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Serfs Who Are Snobs

Catherine Merridale: Aleksandr Nikitenko, 29 November 2001

Up from Serfdom: My Childhood and Youth in Russia 1804-24 
by Aleksandr Nikitenko, translated by Helen Saltz Jacobson.
Yale, 228 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 300 08414 5
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... a summons to court.’ It doesn’t take much, reading this, to hear the narrating voice of Woody Allen in the Russian mode of Love and Death. There is Tatarchukov, a family benefactor, who ‘smelled like a goat . . . in a greasy frock-coat and drooping pantaloons’, who fell in love with a woman less than half his age. There is the music group ...

Diary

Christopher Turner: Summerhill School and the real Orgasmatron, 3 June 2004

... as Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs – who claimed to have had a spontaneous orgasm in his. Woody Allen parodied it as the ‘Orgasmatron’ in Sleeper. I wondered what place such a machine would have in a school. What was it that united Neill and Reich, whose close friendship is recorded in their extensive correspondence? And why would such ...

Someone like Maman

Elisabeth Ladenson: Proust’s mother, 8 May 2008

Madame Proust: A Biography 
by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, translated by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 310 pp., £16, October 2007, 978 0 226 05642 5
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... was the recipient of Jewish mothering of an intensity rarely seen outside the early works of Woody Allen or Philip Roth. A la recherche has been characterised as a semi-autobiographical novel written by a Jewish homosexual, and narrated by a Gentile heterosexual with an inordinate interest in Jewishness and homosexuality. There is some truth in ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... or Rossellini or of Cocteau or Fritz Lang or von Sternberg or Arthur Penn or Pasolini or Warhol or Woody Allen, nor a film directed or choreographed by Busby Berkeley, nor, amazingly, a film starring either Garbo or Fred Astaire, nor Shoah. Instead, it finds room for The Quiet Man and The Bridge on the River Kwai, three films by Nicolas Roeg and four by ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... But choosing New York for the convention was overweening even by Republican standards: like Woody Allen, only less humorously, they wanted the sweep of Manhattan to enlarge a panoply of private concerns, and blinded with tears and outrage, they wanted to forge a kind of unity in commemoration of the disaster. Cynicism is not news in politics: the ...

Predatory Sex Aliens

Gary Indiana: Burroughs, 8 May 2014

Call Me Burroughs: A Life 
by Barry Miles.
Twelve, 718 pp., £17, January 2014, 978 1 4555 1195 2
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... discovered in long forgotten archives, moved sections from one book-in-progress to another. Allen Ginsberg selected the correspondence that became The Yage Letters. Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac put Naked Lunch together from drastic-looking clumps of torn, coffee-stained fragments; the book’s final sequence was determined by the order in which proof pages ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... the Holocaust, from a TV play by Jack Rosenthal set in London called Bar Mitzvah Boy, and from Woody Allen films. I’m not sure I was even conscious in the 1970s that Woody Allen was Jewish. He was a funny American comedian who looked a bit like me. I had no Jewish experience. And then came Granny’s ...

Stories of Black and White

Michael Wood, 4 October 1984

In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 138 pp., £7.50, September 1984, 0 7043 2852 6
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Nights at the Circus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 295 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 3932 3
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Democracy 
by Joan Didion.
Chatto, 234 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2890 9
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... are bandits, shamans, revolutionaries all adrift in a Siberia borrowed, in about equal doses, from Woody Allen and Dostoevsky. The Tsar, a bandit says, weeping – ‘the Little Father of All the Russians ... is the friend of simple truth and doesn’t know the half of what his officials get up to on the side.’ Fevvers thinks: ‘Nobility of spirit hand ...

