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The geographer of Bohemia

To celebrate the centenary of Anthony Powell’s birth next year an exhibition is being planned at the Wallace Collection in Lon- don, which houses Poussin’s ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’, the work of art that inspired the novelist’s panoramic 12- volume sequence. The official biography, to be written by Hilary Spurling, a former

Le style, c’était l’homme

We live in a demotic age. How is it therefore that by the beginning of the 21st century the Duke of Devonshire had become a national institution? If you doubt that fact you need only refer to Patrick Leigh Fermor’s lyrical account of the funeral in this magazine or the hundreds of column inches devoted

A concern with appearances

I was bemused by this novel — a first from Katherine Bucknell, better known as an editor of Isherwood’s diaries and of Auden studies. In its concentration on houses (in London and Virginia) and their furnishings, I kept thinking of Henry James and such novels as Portrait of a Lady and The Spoils of Poynton

A man, a plan, a canal . . .

Said Aburish, a Palestinian with excellent English who worked for years in Iraq, wrote a very good biography of Saddam four years ago. He brought out the full horror of the regime, and showed how Saddam’s hero was Stalin, even to the point that Stalin’s works were Saddam’s bedtime reading (such, at any rate, was

Placeman without a place

One of the chief characteristics of New Labour, Blairism or the Project — they amount to the same phenomenon — is that many of the cheer-leaders began their careers not just on the far left of the Labour Party but so far to the left as to be outside the party completely. Peter Mandelson and

Fantasies under the river gums

Just as vulgarity can sometimes transcend itself and become something else (I am thinking of Gillray and Las Vegas), so silliness can sometimes transcend itself and attain sociological significance. Germaine Greer has written a transcendently silly pamphlet about a proposed future for her homeland, Australia. She wants it to become what she calls an Aboriginal