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How not to be disgusting

Anne Hollander, 6 December 1990

Coco Chanel: A Biography 
by Axel Madsen.
Bloomsbury, 388 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 7475 0762 7
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... with well-mannered elegance. Axel Madsen has also written biographies of Yves St Laurent, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and a book about the love-affair between Joseph Kennedy and Gloria Swanson. He seems always to write about various kinds of star, presumably so as to reveal their secrets to their adoring fans in the usual sensational ...

Why the Tortoise Lost

John Sturrock, 18 September 1997

Bergson: Biographie 
by Philippe Soulez and Frédéric Worms.
Flammarion, 386 pp., frs 140, April 1997, 9782080666697
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... Bergson’s sparingness in the matter of language perished with him. He died in 1941, just when Jean-Paul Sartre, homo loquax made flesh, was launching unscrupulously out on the seven hundred pages of L’Etre et le néant. And, fresh from reading Bergson, I find it frustrating that his sociable brevity, and the even more sociable clarity that went ...

Find the Method

Timothy Shenk: Loyalty to Marx, 29 June 2017

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion 
by Gareth Stedman Jones.
Penguin, 768 pp., £14.99, May 2017, 978 0 14 102480 6
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... Marxism​ is still very young, almost in its infancy,’ Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in 1957, more than seventy years after Karl Marx’s death. Sartre had first read Marx three decades earlier when he, too, was still very young. At the time, the author of Capital had seemed a figure of merely historical interest ...

The earth had need of me

Joanna Biggs: A nice girl like Simone, 16 April 2020

Becoming Beauvoir: A Life 
by Kate Kirkpatrick.
Bloomsbury, 476 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 1 350 04717 4
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Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me, a Memoir 
by Deirdre Bair.
Atlantic, 347 pp., £18.99, February 2020, 978 1 78649 265 4
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Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol. II: 1928-29 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Barbara Klaw.
Illinois, 374 pp., £40, June 2019, 978 0 252 04254 6
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... human beings, and not as they ought to be.’ (She’d said as much in an epigraph borrowed from Sartre: ‘À moitié victimes, à moitié complices, comme tout le monde.’) But in a later interview she answered the same question angrily:The history of my life itself is a kind of problematic, and I don’t have to give solutions to people and people ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... to track than fashionable hemlines, but he seems palpably incurious about this smudgy horizon. Sartre gets a single sentence referencing his ‘famous dictum that “One must act to be free.”’ Hang about – is that his famous dictum? I’m a bit hazy after forty years, but off the top of my head (current haircut modelled after the sleeve of Chet Baker ...

On Complaining

Elif Batuman: How to Stay Sane, 20 November 2008

Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by William McCuaig.
Columbia, 184 pp., £15.50, November 2008, 978 0 231 14300 4
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... strange time, starting with the introduction, a five-page polemic against the spirit of our age: Jean-Paul Sartre – for or against? Raymond Aron – for or against? … Should we take a blowtorch to May 1968 and its ideas … seen now as incomprehensible, elitist, dangerous and anti-democratic? Have the protagonists of that revolution … all become ...

Terror on the Vineyard

Terry Castle: Boss Ladies, Watch Out!, 15 April 1999

A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman 
by Rosemary Mahoney.
Doubleday, 273 pp., $23.95, November 1998, 9780385479318
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... fille dérangée, translated into English in 1996 as A Disgraceful Affair: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Bianca Lamblin. While professing to be a kind of perverse tribute, the Lamblin book is actually a morbid recounting of its author’s adolescent love affair with Simone de Beauvoir, who first seduced her then passed her over – with ...

The ashtrays worry me

Emilie Bickerton: Eric Rohmer, 19 March 2015

Eric Rohmer: Biographie 
by Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe.
Stock, 605 pp., €29, January 2014, 978 2 234 07561 0
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Friponnes de porcelaine 
by Eric Rohmer.
Stock, 304 pp., €20, January 2014, 978 2 234 07631 0
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... of magazines and journals at the time, including Les Temps modernes. Soon Rohmer met its editor, Jean-Paul Sartre. Young intellectuals began to take the cinema seriously when Hollywood movies arrived en masse in 1946, after Léon Blum ended the wartime ban. They were trying to work out a way of responding to the abundance of new images. Rohmer’s first ...

The Scene on the Bridge

Lili Owen Rowlands: Françoise Gilot, 19 March 2020

Life with Picasso 
by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake.
NYRB, 384 pp., $17.95, June 2019, 978 1 68137 319 5
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... period, at the moment he became a monument: there are those he counted as friends (Gertrude Stein, Jean-Paul Sartre) and those he had little time for (André Gide, Jean Cocteau); there’s his wrangling with dealers and gallerists; there’s his involvement with the Communist Party, which he joined in 1944, because one ‘goes to the ...

Conrad and Prejudice

Craig Raine, 22 June 1989

Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1967-87 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 435 91000 0
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... the moment it is in the nature of things that we may need to counter racism with what Jean-Paul Sartre has called an anti-racist racism, to announce not just that we are as good as the next man but that we are much better.’ This is a disastrous statement for an artist to make, but no worse than this mixture of threat and abject repudiation ...

All about Freud

J.P. Stern, 4 August 1988

Freud: A Life for Our Time: A Life in Our Time 
by Peter Gay.
Dent, 810 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 460 04761 2
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... a racial phenomenon – that is, to qualities ascribed by Gentiles to Jews: a process described by Jean-Paul Sartre in his brilliant Portrait of the Anti-Semite. Rejecting the Jewish religion as well as Jewish nationality, Freud writes to the B’nai B’rith fraternity: ‘But enough else remained to make the attraction of Judaism and of Jews so ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... from the start. Fabian of the Yard shot through a Dostoevsky filter. Sexton Blake ghosted by Jean-Paul Sartre. The ‘General Contract’ Cook called it, the vulture on the shoulder. Vulture ventriloquism. Death and poetry. Raymond doesn’t write about poetry, he is poetry. Although, like James, he’s fond of a good quotation – Eliot, or ...

Charlot v. Hulot

David Trotter: Tativille, 2 July 2020

Play Time: Jacques Tati and Comedic Modernism 
by Malcolm Turvey.
Columbia, 304 pp., £25, December 2019, 978 0 231 19303 0
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The Definitive Jacques Tati 
edited by Alison Castle.
Taschen, 1136 pp., £185, June, 978 3 8365 7711 3
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... in France to have given its name to Les Temps modernes, the heavyweight journal founded in 1945 by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Jour de fête’s American movies and military policemen have been replaced as emblems of modernity by a whole array (or system) of identikit structures and institutions. Playtime required the construction, at vast ...

Bound to be in the wrong

Jonathan Rée: Camus and Sartre, 20 January 2005

Camus and SartreThe Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It 
by Ronald Aronson.
Chicago, 291 pp., £23, February 2005, 0 226 02796 1
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... By 1938 Camus was in charge of the paper’s literary pages, and one of the books he reviewed was Jean-Paul Sartre’s first novel, La Nausée. He immediately recognised that Sartre shared his own concern with the ‘absurdity of life’, but he was also impressed by Sartre’s ...
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... In lieu of Sartre and Raymond Aron, future historians of French intellectuals in the Eighties and Nineties may well be condemned to structuring their narratives around the post-Marx brothers of French intellectual life, Bernard-Henri Lévy and Alain Finkielkraut. This is not a case simply of contemporary thinkers being dwarfed by the giants of the past – the familiar lament about the decline of French intellectuals is rather unfair ...

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