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Fundamental Brainwork

Jerome McGann, 30 March 2000

Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Collected Writings 
edited by Jan Marsh.
Dent, 531 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 460 87875 1
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter and Poet 
by Jan Marsh.
Weidenfeld, 592 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 297 81703 5
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... Your fame is the colour of grass, which comes and goes, faded by the sun that drew it from the unripe earth’ (Purgatorio XI, 115-117). Dante Gabriel Rossetti did not translate that particular text, but he might have; perhaps he should have, given his cultural history. For Rossetti was, according to his age’s two most imposing critics, Ruskin and Pater, the period’s central artistic presence and leading intelligence ...

Why edit socially?

Marilyn Butler, 20 October 1994

Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, Vol. VII 
edited by Byron.
Oxford, 445 pp., £52.50, March 1993, 0 19 812328 0
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The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse 
edited by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 832 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 19 214158 9
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... Jerome McGann’s seven-volume edition of Byron’s Poems has concluded with a magnificent index compiled by Carol Pearson. As columns to browse in, these are in the same league as the DNB or OED. Old Romantic hands might be tempted to look up ‘Rousseau’ or ‘Wordsworth’, but to test this edition with the name of another established writer would be to show you didn’t know what McGann stands for ...

Fit for a Saint

Nicholas Penny, 6 April 1995

The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice 
by Peter Humfrey.
Yale, 382 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 300 05358 4
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Italian Altarpieces 1250-1550: Function and Design 
edited by Eve Borsook and Fiorella Superbi Gioffredi.
Oxford, 296 pp., £45, September 1994, 0 19 817223 0
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... S. Giovanni Crisostomo we find one of Bellini’s greatest paintings, his late altarpiece of Saint Jerome between Saints Christopher and Louis of Toulouse, which is reproduced on the jacket of The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice. The book opens with a consideration of which elements in this painting were conditioned by its ...

The Everyday Business of Translation

George Steiner, 22 November 1979

The True Interpreter 
by Louis Kelly.
Blackwell, 282 pp., £15
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... produced in the evolution of the cosmos’ would now strike one as hyperbolic but plausible. St Jerome is again claiming his place as patron of letters. The sources of this change are various; and engage the entire current condition of literacy. With the sharp decline in western society of a direct knowledge of Greek and ...

Ezra Pound and Evil

Jerome McGann, 7 July 1988

The Genealogy of Demons: Anti-Semitism, Fascism and the Myths of Ezra Pound 
by Robert Casillo.
Northwestern, 463 pp., $34.95, April 1988, 0 8101 0710 4
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A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Faber, 1005 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 571 14786 0
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... No English-speaking poet of this century has been the subject of as much biographical scrutiny as Ezra Pound. As in the case of Byron, Pound’s literary works and his personal life were deeply entwined from the first, and this condition of his poetry’s existence raises – as Byron’s work has always raised – serious problems for our ordinary understanding of what poems do and how they are to be read ...

Theory of Texts

Jerome McGann, 18 February 1988

Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts: The Panizzi Lectures 1985 
by D.F. McKenzie.
British Library, 80 pp., £10, December 1986, 0 7123 0085 6
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... A quiet yet profound change has been taking place in literary studies during the past ten years or so. Initially it was obscured by the successes and celebrities of Deconstruction, where idealist hermeneutics – this century’s dominant textual and interpretative program – led its own tradition into a theoretical impasse. The more recently touted ‘return to history’ has also obscured the nature of this change – obscured it because the so-called new historicism (I give the name un-capitalised) comprises a variety of historicisms, some new and some not, some idealist and some otherwise ...

Report from Sirius B

Jeremy Harding: ‘Phantom Africa’, 22 March 2018

Phantom Africa 
by Michel Leiris, translated by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Seagull, 711 pp., £42, January 2017, 978 0 85742 377 1
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... In​ L’Age d’homme, his early excursion into autobiography, Michel Leiris recalls his mother warning him to beware of ‘bad people’ in the Bois de Boulogne. He imagined the predators in the woods to be ‘satyrs’, and later, cannibals: he had been struck by an exotic colour illustration in Le Pêle-Mêle, a humorous weekly, of ‘savages’ eating an explorer ...

