlier links, 1876 being a sequel to ...

The Light at the Back of a Sequence of Rooms

Peter Campbell: Pieter de Hooch, 29 October 1998

Pieter De Hooch 1629-84 
by Peter Sutton.
Yale, 183 pp., £30, September 1998, 0 300 07757 2
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On Reflection 
by Jonathan Miller.
National Gallery, 224 pp., £25, September 1998, 1 85709 236 8
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... at pictures retain the feel of the private houses they once were (the Phillips Collection in Washington, or Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge), but there are no rules – re-hangings at the Tate gave new life to pictures which seemed to have lost heart, just by putting them in the right company. In places where they are happy, you can look at paintings you ...
The Korean War 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 476 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780718120689
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The Origins of the Korean War 
by Peter Lowe.
Longman, 256 pp., £6.95, July 1986, 0 582 49278 5
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Korea: The War before Vietnam 
by Callum MacDonald.
Macmillan, 330 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 333 33011 0
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... in the aftermath of the ‘loss’ of China and the Berlin Blockade, that was all that counted in Washington. The Americans did not like him; they could not spare the forces to defend him; but in the last resort he could not be abandoned. How many such figures have emerged in the Third World since!Out of that dilemma there developed the misunderstandings ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: Hungarian Photography, 28 July 2011

... the splendid catalogue of the 2005 exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, there is a reproduction of a contact print from 1924 of the same image. It measures 5.1 cm x 3.8 cm and is reproduced to that size: a small dark rectangle in the middle of a large white page. Other contact prints from the first quarter of the 20th ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... made by the Johnson administration. In March 1965 he told Michael Stewart, who was about to visit Washington: should the president try to link this question with support for the pound, I would regard this as most unfortunate and no doubt you will reply appropriately. If the financial weakness we inherited and are in the process of putting right is to be used ...

Veni, vidi, video

D.A.N. Jones, 18 August 1983

Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... In our next three novels, all candidates for the bestseller list, the wacky, wonderful world of Washington DC and its heroic Press Corps is laid out like a movie-set. That faction-ridden city has enticed many a journalist: once he has entered the Washington Press Corps, even an ordinary British wally may fancy himself a ...

Past Its Peak

Robert Vitalis: The Oil Curse, 17 December 2009

Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil 
by Peter Maass.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 1 84614 246 8
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... Christians that had laid waste to the refineries and the surrounding boom town. Crude World is Peter Maass’s account of the violence, tyranny, poverty, environmental degradation, corporate malfeasance, corruption and state failure that seem to be fuelled by oil. By these lights, what happened in Baku might be taken as confirmation of the ‘resource ...


Niela Orr, 3 December 2020

Such a Fun Age 
by Kiley Reid.
Bloomsbury, 310 pp., £12.99, January, 978 1 5266 1214 4
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... Late​ in the evening, early this century, Washington Square West, Philadelphia. Washington Square West overlaps an area identified by W.E.B. Du Bois in The Philadelphia Negro as the Seventh Ward, the site of many places famous in Black history: Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church; the Institute for Coloured Youth; the home of Frances E ...

At Tate Modern

Peter Campbell: Like a badly iced cake, 5 May 2005

... the catalogue of the exhibition of the work of André Kertész (at the National Gallery of Art in Washington until 15 May) quotes something he wrote in 1930: ‘I am an amateur and I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life. I reject all forms of professional cleverness or virtuosity … As soon as I have found the image that interests me, I leave it ...

At Tate Modern

Peter Campbell: The fairground at Bankside, 22 June 2006

... based on private collections sometimes suit paintings like these: in the Phillips Collection in Washington, works by Bonnard, Rouault and Rothko all seem to gain confidence from each other and the spaces they hang in. The Rothko room in Tate Modern is an exception which proves the rule, for here one has a dim space, constructed and lit just for these ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Saul Steinberg’s Playful Modernism, 1 January 2009

... Photo’ (1953) After leaving the Morgan Library, the exhibition travelled to Washington, Cincinnati, Poughkeepsie, Paris and Zürich. Its last destination (from 13 March) will be Hamburg. As it has gone from place to place some things in it – the drawings of Paris and New York, for instance – will have found themselves at home. If the ...

Lumpy, Semi-Dorky, Slouchy, Smarmy

John Lanchester, 23 August 2001

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... they were looking at the wrong time. The big break in the case came when the New York Times and Washington Post published the Unabomber’s 30,000-word manifesto, and Kaczynski’s sister-in-law, a professor of philosophy, recognised his writing. These and similar cases all lead to Foster’s conclusion, as laid out in Author Unknown’s penultimate ...

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