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How bad can it get?

LRB Contributors, 15 August 2019

... Finlayson, Daniel Finn, Katrina Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Daisy Hildyard, Colin Kidd, James Meek, Ferdinand Mount, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Parry, David RuncimanNeal Ascherson‘On​ 17 June poor France fell. That day, as we trudged past Greenwich … a tug skipper yelled gaily across the water: “Now we know where we are! No more bloody ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... often inconsistently and with some gossip-column fatuity such as ‘the brilliant but cantankerous Louis-...

Left with a Can Opener

Thomas Jones: Homer in Bijelo Polje, 7 October 2021

Hearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 320 pp., £28.95, April 2021, 978 0 525 52094 8
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... King Alexander ​ of Yugoslavia was assassinated in Marseille on 9 October 1934, alongside Louis Barthou, the French foreign minister. When the news reached Dubrovnik, the bells rang ‘all morning long’ according to a ten-year-old American girl staying in the city. ‘Everybody spoke in an undertone except the roosters and my brother ...

The great times they could have had

Paul Foot, 15 September 1988

Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... records conversations between the Prince and the grandson of the former Kaiser, Prince Louis-Ferdinand: ‘The Prince of Wales was quite pro-Hitler and said it was no business of ours to interfere in Germany’s internal affairs either re Jews or anything else, and added that the dictators are very popular these ...

All the world’s a spy novel

Michael Wood: What Didn’t Happen, 30 July 2020

Counterfactuals: Paths of the Might Have Been 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £19.99, February 2019, 978 1 350 09009 5
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Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 359 pp., £26.50, January 2018, 978 0 226 51241 9
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... and Éternité par les astres (1872). The title of the first is self-explanatory – the book, by Louis Geoffroy-Château, is about what didn’t happen after Waterloo. Charles Renouvier’s Uchronie has precisely the opposite politics. It is ‘set … in ancient Rome to emphasise that France’s recent illiberal path had international as well as national ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... English joint of beef. And so did Tobias Smollett, who sent one of the characters in his novel Ferdinand Count Fathom prowling vainly through Paris in search of the same totemic meat. ‘A true-born Englishman,’ this hero declared, ‘needs not be afeard to shew his face, nor his backside neither, with the best Frenchman that ever trod the ground.’ To ...

I gotta use words

Mark Ford: Eliot speaks in tongues, 11 August 2016

The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume I: Collected & Uncollected Poems 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 1311 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23870 5
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The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume II: Practical Cats & Further Verses 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 667 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23371 7
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... a reference to ‘anaesthetic tables’), William James, James Thomson, William Acton, Charles-Louis Philippe, W.R. Burnett (a crime novelist in whose High Sierra – published in 1940 – the phrase ‘She was … a one-night-stand type’ occurs), Edward Winslow Martin (author of The Secrets of the Great City, 1868, which mentions ‘cheap ...

Flaubert at Two Hundred

Julian Barnes: Flaubert, the Parrot and Me, 16 December 2021

... Revising the novel in 1862, Flaubert tried to restore the du, to the alarm of his friend Louis Bouilhet, who judged it imprudent: ‘You are attacking society in one of its fundamental structures.’ So the son was retained, as it was in the edition of 1869. But Flaubert was nothing if not stubborn, and in 1873 reverted to du, making Emma’s bleak ...

History’s Postman

Tom Nairn: The Jewishness of Karl Marx, 26 January 2006

Karl Marx ou l’esprit du monde 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 549 pp., €23, May 2005, 2 213 62491 7
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... only from a belated reading of his books, plus some correspondence with the author of Pour Marx, Louis Althusser. Attali comes from the old Jewish community in Algeria, most of whose members emigrated to France after Algerian independence. Best known as president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he was also an adviser to François ...

The Last London

Iain Sinclair, 30 March 2017

... wars, firestorms and bombs on the Underground. That shrapnel splinter in the trepanned skull of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, traumatised and exiled to London, to the labyrinth of Soho. This is from Guignol’s Band:Monster shops … phantasmagoric storehouses, citadels of merchandise, mountains of tanned goatskins enough to ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... then a switch to British and German wounded laid out in hospital beds. The photographer, ‘Ferdinand of Ypres’, had signed each picture in a flowery chemical script. (An early example of diversification no doubt: the Ypres carte de visite business must have fallen off dramatically when the place got pulverised in November 1914.) The last two were ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania, 29 July 1999

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... in the kidneys; the bundle of His conducting electrical impulses in the heart; the angle of Louis telling generations of medical students where on the chest to place their stethoscopes. There are scores of named physiological processes – Babinski’s sign, the Pavlovian conditioned reflex, Cheyne-Stokes breathing – and even more ...

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