Hogarth argued that in the visual arts this S-shaped curve creates a strong sense of vibrancy and liveliness. The Line of Beauty shapes Hogarth's painting The Shrimp Girl. It also features on the artist's palette in the self-portrait The Painter and his Pug (1745).
Click here to read The Analysis of Beauty online.
Alan Hollinghurst dedicates The Line of Beauty to the author and journalist Francis Wyndham.
Francis Wyndham was born in London in 1924. He is the author of a novel entitled The Other Garden (1987) and two collections of short stories, Out of the War (1974) and Mrs Henderson and Other Stories (1985). He also worked as a journalist for Queen magazine and for the Sunday Times. A collection of his reviews, interviews and articles was published in 1991 under the title The Theatre of Embarrassment.
Click here to read part of a conversation between Francis Wyndham and Alan Hollinghurst.
Click here to see a portrait of Francis Wyndham painted by Lucian Freud.
There is a British author and journalist called Peter Crowther, but he does not appear to have written on political matters.
Alan Hollinghurst observed in a talk that 'books are often stuffed with information as a substitute for imagination', and that he himself uses information as a 'trigger' for his imagination. Maybe the name Peter Crowther is one such trigger.
Hollinghurst reiterated his views on the use of factual information in novels in a 2012 radio interview, saying, 'I don't actually like research. I slightly mistrust research ... I like things which can act as a sort of trigger to my imagination ... I think it's all too easy for fully-imagined things to be replaced by just great wadges of information'.
Click here to see a video of the talk.
Click here to listen to the 2012 radio interview.
It was established in 1956 as a joint enterprise between Una Dillon (who had been running her own bookshop since the 1930s) and the University of London. The shop ceased trading under the name of Dillon's in 1999, and is now part of Waterstones.
The 'triumphant Prime Minister' is Margaret Thatcher, who led the Conservative Party to victory in the 1983 United Kingdom General Election.
Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first female prime minister after the 1979 General Election, when the Conservative party gained 339 seats against the combined opposition parties' 296 seats. The Conservative party won a second term of government under Mrs Thatcher in 1983 when they gained 397 seats.
Originally, the term public school in the United Kingdom was used to describe just seven schools: Charterhouse School, Eton College, Harrow School, Rugby School, Shrewsbury School, Westminster School and Winchester College. Today, however, the term may be used for any U.K. independent (fee-paying) senior school which belongs to the association known as The Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference (HMC). Confusingly, in the U.K., public schools are sometimes referred to as private schools!
Oxbridge is a portmanteau word formed from Oxford and Cambridge. As a noun, it is used to describe the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge as an entity. It may also be used as an adjective to describe the attributes (or perceived attributes) of the two universities: as in, for example, 'he spoke with an Oxbridge accent'.
The suggested link between public school/Oxbridge education and Conservative politicians is borne out by historical fact. Eleven Tory/Conservative British prime ministers were educated at Eton and Oxbridge. These include Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (Eton/Christ Church, Oxford); Arthur Balfour (Eton/Trinity College, Cambridge); Sir Anthony Eden (Eton/ Christ Church, Oxford), Harold Macmillan (Eton/Balliol College, Oxford) and David Cameron (Eton/Brasenose College, Oxford). Having said that, 8 former pupils of Eton went on to become either Whig or Liberal prime ministers. These include William Ewart Gladstone (Eton/Christ Church, Oxford) and Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Roseberry (Eton/Christ Church, Oxford).
It is noted on this website that of the 55 British prime ministers to date, 41 were educated at Oxbridge, although it should be noted that not all Oxbridge-educated prime ministers attended public schools.
(Please note that there are some variations in statistical information about British Prime Ministers on the Internet).
Graphology is the name given to the study and analysis of an individual's handwriting. It is used in various fields, including assessment of employment suitability, psychological analysis, assessment of marital compatibility, and medical diagnosis. However, it is not generally considered to have any scientific validity.
The London Borough of Brent is an Outer London borough situated in the north western part of the city; it consists of three major areas: Kilburn, Wembley and Willesden.
Notting Hill is situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in central London. Today it is an affluent and fashionable area, but prior to the 1980s, it was fairly run-down. Some of its best known districts are Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill Gate, and Westbrook Grove.
The area has some very attractive Victorian townhouses, many of which have access to substantial communal gardens. Notting Hill is also within easy reach of three major public parks: Holland Park, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
During the 1950s, low rents made Notting Hill attractive to Caribbean immigrants, leading to the establishment of the Notting Hill Carnival, held annually in August. The area was the setting for the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
Kensington Park Gardens is a street of tall terraced houses in central Notting Hill. It was designed by W.J. Drew and Thomas Allom, and built between 1849 and 1858.
