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The Paris Strangler

John Sturrock, 17 December 1992

‘L’Avenir dure longtemps’ suivi de ‘Les Faits’: Autobiographies 
by Louis Althusser.
Stock, 356 pp., frs 144, May 1992, 2 234 02473 0
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Louis Althusser: Une biographie. Vol. I: La Formation du mythe 
by Yann Moulier Boutang.
Grasset, 509 pp., frs 175, April 1992, 2 246 38071 5
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... a verbal inventiveness greater than that of James Joyce. This is to demean by overstatement, as John Stuart Mill famously demeaned Harriet Taylor in his Autobiography by his reckless eulogising of her. Hélène was also accused by those who had known the pre-war Althusser as a decorous lycéen and good Catholic of having turned him after 1946 into an ...

Champion of Words

John Sturrock, 15 October 1987

Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Charles Ruas.
Athlone, 186 pp., £29.50, April 1987, 0 485 11336 8
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Raymond Roussel: Life, Death and Works. Essays and stories by various hands 
Atlas, 157 pp., £5.50, September 1987, 0 947757 14 7Show More
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... Michel Foucault, for once and for now, may stand aside: who is the Raymond Roussel about whom he wrote this, his one real essay into literature? Roussel was a writer, of sorts, of the early 20th century; a man both glamorously rich and mentally odd. His money he spent to the hilt in the furtherance of his oddness, for Roussel laboured to write the most uncommercial works and then paid to have them published ...

The Man from Nowhere

John Sturrock: Burying André Malraux, 9 August 2001

André Malraux: Une Vie 
by Olivier Todd.
Gallimard, 694 pp., frs 175, April 2001, 2 07 074921 5
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... At André Malraux’s funeral, in November 1976, two red wreaths were delivered to the cemetery: one came from the French Communist Party, an organisation to which he never belonged, the other from Lasserre, a three-rosette restaurant near the Grand Palais where he had liked to lunch – on his own should company fail. Lasserre had done the honours for a first time to this most bankable of habitués when he was still alive, by adding pigeon André Malraux to its list of entrées, a gesture which inscribed him obliquely in the literary lineage he most aspired to, of writers who had also been men of action: had the name of Chateaubriand, explorer, soldier, politician and Romantic elder, not earlier been incorporated à la carte as a way of doing steak? The posthumous tribute from the PCF on the other hand can hardly have been automatic ...

May he roar with pain!

John Sturrock, 27 May 1993

Flaubert–Sand: The Correspondence 
translated by Barbara Bray.
HarperCollins, 428 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 00 217625 4
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Correspondence. Tome III: janvier 1859 – décembre 1868 
by Gustave Flaubert, edited by Jean Bruneau.
Gallimard, 1727 pp., frs 20, March 1991, 2 07 010669 1
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Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Everyman, 330 pp., £8.99, March 1993, 1 85715 140 2
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Madame Bovary 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Geoffrey Wall.
Penguin, 292 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 14 044526 9
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... At the time, George Sand was the celebrity, a retired amorist and noted cross-dresser now publishing without strain two or three novels a year of the improving, marketable kind. Flaubert, too, had had an episode of scandal, when he and Madame Bovary were taken to court in 1857 for obscenity; but he by now was labouring retentively away once again in the service of Apollo, the Olympian specially refurbished by him as ‘the god of crossings-out ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 September 2017

... It​ was John who had the idea that I should say something about his professional life at his funeral. It was a very nice idea and I’m glad – not to say flattered – that he had it. But I found it a spookily hard thing to do. ‘Spooky’ because every time I thought I had a point to make I heard myself checking it with John – ‘Is that right?’ ‘Can I say that?’ ‘Does that make sense?’ – and then I began to understand what had happened to all of us ...


