James Hall

A Few Pointers

Michelangelo’s Finger: An Exploration of Everyday Transcendence

By

Atlantic Books 166pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The Finger: A Handbook

By

Yale University Press 256pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The Romantic cult of the fragment lurks behind the contemporary fashion for books with preposterous possessive titles like Wittgenstein’s Poker, Churchill’s Cigar, Napoleon’s Buttons, Michelangelo’s Nose, Rembrandt’s Nose and Nathaniel’s Nutmeg. Just as the anatomist Georges Cuvier (1769–1832) claimed that he could reconstruct an entire animal from a single bone, and the connoisseur Giovanni Morelli (1816–91) believed he could attribute paintings from ‘marginal’ features like ears, hands and fingernails, so our authors insist that a seemingly inconsequential or bathetic detail is in fact the key to a whole personality or historical period.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,
    • From our December/January issue - here's John Banville's review of Colm Tóibín on the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and J… ,