A capriccio is a painting in which architectural features, such as buildings and archaeological remains, are depicted in a bizarre and fantastical way. It may also include human and animal figures, but these are generally secondary to the architectural subject.
Henry James (1843-1916) was an American-born novelist, short story writer, biographer, literary critic and playwright. He was particularly prolific in his production of novels, novellas, and short stories. Amongst his best known works are The American (1877), Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), What Maisie Knew (1897), The Turn of the Screw (1898), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). Having settled in London in 1868, James became a naturalised British subject in 1915. He was the brother of psychologist and philosopher William James.
Whilst standing in an exceptionally gilded drawing room, Henry James is reputed to have said to Desmond MacCarthy in 1901, 'I can stand a great deal of gold' (see p.646 of Henry James: A Life by Leon Edel).
The punk subculture developed in Britain, America and Australia during the mid-1970s. It was characterised by anti-establishment attitudes and a focus on individual freedom. The musical genre known as punk rock was central to the subculture, which also expressed itself through fashion, film, literature, dance and the visual arts. The best known British punk rock bands were the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
Listen here to 'Anarchy in the UK' by the Sex Pistols on Spotify
For many, the most memorable aspects of the punk subculture were the clothes and hairstyles of its adherents. Punks wore studded clothing made from leather, rubber and vinyl, which had connotations of bondage and S&M. Clothing was often torn, and safety pins and razor blades were used as decoration. Hair was sometimes dyed in vibrant shades such as green, pink or orange, and cut in the mohican style.
Aspects of punk fashion remain popular today amongst some groups.
The Rastafari, who are sometimes known as Rastas, originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. They worship Haile Selassie I (who was Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974) and believe that his time on earth represented the 'second coming' of Jesus Christ. Although there are some similarities between Rastafarian beliefs and Jewish and Christian beliefs, most Rastafarians are reluctant to describe the Rastafarian way of life as a religion.
The Rastafarian ethos has been popularised and promoted through reggae, a musical genre which originated in Jamaica in the 1960s. It is particularly associated with Peter Tosh (1944-1987) and Bob Marley (1945-1981) who were both members of the group Bob Marley and the Wailers.
One aspect of the spiritual journey of the Rastafari is to allow the hair to grow in matted coils known as dreadlocks. These develop naturally when the hair is not routinely cut, combed or brushed.
Listen here to No Woman, No Cry by Bob Marley and the Wailers on Spotify.
Rastafarians have their own dialect of English called lyaric, which is also known as Dread-talk or I-talk. One of the most important words in lyaric is Babylon, a term for oppressive, corrupt and discriminatory governments or societal systems. Sometimes it may also be used in a more specific way to refer to the police. The Rastafarian use of the word derives from the account in the Christian Bible of the Judean Jews being held captive in the city of Babylon (an event known as the Babylonion captivity or the Babylonian exile).
The lyrics of the Rastafarian song Rivers of Babylon are based on Psalm 137 of the Christian Bible, which describe the Babylonian captivity, and on the final part of Psalm 19. The song was first recorded by the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians in 1970, and gained widespread popularity in Europe following the release of Boney M's cover version.
Listen here to The Melodians' version of Rivers of Babylon on Spotify.
Listen here to the Boney M version on Spotify.
Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) was leader of the British Conservative party between 1975 and 1990, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1979 and 1990. She was Britain's first ever female prime minister.
Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham in Lincolnshire, where her father kept two grocery shops. She was educated at the local grammar school and Somerville College, Oxford where she obtained a degree in Chemistry. She subsequently worked briefly as a research chemist before qualifying as a barrister in 1953. In the same year she gave birth to twins, Carol and Mark, having married the businessman Dennis Thatcher in 1951. She stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Conservative candidate in the 1950 and 1951 general elections, but was eventually elected as MP for Finchley in 1959. Having served in Edward Heath's 1970 government as Secretary of State for Education and Science, she moved on within a few years to become party leader and, subsequently, Prime Minister.
Her political philosophy and economic policies (which have come to be known as Thatcherism) favoured individual choice rather than government intervention, deregulation of the financial sector, and the privatisation of state-owned companies. She is famously remembered for having stated that 'there is no such thing as society' (click here to read the relevant interview), and earned the epithet The Iron Lady because of her uncompromising politics and her leadership style. Significant events during her period as Prime Minister include the Falklands War (1982), the Miners' Strike (1984) and the Poll Tax Riots (1990).
She relinquished her role as Prime Minister in 1990, after Michael Heseltine launched a challenge to her leadership. Following her resignation from the House of Commons in 1992, she was awarded a life peerage and became Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven.
