John McEwan

Art Writing as Gossip or Sociology?

Leonardo's Nephew: Essays on Art and Artists


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The Penguin Book of Art Writing


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James Fenton is a poet and a hack – not just any hack; he was one of the valiant few who stayed on in Vietnam after the fall of Saigon – so you can be sure he will never be boring. In Borneo, he recalls, he and his party had to join their guides in a rain-dance to bring on a spate. ‘We were instructed to get into the river and beat it with branches and shout at it at the tops of our voices. I apologised for laughing as we did so. My guide said: “No, you must laugh; if you do something funny you must laugh, otherwise the magic won’t work.”‘

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