Swinging it

Mark Ford, 7 July 1988

S.J. Perelman: A Life 
by Dorothy Herrmann.
Simon and Schuster, 337 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 671 65460 8
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Don’t tread on me: The Selected Letters of S.J. Perelman 
edited by Prudence Crowther.
Viking, 372 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 670 81759 7
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... has overtaken the comic writer,’ he complained. In fact our greatest living comic, Woody Allen, derives directly from Perelman’s intellectual schlemiel routine. Perelman ended up feeling rather out of touch with the times. After the death of Laura he precipitately sold the farm in Pennsylvania and tried to settle down in London. All his ...

New Looks, New Newspapers

Peter Campbell, 2 June 1988

The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 
by Jon Wozencroft.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 500 27496 7
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The Making of the ‘Independent’ 
by Michael Crozier.
Gordon Fraser, 128 pp., £8.95, May 1988, 0 86092 107 7
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... Time is the hard thing to get people to part with, and buying what you do not read can be painful. Woody Allen has a funny piece about the guilt which grows to keep pace with a mounting pile of unread copies of the New York Review of Books. Brody’s attempt to make New Socialist palatable to the young, and the authoritative reassurance and ‘good easy ...

Dennett’s Ark

P.N. Johnson-Laird, 1 September 1988

The Intentional Stance 
by Daniel Dennett.
MIT, 388 pp., £22.50, January 1988, 9780262040938
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... despite the best efforts of certain philosophers to persuade them otherwise. As Descartes (or Woody Allen) might have said, ‘I know that I think, therefore I am an intentional system.’ This capacity for self-awareness distinguishes us qualitatively, I am happy to say, from thermostats. It depends on consciousness – Dennett’s other main ...

Paley’s Planet

Robert Walshe, 17 April 1986

Three of a Kind 
by Rachel Ingalls.
Faber, 141 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13606 0
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Home Truths 
by Mavis Gallant.
Cape, 330 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 224 02344 6
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Later the Same Day 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 211 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 86068 701 5
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... most part, write prose: she writes speech. She is the daughter of Groucho Marx and the mother of Woody Allen. You can pick it up from the far side of the Atlantic: ‘She says I called Mrs Z. a grizzly bear a few times. It’s my wife, no? ... ’ ‘She died in front of the television set. She didn’t miss a trick ... ’ ‘She’s a nice-looking ...

Baby Power

Marina Warner, 6 July 1989

The Romantic Child: From Runge to Sendak 
by Robert Rosenblum.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1989, 0 500 55020 4
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Caldecott & Co: Notes on Books and Pictures 
by Maurice Sendak.
Reinhardt, 216 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 1 871061 06 7
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Dear Mili 
by Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Ralph Manheim and Maurice Sendak.
Viking Kestrel, £9.95, November 1988, 0 670 80168 2
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Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the ‘Tales’ 
by Ruth Bottigheimer.
Yale, 211 pp., £8.95, April 1989, 0 300 04389 9
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The one who set out to study fear 
by Peter Redgrove.
Bloomsbury, 183 pp., £13.95, April 1989, 0 7475 0187 4
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... so completely to the Romantic depths of Runge and others. When he began, there was a touch of Woody Allen-like wit about him (they share a similar background) but this has withered. Sendak has become a kind of Philip Roth for children. Though there was never anything conciliating about the Sendak vision, he usually resolved his tales with tenderness ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... is seeing the bloodiest street fighting since the clam-linguini war that followed revelations that Woody Allen had slept with his wife’s adopted daughter. Eastside, Westside, all around the town’s British-controlled perimeter Louis Lapham and his humiliated forces meet like a collegium of Soviet generals to plan a counter-attack in the pages of the ...

Nothing goes without saying

Stanley Cavell, 6 January 1994

The Marx Brothers: ‘A Day at the Races’, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Duck Soup’ 
introduced by Karl French.
Faber, 261 pp., £8.99, November 1993, 0 571 16647 4
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... were really lecherous they would no longer be funny. (Adam Gopnik was making such a point about Woody Allen a couple of months ago in the New Yorker.) Being parodies of lechery, they enact claims on the part of each human creature (‘All God’s chillun’ is how they name them in A Day at the Races) to be loved, for no reason. Harpo would not know ...

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