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Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell, 6 December 1984

The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... all the town, a common fucking post, On whom each whore relieves her tingling cunt, As hogs on gates do rub themselves, and grunt, has a bitterness which may be explained by its position at the end of ‘The Imperfect Enjoyment’. Yet his picture of women asking ‘who are the men most worne of late?’ does not carry the same excuse. One of the threads ...

Memories of New Zealand

Peter Campbell, 1 December 2011

... is steep. When you look up to the houses, you don’t see much more than roofs. To reach the front gates you take paths that angle up the ten-foot clay bank that was cut when the road was made. The land seems less stable than the timber-framed houses that sit like ships on a sea of clay and rotten rock that after a week of rain slides below them in slow ...

Her Big Horse Face

Rivka Galchen: Clarice Lispector, 2 April 2020

The Besieged City 
by Clarice Lispector, translated by Johnny Lorenz.
Penguin, 224 pp., £8.99, August 2019, 978 0 241 37137 4
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The Chandelier 
by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjamin Moser and Magdalena Edwards.
Penguin, 320 pp., £9.99, November 2019, 978 0 241 37134 3
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... to forget to look at the narrowest house, the smallest shadow. The closed shops with their rolling gates of iron.’ Of her hometown, whose location is never made clear, we are told: ‘You could hardly make out its radiant and peaceful moistness that on certain mornings would come from the mist and emerge from the nostrils of the horses – the radiant ...

Some Damn Foolish Thing

Thomas Laqueur: Wrong Turn in Sarajevo, 5 December 2013

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 
by Christopher Clark.
Allen Lane, 697 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 0 7139 9942 6
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... Fifty years ago, Barbara Tuchman’s bestseller The Guns of August taught a generation of Americans about the origins of the First World War: the war, she wrote, was unnecessary, meaningless and stupid, begun by overwhelmed, misguided and occasionally mendacious statesmen and diplomats who stumbled into a catastrophe whose horrors they couldn’t begin to imagine – ‘home before the leaves fall,’ they thought ...

A Young Woman Who Was Meant to Kill Herself

Jeremy Harding: Charlotte Salomon, 8 March 2018

Life? Or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
Duckworth, 840 pp., £125, September 2017, 978 1 715 65247 0
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Charlotte 
by David Foenkinos, translated by Sam Taylor.
Canongate, 224 pp., £8.99, January 2018, 978 1 78211 796 4
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Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory 
by Griselda Pollock.
Yale, 542 pp., £45, March 2018, 978 0 300 10072 3
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Charlotte Salomon: ‘Life? Or Theatre?’ A Selection of 450 Gouaches 
by Judith Belinfante and Evelyn Benesch.
Taschen, 599 pp., £30, November 2017, 978 3 8365 7077 0
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... Alfred Wolfsohn is ‘Amadeus Daberlohn … a voice teacher’. Charlotte Kann (left) and Barbara Petzel discuss Barbara’s love life Salomon’s parents were well-to-do. Her father, Albert, was a surgeon and oncologist; her mother, Fränze Grunwald, decided to become a nurse soon after her younger sister’s ...

Unquiet Deaths

Patrick Parrinder, 3 September 1987

Two Lives and a Dream 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 245 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 85628 160 3
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The Wedding at Port-au-Prince 
by Hans Christoph Buch, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 259 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 571 14928 6
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Saints and Scholars 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 145 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 86091 180 2
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Imperial Patient: The Memoirs of Nero’s Doctor 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 206 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 7156 2168 8
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... he is scarcely shocked: ‘Nathanaël remembered the heads of victims of torture hung from the gates of the Tower of London, and he realised that men are everywhere the same’ (in the original French, les hommes sont partout des hommes). This is indeed Yourcenar’s belief, one which reunites the present and the past, nor is there any sense that she would ...

A Frog’s Life

James Wood: Coetzee’s Confessions, 23 October 2003

Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 233 pp., £14.99, September 2003, 0 436 20616 1
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... save my soul.’ Four scholars were invited to reply to Coetzee – Marjorie Garber, Peter Singer, Barbara Smuts and Wendy Doniger – and all of them struggled in different ways to read his meanings. Singer seemed to suggest that Coetzee’s device was fundamentally evasive. ‘It’s a marvellous device, really. Costello can blithely criticise the use of ...

