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Mad John

Gabriele Annan, 28 June 1990

McEnroe: Taming the Talent 
by Richard Evans.
Bloomsbury, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 7475 0618 3
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... This is Richard Evans’s second book on McEnroe. The Struwwelpeter of tennis is now 31 and No 4 in the international ratings. The first book, McEnroe: A Rage for Perfection, came out eight years ago when McEnroe was 23 and rated No 1. The new book belongs to the genre of defensive biography. It is as though Oliver had written a life of Roland: the wise, steady friend standing up for the brilliant, wayward hero ...

Three Poems

John Burnside, 12 September 2019

... a troupe of all the souls I might have known, crossing the seven bridges, one by one, like Struwwelpeter dolls, with ink for skin and nothing to keep them from harm but the promise of dawn. Rationing for Beginners When it no longer smells like an orchard gathering around me in the dark, the sense of a known Beloved that comes of garden work, the ...

In Hell

Marina Warner: Wat Phai Rong Wua, 13 September 2012

... out, breasts lopped off and genitals horribly swollen and luridly aflame. Narokphum is a kind of Struwwelpeter sculpture garden, filled with the dire consequences of bad behaviour come from the mind of a raging celibate. A praed guilty of flirting with monks. Dante put some of his enemies in his Inferno while they were still living, but Luang Phor ...

Beyond Discussion

Neal Ascherson, 3 April 1980

The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial 
by Auberon Waugh.
Joseph, 240 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7181 1799 9
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... were told not to but being rescued from well-deserved disaster in the nick of time. I thought of Struwwelpeter. There at the Old Bailey was little Friedrich who tore wings off flies, and little Paulinchen who played with matches, and Phillipp who tilted his chair and brought the soup tureen over, and the ‘Grosse Nikolaus’ who dips small boys in his ...

In Praise of Barley Brew

E.S. Turner: Combustible Belloc, 20 February 2003

Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc 
by Joseph Pearce.
HarperCollins, 306 pp., £20, July 2002, 0 00 274095 8
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... he insisted that he wrote verse, not poetry. His output ranged from those cautionary echoes of Struwwelpeter to roistering drinking songs, from tender lyrics to excoriatory ballades, from moral alphabets to ‘imitations and grotesques’ (among which must be counted his ‘Newdigate Poem’ in praise of ‘The Benefits of the Electric Light’: ‘A smell ...

The Grey Boneyard of Fifties England

Iain Sinclair, 22 August 1996

A Perfect Execution 
by Tim Binding.
Picador, 344 pp., £15.99, May 1996, 0 330 34564 8
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... lurid colours, nursery rhyme names and hysterical laughter tightening into a soundless scream. Struwwelpeter. ‘The door flew open, in he ran,/the great, long, red-legg’d scissor-man.’ With his Jill Muttons, Solomon Straws and his ‘Well then, well met, Jack Edge,’ Binding drifts dangerously close to the mythical bucolic never-never land of Peter ...

Lady Thatcher’s Bastards

Iain Sinclair, 27 February 1992

Class War: A Decade of Disorder 
edited by Ian Bone, Alan Pullen and Tim Scargill.
Verso, 113 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 0 86091 558 1
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... among the pebbled bone helmets of snatch-squads. The mob awaits its impresario. Some shockheaded Struwwelpeter. A Malcolm McLaren whispering of historical precedents: Tyburn, the Gordon riots, Newgate ablaze, ‘Dickensian’ revengers pouring out of the slums and rookeries. It could catch on. It could be the next buzz. What was being declared here was not ...

Blowing Cigarette Smoke at Greenfly

E.S. Turner: The Beastliness of Saki, 24 August 2000

The Unrest-Cure and Other Beastly Tales 
by Saki.
Prion, 297 pp., £8.99, May 2000, 9781853753701
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... the same thing, and also for finding amusing fates for children – thumbs cut off by Scissormen (Struwwelpeter), death agonies brought on by chewing bits of string (Belloc) or being hurled with one’s twin from a cliff to see who would reach the bottom first (Captain Harry Graham). Saki, though, was often on the child’s side; he recognised, too, that ...

The Unpredictable Cactus

Emily Witt: Mescaline, 2 January 2020

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 297 pp., £18.99, May 2019, 978 0 300 23107 6
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... sister would inflict on the philosopher’s legacy and returning to the children’s book Struwwelpeter, announcing, according to his psychiatrist, that he had discovered its ‘secret’. This turned out to be that ‘a child must get presents, or else he will die or break into pieces or fly away.’ Afterwards, Benjamin was ambivalent about the ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... did should have his balls snipped off and fastened to his nose with a safety-pin.’ Struwwelpeter meets The Bitch. In intimate matters, Coward’s stance within these journals is determinedly neutral without being neuter. ‘There will be books proving conclusively that I was homosexual and books proving equally conclusively that I was ...

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