Why Chad isn’t Darfur and Darfur isn’t Rwanda

Jérôme Tubiana: Chad’s Wars, 17 December 2009

... Omar al-Bashir seized control in Sudan in 1989; Idriss Déby entered N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, the following year, with Bashir’s approval. The two men belonged to a new generation of ambitious African leaders whose fortunes prospered as the Cold War drew to a close. Déby was a secular head of state, eager for the US to befriend Chad; Bashir’s regime was Islamist ...

Ancient and Modern

M.A. Screech, 19 November 1981

Masters of the Reformation: The Emergence of a New Intellectual Life in Europe 
by Heiko Augustinus Oberman, translated by Dennis Martin.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £22.50, June 1981, 0 521 23098 5
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Montaigne 
by Peter Burke.
Oxford, 96 pp., £5.50, October 1981, 9780192875235
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... Greek theologian (the controversial Origen) and the only Latin ever placed on the same level, Jerome. How far did Erasmus, with all this Greek and his knowledge of the Fathers, break the mould in which his masters had cast his mind? He seemed revolutionarily new to Rabelais, who, at 50, wrote to tell him so. How far ...

Character Building

Peter Campbell, 9 June 1994

Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernity 
by Jerome McGann.
Princeton, 196 pp., £25, July 1993, 0 691 06985 9
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Letters from the People 
by Lee Friedlander.
Cape, 96 pp., £75, August 1993, 9780224032957
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Margins and Marginality 
by Evelyn Tribble.
Virginia, 194 pp., $35, December 1993, 0 8139 1472 8
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... the way they are physically presented impinge in any significant way on the texts they contain? Jerome McGann reckons that the private press movement (William Morris and his followers) was an agent in the rise of Modernist poetry, and goes on to make large claims for the ability of poetry in the Modernist tradition to ...

Lord Randolph’s Coming-Out

Paul Addison, 3 December 1981

Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 431 pp., £16, November 1981, 0 19 822679 9
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... Lord Randolph Churchill has many claims to fame and some to notoriety. His marriage to Jennie Jerome pioneered a series of matches between British aristocrats and American heiresses: the beginning of a special relationship of significance in the next century, if not in his own. He entered politics and rose to power between 1880 and 1885 as a master of opposition tactics both inside and outside the House of Commons ...

Diary

Jérôme Tubiana and Clotilde Warin: Migrant Flows, 21 March 2019

... by the government.’ It took two days for Al-Nur’s party to reach the Libyan border, around 600 km from their point of departure (Al-Nur made a hole in the tarpaulin with his teeth in order to breathe more easily). Deep in the western desert the RSF handed over their passengers to Libyan traffickers in military uniform who drove pickups with Libyan ...

Kermode’s Changing Times

P.N. Furbank, 7 March 1991

The Uses of Error 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 432 pp., £18, February 1991, 9780002154659
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... singing carols must expect to be shot at.’ It was altogether a turning-point for him. Like St Jerome in Bethlehem, he retired to his study and applied himself to his Bible (the evenings in Cambridge, he has written recently, seemed very long). The outcome was The Genesis of Secrecy, which addressed the ‘hermeneutic ...

Le Journal and Le Club

Tariq Ali: Mediapart, 23 October 2014

... Walking​ from the Bastille to the rue Saint-Antoine in Paris a few weeks ago, I was thinking how swiftly the last few decades have taken their revenge on the past. The spectacle that overshadows all else in France today is the collapse of the political civilisation whose foundations were laid in 1789. Radical France – its intelligentsia, its political parties, its cinema and its press – has been neo-liberalised ...

Talk about doing

Frank Kermode, 26 October 1989

Against Deconstruction 
by John Ellis.
Princeton, 168 pp., £13.70, February 1989, 0 691 06754 6
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The New Historicism 
by H. Aram Veeser.
Routledge, 318 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 415 90070 0
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Rethinking Historicism: Critical Essays in Romantic History 
by Marjorie Levinson, Marilyn Butler, Jerome McGann and Paul Hamilton.
Blackwell, 149 pp., £22.50, August 1989, 0 631 16591 6
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Towards a Literature of Knowledge 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 138 pp., £16.50, May 1989, 9780198117407
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The Stoic in Love: Selected Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Harvester, 209 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 7450 0614 0
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... to expose the contemporary politicising of the ideal and the idealising of the political.’ Jerome McGann, the remaining contributor, starts from Franz Fanon and argues that the works of the past must be freed from the ‘imperial imagination’ or, if you prefer, ‘the burden of the past’; a re-imagining of the ...

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