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“Call Me By Your Name” is a work of beauty

ART and beauty are inexorable; Pablo Picasso said that art exists to embellish, polish and “[wash] away from the soul the dust of everyday life”. Luca Guadagnino is one of cinema’s most aesthetically-minded directors; his films often probe the concept of beauty and its role in human relationships. His last …

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Why Stephen King’s novels still resonate

STEPHEN KING is practically an industry unto himself. The author, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this year, has exceptional creative fecundity: he has written more than 60 novels and hundreds of short stories. While his oeuvre has been mined for adaptation since 1976—when the film “Carrie” was released—this year …

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“A Legacy of Spies”: John le Carré’s latest, maybe last, venture

A Legacy of Spies. By John le Carré. Penguin Viking. 264 pages. $28 and £20. SO GEORGE SMILEY is back at last. That, at any rate, is the marketing come-on for John le Carré’s 24th novel, two decades after the wily old spymaster is generally reckoned to have crept into …

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Why companies don’t want you to take their brand names in vain

WHAT else could you call a photocopier? If you answer “a Xerox machine”, you are one of the many people for whom the brand name and the generic item are one and the same. Like many brands that have gone generic, xerox is often lower-case and used as a verb. …

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A former England cricket captain explores the question of “form”

On Form. By Mike Brearley. Little, Brown; 416 pages; £20. DURING the Australian cricket team’s tour of England in 1981, Ian Botham and Bob Willis were both hopelessly out of form when the third Test match began. They couldn’t do a thing right. Yet both eventually produced extraordinary performances that …

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A Joycean novel about illness, suffering and work

Solar Bones. By Mike McCormack. Soho Press; 224 pages; $25. Canongate; £20. THE Angelus bell rings out on the first page of Mike McCormack’s novel, “Solar Bones”. It is the Catholic devotion that commemorates the mystery of the Incarnation. That mystery, the idea of a spirit made flesh, haunts this …

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Technology and the quest for sporting records

Game Changer: The Technoscientific Revolution in Sports. By Rayvon Fouché. Johns Hopkins University Press; 264 pages; $29.95. ATHLETES have always sought an edge. Ancient Greeks at the original Olympics wrote jinxes against their rivals on lead strips and ate raw testicles before events. Cyclists in the Victorian era dabbled with …

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Authentic baroque performance is energising young performers

AT A recent BBC Proms concert, a French choir and orchestra named Pygmalion performed Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, a baroque masterpiece. The audience can be forgiven for not being well-acquainted with the performers: Pygmalion was founded only 10 years ago.  “We were kids!” said Raphaël Pichon, Pygmalion’s founder and …

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Why it is significant that Venice Film Festival put VR on the bill

AN article of faith shared by film festivals everywhere is that the best way to watch any film is on the largest possible screen, in an auditorium packed with fellow enthusiasts. Millions of people may prefer to catch the latest blockbuster or art-house drama on a laptop or a phone, …

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Diego Schwartzman, tennis’s smallest male star, is gaining stature

WITH FORMER champions Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka all missing from this year’s US Open, which began on August 28th, a throng of less-familiar names headed to Flushing with a chance to make a name for themselves. Now that the men’s field is down to the final eight, …