As become clear at the time of her death in April 2013, she evoked very mixed reactions in her colleagues and the British public. Many admired her financial policies, her single-minded determination, and the way she had overcome the obstacles facing women in the world of politics; others saw her as a destructive influence who had promoted selfish attitudes and financial greed. Her ceremonial funeral was held on April 17, 2013 at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
The Alice books are Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (usually known just as Alice in Wonderland), first published in 1865, and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (usually known simply as Through the Looking Glass), first published in 1871.
Click here to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Click here to read Through the Looking Glass.
The epigraph to A Line of Beauty is taken from chapter 12 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which is entitled 'Alice's Evidence'.
A line from Chapter III of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which is entitled 'A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale'.
A modification of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, this quotation is taken from Chapter IX of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, entitled 'The Mock Turtle's Story'.
See p.143 of this e-book.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote the Alice books under the pen name Lewis Carroll, was a mathematics don at Christ Church College, Oxford.
The Duchess of Flintshire is a fictional title. Interestingly, there are characters called the Marquess and Marchioness of Flintshire (also imaginary titles) in Downton Abbey, the television period drama created by Julian Fellowes, and first aired in 2010.
Flintshire is one of the 13 historical counties of Wales, situated in the far northeastern corner of the map on the right.
Cranborne Chase School was an independent girls' boarding school which closed in 1990. It was originally located at Crichel House in Moor Crichel, Dorset, but transferred to New Wardour Castle, near Tisbury in Wiltshire, in 1960.
Ascender is a term used in the fields of hand-writing and typography (the techniques and processes involved in laying out printed material).
In typography, there is a concept known as the x-height or the mid-point, which is the height of the letter x. There are many lower case letters of the English alphabet which fit into this midpoint, when printed or written, including a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, and z. Other lower case letters, however, have sections situated above or below this mid-point which are given the names ascenders and descenders respectively. Lower case letters with ascenders are b, d, f, h, k, l, and t; lower case letters with descenders are g, j, q, p and y.
When writing by hand, people form ascenders and descenders in different ways. Within the field of graphology (the analysis of an individual's handwriting), various aspects of the way ascenders and descenders are formed are seen as significant.
Romanesque is the name given to the architectural style which dominated Western European architecture between the 9th century and the 12th century, when it was superseded by the Gothic style. It has its roots in the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, and is characterised by rounded arches, sturdy walls, small windows, and fairly simple ornamentation. In England it is generally known as Norman architecture.
The Last Judgement is referred to in all four gospels of the Christian Bible, particularly in the Gospel of Matthew. It is sometimes known as the Day of Judgement and, according to the gospels, will occur after Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil. On that day, God will assign all human beings to either heaven or hell, on the basis of the way they have lived their earthly lives.
Podier does not appear on Google maps of France. However, there is a reference to a church at Podier on the Internet where it is stated that 'il y a à Podier une double église: celle de Saint-Julien et celle dite de Saint-Victor et Saint-Pierre . . .' ('At Podier, there is a double church, that of Saint Julien, and those of Saint Victor and Saint Pierre'). On p.328 of The Line of Beauty, there is another reference to the church at Podier, when it is visited by the Fedden family and their guests whilst on holiday in France.
Boulle work, known in 19th century Britain as Buhl work, is named after the French cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732). Boulle was an expert in marquetry, the application of pieces of veneer to objects in order to create a pattern or picture. Specifically, Boulle work involves marquetry using brass or pewter and tortoiseshell, a technique which was perfected by André-Charles Boulle.
A break-fronted bookcase is one in which the central portion projects more than the side portions. The image below is an example from the George III period.
The Portobello Road is a street in Notting Hill, in London's Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
It is particularly well known for its street market, which began as a food market in the 19th century. Following the Second World War, the market began to focus increasingly on the sale of bric-a-brac, second hand clothes and antiques. The market continues to trade in these items on Saturdays, while fruit and vegetable sellers also appear on weekdays.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) was a German composer and music critic. During the early part of his career, he composed exclusively for the piano. Later, he wrote pieces for both piano and orchestra, including many Lieder (songs for voice and piano), an opera, and four symphonies.
Schumann experienced several periods of mental illness and spent the last two years of his life in a mental institution in Bonn.
Scherzo is the Italian for joke. It is the name given to any lively, playful piece of music, as well as to the third movement in a four movement work.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist. He wrote 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos and 32 piano sonatos. During the last 10 years of his life he was almost completely deaf, but this did not prevent him from composing some of his major works during that period.
Beethoven's 5th Symphony in C minor was composed between 1804 and 1808, and is one of his best known and most admired works.
Listen here to the Scherzo from Beethoven's 5th Symphony on Spotify.
Listen here to the finale from Beethoven's 5th Symphony on Spotify.
The Notting Hill Carnival is organised by members of the British West Indian community, and has taken place on the streets of Notting Hill since 1966. It was held for the first time in 1959 inside St Pancras Town Hall as an attempt to improve race relations following the 1958 Notting Hill race riots.
