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It wasn’t him, it was her

Jenny Diski: Nietzsche’s Bad Sister, 25 September 2003

Nietzsche’s Sister and the Will to Power: A Biography of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche 
by Carol Diethe.
Illinois, 214 pp., £26, July 2003, 0 252 02826 0
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... life of her own when the life she tried to make with her brother failed. She married a proto-Nazi, Bernhard Förster, an anti-semite, nationalist boor whose big dream came true with the founding of Nueva Germania, an Aryan colony in Paraguay. Nietzsche railed against his brother-in-law for his anti-semitism and his pro-German beliefs. He wrote to Elisabeth as ...

Desperately Seeking Susan

Terry Castle: Remembering Susan Sontag, 17 March 2005

... Walser? (Ooooh errrg blush, ahem, little cough, um: No, I’m ashamed to say . . .) Had I read Thomas Bernhard? (Yes! – Yes, I have! ‘Wittgenstein’s Nephew’! Yay! Yippee! Wow! Phew! – dodged the bullet that time!) It seemed, for a while at least, that I had yet to be contaminated by the shocking intellectual mediocrity surrounding me at ...

Up from the Cellar

Nicholas Spice: The Interment of Elisabeth Fritzl, 5 June 2008

Greed 
by Elfriede Jelinek, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Serpent’s Tail, 340 pp., £7.99, July 2008, 978 1 84668 666 5
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... Jelinek was already 22. This was the high-water mark in Austria’s radical postwar renaissance. Thomas Bernhard was the acknowledged leader of the dissident pack, with Peter Handke and the Forum Stadtpark group from Graz representing the next wave of an obligatory avant-garde. Jelinek was at the young end of this group, but gained instant recognition ...

Bats on the Ceiling

James Lasdun: The Gospel of St Karen, 24 September 2020

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife 
by Ariel Sabar.
Random House, 401 pp., $29.95, August, 978 0 385 54258 6
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... but one of the phrases in the fragment appeared to have been borrowed from the Coptic Gospel of St Thomas, the exception being that showstopper: ‘my wife’. In itself this proved nothing, and in fact the sixth line also departed from Thomas via a syntactical irregularity that made it all but nonsensical. But it raised the ...

The Left-Handed Kid

Jamie Fisher: The Desperate Pursuit of a Chinese Typewriter, 8 March 2018

The Chinese Typewriter: A History 
by Thomas S. Mullaney.
MIT, 504 pp., £27.95, September 2017, 978 0 262 03636 8
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... robes, clambering up and down staircases of keys or key-thumping in caverns. ‘After all,’ Thomas Mullaney writes, ‘if a Chinese typewriter is really the size of two ping-pong tables put together, need anything more be said about the deficiencies of the Chinese language?’ To many Western eyes, the characters were so exotic that they seemed to raise ...

Such amateurishness …

Neal Ascherson: The Sufferings of a Young Nazi, 30 April 2009

The Kindly Ones 
by Jonathan Littell, translated by Charlotte Mandell.
Chatto, 984 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 7011 8165 9
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... the furtive cannibalism, the waiting snipers. Aue falls ill and is looked after by his old comrade Thomas, who contrives to turn up in every scene in the novel. Later, he wanders into a sniper’s sights. A bullet goes clean through his brain. He is given up for dead, but Thomas discovers that he is still alive and steals a ...

From Victim to Suspect

Stephen Sedley: The Era of the Trial, 21 July 2005

The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J. Simpson 
by Sadakat Kadri.
HarperCollins, 474 pp., £25, April 2005, 0 00 711121 5
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... explicable populist politics were able to render justice incoherent. Much the same was true of Bernhard Goetz, a gun freak who in 1984 drew a handgun on four black youths making a nuisance of themselves on the New York subway, wounding them all and almost killing one of them. A mixed-race jury, after a trial which, like O.J.Simpson’s (and unlike ...

Whiter Washing

Richard J. Evans: Nazi Journalists, 6 June 2019

Journalists between Hitler and Adenauer: From Inner Emigration to the Moral Reconstruction of West Germany 
by Volker Berghahn.
Princeton, 277 pp., £35, December 2018, 978 0 691 17963 6
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... the Frankfurter Zeitung and altered the paper’s political position, moving it to the right. As Bernhard Fulda concluded in his study of Press and Politics in the Weimar Republic (2009), newspaper ownership didn’t always bring the political dividends it seemed to promise: the press baron Alfred Hugenberg was unable to prevent the almost complete collapse ...

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