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Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... of other media. We encounter it all the way from Taxi Driver and Mulholland Drive to The Diary of Anne Frank and Amy Winehouse, from the classical hubris of O.J. Simpson to the collective hubris of ecological disaster. With Freud and the existentialists, tragedy continues to colonise philosophy, as David Kornhaber points out. In a fluid, fragmented ...

Good Dog

Anne Carson, 25 February 2010

... I was waiting for you to get to work ‘A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island’ Frank O’Hara 1 You know the second person in the history of the world the Sun chose to speak to personally was Frank O’Hara, the first was Orpheus [me]. You are my Sweetheart said the Sun ...

Tremble for Tomorrow

Jenny Diski: In the Vilna Ghetto, 22 May 2003

The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps 1939-44 
by Herman Kruk, edited by Benjamin Harshav, translated by Barbara Harshav.
Yale, 732 pp., £30, November 2002, 0 300 04494 1
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... conscientious daily witnessing is always coloured by the hindsight the reader brings to it. Like Anne Frank, Kruk had no knowledge either of his own future or of Hitler’s intentions towards the Jews (information comes erratically as rumour, often wrong), but unlike Frank, Kruk was a political ...


Nicholas Spice, 17 May 1984

Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... Morgan’, Davidson-Smith (‘overcoated’, ‘deerstalker-hatted’) and Freddie Fredericks, Frank Attercliffe’s aging and alcoholic mentor, and co-author with him of Pindar’s Weekend Round-up, a sports column on the Northern Post. After the match, in the Buckingham Bar, Fredericks introduces Frank to Phyllis ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... forgotten writer E.I. Lonoff. In that book Zuckerman comes to identify Amy, mistakenly, as Anne Frank, who has survived the camp and lives on unrecognised. In Exit Ghost she turns up again and is now revealed not as Anne Frank but as a survivor nevertheless, only from Norway not Holland. I had been reading ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again, 11 August 2016

Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... of 1935, when he was 18, Robert Lowell and two friends from St Mark’s School – Blair Clark and Frank Parker – rented a house in Nantucket. Under Lowell’s direction, they studied the Bible (with special attention to the Book of Job) and ate cereal with raw honey and ‘badly’ cooked eels. Lowell decided that Clark should quit smoking and, when Clark ...

Kitchen Devil

John Bayley, 20 December 1990

Emily Brontë: A Chainless Soul 
by Katherine Frank.
Hamish Hamilton, 303 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 9780241121993
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... in her own unwilling way to have also been the imaginative catalyst in their world. Katherine Frank makes the interesting point that both Charlotte and Anne, in their second published novels, drew heavily for inspiration on Wuthering Heights. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall has a doomed gathering whose names all begin with ...

Ariel the Unlucky

David Gilmour, 5 April 1990

Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon 
by Ariel Sharon and David Chanoff.
Macdonald, 571 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 356 17960 5
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The Slopes of Lebanon 
by Amos Oz, translated by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura.
Chatto, 246 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3444 5
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From Beirut to Jerusalem 
by Thomas Friedman.
Collins, 541 pp., £15, March 1990, 0 00 215096 4
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Pity the nation: Lebanon at War 
by Robert Fisk.
Deutsch, 622 pp., £17.95, February 1990, 0 233 98516 6
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... and, according to Sharon, menavulim, a word meaning ‘malevolent criminals’. In her diary Anne Frank wrote of the German plan to ‘cleanse’ Utrecht of Jews ‘as if the Jews were cockroaches’ – a description applied to the Palestinians by the Israeli Chief of Staff General Eitan. It is easier to kill people if you think of them as ...

Making poison

Patrick Parrinder, 20 March 1986

The Handmaid’s Tale 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 324 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 224 02348 9
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... produced in revolutionary Iran: we are more likely to think of it as a science-fictional Diary of Anne Frank. The stylistic challenge of the tale of the future was defined long ago by H.G. Wells. It is the challenge of knowing when to be vague and when to be precise. ‘So soon as the hypothesis has been launched,’ Wells said of his scientific ...


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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... Natalia Ginzburg, Shirley Hazzard, Doris Lessing and many other women writers are here (but not Anne Frank or Hannah Arendt), and among the more unexpected selections are the reminiscences of Soviet women, collected, Studs Terkel-wise, by Julia Voznesenskaya. The reaction to The Naked and the Dead perpetuated into peacetime one of the standard ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland, 16 August 1990

Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... of Duddy Kravitz. Moses Berger, drunk, attends the opening night of a dramatised Diary of Anne Frank in London. He dozes off and wakes during the poignant Hanukkah scene. Suddenly there was a crash from below the attic. The Green Police? The Gestapo? Everybody onstage froze. Straining to hear. For a few seconds there was total silence and then ...

Fourteen million Americans can’t be wrong

Katha Pollitt: Menstruation, 6 September 2001

The Curse: Confronting the Last Taboo, Menstruation 
by Karen Houppert.
Profile, 261 pp., £6.99, April 2000, 1 86197 212 1
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... are not. Houppert wonders whether menstruation could be the trigger for the drop in confidence: Anne Frank, for example, seems in the later, post-menarche pages of her diary, to become less sure of herself, more secretive and withdrawn, more conflicted about her early sexual longings. The changes of puberty are gradual, but as Simone de Beauvoir ...


Jenny Diski: Pearl’s Question, 19 October 1995

... knowing herself to be a witness to a monstrous piece of history (‘I was in the same barracks as Anne Frank. Of course, I didn’t know who she was then. There were just some Dutch girls. They cried all the time.’) Watching the VJ Day commemorations brought it back. ‘I saw those old men, Japanese prisoners of war, and I thought: you shouldn’t ...


John Banville: Exit Zuckerman, 4 October 2007

Exit Ghost 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 292 pp., £16.99, October 2007, 978 0 224 08173 3
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... Portnoy, by having young Nathan fantasise that Amy is in fact that quintessential Holocaust icon, Anne Frank, secretly escaped from the Nazis and living incognito in rural New England. Kliman the would-be biographer tries to win Zuckerman’s support by comparing him to his idol, speaking of ‘Lonoff’s final struggle with his impurity. His ...

Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim, 16 December 2010

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... to his three masterpieces for Sondheim, Lapine has directed other plays, a revival of The Diary of Anne Frank, for example; he directed the film Impromptu, and wrote a few plays you haven’t heard of. It’s clear that, along with all the others – from Hugh Wheeler to Hal Prince (a six-time director for Sondheim), from Angela Lansbury to Bernadette ...

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