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Two Poems

Les Murray, 16 February 1989

... were no leaders, but they were first into the dark on Dog Fox Field: Anna who rocked her head, and Paul who grew big and yet giggled small, Irma who looked Chinese, and Hans who knew his world as a fox knows a field. Hunted with needles, exposed, unfed, this time in their thousands they bore sad cuts for having gazed, and shuffled, and failed to field the lore ...

Avoid the Orient

Colm Tóibín: The Ghastly Paul Bowles, 4 January 2007

Paul Bowles: A Life 
by Virginia Spencer Carr.
Peter Owen, 431 pp., £19.95, July 2005, 0 7206 1254 3
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... Long before the sin of Orientalism was discovered, Paul Bowles had frequently been guilty of it, in word, in thought and in deed. In his first stories, for example, the natives are shining examples of naked otherness, created partly to refresh our view concerning the mixture of simplicity, guile and sexual beauty available in remote places ...

Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan

Lawrence Norfolk: The Ways of the Boar, 6 January 2011

... also gefragt, wo ich meinen “Eber” herhaben mag,’ the Romanian-Jewish German-speaking poet Paul Celan wrote in a letter to the classicist Walter Jens in May 1961. ‘I’ve asked myself where I might have got my boar from.’ His query concerned the provenance of an image that had appeared in a poem published seven years earlier. Here, from Celan’s ...

His v. Hers

Mark Ford, 9 March 1995

In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles 
edited by Jeffrey Miller.
HarperCollins, 604 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 00 255535 2
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... The final section of Paul Bowles’s most famous novel, The Sheltering Sky, is prefaced by a quotation from Kafka that encapsulates the narrative trajectory of just about everything Bowles has ever written: ‘From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.’ With obsessive frequency Bowles’s short stories and novels feature characters propelled beyond the boundaries of their own cultural milieux towards realms they can neither control nor comprehend, and in which even their sufferings become meaningless ...

Football Mad

Martin Amis, 3 December 1981

The Soccer Tribe 
by Desmond Morris.
Cape, 320 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 9780224019354
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... Osmond when he spun the coin in the centre circle, resembled a grimacing Magwitch by half-time. Paul Mariner, a picture of pampered, hammy self-love at club level, reminded me, as he trudged from the park, of the standard, traumatically chinless mod who puts in depressingly regular appearances at South Coast magistrates’ courts after Bank Holiday ...

The Wall

Eliot Weinberger, 5 July 2012

... target, but the boy was apprehended by boat and arrested. 29 April 1966: 176 shots were fired at Paul Stretz, a West Berliner who, in an advanced state of inebriation, had decided to go for a swim in the Spandau Shipping Canal, in East Berlin territory. Mistaken for a border violator, four of the shots struck the target, who was destroyed. 18 August ...

Screwdriver in the Eye

Paul Mendez: David Keenan, 7 October 2021

Xstabeth 
by David Keenan.
White Rabbit, 168 pp., £14.99, November 2020, 978 1 4746 1705 5
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Monument Maker 
by David Keenan.
White Rabbit, 808 pp., £25, August, 978 1 4746 1709 3
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... David Keenan’s​ first novel, This Is Memorial Device: An Hallucinated Oral History of the Post-Punk Scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and Environs 1978-86 (2017), documents the rise and fall of a fictitious (though awesomely real) band called Memorial Device. Its members are from Keenan’s home town of Airdrie – about thirteen miles east of Glasgow – and the book takes the form of 26 testimonies from band members, friends, jilted lovers, relatives, hangers-on and rival acts ...

Embourgeoisement

Michael Burns, 23 February 1995

Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives 
edited by Aubrey Manning and James Serpell.
Routledge, 199 pp., £35, February 1994, 0 415 09155 1
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The Beast in the Boudoir: Pet-Keeping in 19th-Century Paris 
by Kathleen Kete.
California, 200 pp., £22.50, August 1994, 0 520 07101 8
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... from ancient hunters and herdsmen. Following domestication, write James Serpell and Elizabeth Paul, religious and secular ideologies reinforced ‘hierarchical notions of human separateness and superiority’, and the idea of animals as somehow equal with humans gave way to the world described in the Book of Genesis. Evolutionists and creationists may ...

