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Surrealism à la Courbet

Nicholas Penny: Balthus, 24 May 2001

Balthus: Catalogue raisonné of the Complete Works 
by Jean Clair and Virginie Monnier.
Abrams, 576 pp., £140, January 2000, 0 8109 6394 9
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Balthus 
by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Weidenfeld, 650 pp., £30, May 2000, 0 297 64323 1
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... symbol of la France profonde, as invoked in the poetry of Balthus’s friend Pierre-Jean Jouve. As France surrendered to Germany, Balthus (of Polish extraction, born a German citizen, frequently a Swiss resident, but when he died a French national) began to associate his art with Cézanne, by then generally agreed to be the most ...

Just How It was

Anne Hollander: The work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, 7 May 1998

Tête à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson 
edited by E.H. Gombrich.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £32, February 1998, 9780500542187
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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans 
edited by Jean Clair.
Thames and Hudson, 231 pp., £29.95, January 1998, 0 500 28052 5
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... the pipe between his lips, a beam of light striking the mystic smoke and wrinkled brow together. Jean Genet’s ringless hand is pudgy and partially bandaged as it waits to take the cigar from his lips, Parisian streets humming behind his leatherclad bulk (1963). Balthus in 1990 holds a porcelain coffee-cup near his quizzical face as he regards us with his ...

Lights by the Ton

John Sturrock: Jean Echenoz, 18 June 1998

Lake 
by Jean Echenoz, translated by Guido Waldman.
Harvill, 122 pp., £8.99, June 1998, 1 86046 449 1
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Un An 
by Jean Echenoz.
Minuit, 111 pp., frs 65, September 1997, 2 7073 1587 7
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... The weightless characters who track about in Jean Echenoz’s novels are granted a sense now and again that that’s where they are, in someone else’s story, fulfilling burlesque routines not of their own devising. They’re not great thinkers, merely see-through functionaries of the plot. There’s a droll exchange marking one of these twinges of self-awareness in an early novel called Cherokee – named for the Forties song, not for the Native Americans as such – between the driver of a Deux-Chevaux and his captive passenger: ‘ “We could take you somewhere ...

Fumbling for the Towel

Christopher Prendergast: Maigret’s elevation to the Panthéon, 7 July 2005

Romans: Tome I 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1493 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011674 3
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Romans: Tome II 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1736 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011675 1
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... and Bataille (an odd alignment, all things considered); Pierre de Boisdeffre placed him with Jean Giono, Céline and Queneau. This will doubtless come as some surprise to those for whom Simenon means only the Maigret novels. In fact, of the 192 novels he published under his own name, 75 were romans policiers and the other 117 what he called ‘romans ...

Cold Shoulders, Short Trousers

Ian Hamilton, 12 March 1992

Will this do? 
by Auberon Waugh.
Century, 288 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7126 3734 6
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Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch: The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper 
edited by Artemis Cooper.
Hodder, 344 pp., £19.99, October 1991, 0 340 53488 5
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... for the Ingrams psyche. We know little of his father. According to Lynn Barber, Leonard St Clair Ingrams was ‘a freelance banker’ whose doings are ‘shrouded in exotic mystery’. Leonard may or may not have been a great athlete, a fascist and a spy – ‘I don’t know if he was pro-German or pretending to be pro-German,’ Ingrams says. He may ...

Badger Claws

Julian Barnes: Poil de Carotte, 30 June 2011

Nature Stories 
by Jules Renard, translated by Douglas Parmée.
NYRB, 165 pp., £8.99, March 2011, 978 1 59017 364 0
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... sweep of artistic and political friendships, from Rodin and Sarah Bernhardt to Gide and Valéry to Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum. His politics were socialist and Dreyfusard; he also moved in the circle around the Revue blanche. The first three editions of Histoires naturelles were illustrated by Félix Vallotton, Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard; Vallotton also ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... for raw liquor sprayed with vermouth, at Elaine’s Restaurant, or perhaps it’s the home of Jean Stein, the wealthy and stunningly attractive daughter of the chairman of the board of the Music Corporation of America. Money and beauty, as ever, are important, but power and greed have yet to replace ideas and aspirations in the popular currency. It would ...

Sharks’ Teeth

Steven Mithen: How old is the Earth?, 30 July 2015

Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters 
by Martin Rudwick.
Chicago, 360 pp., £21, October 2014, 978 0 226 20393 5
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... regular patterns of change such that its future state can be predicted, while others – such as Jean-André Deluc, who first introduced the term ‘geology’ – believed the Earth’s past and future were as unpredictable as human history. By this time, there was growing recognition that almost all of the Earth’s history occurred before humans came ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary, 13 September 2018

The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... that could clip a hedge’, she made her opinions known. Daphne du Maurier was ‘witless’, Jean Stafford her ‘bête noire’. Brennan immediately set her sights on grander things than the fashion notes and short reviews she’d been hired to write. In 1952, her first story appeared; two years later, she had a piece in ‘The Talk of the Town’, the ...

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