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Devouring the pangolin

John Sutherland, 25 October 1990

The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History 
by Robert Darnton.
Faber, 393 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 571 14423 3
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... 1775-1800. His account drew on the archive of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel, on the Franco-Swiss border. Using this material with great skill, Darnton was able to narrate what was involved in making and importing (sometimes smuggling) a subversive book into France in the Revolutionary era. He expertly digested the technicalities of the ...

Impatience

J.P. Stern, 30 August 1990

Unmodern Observations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Herbert Golder, Gary Brown and William Arrowsmith.
Yale, 402 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 300 04311 2
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The Importance of Nietzsche 
by Erich Heller.
Chicago, 200 pp., £23.95, February 1989, 0 226 32637 3
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... are linked by his concern over the state of German culture after the victorious conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War and the proclamation of the Reich at Versailles in January 1871. These Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, written while Nietzsche was Professor of Classical Philology at Basle, are here translated as Unmodern Observations by different hands, under ...

Unmasking Monsieur Malraux

Richard Mayne, 25 June 1992

The Conquerors 
by André Malraux, translated by Stephen Becker.
Chicago, 198 pp., £8.75, December 1991, 0 226 50290 2
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The Temptation of the West 
by André Malraux, translated by Robert Hollander.
Chicago, 122 pp., £8.75, February 1992, 0 226 50291 0
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The Walnut Tree of Altenburg 
by André Malraux, translated by A.W. Fielding.
Chicago, 224 pp., £9.55, April 1992, 0 226 50289 9
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... Prize-winning novel Man’s Estate. Malraux’s subsequent role in the Spanish Civil War against Franco has also been questioned, largely because he threw in his lot with the Communists – although he continued to criticise them elsewhere. But he did raise money for the Republicans; he did organise the España air squadron; and he did risk his ...

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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... fullest in its coverage of international relations, Taylor’s volume having been complemented by Paul Schroeder’s Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848. Zara Steiner’s new history will inevitably be measured against these distinguished predecessors, and it stands up to the comparison: considered as a monument to scholarly stamina, it is even more ...

Candidate Macron

Jeremy Harding: The French Elections, 16 March 2017

... goods – toing and froing by ferry. But the war of decolonisation – 1954-62 – still dogs the Franco-Algerian partnership and alluding to it in an election campaign, as Macron has, is risky; in this election especially, where sensitivities are heightened by an ongoing state of emergency declared after the jihadist killings in Paris in 2015.‘Une vraie ...

Stalin is a joker

Michael Hofmann: Milan Kundera, 1 July 2015

The Festival of Insignificance 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 115 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 571 31646 5
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... cosmopolitanism of the times; Europe was still pretty new; people sighed, did they but know it, in Franco-Bohemian (or Franco-Moravian), in German (very strangely), in Norwegian. What you got out of these writers, like the wrong kind of leaf, or the wrong kind of snow (though these were native productions), was the wrong ...

A Particular Way of Looking

J. Hoberman: NeoRealismo, 19 November 2019

NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932-60 
edited by Enrica Viganò.
Prestel, 349 pp., £49.99, September 2018, 978 3 7913 5769 0
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... Communist Vote Is a Vote against God’). Portraits made by the leftist photojournalists Franco Pinna, Ando Gilardi and Arturo Zavattini (Cesare’s son) on ethnographic expeditions to Basilicata – Town Witch, Ritual Keener, Dying Healer – illuminate Christ Stopped at Eboli. So does the sequence of photographs entitled A Woman Possessed, and the ...

Rwanda in Six Scenes

Stephen W. Smith: Fables of Rwanda, 17 March 2011

... facts have parted company but that opinion takes precedence. The first scene: I’m walking beside Paul Kagame, the current president of Rwanda and then a rebel leader, past low picket fences and small prefabricated houses in a residential suburb of Brussels. It’s cold and our breath mingles in the air as we speak. Kagame is swaddled in a thick coat. Even ...

