Broken Heartlands review: it will give poor Keir Starmer sleepless nights

Broken hearts

Sebastien payne Macmillan £ 20

Evaluation:

“You should get out of London. Go talk to people who aren’t Rich Remainers, ”Dominic Cummings once told a crowd of hackers at his doorstep. Sebastian Payne is one of the few Westminster journalists who doesn’t need to say it.

A deep dive into the ‘Red Wall’, Broken Heartlands is first class political reporting. As Payne is a boy from Gateshead in the North East, it’s also very personal. It is not a political safari but a journey home, to the voters who are the author’s family and friends, and people like them.

The result should be considered required reading for anyone interested in British politics or, indeed, winning the election. It will soon be found on the bedside tables of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer, one suspects it.

It will soon be found on the bedside tables of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer (above, with Angela Rayner), it is suspected

It will soon be found on the bedside tables of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer (above, with Angela Rayner), it is suspected

At the heart of it is a question: Can Boris start over or was 2019 a fluke? Or, as Payne puts it, was the election a one-time event or evidence of “structural change” in British politics?

The answer is yes to both. Brexit shattered party loyalties inherited from people. Jeremy Corbyn was totally hated. And Boris – with his charm and his va-va-voom – was loved. And ‘love’ is the word Payne’s subjects use, as they scramble for Covid-friendly selfies and nudges with the visiting Prime Minister.

It also highlights a key long-term trend. Frankly speaking, it is no longer dismal in the North. Decaying buildings aside, parts of the north are recovering well from the mine closures a generation ago.

An economic renaissance has taken place, with new industries springing up in places like North West Durham – now home to one of the UK’s biggest wine importers, you wouldn’t know.

The increasingly prosperous voters were natural conservatives; it only took Boris and Brexit to get them to understand that. This book will give poor Keir Starmer sleepless nights.

The art of the extreme 1905-14

Philippe Crochet Profile £ 30

Evaluation:

For centuries, since the Renaissance, artists have strived to produce largely figurative material – still lifes, portraits, landscapes – then at the turn of the 20th century, all hell broke loose: the modernists arrived with their discordant compositions. and their dubious morals.

In Art Of The Extreme, Philip Hook evokes all the excitement, danger and absurdity of the era, reminding us of the tonic origins of now famous names – Picasso, Matisse, Munch – while unearthing the antics of some forgotten figures. .

The decade leading up to World War I, 1905-1914, was a time of spiritualism and psychoanalysis, declining empires and new technologies. This sense of flow was also evident in the art world, where experimental experimentation quickly snowballed abstraction.

Erotic misadventures fill these pages: The Viennese abortionists were occupied by Gustav Klimt (Klimt's Lady With Fan, 1917/18, above) and Egon Schiele

Erotic misadventures fill these pages: The Viennese abortionists were occupied by Gustav Klimt (Klimt’s Lady With Fan, 1917/18, above) and Egon Schiele

Hook skillfully explains how the triumvirate of Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin paved the way for a tornado of “isms” – Futurism, Fauvism, Cubism, Orphism, and more. This created confusion, often comical, for the public and the artists.

Standing in front of the footage, viewers asked, “What is this? “

Hook animates avant-garde concepts – the Vorticists produced a batty manifesto that dabbled in English mysticism, cricket and weather – focusing on the main players and their varying appetites.

He situates art in the maelstrom of their daily life, its disorder and its passions, its blunders and its vanities. The painter‘s canvas is cleverly woven into a larger tapestry, full of grimy sheets and worldly tablecloths.

And erotic misadventures fill these pages: Russian expressionist Oskar Kokoschka was content with a life-size doll of her ex-lover; The Viennese abortionists were occupied by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele; and in London, John Currie shot his model in a fit of jealousy (before turning the gun on him).

As Hook observes: “In the modernist studios of Europe, women victims of the affirmation of male instinct have accumulated.

Even Rodin, an older generation, “had operated for most of his life on the principle that not passing a woman was padlock behavior.”

Coming out of unsuitable beds, these extremists often took refuge in sanatoriums. Their fate is signaled with a light touch. “If they weren’t about to die of tuberculosis,” Hook writes, “they might die of boredom.”

Suicide was always a face-saving option when women or critics struck a chord. In 1908, the Austrian painter in love Richard Gerstl hanged himself in Vienna; he simultaneously stabbed himself in the heart and watched the scene unfold in his studio mirror.

Sigmund Freud’s clinic was right across the street.

The “pictorial pirotechnics” are recreated in a vivid way, but it is the vim of these rebels that really impresses. It’s hard to imagine contemporary artists today being so emphatically outrageous.

Hook’s wonderful book captures a window of time where artistic ideals were dynamically shattered and reassembled.

Siméon House

About Wesley Williamson

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