Modernists & Marionettes

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In 1973 Lionel Lambourne, historian of the aesthetic movement, described the sculptor, woodcarver, puppet maker and puppet master William Simmonds as ‘the calm still centre’ of the Arts and Crafts movement. But despite a major joint exhibition at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum in 1980, Simmonds and his wife, Eve, have remained unknown outside a […]

Treasures of a Trailblazer

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

One evening in late 1908, Henri Matisse introduced a short, dapper visitor to the community of often struggling artists who tended to congregate at the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre. Picasso was there, as was his iconoclastic painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, then still known by its original title, Le Bordel d’Avignon. Fernande Olivier, Picasso’s lover and muse, was underwhelmed by the newcomer.

From the Cutting Room Floor

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Behind every book that is published lies a hinterland its author knows only too well, though readers will never be aware of it. This is a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and excised, crisscrossed with paths that were thoroughly explored but came to a dead end, and alive with the faint […]

Sexual Revolutionary

Posted on by Tom Fleming

‘For my generation’, writes Linda Grant of the Sixties, ‘sex was a political act.’ Smashing monogamy would help smash the state by undermining its bourgeois conventions. Plus, through sexual freedom one found personal freedom, a metaphysical oneness with all creation. It was ‘physical liberation, psychic liberation, almost a tool for world peace.’ Today, in the […]

Further Prattling from Old Subversive Smartyboots

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Gore Vidal is approaching seventy and fat books of essays like this one seem to sound the right note of elderly solidity. Equally, he might, at his age, be forgiven for the touch of complacent paranoia in the title. The United States in question are not the nation but the three categories into which he […]

Women’s Music

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Glenys Kinnock introduces this collection of essays with a good socialist rant blaming the inequalities faced by women on the shortcomings of market values. Women, she says, are underpaid, they suffer more poverty as lone mothers and are often invisible in society. Well, you’d expect that. But I was agreeably surprised by the degree of […]

A Most Ridiculous but Lovable Man Revived

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Sir Isaiah Berlin has been the most brilliant talker when he has chosen, and the most faultless prose writer in his own manner, the best memoirist that anyone seems to remember. His standby has always been that he has read and thought about great men who were hardly known even as names to his younger […]

Who is This Subtle Man Who Asks the Questions?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

If you are to be interviewed by Mr Naim Attallah, do not suppose that you will get off with easy answers, for he comes well briefed and will press you hard. ‘You are very searching in your questions,’ exclaims the poetess Kathleen Raine. ‘You are going too deeply into my private life,’ protests the Duke […]

Posted in 184 | Tagged | Comments Off on Who is This Subtle Man Who Asks the Questions?

Where Does One Stop?

Posted on by David Gelber

Anything – yes anything – put into human orifices to excess is a potential danger. There are vogues in danger and currently it’s drink, in the alcoholic sense, that’s being castigated. Jancis Robinson is a Master of Wine, a competent journalist – and a ‘young mum’. Her text, which l think might have been more […]

How to Be a Genius

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Many years ago I was a patient of the psychiatrist author of this book. I was twenty two at the time and suffering from a combination of loneliness, emotional difficulties and the disadvantages of being a junior member of a large philistine family. The only way I could sustain myself was by the belief that […]

Unpriestly Behaviour

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The enduring impression of JB Priestley is the down-to-earth, plain-spoken, pipe-smoking, cocksure Yorkshire entertainer, with a mind concrete and far from fastidious. It is nut an entirely agreeable one. ‘Jolly Jack’ Priestley, with his opinionated Honest John manner, has clearly presented his biographer with some embarrassment in explaining what lay behind the public image. Was […]

He Nearly Goes Mad

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Sometimes I wonder why publishers bother to bring out anything as short as this book, especially when the cost will surely drive most buyers away. But The Pigeon answers my question. It would have been an act of pure wickedness not to publish this, which is if anything even better than Süskind’s last work, Perfume. […]

Better Than Seamus Heaney

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Not knowing Adam Thorpe’s poetry before, I found it good at first but good of a vaguely familiar kind. After all, we no longer suppose that every poet, still less every poem will be so original as to be startling; only two or three poets in a generation will surprise us, and they will not […]

A Trail of Sycophancy

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

When Batsheva de Rothschild, who runs a dance company in Tel Aviv, was touring in Kenya recently, she was asked at a press conference for her name. ‘Rothschild,’ she said. ‘Ah yes,’ came the rather surprising reply, ‘just like our giraffe.’ And indeed the local five horned giraffe is named after a member of the […]

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter