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Belts Gleaming

Charles Glass: Uri Avnery, 11 June 2009

1948: A Soldier’s Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem 
by Uri Avnery, translated by Christopher Costello.
Oneworld, 398 pp., £12.99, October 2008, 978 1 85168 629 2
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Israel’s Vicious Circle 
by Uri Avnery and Sara Powell.
Pluto, 230 pp., £15, July 2008, 978 0 7453 2823 2
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... Uri Avnery’s two wartime memoirs, now collected as 1948: A Soldier’s Tale, were published in Hebrew in 1949 and 1950. In the first of them, In the Fields of the Philistines, the 25-year-old Avnery is an infantryman desperate for action; in the second, The Other Side of the Coin, he criticises his own ‘silly, rotten country’ for its conduct in the 1948 war ...

Tables and Chairs

Christopher Tayler: J.M. Coetzee, 21 March 2013

J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing 
by J.C. Kannemeyer, translated by Michiel Heyns.
Jonathan Ball, 710 pp., R 325, October 2012, 978 1 86842 495 5
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Here and Now: Letters 2008-11 
by Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee.
Viking, 256 pp., $27.95, March 2013, 978 0 670 02666 1
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The Childhood of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 210 pp., £16.99, March 2013, 978 1 84655 769 9
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... later to become a circus equestrienne’); it can also be detected here and there in Elizabeth Costello (2003) and Slow Man (2005). But it was still surprising that comedy was so prominent in the interrogatory toolkit he then took to using on opinionated figures closely modelled on himself. ‘My guess is he unbuttons himself when I am gone,’ an ...

Reader, he married her

Christopher Hitchens, 10 May 1990

Tom Driberg: His Life and Indiscretions 
by Francis Wheen.
Chatto, 452 pp., £18, May 1990, 0 7011 3143 8
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... for them. None of the pimps for Curzon Street – not Pincher, not ‘West’, not Boyle, not Costello – has ever dredged up more than an innuendo, and even those were third hand and posthumous. Pincher didn’t even bother with the sub-Freudian niceties of an Abse, preferring to sink straight to Paul Johnson’s level and to say that there is an ...

Two Sharp Teeth

Philip Ball: Dracula Studies, 25 October 2018

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ 
by David J. Skal.
Norton, 672 pp., £15.99, October 2017, 978 1 63149 386 7
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The Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ 
edited by Roger Luckhurst.
Cambridge, 219 pp., £17.99, November 2017, 978 1 316 60708 4
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The Vampire: A New History 
by Nick Groom.
Yale, 287 pp., £16.99, October 2018, 978 0 300 23223 3
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... man. What we know of his frustrations, fantasies and fears we know from his stories. Dracula, Christopher Frayling writes in his preface to the Penguin edition, ‘was probably transgressing something – but the critics weren’t quite sure exactly what’. The author probably wasn’t sure either. All Stoker seems to have wanted to do was to write a ...

Before I Began

Christopher Tayler: Coetzee Makes a Leap, 4 June 2020

The Death of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 208 pp., £18.99, January, 978 1 78730 211 2
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... other occasion to reflect on what this leap consisted in.’ Or there’s the opening of Elizabeth Costello (2003):There is first of all the problem of the opening, namely, how to get us from where we are, which is, as yet, nowhere, to the far bank. It is a simple bridging problem, a problem of knocking together a bridge. People solve such problems every ...

That’s what Wystan says

Seamus Perry, 10 May 2018

Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography 
by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 912 pp., £27.95, May 2017, 978 0 691 17249 1
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... shattering. The year after the New Verse special a thinly disguised Auden was the star turn in Christopher Isherwood’s novel Lions and Shadows, the first of many mythologising appearances in the reminiscences of his generation: ‘he struck me as being, so to speak, several sizes larger than life,’ Isherwood wrote of the undergraduate genius, whom he ...

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