‘Derek, please, not so fast’

Ferdinand Mount: Derek Jackson, 7 February 2008

As I Was Going to St Ives: A Life of Derek Jackson 
by Simon Courtauld.
Michael Russell, 192 pp., £17.50, October 2007, 978 0 85955 311 7
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... Then he made a pass at Eyre. He took on tougher opposition with Number Six, the ferocious minx Barbara Skelton, part-original of the lethal Pamela Flitton in A Dance to the Music of Time. She had already scored with a whole bestiary of sacred monsters. Jackson would boast that ‘after King Farouk, Cyril Connolly and George Weidenfeld, I was the pretty ...

Scentless Murder

Michael Wood: Billy Wilder, 2 March 2000

Conversations with Wilder 
by Cameron Crowe.
Faber, 373 pp., £20, December 1999, 0 571 20162 8
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... was up to him to raise the level of the game. Asked what he will say to God when he arrives at the gates of heaven, Wilder says: ‘Will I know it’s God?’ ‘What were the 1960s like for you?’ ‘I didn’t even know they were the 1960s.’ Is Sunset Boulevard a black comedy? ‘No. Just a picture.’ ‘What’s the difference between “inspired ...

Between Worlds

Edward Said: A memoir, 7 May 1998

... of Massachusetts. The day in early September 1951 when my mother and father deposited me at the gates of that school and then immediately left for the Middle East was probably the most miserable of my life. Not only was the atmosphere of the school rigid and explicitly moralistic, but I seemed to be the only boy there who was not a native-born American, who ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... so often described. It begins with a policeman, walking down a foggy street. He glances at the gates of a scruffy old scrapyard and ‘passes’ by, Newman writes, while ‘we – the camera – glide into the scrap merchant’s yard to discover, tucked away in a corner, a police box.’ Meanwhile, two teachers at the local secondary modern are disturbed ...

Sino-Americana

Perry Anderson, 9 February 2012

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China 
by Ezra Vogel.
Harvard, 876 pp., £29.95, September 2011, 978 0 674 05544 5
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On China 
by Henry Kissinger.
Allen Lane, 586 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 1 84614 346 5
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The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China 
by Jay Taylor.
Harvard, 736 pp., £14.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 06049 4
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... that Vietnam wasn’t just ‘another Cuba’: it was planning to conquer Thailand, and open the gates of South-East Asia to the Red Army. The stridency of his fulminations against the Soviet menace rang like an Oriental version of the paranoia of the John Birch Society. Whether he actually believed what he was saying is less clear than its intended ...

Waiting for the Dawn to Come

Rachel Bowlby: Reading George Eliot, 11 April 2013

Reading for Our Time: ‘Adam Bede’ and ‘Middlemarch’ Revisited 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Edinburgh, 191 pp., £19.99, March 2012, 978 0 7486 4728 6
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... and looked out towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields beyond, outside the entrance-gates. On the road there was a man with a bundle on his back and a woman carrying her baby; in the field she could see figures moving – perhaps the shepherd with his dog. Far off in the bending sky was the pearly light; and she felt the largeness of the world ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip Roth: The Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip Roth: A Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... to catch. More defensibly, Miller resisted doing Roth’s imperious bidding when he insisted that Barbara Epstein (co-founder of the New York Review of Books) be interviewed on her deathbed to pin down the rumour that Leaving a Doll’s House had been dictated by Roth’s Connecticut neighbour and flouncy nemesis Francine du Plessix Gray – ‘Francine ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... dining-room: Harold Wilson, Derek Nimmo, David Steel, Jeremy Irons, Clement Freud, Norman Tebbit, Barbara Castle, Elaine Paige, Cecil Parkinson, Nigel Lawson, Robin Day. It’s like being compulsorily inducted into a dinner party from hell, a nightmare mix of half-forgotten careerists and political dinosaurs who can’t switch off. But there’s a great view ...

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