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Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan

Lawrence Norfolk: The Ways of the Boar, 6 January 2011

... of his tusks.’ Against this advice one might note the fate of the beater employed by the Nagpur Hunt in 1912, who was knocked to the ground and, despite adopting precisely the attitude prescribed above, was gored so badly that his lungs were exposed. Another unfortunate, in the following year, was gored in a similar way and with similarly fatal results, the ...

So Much Smoke

Tom Shippey: King Arthur, 20 December 2018

King Arthur: the Making of the Legend 
by Nicholas Higham.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 21092 7
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... ungrateful people demanding independence might get more than they bargained for, he warned. Alfred Duggan’s two novels about the end of empire, The Little Emperors and Conscience of the King (both 1951), once again drew an explicit parallel, with Duggan pointing out that neither the Roman withdrawal from Britain nor the British withdrawal from India ...


Alexander Cockburn: ‘West of America’, 11 July 1991

... It didn’t take long for this scum to destroy or to enslave the Indians obstructing then hunt for gold. By 1853 Special Indian Agent Stevenson, reporting random killings of Indians, lamented to his superiors that ‘nothing but Indian evidence ... could be obtained to punish these villains, and as the Indian’s evidence is not allowed against any ...


John Lanchester, 24 May 1990

Chicago Loop 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 183 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 241 12949 4
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Lies of Silence 
by Brian Moore.
Bloomsbury, 194 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0610 8
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Amongst Women 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14284 2
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The Condition of Ice 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 170 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 436 19989 0
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... no butter. What do you have?’ After the murder, with the newspapers running stories about the hunt for the ‘wolfman’, he starts eating piles of junk food. He also starts wandering around Chicago dressed as a woman, looking for a way of getting beaten up, until he finally jumps off Sears Tower. There has always been a great deal of sexual unease in ...

Dear boy, I’d rather see you in your coffin

Jon Day: Paid to Race, 16 July 2020

To Hell and Back: An Autobiography 
by Niki Lauda.
Ebury, 314 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 5291 0679 4
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A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Britain’s First Great Grand Prix Driver, Richard Seaman 
by Richard Williams.
Simon and Schuster, 388 pp., £20, March, 978 1 4711 7935 8
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... Austria. Lauda is now most famous for his antagonistic relationship with the English driver James Hunt, immortalised in Ron Howard’s movie Rush, and for his crash at the Nürburgring in the 1976 German Grand Prix, when he spun off the track on his second lap. The resulting fire burned his eyelids off and gave him the facial scars he would carry for the rest ...

Middle-Aged and Dishevelled

Rebecca Solnit: Endangered Species?, 23 March 2006

In the Company of Crows and Ravens 
by John Marzluff and Tony Angell.
Yale, 384 pp., £18.95, October 2005, 0 300 10076 0
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... in the 1960s have gradually come to resemble rivers again, in which fish can swim and herons can hunt. The urban air is cleaner. A lot of these species are enchanting to us urbanites unworried about lambs or crops. When a coyote appeared on Bernal Heights in San Francisco, it became a local celebrity, though other coyotes in the city have remained relatively ...

Aubade before Breakfast

Tom Crewe: Balfour and the Souls, 31 March 2016

Balfour’s World: Aristocracy and Political Culture at the Fin de Siècle 
by Nancy Ellenberger.
Boydell, 414 pp., £30, September 2015, 978 1 78327 037 8
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... notions and wrinkled phrases,’ Raymond Asquith, Margot’s stepson, sneered. ‘We do not hunt the carted hares of thirty years ago. We do not ask ourselves and one another and every poor devil we meet “How do you define Imagination?” or “What is the difference between talent and genius?”, and score an easy triumph by anticipating the answer ...

Shakespeare the Novelist

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... creative discourse. The central character – through whose viewpoint the narrative unfolds – is Alfred Ludens, a reader in history, on sabbatical from an unnamed London University college. Gildas Herne (the first speaker) is a musician and ex-priest. He represents the weak magnetic force which holds the group together; the novel begins and ends with the ...

Shopping in Lucerne

E.S. Turner, 9 June 1994

Addicted to Romance: The Life and Adventures of Elinor Glyn 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 306 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 233 98866 1
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Mother of Oscar: The Life of Jane Francesca Wilde 
by Joy Melville.
Murray, 308 pp., £19.99, June 1994, 0 7195 5102 1
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... then, another biography? Joan Hardwick, author of An Immodest Violet (1990), a study of Violet Hunt (whose novels included – yes – The Tiger Skin), evidently felt irresistibly drawn to another immodest adventuress of the period. She is a writer who can keep a straight face when trafficking in absurdity, though she throws in an occasional exclamation ...

Mganga with the Lion

Kenneth Silverman: Hemingway, 2 September 1999

Hemingway: The Thirties 
by Michael Reynolds.
Norton, 360 pp., £9.95, October 1998, 0 393 31778 1
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Hemingway: The Final Years 
by Michael Reynolds.
Norton, 416 pp., £19.95, July 1999, 0 393 04748 2
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True at First Light 
by Ernest Hemingway.
Heinemann, 319 pp., £16.99, July 1999, 9780434008322
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... published a book in ten years. And the novel turned even some sympathetic reviewers into hangmen. Alfred Kazin reported feeling ‘embarrassment, even pity, that so important a writer can make such a travesty of himself’. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, and the next year a (greatly deserved) Nobel Prize. But he was being ...

Are you having fun today?

Lorraine Daston: Serendipidity, 23 September 2004

The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science 
by Robert Merton and Elinor Barber.
Princeton, 313 pp., £18.95, February 2004, 0 691 11754 3
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... ought to net fame and fortune for the discoverer. This was also the ideology enshrined in Alfred Nobel’s 1895 testament: prizes in physics were to be awarded for ‘the most important discovery or invention’, not for theoretical advances. Einstein officially won the 1921 prize ‘for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his ...


Julian Loose, 30 January 1992

The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13144 8
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... here in 1990) borrows the form of a Chandleresque detective story for the tale of a hunt for a mutant Manchurian sheep with the ability to inhabit people’s minds. Having possessed (or ‘sheeped’) a soldier in the Imperial Army in the Thirties, it has turned him into an underworld Boss whose extensive outreach includes most of the public ...

Metropolitan Miscreants

Matthew Bevis: Victorian Bloomsbury, 4 July 2013

Victorian Bloomsbury 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, July 2012, 978 0 300 15447 4
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Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-40: Cockney Adventures 
by Gregory Dart.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 1 107 02492 2
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... face he meets’. This is what the metropolitan insomniac does instead of counting sheep. For J. Alfred Prufrock, faces are masks – ‘there will be time/To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet’ – and in The Waste Land these masks can’t be looked straight in the eye: ‘each man fixed his eyes before his feet./Flowed up the hill and down ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... pleasure in every phase of their more ghastly homicides; from the moment a corpse was found the hunt for morbid thrills was intense. After seven members of the Marshall family were hacked to death at Denham in 1870, ‘pleasure vans’ brought hordes of day-trippers from London to see the gore, and to purloin souvenirs. The Victorians were not dainty in ...

It’s Modern but is it contemporary?

Hal Foster, 16 December 2004

... in 1929 MoMA has always been as educative in mission as elitist in tone. Its first director, Alfred Barr, spread the gospel of Modernist art as generously and clearly as he could, given the different limitations of trustees and viewers. Rubin narrowed the story but strengthened the argument, and some of his shows were provocative dissertations on the ...

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