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William Blake: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy
William Blake: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy
by Maria Antonietta Terzoli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £64.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent art book - don't let it escape you!, 19 Mar. 2015
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This volume demonstrates in dramatic fashion that reports of the death of the printed book are somewhat premature. First the contents - anyone interested in William Blake and/or painted art in general would be foolish not to acquire this magnificent volume. Some of Blake's most accomplished work is beautifully reproduced here and intelligently annotated in detail. The book itself is an incredible production for a commercial press (or any other kind of press, for that matter). The binding is canvas, and both the illustrations and the text are printed on textured art paper (no easy task, technically). Both the text and the reproductions are exquisite. View the pictures under natural light - it's like having the originals in front of you. DON'T MISS THIS BOOK.


Serious Pleasures: Life of Stephen Tennant
Serious Pleasures: Life of Stephen Tennant
by Philip Hoare
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, unworthy subject, 28 Jan. 2015
I'm giving this book one star not because the book isn't any good - it is - but because it wasn't worth writing. The author has done tremendous research and is very obviously conversant with every aspect of the social milieu of his subject, Stephen Tennant. The writing style is also excellent. The problem is that Stephen Tennant, an aristocrat, raving queen and prominent decoration in the social scene of the 1920's on both sides of the Atlantic, accomplished nothing other than spending lots of money and being part of a quite circumscribed, largely homosexual, social circle concerned with fashion, interior decoration, the stage and, at one remove, writing fiction. I'm a great fan of the period and Tennant's name often comes up among the more outrageous party-goers, but his accomplishments were nil and his life is almost without interest. A few of his friends found him inspirational but that's not enough to justify this 460 page book. There are far more compelling "Bright Young People" to read about, and the fictional characters for which he was a model are much more amusing (Waugh's Myles Malpractice and Cedric Hampton in Nancy Mitford's "Love in a Cold Climate")


The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC
The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC
by David W. Anthony
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly interesting description of an ancient culture most of us didn't know existed, 3 Dec. 2014
The fullest report to date on a settled culture that seems to have been more advanced artistically and in metallurgy (copper) than the ancient civilisations of the Middle East and of China at that time. "Old Europe" was a pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in southeastern Europe, located in the Danube River valley but it is not usually described as a 'civilisation' because so far there is no evidence that it was a hierarchical society. The pottery illustrated here is incredibly attractive artistically, and the model houses suggest the houses of Old Europe were multistorey and well-constructed, and located along streets. Read this book - it's an eye-opener.


Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (Yale Center for British Art)
Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (Yale Center for British Art)
by Martin Postle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £40.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive information but illustrations not up to scratch, 3 Dec. 2014
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Richard Wilson has been a favorite artist of mine for almost 50 years; in fact, since I first came across him in a series of large format booklets published by Fratelli Fabbri in 1963. It's therefore good to be able to buy as detailed a monograph on Wilson as there is likely to ever be. However, the publisher's blurb is very misleading when it uses the words "This magnificently illustrated volume" - there are many illustrations, but the illustrations of Wilson's paintings are poor, frequently not better in quality and all smaller in size than those of the Fabbri booklet - hence three stars rather than five. Highly recommended to anyone who likes italianate landscape painting and landscape painting of the 18th century in general.


The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother And Me
The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother And Me
by Sofka Zinovieff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A particularly fine example of the "higher gossip", 3 Dec. 2014
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This extremely well-written book is, let's face it, just a particularly fine example of the "higher gossip", as are many biographies of figures from this period (and others). Some new characters join our our old friends at pre-war Oxford and among the Bright Young Things in London and various country houses. If the period of Evelyn Waugh's youth, the Mitford sisters, Memoirs of an Aesthete etc. is your cup of tea (or tankard of champagne), then this book is for you. If the activities of incredibly rich, sexually ambiguous toffs and empty-headed beauties (of all four sexes) doesn't entertain you, stay away. I found every page full of interest even when, as in the first half of the book, many of the details have been recounted multiple times. The publisher's blurb says that the book is full of insight - I wouldn't agree with that - it's full of riveting detail regarding a totally extinct way of life. The book itself is also a beautiful example of book production, harking back to Cape's early days (except for a glaring compositor's error on page 168). All in all absolutely worth the money.


Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman
Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman
by Frances Stonor Saunders
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A highly enjoyable and informative page-turner, 13 Nov. 2014
This is quite a rollicking read that tells us more about the (extremely interesting) 14th century than about Hawkwood himself, although the main facts are all well presented in accessible, narrative style. There are a few typos that reverse the author's meaning - "yielding" for "wielding" in relation to a wife's control of her home, and the word "not" omitted from a crucial sentence etc. In addition to all the treachery and slaughter of the 13th and, mostly, 14th centuries, so well described by the author, they did nevertheless produce Dante, St Francis, Boccaccio, Petrarch, in addition to Chaucer. Note that this work doesn't pretend to be a work of original research, despite its extensive bibliography - it draws almost entirely on secondary sources, some of them seriously out of date, and translations of a very few contemporary chronicles. Altogether a highly enjoyable and informative page-turner.


Journals 1952-2000
Journals 1952-2000
by Arthur Schlesinger
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Most entertaining read, 22 May 2014
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This review is from: Journals 1952-2000 (Hardcover)
Schlesinger was a confirmed believer in the "great man" model of history - the concept that individuals control the course of human history rather than supra-individual "forces". Perhaps he was extreme in his belief, but it makes for very readable history. He was at the centre of Washington politics for decades and wrote it all down as it happened. Now we can read it in this excellent selection from his diaries.


An Infinity of Graces: Cecil Ross Pinsent, an English Architect in the Italian Landscape
An Infinity of Graces: Cecil Ross Pinsent, an English Architect in the Italian Landscape
by Ethne Clarke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent piece of research, 22 May 2014
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An excellent read for anyone interested in gardens and their history, and/or Anglo-American society in Florence during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author outlines the training and life of Pinsent neatly, in elegant and comprehensible language, and explains the related trends in architecture and garden design. Numerous very interesting pictures, many from Pinsent's own photo albums.


Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The florentine villas gamberaia, la pietra and i tatti
Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The florentine villas gamberaia, la pietra and i tatti
by R. Terry Schnadelbach
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A plethora of nonsense relieved by bizzare typographical errors., 30 Mar. 2014
The main theses of this book are plainly rubbish and it is riddled with typos, especially in proper names (Maxfield Pharrish for Maxfield Parrish; Victor Cunnard for Victor Cunard; the actress Natalie Rarney for the playwright, poet and novelist Natalie Barney etc etc), and grotesque errors of fact - Janet Ross was not a lesbian and Vernon Lee was not her partner, lesbian or otherwise. Garden history enthusiasts and those interested in the Anglo-American colony in Florence at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries might hope for some interesting or useful new information. There is some, but all of it is rendered suspect by the quantity of demonstrably inaccurate material between these covers. 'F' for this one, Professor.


Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross
Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross
by Ben Downing
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written book about a potentially fascinating subject, 18 Jan. 2014
This light-weight book is written in an irritatingly vernacular style bordering on slang, in fact crossing the border frequently. Worse than that, it is an unparalleled compendium of hackneyed phrases, often ten or twelve per page. This is a pity, because the lives and times of the expatriates of Egypt and Florence at their peaks provide limitless material for an amusing and informative story. The main facts of Janet Ross's life are here but she doesn't really come to life. Some reviewers have complained about an excess of background to the times, but I found this aspect of the book to be its best feature, despite it being ill-informed in places. For example, "In a Tuscan Garden" was written by Georgina S. Grahame, not John Lane - he was the publisher. A great many names are dropped in the Florentine section but that's probably inevitable considering that, aside from her books, entertaining the residents of and visitors to Florence was Janet Ross's main claim to fame over the course of 50 years. In fact, this book is more a history of the Anglo-Florentines hung on the frame of Janet Ross's life - and none the worse for that. There is a huge literature on the Anglo-Florentines including several spectacularly entertaining memoirs. Perhaps the main value of this book is that its bibliography will give readers an entry into that literature.


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