Peter Washington

Glittering Quirks



Oxford University Press 496pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Have you ever been into one of those shops which sell high-class tat to well-heeled women? English cities are full of them now, strewn with embroidered cushions, dainty furniture and china. The message of such bijouterie is obvious: that you too can share in the luxury it represents, and at a very reasonable price. Alas, the allure has nothing to do with the quality of the goods and everything to do with the decorator’s skill. Get the stuff home, and the Chippendale turns out to be poorly painted MDF, while the antique porcelain looks as though it was made in Hong Kong last week because it was. Professor Warner’s book offers the intellectual equivalent of such illusions, so it is certainly well named. Phantasmagoria brims with well-upholstered details which appear to be constructing an argument but don’t. Instead, they furnish the mind with the comfortable feeling that thinking has taken place, until you look a little closer.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Whom did Picasso label a 'bristly pig'? Read Rosalind P Blakesley's review of The Collector by Natalya Semenova to… ,
    • Alexandra Gajda on Anna Beer's new biography, Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh ,
    • Mark Lawson reviews @jonathancoe's Middle England - The Rotters' Club for our Brexit age. ,
    • 'Behind every book that is published lies ... a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and ex… ,
    • 'We once more live in a great age of dragon invention' Here's Tom Shippey on Martin Arnold's The Dragon ,
    • RT : Man at the q&a part of the book panel: Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't s… ,
    • Here's @epkaufm's Whiteshift, reviewed in this month's magazine by ,