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Disasters Galore

Steven Connor: Nostradamus, 27 September 2012

Nostradamus: The Prophecies 
translated by Richard Sieburth.
Penguin, 351 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 0 14 310675 3
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... What is the point of prophets, and of prophecy? Not, it seems, to impart useful advance information about the future. One of the most irritating things about claims made for premonitions and other alleged forms of foresight is that they never seem to contain anything specific enough – the winner of the 4.30 at Lingfield, say, or whether it will be a white Christmas – for anyone to make practical use of them ...

One’s Thousand One Nightinesses

Steven Connor: ‘The Arabian Nights’, 22 March 2012

Stranger Magic 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 540 pp., £28, November 2011, 978 0 7011 7331 9
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... There can be no new reader, and therefore perhaps no wholly new reading of the collection of stories known as The Arabian Nights. Not because they have been exhausted by retelling and explication, but because we always seem to have encountered them, or some of them, already, somewhere else, at some other time in our lives we are not able quite to pin down ...

Tummy-Talkers

Jonathan Rée: Ventriloquists, 10 May 2001

Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism 
by Steven Connor.
Oxford, 449 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 19 818433 6
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... to their namesakes in ancient Greece and Rome. Yet this is precisely the gamble taken by Steven Connor in his new history of ventriloquism. Connor is a professor in the academic rather than the theatrical line – a Professor of Modern Literature and Theory – and has already written reassuring books on ...

Nohow, Worstward, Withersoever

Patrick Parrinder, 9 November 1989

Stirrings Still 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 25 pp., £1,000, March 1989, 0 7145 4142 7
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Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 128 pp., £10.95, February 1989, 0 7145 4111 7
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‘Make sense who may’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works 
edited by Robin Davis and Lance Butler.
Smythe, 175 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 86140 286 3
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... verbs such as ‘to know’ become questionable and sometimes even disappear from his writing. As Steven Connor points out in his admirable if uncompromising study,* Beckett is concerned to contest our very definitions of the human. His writings are thus well calculated, in these times, to stir something, felt to be important, in us; at the same ...

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