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A Rock of Order

Christopher Clark: Through Metternich’s Eyes, 8 October 2020

Metternich: Strategist and Visionary 
by Wolfram Siemann, translated by Daniel Steuer.
Harvard, 900 pp., £31.95, November 2019, 978 0 674 74392 2
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... Siemann argues, but always European in scope. ‘Europe’, he told the Prussian foreign minister Karl August von Hardenberg in 1805, should not be treated as ‘a mere object for tactical manoeuvring’. Rather it should be considered as a space ‘regulated by international law’ to be overseen collaboratively by the Great Powers.In the spring of ...

Start thinking

Michael Wood: The aphorisms of Karl Kraus, 7 March 2002

Dicta and Contradicta 
by Karl Kraus, translated by Jonathan McVity.
Illinois, 208 pp., £18.50, May 2001, 0 252 02648 9
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... Karl Kraus had many enemies, but his friends and admirers are something of a liability too. They insist on his unremitting probity and passion for justice, but his justice was all his own – there was no one else on the bench. ‘His vision was never unsteadied by scepticism,’ Erich Heller wrote. Walter Benjamin asserted that ‘Kraus never offered an argument that had not engaged his whole person ...

All Fresh Today

Michael Hofmann: Karen Solie, 3 April 2014

The Living Option: Selected Poems 
by Karen Solie.
Bloodaxe, 160 pp., £9.95, October 2013, 978 1 85224 994 6
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... an agnostic – what a modern poem can do, I would show them something by Lawrence Joseph, or Frederick Seidel, or Karen Solie, all different but all modern, all modo hodie, all fresh today. A poem of Solie’s is sentences in unpredictable but deep sequence in unpredictable but braced lines. It seems out of control, but isn’t; it exhibits grace while ...

Southern Discomfort

Bertram Wyatt-Brown, 8 June 1995

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism 
by Eugene Genovese.
Harvard, 138 pp., £17.95, October 1994, 0 674 82527 6
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... Caroline and John Randolph of Roanoke, Old School Presbyterian defenders of slavery, T.S. Eliot, Karl Marx, Karl Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr, the Nashville Agrarians and their latterday apostles, Richard Weaver and Melvin Bradford. Liberals thus find themselves confronting a shrewd scholar who denies them the luxury of easy ...

Julia Caesar

Marilyn Butler, 17 March 1983

The Prince and the Wild Geese 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 62 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 241 10894 2
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... since he was six, and now occupies his leisure studying art in the studio of the Russian painter Karl Pavlovitch Bryulov, who is currently working on a 21-foot picture of The Last Days of Pompeii. Gagarin’s small, witty and contemporary drawings make an ironic commentary on Bryulov’s grandiose manner, and on that of his other leading artist friend, the ...

Glaucus and Ione

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 17 April 1980

The Last Days of Pompeii 
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
Sidgwick, 522 pp., £6.95, December 1979, 0 283 98587 9
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... to whose learning this review is much indebted, has identified it as one by the Russian artist Karl Brullov; it shows, in the sentimental fashion of the time, a series of pathetic incidents during the destruction of Pompeii. A year later, Bulwer published The Last Days of Pompeii, which was to prove the most successful of his many works. Critics as various ...

Those Limbs We Admire

Anthony Grafton: Himmler’s Tacitus, 14 July 2011

A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’ ‘Germania’ from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich 
by Christopher Krebs.
Norton, 303 pp., £18.99, June 2011, 978 0 393 06265 6
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... of civilisation. By contrast, the suave diplomat Giannantonio Campano, sent to woo the Emperor Frederick III to mount a crusade, waxed complimentary about the courage of the ancient Germans. ‘Are you then going to dither about fighting the Turks?’ he asked their descendants. At the end of the century, the bad boy of Renaissance scholarship, Giovanni ...

