Middlemarch

middlemarch old cover

(by George Eliot) Honestly, you just want to smash Dorothea Brookes’ face in.

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Michelangelo: His Epic Life

michelangelo

(by Martin Gayford) Straightfoward but intelligent and informed biography of the world’s greatest visual artist, well sourced and well imagined. Even when he ran out of puff, money or interest, he still managed to do great things; e.g. his incomplete (although officially deemed finished after 45 years of tinkering) tomb of Julius II, with its magnificent centrepiece of Moses. Ridiculously prolific even though he could be a right sod in negotiating and delivering his famous services, as multi-talented as his rival Leonardo, as contradictory as all men, Michelangelo is still “the one to beat”. [Incidentally, it was reported in early…

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The Merry-go-Round in the Sea

merrygoround in the sea

(by Randolph Stow) The great Australian family-at-war yarn. The scene of Rick and Jane on the beach is the literary high watermark of dates gone wrong.

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Memoirs of Hector Berlioz

berlioz

Like Wagner, Berlioz was a pain in the neck, a necessary pain, the kind reminding one both of life and mortality.  There is still no agreement as to how good he was and a lot of his work has Wagnerian length without the same depth. But check out his Faust, Trojans and Symphonie fantastique. This autobiography, painstakingly translated by David Cairns, (who has also produced a massive biography) shows the composer kicking like a mule to get ahead, to get his way, to get some recognition, in a France that has always been indifferent to him.  A great work even for…

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The Maybe

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, Ulalume |
Marina_Abramović_-_El_Héroe

(2013) Tilda Swinton sleeps, encased in glass, at MoMA in Manhattan. The bed is cleaner than Tracey Emin’s but Tilda, with her death’s head and pale, slight figure, surely can find better roles than this pallid piece of modern confectionary. At least Marina Abramovic nudes up. In a letter to The Australian, Mr Tony Hennessy of Casino, New South Wales, avers “Two people standing on a box may be difficult but it is not art”. This begs the old answer-less question ‘what is art?’ And the claim made by the pop artists ‘all art is already mediated’ surely confuses outcome…

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