Jerry Fodor: The Elton John and Tim Rice reworking of Aida, 30 March 2000

... How I got into this. John Sturrock called from the LRB. He knows that I like opera a lot, and that I now and then get tired of writing papers about the mind/body problem for philosophy journals. ‘Would I like to report on the new pop version of Aida? (Elton John, Tim Rice and, rumour has it, a transparent swimming-pool ...
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... John Sturrock’s little book is the best single guide to its subject that has yet appeared. Structuralism and Since demands, though, that its title be taken literally. It traces, technically and without concession to idle curiosity, the course of ‘structuralism’ in its modern phase – from the moment when it achieved new importance in the work of Lévi-Strauss in the early Sixties, through its development and extensions in the work of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, to its present position, which is known either as ‘post-structuralism’ or simply as ‘deconstruction ...

Around Here

Alice Spawls: Drifting into the picture, 4 February 2016

... on reality – must be like Wordsworth’s experience of two consciousnesses, or like the turn, as John Sturrock describes it in The Language of Autobiography, that occurs when the autobiographer sees their written self suddenly cohere. The place condenses into the image; nothing more can be seen now. Vilhelm Hammershøi’s ‘Montague Street in ...

Ten Days that Shook Me

Alan Bennett, 15 September 1988

... to creature comforts. I wondered, for instance, if the Russians had got round to mineral water. John Sturrock reassured me. ‘Haven’t you heard of Perrierstroika?’ The Writers’ Union is a pleasant one-storeyed 19th-century building set round a leafy courtyard and currently being refurbished against Mr Reagan’s visit. He is to have lunch ...

Who owns John Sutherland?

John Sutherland: Intellectual property in the digital age, 7 January 1999

... instantly have sniffed out the scientific balderdash. The defence – provocatively stated by John Sturrock in these pages – was that humanities journals don’t work that way. In return for their services to the academy, science journals have traditionally demanded exclusive copyright from authors. This allows the publisher to control and charge ...

Book Reviewing

Stefan Collini: On the ‘TLS’, 5 November 2020

... noting how many literary journals had recently closed and fearing for the future of the Lit Supp, John Middleton Murry, a frequent contributor, declared ‘the decline in the amount and quality of reviewing has been catastrophic since 1914,’ adding that ‘book reviewing is a vanished profession.’ That obituary turned out to be premature, as have been its ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... a greater strangeness in the French. I was struck by the slight oddity of the word ‘only’ in John Sturrock’s ‘their only honour is precarious, their only liberty provisional . . . their only position unstable’ and found nothing like it in Scott Moncrieff, although all the nouns and adjectives are the same. Proust’s idiom is the almost ...

Proust and the Pet Goat

Michael Wood: The Proustian Grail, 7 October 2021

Les Soixante-Quinze Feuillets: Et autres manuscrits inédits 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Nathalie Mauriac Dyer.
Gallimard, 384 pp., €21, April, 978 2 07 293171 0
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... translations of both works: of the first by Sylvia Townsend Warner in 1958, of the second by John Sturrock in 1988. The English titles rather elegantly contradict one another. Sturrock’s is literal and exact: Against Sainte-Beuve. Townsend Warner’s is more allusive and less quarrelsome: By Way of ...

Homo Narrator

Inga Clendinnen, 16 March 2000

Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography 
by Susanna Egan.
North Carolina, 275 pp., £39.95, September 1999, 0 8078 4782 8
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... and finally to expand that notion of interaction into the genres of autobiographies.’ In 1993, John Sturrock could say in The Language of Autobiography: ‘there has never yet been an autobiography addressed to a readership of literary theorists.’ Now it looks as if that time is upon us. The general reader, it seems, is left out of the loop, save as ...


Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy, 16 November 2017

... of the danger he was running regarding the obscenity laws and obloquy in his own social circles. John Sturrock, whose translation this is, points out in his introduction how the First World War had helped lighten persecution and, in turn, gave breathing space to Proust’s quest, not for lost time, but for revealing human complexity. Proust had very ...

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