Michael Wood

Michael Wood is an emeritus professor at Princeton. He has written books on Yeats, Nabokov, Stendhal, Hitchcock and Empson, among other things.

War in My Head: The Céline Case

Michael Wood, 18 August 2022

Céline​ was not a great admirer of Proust. He called him a ‘half-ghost’, far too preoccupied with the doings of an even ghostlier French aristocracy. For this and many other reasons it’s hard to imagine Céline enjoying the thought of their sharing a sudden posthumous literary limelight. Still, there are ways of winning even late games. When significant missing...

Xavier Giannoli’sIllusions perdues won a raft of César awards this year, including for best film, best cinematography and best adaptation. This success seems like something of a fable, since the film itself is all about winning and losing. And the prize for the adaptation, which was undertaken by Giannoli with Jacques Fieschi and Yves Stavrides, is perhaps the most...

Children​ have some of the best lines in Top Gun: Maverick, directed by Joseph Kosinski and following not very hard on the heels of the original, which came out in 1986. When Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connolly) reintroduces her long-term, on-off love interest to her daughter as Captain Pete Mitchell, the girl says, ‘Captain? Still?’ She obviously knows a lot about time and the...

DanielKwan and Daniel Scheinert, the writers and directors of Everything Everywhere All at Once, were worried, apparently, that Covid-related delays might result in their film arriving late for a party at which everyone was already talking about plural possible worlds. Recently it has felt almost impossible to go to the movies without having to engage with some multiverse or other,...

JoachimTrier’s Oslo films – Reprise (2006), Oslo August 31st (2011) and The Worst Person in the World (2021) – didn’t start out as a trilogy, but when one of his actors suggested that they formed one, Trier liked the idea. It’s not so obvious what links them, except for being set in Oslo and adding up to three, but the idea grows on you. Trier said he was...

Pirouette on a Sixpence: Untranslatables

Christopher Prendergast, 10 September 2015

On​ the face of it a Dictionary of Untranslatables looks like a contradiction in terms, either self-imploding from the word go, or, if pursued, headed fast down a cul-de-sac in which it is...

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It took a very special kind of invention to get an awareness of the ‘erratic truth of death’s timing’ into a medium of mass entertainment.

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I told you so! oracles

James Davidson, 2 December 2004

I don’t believe in astrology, but I also know that not believing in astrology is a typically Taurean trait. When I first caught a bright young friend browsing in the astrology section of a...

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And That Rug! images of Shakespeare

Michael Dobson, 6 November 2003

Above the entrance to the saloon bar there is a picture of Shakespeare on the swinging sign. It is the same picture of Shakespeare that I remember from my schooldays, when I frowned over Timon...

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Unspeakability

John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

Musing over Don Juan, Byron asked his banker and agent Douglas Kinnaird a rhetorical question: ‘Could any man have written it – who has not lived in the world? – and tooled in a...

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