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I sizzle to see you

John Lahr: Cole Porter’s secret songs, 21 November 2019

The Letters of Cole Porter 
edited by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh.
Yale, 672 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21927 2
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... Every live wire goes dead without connections; and Porter latched onto his at the Ritz in Paris in January 1918 when he met the beautiful, patrician American divorcée Linda Lee Thomas at a breakfast marriage reception. Porter was living well at the time on ‘Grandfather’s tick’, as he called his inheritance; but Linda was ‘rich-rich’. She ...


Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... hours from NY. Of course, it could be argued that the Aussies bring it on themselves, with their Barry McKenzies, their Ian Chappells, their self-parodying Foster ads, and so on. And there is the accent: for some reason more readily mimickable than any of our own regional twangs. Theories about the Australian accent are just as snooty as theories about ...

Fatal Non-Readers

Hilary Mantel: Marie-Antoinette, 30 September 1999

The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette 
by Chantal Thomas, translated by Julie Rose.
Zone, 255 pp., £17.95, June 1999, 0 942299 39 6
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... which took place at Christie’s in New York two months before the Princess’s descent into the Paris underpass. The purchasers spoke reverentially of Diana when she was alive, but her death turned glad rags into relics. ‘I wanted to have a part of royalty,’ one explained. ‘I am in awe of the dress,’ said another. When the clothes are turned inside ...


Ewa Lajer-Burcharth: Fragonard’s Abdications, 6 January 2022

Fragonard: Painting Out of Time 
by Satish Padiyar.
Reaktion, 284 pp., £35, September 2020, 978 1 78914 209 9
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... grain.Things started well. Born to a glove-making family in Grasse, Fragonard was articled to a Paris notary as a teenager but his artistic talent was spotted and it was suggested that he study under François Boucher. Boucher sent him for preliminary training with Chardin: six months later Fragonard returned, painting so well that Boucher entrusted him to ...

Junk Mail

Jeremy Harding, 23 September 1993

The Letters of William Burroughs, 1949-1959 
edited by Oliver Harris.
Picador, 472 pp., £17.50, August 1993, 0 330 33074 8
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... years later with the manuscript of Naked Lunch in presentable form. The remaining letters are from Paris. Altogether there are more than 180, most of them fascinating. The majority by far are addressed to Allen Ginsberg, who encouraged Burroughs to persist with his writing and brought order to the mass of notes and written ‘routines’ that finished up as ...

Spitting, Sneezing, Smearing

Marjorie Garber: Messy Business, 10 August 2000

Cooking with Mud: The Idea of Mess in 19th-Century Art and Fiction 
by David Trotter.
Oxford, 340 pp., £35, February 2000, 0 19 818503 0
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... shored against my ruin’). Converted Post-Modern palaces of art, like the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (a former railway terminus), the Tate Modern (a former power station) and Mass MoCA in Western Massachusetts (a complex of former factory buildings in an old mill town) are triumphs of recycling and metamorphosis. Books on ‘found objects’ as interior ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal, 10 May 2007

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... the office and life. He thinks his authorial voice didn’t properly appear until The Judgment of Paris (1952), a tale of an American living in Europe among Americans far wealthier than himself, who decides as he meanders from Paris to Rome that life isn’t about choices but doing what you want to do. Avoiding other ...

The Trouble with HRH

Christopher Hitchens, 5 June 1997

Princess Margaret: A Biography 
by Theo Aronson.
O’Mara, 336 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 1 85479 248 2
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... at occasions of duty. Nancy Mitford related one such fiasco: a dinner in honour of the Princess in Paris in 1959: Dinner was at 8.30 and at 8.30 Princess Margaret’s hairdresser arrived, so we waited for hours while he concocted a ghastly coiffure. She looked like a huge ball of fur on two well-developed legs. Shortest dress I ever saw – a Frenchman said ...

