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Give me a Danish pastry!

Christopher Tayler: Nordic crime fiction, 17 August 2006

The Priest of Evil 
by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, translated by David Hackston.
Arcadia, 352 pp., £11.99, May 2006, 1 900850 93 1
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by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, translated by Lois Roth.
Harper Perennial, 288 pp., £6.99, August 2006, 0 00 723283 7
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Borkmann’s Point 
by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson.
Macmillan, 321 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 333 98984 8
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The Redbreast 
by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 520 pp., £11.99, September 2006, 9781843432173
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by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Bernard Scudder.
Harvill Secker, 313 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 1 84655 033 5
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... in his investigations – which sometimes drag on for months – are modelled on the adventures of Martin Beck, the hero of a ten-novel cycle of skilfully plotted, atmospheric police procedurals by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, published between 1965 and 1975. They were written, Sjöwall said, ‘to show the reader that under the official image of ...

The German Ideal

Misha Donat, 30 December 1982

Carl Maria von Weber: Writings on Music 
edited by John Warrack, translated by Martin Cooper.
Cambridge, 402 pp., £35, December 1981, 0 521 22892 1
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... of by its creator in Beethoven’s Kakadu Variations for piano trio): but who today has heard of Bernard Anselm Weber’s Deodata, Peter von Winter’s Das Unterbrochene Opferfest, Friedrich von Drieberg’s Don Tacagno, Friedrich Himmel’s Fanchon, Anton Fischer’s Das Hausgesinde or Carl Ludwig Hellwig’s Die Bergknappen? One opera that prompted an ...

What to Tell the Axe-Man

Jeremy Waldron: Hypocrisy and Mendacity, 6 January 2011

Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond 
by David Runciman.
Princeton, 272 pp., £13.95, September 2010, 978 0 691 14815 1
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Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics 
by Martin Jay.
Virginia, 241 pp., $24.95, April 2010, 978 0 8139 2972 9
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... made up of millions of quarrelsome, naive and opinionated people. Without this unpleasantness, as Bernard Williams once observed, important and worthy political projects would fail. There is no question of a politics of pure authenticity or uncontaminated sincerity. So, if hypocrisy is still a vice in the political realm, it has to connote something more ...

Finest People

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 December 1992

Letters from Margaret: Correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Margaret Wheeler 1944-50 
edited by Rebecca Swift.
Chatto, 279 pp., £13.99, November 1992, 0 7011 4783 0
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... legal steps have ever been taken. At the end of the book Rebecca Swift prints her interviews with Martin (Margaret’s son), and with Valerie and Peggy. Here Margaret appears in rather a different light. ‘We kids got rather fed up with these lengthy missives’ – this is Valerie – ‘as Mum would still be in her housecoat at midday, writing to Shaw, as ...

Right, Left and Centre

Jeremy Harding: Keith Kyle, 6 August 2009

... he took off for Alabama, where he was struck by ‘an impressive 26-year-old cleric, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’. Harangued by the editor of the Montgomery Advertiser about the hypocrisy of the Northern states, Kyle slid in a question about King. The editor looked ‘awestruck’. ‘That,’ he replied, ‘is an authentic intellectual.’ It was ...

Why can’t he be loved?

Benjamin Kunkel: Houellebecq, 20 October 2011

The Map and the Territory 
by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Gavin Bowd.
Heinemann, 291 pp., £17.99, September 2011, 978 0 434 02141 3
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... artist of the early 21st century, a Frenchman with the curiously American-sounding name Jed Martin. Such a backward-gazing Künstlerroman invites comparison with the trajectory of the author himself. And Houellebecq also includes a character bearing his own name and more or less corresponding to his public image as the sad bad boy of French ...

Making strange

John Sutherland, 19 March 1981

Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... Since Success, Martin Amis has been involved in a spectacular case of alleged plagiarism. As the apparently aggrieved author, Amis showed himself notably unresentful and unlitigious. Indeed, he took the offence as an occasion to ruminate good-naturedly on the oddities of literary ‘borrowing’. It’s relevant to bring this up since Other People depends very largely on a trick which is usually thought to be someone else’s trademark ...

