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22 November 1979
Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... journalists feel obliged to interview. Well, of course, now I see it, and now that I’m in the joke very funny it is too. But it increases my doubts about Peter Wollen’s piece on Tina Modotti and Frida Kahlo, which is part of, which in fact comprises, that section of the anthology labelled ‘Women, Mexico, Revolution, Art’. Frida and Tina ...

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes: Loathed by Huysmans

2 April 2020
Modern Art 
by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.
Dedalus, 313 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 910213 99 5
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... of some of the best writers of the day. Stendhal, Baudelaire, Gautier, Goncourt, Zola, Maupassant, Huysmans and Mallarmé all doubled up as art critics. (The bullish Courbet took on both tasks: doing the work and the self-promotion.) It helped that there were extraordinary new artists to support, as well as a hulking and immobile target to attack: the annual ...


Adam Shatz: Houellebecq submits

8 April 2015
by Michel Houellebecq.
Flammarion, 300 pp., €21, January 2015, 978 2 08 135480 7
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... anti-Muslim tirade, Le Suicide français, and attacked by the left, in the words of Alain Jakubowicz, as ‘the best Christmas gift he could have given to Marine Le Pen’. Both Houellebecq’s admirers and his detractors assumed that he still believed Islam was what he’d once called it: ‘the stupidest religion’. But Houellebecq has had second ...
25 January 2001
A Vision of the Middle East: An Intellectual Biography of Albert Hourani 
by Abdulaziz Al-Sudairi.
Tauris, 221 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9781860645815
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... Massignon had gone on to espouse a form of Catholicism he had learned of first from the novelist J.K. Huysmans, in which ‘substitution’, the voluntary taking on of the sufferings of others, had a crucial role. Massignon rewrote the life of the tenth-century Sufi mystic and martyr, al-Hallaj, in the light of this somewhat esoteric interpretation of ...

Why so late and so painfully?

Frederick Brown: Cézanne

21 March 2013
Cézanne: A Life 
by Alex Danchev.
Profile, 488 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 1 84668 165 3
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... Mont Sainte-Victoire, and built a studio there. He lived reclusively. Twenty years earlier, when J.K. Huysmans published L’Art moderne, Pissarro had chided him for not even mentioning Cézanne. ‘How come you don’t say a word about Cézanne, whom all of us painters regard as one of the most astonishing and curious temperaments of our age and who ...

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