The carnival takes place over a bank holiday weekend in August.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer, pianist and conductor.
He is considered to have been one of the most talented pianists of all time, and most of his prolific compositional output was for the piano.
Listen here to Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 on Spotify.
This is probably a reference to the type of music produced under the Waldorf Music Hall budget record label which was established in America in the early fifties. The label specialised in jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, and pop records which were sold exclusively through Woolworth Stores. The label became part of Am-Par records in 1959. Some Waldorf Music Hall recordings, such as those of the gospel group the Deep River Boys, are still sought after today.
Click here to listen to 'Rock the Casbah' from Combat Rock on Spotify.
Click here to listen to 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' from Combat Rock on Spotify.
The Dordogne is famous for duck and goose products, for truffles, and for wines such as Bergerac and Monbazillac.
Foie gras (French for 'fat liver') is made from the livers of ducks or geese. It may be formed into a mousse, paté or parfait (a very smooth paté).
In France, foie gras is produced from ducks and geese that have been artificially fattened by force-feeding through a tube, a process known as gavage. However, it is possible to produce foie gras using more natural methods.
Gavage is a very controversial method of production which has been condemned by animal rights and welfare groups.
Quinces are the fruit of the quince tree (Cydonia oblonga). When mature they are yellow in colour and resemble a cross between a pear and an apple. Their hard, strongly-perfumed flesh is not edible when raw, although quinces are often used to make jams and jellies. When cooked the flesh becomes an attractive amber colour.
Click here for a quince jelly recipe.
As an 'outsider' looking in on a world to which he does not fully belong, Nick Guest has been compared to other literary 'outsiders' with the same first name; notably, Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Nick Jenkins in Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time.
Parallels have also been drawn with Charles Ryder in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Indeed, The Line of Beauty as a whole bears a striking resemblance to Waugh's novel. However, Allan Hollinghurst has somewhat mixed feelings about this:
'I feel I'm a bit saddled with Brideshead. I mean I revere Waugh . . . the early Evelyn Waugh I love, A Handful of Dust and so on. Kingsley Amis said a brilliant thing . . . when Brideshead Revisited was televised, he reviewed it for the TLS where I was working then; he said Evelyn Waugh was a brilliant writer of a kind peculiarly liable at any moment to write a really bad book, which is what he considered Brideshead to have been. So, of course, I can see that there is the thing which I often do about having an outsider moving into a world which is sort of glamorous, and possibly sort of an upper-class world. And I like that thing of the outsider who brings a fresh eye to the world that he is penetrating but also retains the values of his own world . . . quite a useful device for the novelist. Yes, so, one review of The Line of Beauty said that it was just a version of Brideshead but with Thatcherism instead of Roman Catholicism, but that seemed to be fundamentally wrong because in Brideshead, Catholicism remains the unchallenged good in the author's eyes at the end, while in my own book I hope that Thatcherism has taken quite a knock.'
Click here to watch the full interview.
Listen here on Spotify to an extract from Strauss' Alpine Symphony.
Listen here on Spotify to part of Strauss' opera Der Rosenkavalier.
Listen here on Spotify to the Strauss lieder known as 'The Four Last Songs'.
EC stands for European Community.
The EC began life as the European Economic Community, created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It was an international organisation designed to promote economic integration amongst its members, and was known in the English-speaking world as the Common Market. Its six founding members were Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Later, the EEC expanded substantially; Britain joined in 1973 when Edward Heath was Prime Minister.
Following the signing of the Mastricht Treaty in 1992, the European Economic Community (EEC) was officially renamed the European Community (EC) (it had previously sometimes been known informally by this name), and the EC became one of the three pillars of the European Union. With the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the concept of the EC was abolished.
Click here to see an animated map of the enlargement of the European Union up to 2007.
On 23 June, 2016, a referendum was held in Britain which offered the electorate the choice between leaving, or remaining in the European Union. The result of the vote was that 51.9% chose to leave, and 48.1% chose to remain. There were however significant regional differences, with a majority of voters in Scotland choosing to remain in the Union.
Jack Straw's Castle was a famous pub on North End Way in the Hampstead area of North London. Said to be the highest pub in London, it opened in 1713 and was named after Jack Straw, one of the leaders of the 1381 Peasant's Revolt. Many well-known historical figures are reputed to have frequented the pub, including Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Wilkie Collins, Charles Darwin and Bram Stoker. The building backs onto the part of Hampstead Heath known as the West Heath, a popular cruising area for gay men.
Jack Straw's Castle was re-built after suffering bomb damage in World War II, and re-built again in 1962 following a fire. It was sold to property developers in the late 1990s and was later converted into luxury apartments.