Even the stones spoke German

Brendan Simms: Wrotizla, Breslau, Wroclaw, 28 November 2002

Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City 
by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse.
Cape, 585 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 224 06243 3
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... swathes of the historic city centre were also levelled on the orders of the fanatic Gauleiter, Karl Hanke, so that he could build an air strip there to facilitate resupply and – as it transpired – his own escape. Hard on the heels of the victorious Red Army came advance Polish detachments, staking their claim to the city. For the next forty years or ...

Princes, Counts and Racists

David Blackbourn: Weimar, 19 May 2016

Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present 
by Michael Kater.
Yale, 463 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 0 300 17056 6
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... was otherwise remarkably free of cultural associations until Duchess Anna Amalia, a niece of Frederick the Great, began to gather writers at her court. In 1772 Christoph Martin Wieland was hired as tutor to the crown prince, the classic occupation of the late 18th-century man of letters. Goethe arrived three years later, fresh from the Europe-wide ...

Prussian Disneyland

Jan-Werner Müller, 9 September 2021

... orders of Walter Ulbricht, the East German leader; only one portal – from which the communist Karl Liebknecht had declared the German Republic in 1918 – was saved and incorporated into the Politbüro building. The site was left empty until the 1970s, when the GDR erected a ‘Palace of the Republic’ – a large modernist box with gold windows which ...

Lab Lib

M.F. Perutz, 19 April 1984

Rutherford: Simple Genius 
by David Wilson.
Hodder, 639 pp., £14.95, February 1984, 0 340 23805 4
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... giants of physics and sat on one of the back benches, but another graduate student, Fred (now Sir Frederick) Dainton, overheard Rutherford saying to Bohr after the lecture: ‘If mass disappears, energy will appear.’ Here and in several other places Wilson demolishes the myth that Rutherford failed to foresee the possibility that nuclear physics might have ...

Mary, Mary

Christopher Hitchens, 8 April 1993

Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 576 pp., £18.99, March 1993, 0 575 04236 2
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... standards for FBI recruits – mandatory blond hair, blue eyes and slender waists – were of the Frederick the Great variety. And if you suspect what that may have meant for black agents, Jewish agents, female agents, Hispanic agents, let alone for avowedly homosexual agents, you suspect right. Hoover believed in niggers, kikes, wops, spies and fags to the ...

‘Equality exists in Valhalla’

Richard J. Evans: German Histories, 4 December 2014

Germany: Memories of a Nation 
by Neil MacGregor.
Allen Lane, 598 pp., £30, November 2014, 978 0 241 00833 1
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Germany: Memories of a Nation 
British Museum, until 25 January 2015Show More
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... not even the female sex, is excluded. Equality exists in Valhalla’). Obvious figures like Frederick the Great, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven and Kant were included, but religious prejudice on the part of the Catholic monarch ensured that Luther didn’t enter Valhalla until 1848; neglect of Baroque music kept Bach out until 1916, and it took until 1990 ...

Something of His Own

Jonathan Rée: Gotthold Lessing, 6 February 2014

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: His Life, Works and Thought 
by H.B. Nisbet.
Oxford, 734 pp., £85, September 2013, 978 0 19 967947 8
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... on him, and in the early years of his long reign – before becoming the rapacious empire-builder Frederick the Great – he tried to fulfil them by finding ways to make German civilisation more philosophical and more French. He devised an elaborate stratagem to get Voltaire expelled from France so that he would move to Berlin and take charge of his cultural ...

Give or take a dead Scotsman

Liam McIlvanney: James Kelman’s witterings, 22 July 2004

You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 437 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 241 14233 4
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... is careful to celebrate a subterranean American radicalism (there are namechecks for Eugene Debs, Frederick Douglass and the Wobblies), Kelman treats America’s official icons with brisk irreverence, as when Jerry compares the Boston Tea Party to a Laurel and Hardy skit. This is the America, not of George W. Bush’s ‘Haves and Have Mores’, but of those ...

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