Don’t Die

Jenny Diski: Among the Handbags, 1 November 2007

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre 
by Dana Thomas.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 7139 9823 8
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... once valued for something in addition to profit. She offers a brilliantly ambiguous quote from Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of LVMH (Moët, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dior and more): ‘What I like is the idea of transforming creativity into profitability.’ Rampant profitability required a rethink. In the 1950s, 200,000 women wore ...


Hamish MacGibbon: My Father the Spy, 16 June 2011

... to have been generally neutral, and sometimes hostile. Frank Kermode recalled (in an LRB review of Martin Amis’s Koba the Dread) that he knew several intelligence officers who thought it would be no bad thing if the Russians were defeated while serving to wear down German military capability. Up until the German invasion the SIS had agents in place in Moscow ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... is the magazine whose identity was moulded during the Thirties, under the editorship of Kingsley Martin and after the merger with the Nation. Yet the New Statesman had almost two decades of existence before that, under an editor whose length of tenure has been exceeded only by Martin’s. A handful of disconnected facts ...


Christopher Prendergast, 5 June 1997

Projections 7 
edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue.
Faber, 308 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 571 19033 2
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. I: The Fifties. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 312 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15105 8
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. II: The Sixties. New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 363 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15106 6
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. III: 1969-72. The Politics of Representation 
edited by Nick Browne.
Routledge, 352 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 02987 2
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... In Martin Scorsese’s Casino, Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) remarks that Las Vegas is about ‘selling people dreams for cash’ and, in a memorable elaboration of this cliché, that ‘it does for us what Lourdes does for hunchbacks and cripples.’ Much the same has been said about the culture of cinema, and how Scorsese’s film stands in relation to its subject is an interesting question ...

On the State of the Left

W.G. Runciman, 17 December 1981

The Forward March of Labour Halted? 
by Eric Hobsbawm, Ken Gill and Tony Benn.
Verso, 182 pp., £8.50, November 1981, 0 86091 041 5
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... the Left, but by no means all are intellectuals. There is not only Professor Raymond Williams but Bernard Dix of NUPE and Jack Adams, Convenor at BL, Longbridge; not only Martin Jacques, editor of Marxism Today, but Peter Carter, UCATT regional organiser; not only Royden Harrison, professor of social history at Warwick, but ...


Ian Hamilton: It's a size thing, 19 September 1985

... Philip Roth? Oh, only more so. Philip Roth’s quite funny in a living-room but ... forget it. Bernard Malamud? Unreadable. What about someone as prolific as Joyce Carol Oates? She’s a joke monster who ought to be beheaded in a public auditorium or in Shea or in a field with hundreds of thousands (laughs). She does all the graffiti in the men’s ...

Viva Biba

Janet Watts, 8 December 1988

Very Heaven: Looking back at the 1960s 
edited by Sara Maitland.
Virago, 227 pp., £4.95, October 1988, 0 86068 958 1
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... well. It also calls to mind a point made about the spirit of this time by its earlier chronicler, Bernard Levin in The Pendulum Years: ‘It was a credulous age, perhaps the most credulous ever, and the more rational, the less gullible, the decade claimed to be, the less rational, the more gullible, it showed itself.’ Angela Carter’s assertions will ...

Journos de nos jours

Anthony Howard, 8 March 1990

Alan Moorehead 
by Tom Pocock.
Bodley Head, 311 pp., £16.95, February 1990, 0 370 31261 9
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Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir 
by Carl Bernstein.
Macmillan, 254 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 333 52135 8
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by Brian Inglis.
Chatto, 298 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3390 2
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... of the bright new talent that was assembled – a formidable roll-call including such names as Bernard Levin, Katharine Whitehorn, Alan Brien and Cyril Ray. Certainly, by the late Fifties the Spectator had already put the wind up the New Statesman – and may even have been partly responsible for the departure of its long-serving editor, Kingsley ...

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