Taking leave

Mark Edmundson, 2 March 1989

Borrowed Time 
by Paul Monette.
Collins Harvill, 342 pp., £12.50, October 1988, 0 00 271057 9
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... provoked a mixture of dread, anger and grief in many, if not most, gay people. Borrowed Time is Paul Monette’s elegy for his lover, Roger Horwitz, who died of illnesses stemming from Aids on 22 October 1986, and though the book contains its complement of anger and fear, it is chiefly a labour of grief. Monette pursues a pair of related objectives. He ...
Wagner in Performance 
edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 214 pp., £19.95, July 1992, 0 300 05718 0
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Wagner: Race and Revolution 
by Paul Lawrence Rose.
Faber, 304 pp., £20, June 1992, 9780571164653
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Wagner Handbook 
edited by Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski, translated by John Deathridge.
Harvard, 711 pp., £27.50, October 1992, 0 674 94530 1
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Richard Wagner’s Visit to Rossini and An Evening at Rossini’s in Beau-Séjour 
by Edmond Michotte, translated by Herbert Weinstock.
Quartet, 144 pp., £12.95, November 1992, 9780704370319
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... and calibre. One says all this about the bewildering richness of Wagner’s legacy with an eye on Paul Lawrence Rose’s Wagner: Race and Revolution, a book whose single-minded – albeit forceful and historically well-informed – account of the Wagner phenomenon renders the man and his operas pretty much as violent, revolutionary anti-semitism. Reading ...

What is going on in there?

Hilary Mantel: Hypochondria, 5 November 2009

Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives 
by Brian Dillon.
277 pp., £18.99, September 2009, 978 1 84488 134 5
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... it is a relief, however hellish the final destination, to be granted leave to remain. Daniel Paul Schreber is the least known of Dillon’s subjects, and we may fairly regard him as the one plunged deepest into the pit of hypochondriac delusion, since it was definitely not true that 240 Benedictine monks were living in his skull. Freud wrote him up in ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick, 31 October 2002

Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... from it – but they’ve fallen away from the natural world and been reassigned to human beings. Paul Keegan put this well in a remark about the changing temper of ‘nature writing’ in recent years. ‘The threatening in nature,’ he wrote, ‘has been exchanged for the idea of nature under threat’ (LRB, 20 July 1995). At the same time, Keegan ...

Don’t blame him

Jenny Wormald, 4 August 1994

Elizabeth I 
by Wallance MacCaffrey.
Edward Arnold, 528 pp., £25, September 1993, 9780340561676
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... Elizabeth, and in Haigh’s case a refreshingly iconoclastic and often provocative one. Moreover, Paul Johnson’s Elizabeth I: A Study in Power and Intellect (1974) and Carolly Erickson’s The First Elizabeth (1983) may not be works by ‘professional historians’, but that does not mean that they are without research or without value. What ...

Glooms

E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... book – ‘a joyous interpretation’ – in the Daily Telegraph. In the Sunday Telegraph Paul Johnson asked the ‘why, oh why’ question: why another life of Lear? He seemed stumped for an answer. Levi says his book springs in part from an under-researched lecture on Lear he gave as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Lear did not, as many ...

Against Whales

Paul Keegan, 20 July 1995

The Moon by Whale Light 
by Diane Ackerman.
Phoenix, 260 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 1 85799 087 0
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The Last Panda 
by George Schaller.
Chicago, 292 pp., $13.95, May 1993, 0 226 73629 6
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The Great Ape Project 
edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer.
Fourth Estate, 312 pp., £9.99, June 1993, 1 85702 126 6
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... For Sir Thomas Browne it was a commonplace that ‘the number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live.’ But this is no longer necessarily true, as has been pointed out in these pages before now: there may be more people living now than all the people who have ever died. With over 5.4 billion of us alive today, on course to become 8.5 billion by 2025, we must think of the outnumbering dead as outnumbered – at least until population slows (at perhaps ten billion, perhaps 15 billion) some sixty years hence ...

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