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The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman, 14 December 2017

A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... job as an articled clerk at a firm of solicitors called Knapp-Fishers, where one of the partners, Roger Maddison, groped her when she was talking on the phone to a client. When she finished the call, he told her off for shrieking. Again, she didn’t tell anyone: ‘it never crossed my mind that complaining would do anything other than make things worse for ...

Boys wearing wings

Nicholas Penny, 15 March 1984

Caravaggio 
by Howard Hibbard.
Thames and Hudson, 404 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 500 09161 7
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Circa 1600: A Revolution of Style in Italian Painting 
by S.J. Freedberg.
Harvard, 125 pp., £21.25, January 1983, 0 674 13156 8
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Domenichino 
by Richard Spear.
Yale, 382 pp., £75, November 1982, 0 300 02359 6
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... assumed. In Caravaggio’s early paintings clearly-defined areas of flesh colour, buff and sandy brown are contrasted with neat patterns of black and white and golden-brown clothing, and with the red of wine or cherries and the fresh green of vine leaves – all contained originally (as early inventories invariably ...

How stupid people are

John Sturrock: Flaubert, 7 September 2006

Bouvard and Pecuchet 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey Archive, 328 pp., £8.99, January 2006, 1 56478 393 6
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Flaubert: A Life 
by Frederick Brown.
Heinemann, 629 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 434 00769 2
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... and several more besides. In August 1873, writing to one of his favourite correspondents, Edma Roger des Genettes, he claimed that since the previous September he had read and made notes on 194 titles, and his final estimate was that he had consulted some 1500 in all – a research curriculum the like of which can seldom if ever have crossed the mind of ...

Short Cuts

Tariq Ali: So much for England, 23 January 2020

... assassination are a case in point.) He often sounds like a character in a comic novel. His own. Roger Barlow in Seventy-Two Virgins is a self-portrait that reveals a surprising degree of self-awareness:Barlow’s thoughts of political extinction had taken a philosophical turn. Did it matter? Of course not. The fate of the human race was hardly affected ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: The Disappearance of Arthur Cravan, 9 March 2006

... of his works. (A long-awaited life is in preparation by the leading Anglophone Cravaniste, Roger Lloyd Conover.) This lacuna is curious because although Cravan was Swiss by birth, and wrote exclusively in French, he was a mix of Irish and English by blood. I have long been fascinated by this hyperbolic but ultimately enigmatic figure, and not the least ...

Whitehall Farce

Paul Foot, 12 October 1989

The Intelligence Game: Illusions and Delusions of International Espionage 
by James Rusbridger.
Bodley Head, 320 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 370 31242 2
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The Truth about Hollis 
by W.J. West.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7156 2286 2
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... of a century was a consequence of there being a Russian spy in MI5. Some say the spy was Sir Roger Hollis, the director. A man called Nigel West wrote a whole book saying the mole wasn’t Hollis: it was his deputy, Graham Mitchell (a former official of the Tory Party). Now we have another equally boring and unimpressive book by W.J. West, who says it ...

At the Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh

Tom Crewe: Roger Fenton, 16 November 2017

... There are​ two portraits Roger Fenton took of himself, separated by only a year, one of them in the exhibition of his photographs of the Crimean War at the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh (until 26 November) and the other not. The first, from 1854, seems conventional: we see a Victorian gentleman – hair parted, beard trimmed to cover only the underside of his face, leaving the strong chin to fight its own battles – seated in a chair, his arm resting on a covered table ...

Eye Contact

Peter Campbell: Anthony van Dyck, 16 September 1999

Anthony van Dyck 1599-1641 
by Christopher Brown and Hans Vlieghe.
Royal Academy, 360 pp., £22.50, May 1999, 9780847821969
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Anthony van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641 
by Robin Blake.
Constable, 435 pp., £25, August 1999, 9780094797208
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... so are grace, nobility and even the kindness that comes close to being flattery. ‘Van Dyck,’ Roger de Piles noted, ‘took his time to draw a face when it had its best looks on.’ He painted Charles I’s Queen, Henrietta Maria, as a handsome woman – without, it would seem, losing the likeness. Yet her niece, who knew her first from the painting, was ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... debates of the last twenty years. The editor-in-chief of this immense project is William Roger Louis, an American – though famously Anglophile – scholar. When he was appointed dismay was expressed in conservative newspapers at the thought that a quintessentially British historical experience was to be in the hands of some renegade colonial. In ...

Hunter-Capitalists

Roger Hodge: The Comanches, 15 December 2011

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanche Tribe 
by S.C. Gwynne.
Constable, 483 pp., £9.99, July 2011, 978 1 84901 703 9
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... the conditions for the Texas Revolution and the Mexican War and the collapsed horizons of a thin brown borderline along the Rio Grande. Their lucrative trade in buffalo hides drew American buffalo hunters westward, resulting in the permanent collapse of that essential resource. The Comanche empire, like most expansionist and aggressive powers, contained ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... simply stamped out; with the Pre-Raphaelites, there was indeed such a potential – he cited Madox Brown’s house, where ‘there were not only artists but also atheists, political refugees, vagrants: there was the kind of widening which was questioning the order of a much wider area’ – and this did link to Morris’s development. But Williams could not ...

The Case of Agatha Christie

John Lanchester, 20 December 2018

... to write about detective fiction, Edmund Wilson, in his 1945 essay-review, ‘Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?’ Her writing is of a mawkishness and banality that seem to me literally impossible to read. You cannot read such a book, you run through it to see the problem worked out; and you cannot become interested in the characters, because they never can ...

Diary

Paul Laity: Henry Woodd Nevinson, 3 February 2000

... and William Roberts – and a revolutionary moment in British art. Even to express support for Roger Fry’s Post-Impressionist exhibitions was daring and radical. Nevinson, having seen a contemporary art show in Venice, knew he was ‘bored with the old Masters’. He was ambitious and keen to be liked, but socially difficult. A photo survives of a Slade ...
The Name of the Rose 
by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 502 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 14089 6
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... to describe these as they might have appeared to a forward-looking monk who had been a disciple of Roger Bacon, and therefore believed in machines and science, and a friend of William of Ockham, and was therefore opposed to the multiplication of beings (and signs), sceptical of universals, a sort of proto-semiotician but also a common-sense ...

Gloom without Doom

Frank Kermode, 19 April 1990

Letters of Leonard Woolf 
edited by Frederic Spotts.
Weidenfeld, 616 pp., £30, March 1990, 0 297 79635 6
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... he would be tormented by ‘desire to copulate with a bronze bottom without copulating with a brown face’. Woolf, heterosexual (though he thought most women ‘extraordinarily ugly’ when naked), had a mild expatriate affair, and probably enjoyed work and play more than he lets on. He does mention specifically the delights of hard riding (‘it is ...

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