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Diary

Alan Sheridan: Regarding Foucault, 19 July 1984

... Four or five years ago when I was writing my book on Foucault, I began the conclusion with a demur: ‘It is curious enough to write about an author who could well produce more books than he has already done, without drawing conclusions about his oeuvre.’ I confess that at the time I did not really believe my prognosis. The achievement already seemed more than one could reasonably expect of one frail human being ...

Foquismo

Alan Sheridan, 2 July 1981

Teachers, Writers, Celebrities: The Intellectuals of Modern France 
by Régis Debray, translated by David Macey.
New Left Books, 251 pp., £11, May 1981, 0 86091 039 3
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... For most people, I suspect, the name of Régis Debray is still inextricably linked with that of Che Guevara. For many, it still conjures up a blissful time of youthful certainties and heroic purpose. Debray was one of the first to do what many later dreamt of doing. In 1961, as a 20-year-old philosophy student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he visited Cuba in the aftermath of the Revolution ...

Poland’s Poet

Alan Sheridan, 17 December 1981

Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition 
by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Catherine Leach.
Sidgwick, 300 pp., £8.95, July 1981, 0 283 98782 0
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The Issa Valley 
by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Louis Iribarne.
Sidgwick, 288 pp., £6.95, July 1981, 0 283 98762 6
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... 1980 was certainly the year of the Poles. With Solidarity Poland was making history, for once without tragedy, or at least not immediate tragedy. The first-ever Polish pope was riding in triumph through the world’s cities, including his own Cracow. In Stockholm the Swedish jury awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to Poland’s greatest living poet, Czeslaw Milosz ...

Beyond Nietzsche and Marx

Richard Rorty, 19 February 1981

Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 
by Michel Foucault, edited by Colin Gordon.
Harvester, 270 pp., £18.50, October 1980, 9780855275570
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Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth 
by Alan Sheridan.
Tavistock, 243 pp., £10.50, November 1980, 0 422 77350 6
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Herculine Barbin 
by Oscar Panizza and Michel Foucault, translated by Richard McDougall.
Harvester, 199 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85527 273 2
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... are dead, and it looks as if there are no great philosophers left alive. At the end of his book, Alan Sheridan hesitantly stakes a claim for Foucault: ‘It is difficult to conceive of any thinker having, in the last quarter of our century, the influence that Nietzsche exercised over its first quarter. Yet Foucault’s achievement so far makes him a ...

On the chance that a shepherd boy …

Edmund White: Gide in Love, 10 December 1998

Andre Gide: A Life in the Present 
by Alan Sheridan.
Hamish Hamilton, 708 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 241 12729 7
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Andre Gide ou la vocation du bonheur. Tome 1, 1869-1911 
by Claude Martin.
Fayard, 699 pp., frs 180, September 1998, 2 213 02309 3
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... about his fate nor sought to assign blame. And he wasn’t much interested in the past (hence Sheridan’s subtitle). On the contrary. He was eager to attune himself to each new generation. More anguished than complaining, he was quick to assess the exact degree of his own responsibility for Madeleine’s unhappiness, for instance, just as he was ...

Intelligent Theory

Frank Kermode, 7 October 1982

Figures of Literary Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Blackwell, 303 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 631 13089 6
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Theories of the Symbol 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Catherine Porter.
Blackwell, 302 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 631 10511 5
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The Breaking of the Vessels 
by Harold Bloom.
Chicago, 107 pp., £7, April 1982, 0 226 06043 8
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The Institution of Criticism 
by Peter Hohendahl.
Cornell, 287 pp., £14.74, June 1982, 0 8014 1325 7
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Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction 
by Ann Banfield.
Routledge, 340 pp., £15.95, June 1982, 0 7100 0905 4
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... it is hardly to be denied that by one means or another he writes good criticism. The translator, Alan Sheridan, copes well with some difficult problems in the discussions of Proust’s language, though not all readers will know without more help what the joke about the name ‘Cambremers’ may be (page 248). Few contrasts could better illuminate the ...

Injury Time

Robert Taubman, 2 July 1981

Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... Between the three corpses dug out of the snow in Gorky Park, Moscow and the sables let loose in the snow on Staten Island at the end – ‘black on white, black on white, and then gone’ – there are connections of cause and effect such as few crime novels have ever had to cope with. Gorky Park is a long novel because it tries to deal as fully with Moscow as Simenon’s novels with Paris or Chandler’s with Los Angeles ...

Entails

Christopher Driver, 19 May 1983

Fools of Fortune 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 239 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30953 7
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What a beautiful Sunday! 
by Jorge Semprun, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Secker, 429 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 9780436446603
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An Innocent Millionaire 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 388 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 241 10929 9
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The Papers of Tony Veitch 
by William McIlvanney.
Hodder, 254 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 340 22907 1
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In the Shadow of the Paradise Tree 
by Sasha Moorsom.
Routledge, 247 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9408 6
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The Bride 
by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 224 02047 1
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... The theme of William Trevor’s new novel – his ninth, and that leaves short-story collections out of account – is the murderous entail of Anglo-Irish history, in which, as a Cork man, he may fairly be considered expert. But unlike most experts, above all most specialists in Ireland’s past, he knows how little has to be told and how much is best left to the reader’s own memory and imagination ...

