For Frank Kermode, Zadie Smith’s novelistic gift lies in her talent for “being in the world, for knowing and loving its diversity”. Now, Kermode is, as well as eminent and brilliant, almost ninety, and so I forgive him this oversight, but if that’s the case then what is this?

…which is the shit, man ‘cos it’s like the best thing in the Requiem, and it made me think damn, you can be so close to genius that it like lifts you up… and all these people be trying to prove that it’s Mozart ‘cos that fits in with their idea of who can and who can’t make music, but the deal is that this amazing sound was just by this guy Süssmayr, this average Joe Schmo guy…

(On Beauty‘s Carl, explaining to Zora that much of Mozart’s Lacrimosa was, in fact, composed by Franz Süssmayr.)


He found the closest thing to an abstract image in our world and a system of painting it as figuratively as possible.

Bryan Appleyard on David Hockney’s swimming pools, from The Pleasures of Peace. Appleyard has his own cheerful, intelligent blog here. In this book of his, subtitled ‘Art and the Imagination in Postwar Britain’ he grabs the reins of the historical forces of the period and manages to get them to play together rather beautifully. It’s a wonderful kick up the behind for someone whose own study of the period sometimes seems all-too-prone to whittle the really juicy stuff into dry bone.