Communiste et Rastignac

Christopher Caldwell: Bernard Kouchner, 9 July 2009

Le Monde selon K. 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 331 pp., €19, February 2009, 978 2 213 64372 4
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... its most visible and charismatic face. This group evolved into Médecins sans frontières, which Paul Berman describes in Power and the Idealists (2005) as ‘a more political Red Cross – a Red Cross willing to identify the political realities that create humanitarian crises’. In general, Kouchner thought, the left should not sit around while people got ...

Lordspeak

R.W. Johnson, 2 June 1988

Passion and Cunning, and Other Essays 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Weidenfeld, 293 pp., £18, March 1988, 0 297 79280 6
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God Land: Reflections on Religion and Nationalism 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Harvard, 97 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 674 35510 5
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... dead – has strongly Catholic roots. But the main point of the essay is simply that John Paul II entirely deserved the historic come-uppance he received in Managua. The Pope, characteristically enough, went out of his way to declare his special affection for Cardinal Obando, who has been tougher in his opposition to the Sandinistas than he ever was ...

‘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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... nor the exhibition has much to say. The show doesn’t dodge the difficult questions. Both Paul Celan’s Death Fugue and Kiefer’s work feature here as ways of remembering the 12 years of Nazi rule, but there are other, more prosaic objects too. The concentration camps are represented by a replica of a gate at Buchenwald, inscribed not with the usual ...

In Order of Rank

Jeremy Harding: Paris 1940, 8 May 2008

Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 
by Hanna Diamond.
Oxford, 255 pp., £16.99, June 2007, 978 0 19 280618 5
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Journal 1942-44 
by Hélène Berr.
Tallandier, 301 pp., €20, January 2008, 978 2 84734 500 1
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... stoical insouciance of people who’d remained. The administration on the run was now headed by Paul Reynaud, a maverick conservative whose Churchillian instincts were never likely to prevail. Reynaud declared Paris an open city, but it was of no consequence for the many who’d already left and those who were scrambling out at the last minute. Hanna ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: The Salman Rushdie Acid Test, 24 February 1994

... Luther, Spinoza and Tyndale. Still, a phrase keeps recurring to my mind. It comes, bizarrely, from Paul Newman in The Verdict, as he mutters anxiously outside the courtroom: ‘There are no other cases. This is the case.’ By this he plainly means to convey, not that there are no other disputes or dramas or miscarriages of justice, but that this one has ...

The Trouble with Nowhere

Martin Jay, 1 June 2000

The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy 
by Russell Jacoby.
Basic Books, 256 pp., £17.95, April 1999, 0 465 02000 3
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Utopias: Russian Modernist Texts 1905-40 
edited by Catriona Kelly.
Penguin, 378 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 14 118081 1
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The Faber Book of Utopias 
edited by John Carey.
Faber, 560 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780571197859
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The Nazi War on Cancer 
by Robert Proctor.
Princeton, 390 pp., £18.95, May 1999, 0 691 00196 0
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... 1937 essay on ‘The Affirmative Character of Culture’ and as contemporary as David Lloyd and Paul Thomas’s 1998 Culture and the State – that such a culture, when it is officially sponsored by even the most benevolent and enlightened state, may easily serve to maintain a very non-utopian status quo. If there is an embarrassing absence of utopian ...

Nicky, Willy and George

Christopher Clark: The Tsar, the Kaiser and the King, 22 October 2009

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One 
by Miranda Carter.
Fig Tree, 584 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 670 91556 9
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... sisters from the house of Denmark. Wilhelm and Nicholas II were both great-great-grandsons of Tsar Paul I. The kaiser’s great-great-aunt, Charlotte of Prussia, was the tsar’s grandmother. Viewed from this perspective, the outbreak of war in 1914 looks rather like the culmination of a family feud. As its subtitle suggests, Miranda Carter’s ...

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