Sweet Homes and Tolerant Houses

Linda Colley, 16 August 1990

A History of Private Life. Vol IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War 
edited by Michelle Perrot, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 713 pp., £29.95, April 1990, 0 674 39978 1
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Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Harvard, 478 pp., £31.50, April 1990, 0 674 95543 9
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... strengths, and some of the characteristic failings, of a great deal of current French history. Alan Sheridan’s excellent translation of Alain Corbin’s Filles de Noce makes widely available what is probably still the best, the most formidably-researched and the most wide-ranging study of 19th-century prostitution. The fourth volume of A History of ...
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Granta, 516 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 86207 026 1
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Richard Brinsley SheridanA Life 
by Linda Kelly.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 366 pp., £25, April 1997, 1 85619 207 5
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Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley 
by Alan Chedzoy.
Allison and Busby, 322 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 7490 0264 6
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... Fintan O’Toole’s publishers announce that Richard Brinsley Sheridan has been generally ill-served by biographers, ‘who rehash the familiar outlines of his story every decade or so without bringing any intelligent new insights to the task’. By contrast, O’Toole has written a ‘gripping, carefully composed exploration of Sheridan’s career ...

Keys to Shakespeare

Anne Barton, 5 June 1980

Shakespeare’s Tragic Practice 
by Bertrand Evans.
Oxford, 327 pp., £12.50, December 1979, 9780198120940
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The Tragic Effect: The Oedipus Complex in Tragedy 
by André Green, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £10.50, October 1979, 0 521 21377 0
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Shakespeare’s Tragic Sequence 
by Kenneth Muir.
Liverpool, 207 pp., £9.50, November 1979, 0 85323 184 2
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Shakespeare’s Comic Sequence 
by Kenneth Muir.
Liverpool, 207 pp., £9.50, November 1979, 0 85323 064 1
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... Twenty years ago, Bertrand Evans published Shakespeare’s Comedies, a book with one idea. Shakespeare, he argued, habitually gives his audience an awareness of the true nature of any dramatic situation greater than that of the characters on the stage. Evans analysed the 13 comedies and the four last plays scene by scene, and concluded that a technique of ‘discrepant awareness’ or ‘exploitable gaps’ between characters and theatre audience lay at the heart of Shakespeare’s dramatic method ...

Winners and Wasters

Tom Shippey, 2 April 1987

The French Peasantry 1450-1660 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Scolar, 447 pp., £42.50, March 1987, 0 85967 685 4
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The Superstitious Mind: French Peasants and the Supernatural in the 19th Century 
by Judith Devlin.
Yale, 316 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03710 4
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... Professor Ladurie declares, near the beginning of this immensely detailed volume: ‘I hope in this study to bring to life the country people themselves.’ Such a reconstruction, he thinks, is bound to be fraught with difficulty, since so little attention has been focused on this stubborn main stratum of the pre-industrial population, the food producers themselves: ‘we know much more about “the way of life” of the Magdalenian hunters of Pincevent (8800 BC) than about the French peasants of 1450 ...

Male Fantasies

Eugen Weber, 10 January 1983

Love, Death and Money in the Pays d’Oc 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Scolar, 608 pp., £17.50, October 1982, 0 85967 655 2
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... Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie is probably the cleverest and certainly the most versatile French historian of our day. Beginning with his thèse on the peasants of Languedoc in Early Modern times, he has ranged back to the everyday life of 14th-century heretics and forward to computers studies of 19th-century conscripts. His secondary thesis dealt with the weather since the year 1000 ...

Red Stars

John Sutherland, 6 December 1984

Wild Berries 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Antonia Bovis.
Macmillan, 296 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 333 37559 9
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The Burn 
by Vassily Aksyonov, translated by Michael Glenny.
Hutchinson, 528 pp., £10.95, October 1984, 0 09 155580 9
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Fellow Travellers 
by T.C. Worsley.
Gay Men’s Press, 249 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 907040 51 9
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The Power of the Dog 
by Thomas Savage.
Chatto, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7011 3939 0
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The Fourth Protocol 
by Frederick Forsyth.
Hutchinson, 448 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 09 158630 5
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The Set-Up 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 397 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 370 30583 3
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... Yevtushenko’s face, more cadaverous by the year, stares morosely from the flap of Wild Berries. The camera has evidently caught him thinking of his native Taiga, the Siberian tundra which forms the idyllic background to the novel. In fact, the background of Wild Berries, which is not the best ordered of narratives, rather usurps the foreground, and for much of its length the novel reads like over-the-top Intourist travel literature, aimed at rehabilitating a region associated in the foreign mind (at least) with exile, sub-zero temperatures and days in the life of Soviet dissidents ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1983, 16 February 1984

... house. 8 February, Dundee. A day off from filming An Englishman Abroad and I go to Edinburgh with Alan Bates. We climb the tower near the castle to see the Camera Obscura. The texture of the revolving bowl and the softness of the reflection convert the view into an 18th-century aquatint, in which motor-cars seem as delicate and exotic as sedan chairs. The ...

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