David Trotter

David Trotter is emeritus professor of literature at Cambridge. Brute Meaning, a book of essays, some of which were first published in the LRB, came out in 2020.

You have been warned: War Movies

David Trotter, 18 July 2024

David Thomson​ is best known for a series of surveys of the history of cinema as Olympian in scope as they are in evenness of tone, the most notable being his indispensable Biographical Dictionary of Film from 1975, subsequently updated in a series of editions as the New Biographical Dictionary of Film. His latest book, The Fatal Alliance, is every bit as commanding in its succinct...

It takes​ Emily Brontë the best part of three chapters to get to the moment everyone remembers, whether they’ve read Wuthering Heights or not: a man in bed, a dream, the insistent tap-tap of a branch at the window, a broken pane, the man’s fingers closing on an ‘ice-cold hand’, a woman wailing ‘Let me in – let me in!’ Hollywood, however, was in...

Go for it, losers: Werner Herzog’s Visions

David Trotter, 30 November 2023

The only reason​ Werner Herzog hasn’t yet made a film about the Ancient Mariner may be that, having already inadvertently incorporated so many elements of the poem into his own work, he has become him. Herzog certainly shares Coleridge’s interest in the physical and spiritual toll taken by epic voyages into uncharted waters. There are several rafts as well as a phantom schooner...

GertrudeTrevelyan lived the Virginia Woolf dream: £500 a year and a room of one’s own in which to write experimental novels. Born in 1903 into a well-to-do West Country family, she was a student at Lady Margaret Hall, graduating in 1927. After Oxford, she moved to London, and in 1931 into a flat at 107 Lansdowne Road, Notting Hill. There’s a rare sighting of her, a...

An Elite Worth Joining: Preston Sturges

David Trotter, 13 April 2023

Preston Sturges​ died in August 1959, when Donald Trump was thirteen years old. So it’s not his fault that the uses to which the grandiose Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach has more recently been put include the development of a club of which Jeffrey Epstein was briefly a member, as well as an impromptu storage facility for state secrets. But he did rather like the atmosphere of the...

Hauteur: ‘Paranoid Modernism’

Adam Phillips, 22 May 2003

What is now called trauma theory informs contemporary biography as much as it does the academic practice of literary history. Belief in trauma as a kind of agency, as a cultural force – in...

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Spitting, Sneezing, Smearing: Messy Business

Marjorie Garber, 10 August 2000

Once, recycling was a way of life, conducted without civic ordinances, highway beautification statutes, adopt-a-motorway programmes or special bins for paper, glass and metal. Until the mid-19th...

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Reading Cure

John Sutherland, 10 November 1988

The Wellesley Index originated in its founding editor Walter Houghton’s The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870 (1957), a manual which was influential among students of the Sixties....

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Fit and Few

Donald Davie, 3 May 1984

‘Fit audience, though few,’ said Milton; and thereupon declared the terms in which the issue of reader-response would be considered by poets from his day to ours. The widely-read...

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On Aetna’s Top

Howard Erskine-Hill, 4 September 1980

So Pope wrote in 1737, since which time Cowley has passed almost entirely into the hands of academic literary historians, whose chief service to him has been the rediscovery of his unfinished...

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