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Even When It’s a Big Fat Lie

Alex Abramovich: ‘Country Music’, 8 October 2020

Country Music 
directed by Ken Burns.
PBS, eight episodes
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... Burns cuts himself off from a quarter of a century of scholarship, too – from writers such as Karl Hagstrom Miller, whose Segregating Sound painted a messier, more complex picture of places the music has been.‘We are historians, not journalists,’ Burns and his co-producer, Dayton Duncan, write in a coffee-table book published alongside the films in ...

Canetti and Power

John Bayley, 17 December 1981

Auto da Fé 
by Elias Canetti, translated by C.V. Wedgwood.
Cape, 464 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 224 00568 5
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The Tongue Set Free: Remembrance of a European Childhood 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 268 pp., $12.95, June 1979, 0 8164 9103 8
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The Human Province 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 281 pp., $12.95, June 1978, 0 8164 9335 9
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Crowds and Power 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Carol Stewart.
Penguin, 575 pp., £2.95, October 1978, 0 14 003616 4
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Kafka’s Other Trial: The Letters to Felice 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Christopher Middleton.
Marion Boyars, 121 pp., £5.95, October 1976, 0 7145 1136 6
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The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit 
by Elias Canetti, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Marion Boyars, 103 pp., £5.50, January 1978, 0 7145 2579 0
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The Conscience of Words 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 246 pp., $12.95, May 1979, 0 8164 9334 0
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... process of writing his novel. But the greatest formative influence in Vienna at that time was Karl Kraus, the extraordinary nature of whose achievement – partly because it was histrionic, acted out in his recitals – can probably never be adequately presented to an Anglo-Saxon readership. Indeed, it would probably not be too much to say that Auto da ...

We must think!

Jenny Turner: Hannah Arendt’s Islands, 4 November 2021

Hannah Arendt 
by Samantha Rose Hill.
Reaktion, 232 pp., £11.99, August 2021, 978 1 78914 379 9
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... to do intellectual work is something I’ve known only from hearsay,’ she wrote to her mentor Karl Jaspers in 1945, after years in which each of them had believed the other dead. ‘I’ve become a kind of freelance writer, something between a historian and a political journalist.’ She had published her first Partisan Review piece – about Kafka ...

Joe, Jerry and Bomber Blair

Owen Hatherley: Jonathan Meades, 7 March 2013

Museum without Walls 
by Jonathan Meades.
Unbound, 446 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 908717 18 4
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... The pantheon contains John Vanbrugh, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, S.S. Teulon, William Butterfield, Frederick Pilkington, Dominikus and Gottfried Böhm, Claude Parent, Rodney Gordon, Richard Rogers (in his Gothic moods), Zaha Hadid. Sometimes, as with the Communist emulator of the style of Italian Fascism Douglas Stephen, architect of a ‘Dan Dare ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?, 20 March 2008

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... can do for science, not in what science can do for him. Around the same time, a US senator asked Karl Compton, a physicist and president of MIT: ‘Do you believe this is a correct statement, that probably of all the professions in the world, the scientist is least interested in monetary gain?’ Compton agreed: ‘I don’t know of any other group that has ...

Stalin at the Movies

Peter Wollen: The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism by J. Hoberman, 25 November 1999

The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism 
by J. Hoberman.
Temple, 315 pp., £27.95, November 1998, 1 56639 643 3
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... The second book was Terrorism and Communism (1919) by the German Social Democrat, Karl Kautsky. ‘The leaders of the proletariat,’ Kautsky wrote, ‘have begun to resort to extreme measures, bloody measures – to terror.’ Koba has ringed these words, and written ‘ha-ha’ in the margin. These off-the-cuff reactions are scarcely ...

A Short History of the Trump Family

Sidney Blumenthal: The First Family, 16 February 2017

... estate – that of the Corleone family. The founding father of what became the Trump Organisation, Frederick Trump, a German immigrant who changed his name from Drumpf, left a substantial legacy of New York real estate and investments that had originated in brothels and bars in the Yukon and the Pacific Northwest. When he died, his son Fred, then 15 years ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons, 20 April 2017

A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... much away, besides a striking lack of interest in women, an unusual and intense friendship with Frederick Rolfe, and a few recorded dreams about being pleasantly roughed up by Italian policemen. Fred too escapes lightly, perhaps lithely, given his exasperating but surely deliberate failure to put anything too blatant down on paper that hadn’t already been ...

To Die One’s Own Death

Jacqueline Rose, 19 November 2020

... little justification in reality one needs for inner wellbeing’. In August 1918 he wrote to Karl Abraham to say that he could once again venture to ‘join in the world’s pleasure and the world’s pain’.But he would also plunge into mental darkness. ‘One has to use every means possible to withdraw from the frightful tension in the world ...

While Statues Sleep

Thomas Laqueur, 18 June 2020

Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil 
by Susan Neiman.
Allen Lane, 415 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 241 26286 3
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... in 1950. The fact that the Stadtschloss had been the seat of the Prussian monarchs, including Frederick the Great, whose ghostly image hovers above the Führer’s on scores of propaganda posters, was ignored, as was its long association with Prussian militarism. The reconstructed imperial palace is to become the home of the Humboldt Forum, which will be ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania, 29 July 1999

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... is not about the art of curing people.’ A century after that – we are now in 1901 – Frederick Gates, the Baptist minister who was John D. Rockefeller’s chief adviser, was shocked to discover on reading the great William Osler’s medical textbook, how few diseases could be treated, much less cured. In the relatively few instances in which ...

The German Question

Perry Anderson: Goodbye to Bonn, 7 January 1999

... with Prussian military tradition, Bismarck’s autocracy, Nazi violence and megalomania. In fact, Frederick II preferred his complex in Potsdam. Bismarck disliked Berlin so much that, after unification, he wanted to make Kassel, a Protestant version of Bonn, the capital of the country. Not a single Nazi leader of any prominence came from Berlin. Hitler loved ...

What I heard about Iraq in 2005

Eliot Weinberger: Iraq, 5 January 2006

... it up as they go along. The reality is that we’re losing in Iraq.’ I heard Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Wellman say of the insurgents: ‘We can’t kill them all. When I kill one, I create three.’ I heard that Congressman Walter Jones, Republican from North Carolina and the man who renamed French fries ‘freedom fries’, was now calling for the ...

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