PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Beverley Bie Brahic, after Leopardi's 'Broom' Michael Freeman Benefytes and Consolacyons Miles Burrows At Madame Zaza’s and other poems Victoria Kenefick Hunger Strike Hilary Davies Haunted by Christ
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 111, Volume 23 Number 1, September - October 1996.

Theory: a Day in the Capital John Needham

The old man scrutinising the Lowe cartoons on the gallery wall could be a cartoon himself. Tall, thin and stoop-shouldered, with a hooked nose and a sharp eye, he looks like a stork in the shallows, poised to strike. The 'belt' holding up his white flannel trousers seems to be a tie - regimental, probably, or collegial - and his linen jacket and straw boater, though well-kept, seem rather worn. A retired army officer perhaps, but, in appearance at least, the reverse of a Colonel Blimp. He would have looked at home in Tonbridge Wells half a century ago.

My perception of him is evidently influenced by the works on display - Lowe's classic anti-fascist cartoons of the nineteen-thirties, with their planes, tanks, and propaganda, and great dictators; all the modern machinery of wars and lies. They seem almost to sum up 'the twentieth century'. And Lowe's own style, striped down to a few bold strokes, seems quite in keeping.

My historicising impulse was triggered even as we approached the exhibition hall - the New Zealand National Library - by the striking contrast between its modernist walls, with their serried ranks of concrete wedges, and the old parliament buildings across the road, with their newly restored Victorian-classical marble pillars. We - I'm with a friend whose current occupation is literary biography - have just failed to penetrate the latter. A trail of builder's ramps and walkways led us to a side entrance with plate-glass sliding ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image