Beijing Envy

Joshua Kurlantzick: China in Africa, 5 July 2007

China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise 
by Ian Taylor.
Routledge, 233 pp., £75, August 2006, 0 415 39740 5
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China and the Developing World: Beijing’s Strategy for the 21st Century 
edited by Joshua Eisenman, Eric Heginbotham and Derek Mitchell.
Sharpe, 232 pp., $29.95, April 2007, 978 0 7656 1713 2
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China’s African Policy 
Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China, January 2006Show More
China’s Expanding Role in Africa: Implications for the United States 
by Bates Gill, Chin-hao Huang and J. Stephen Morrison.
Centre for Strategic and International Studies, February 2007
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Friends and Interests: China’s Distinctive Links with Africa 
by Barry Sautman.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, April 2006
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African Perspectives on China in Africa 
edited by Firoze Manji and Stephen Marks.
Fahamu, 174 pp., £11.95, March 2007, 978 0 9545637 3 8
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Africa’s Silk Road: China and India’s New Economic Frontier 
by Harry Broadman.
World Bank, 391 pp., $20, November 2006, 0 8213 6835 4
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... Foreign Ministry tried to present its policies as the opposite of those of the West, which, as Barry Sautman puts it in his analysis of the white paper, ‘ignored African aspirations for a more equitable international distribution of wealth and power’. China, as it presents itself to African nations, would be more willing to help them acquire the ...


James Meek: Bobos for Boris?, 26 April 2012

... technocrats, Johnson went with the utopian socialists too. It was in the spirit of William Morris, Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin that those family gaggles of Routemaster fans came out to bid the old version of the bus farewell, in the belief that efficiency and the bottom line aren’t enough, that the artefacts a city holds in common must be made with care ...
... with her to the Eternal City her spoiled, neglected, bored, troubled, adolescent son, Joe (Mathew Barry). To Caterina’s guilty horror, she discovers Joe has become addicted to heroin. They are sexually drawn towards one another, but, after Joe has lain between her thighs for a few tense seconds in a seedy hotel room, she tremulously reveals the existence of ...

Casino Politics

David Stevenson: Writing European history, 6 October 2005

The Lights that Failed: European International History 1919-33 
by Zara Steiner.
Oxford, 938 pp., £35, April 2005, 0 19 822114 2
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... at the agreement, and particularly those directed against the British. Holding the balance between Paris and Berlin flattered Chamberlain, who likened himself to Castlereagh. On the other hand, assuming obligations to defend both France and Germany against the other ruled out effective co-operation with either. The British made no plans to fulfil their Locarno ...

Just a Diphthong Away

Ange Mlinko: Gary Lutz, 7 May 2020

The Complete Gary Lutz 
by Gary Lutz.
Tyrant, 500 pp., £15, December 2019, 978 1 7335359 1 5
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... in short fiction. ‘This fall I have thus far graded 863 writing assignments,’ he told the Paris Review in 2011, ‘and if everybody turns in all of the remaining work, I will have graded 1026 by the end of the semester.’Gary Lutz, doing the Lord’s work teaching composition to state university undergraduates in Townborocityburghton America, is also ...

After Foucault

David Hoy, 1 November 1984

Philosophy in France Today 
edited by Alan Montefiore.
Cambridge, 201 pp., £20, January 1983, 0 521 22838 7
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French Literary Theory Today: A Reader 
edited by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by R. Carter.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.50, October 1982, 0 521 23036 5
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Histoire de la Sexualité. Vol. II: L’Usage des Plaisirs 
by Michel Foucault.
Gallimard, 285 pp., £8.25, June 1984, 2 07 070056 9
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Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 256 pp., $8.95, December 1983, 0 226 16312 1
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The Foucault Reader 
edited by Paul Rabinow.
Pantheon, 350 pp., $19.95, January 1985, 0 394 52904 9
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Michel Foucault and the Subversion of Intellect 
by Karlis Racevskis.
Cornell, 172 pp., £16.50, July 1983, 0 8014 1572 1
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Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Western Culture: Toward a New Science of History 
by Pamela Major-Poetzl.
Harvester, 281 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 7108 0484 9
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Michel Foucault: Social Theory as Transgression 
by Charles Lemert and Garth Gillan.
Columbia, 169 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 231 05190 5
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Foucault, Marxism and Critique 
by Barry Smart.
Routledge, 144 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9533 3
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... Do Foucault and Derrida really measure up to the earlier two? With Foucault’s passing, moreover, Paris-watchers are bound to be asking who the next star will be. While Foucault and Derrida knew about some aspects of Anglo-American philosophy, a major influence on their thought has been from Germany, particularly Heidegger. So there is the further question of ...

Walsingham’s Plumber

Patrick Collinson: John Bossy, 5 July 2001

Under the Molehill: An Elizabethan Spy Story 
by John Bossy.
Yale, 189 pp., £18.95, May 2001, 0 300 08400 5
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... master, Henri III, or to his own servants? He had been using the diplomatic bag, which passed from Paris through Salisbury Court to Sheffield, where Mary was in detention, if not to encourage then not necessarily to discourage the kinds of plot in which Throckmorton had been mixed up; and somebody on his payroll had shared this useful information with the ...

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