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Temples of culture under siege

A couple of years ago, I was walking up Quincy Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Ivan Gaskell, a curator at the Fogg Art Museum, when he asked if I had ever met Jim Cuno, the director of the Fogg. I hadn’t, so we knocked on his door and left three hours later, having embarked on

A lighter shade of genius

Anyone who has ever had a duff interview will feel for James Kennaway, the screenwriter who met with Hitchcock in 1962 to discuss the possibility of his scripting the director’s next venture about a flock of birds attacking a Bodega Bay community. ‘I see this film done only one way,’ declared the cocksure scribe: ‘You

After the War was over . . .

The spy novel is an essential literary genre of our present imagination. Like other popular forms at different times, it seems to sum up more of our anxieties than it quite admits. The ghost story in Edwardian England was popular because it focussed a strain of passionate morbidity; the detective story is essentially a 1930s