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Self-Amused

Adam Phillips: Isaiah Berlin, 23 July 2009

Isaiah Berlin, Enlightening: Letters 1946-60 
edited by Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes.
Chatto, 844 pp., £35, June 2009, 978 0 7011 7889 5
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... panic occurred’. Berlin mentions this, jokily and in passing, in several letters, but Alice James, the wife of William James’s son Billy, gets the full story of the disaster that didn’t happen, at least to Berlin. ‘I saw a thin flame crawling up the side of my window & decided that it would take at least ten minutes to reach me & there ...

The Castaway

Jeremy Harding: Algeria’s Camus, 4 December 2014

Algerian Chronicles 
by Albert Camus, edited by Alice Kaplan, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 224 pp., £11.95, November 2014, 978 0 674 41675 8
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Camus brûlant 
by Benjamin Stora and Jean-Baptiste Péretié.
Stock, 109 pp., €12.50, September 2013, 978 2 234 07482 8
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Meursault, contre-enquête 
by Kamel Daoud.
Actes Sud, 155 pp., €19, May 2014, 978 2 330 03372 9
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... républicain. The reports he chose from the end of the 1930s are models of advocacy journalism. Alice Kaplan has appended a powerful sketch from the same period about a convict transport ship. From 1940 onwards Camus was effectively ‘exiled’ from Algeria, having left for metropolitan France and become cut off from North Africa by the ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris, 2 August 2012

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... less servile.’ If being a young woman in postwar America was suffocating, why not try Paris? Alice Kaplan’s Dreaming in French tells the story of three college girls – Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis – who did. Kaplan, who wrote about her own year abroad in the memoir French Lessons, takes the three, who didn’t meet, as examples ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: My ’68, 19 July 2018

... to leave, we stumbled on a crowd of young people, maybe a couple of hundred, near the Place Saint-Michel. The traffic was backed up; in the distance we heard the sound of martial clanking and boots on pavement. The riot police appeared, to clear the demonstrators off the road and get the traffic moving. We had no idea that angry students had taken over the ...

Loafing with the Sissies

Colm Tóibín: The Trials of Andy Warhol, 10 September 2020

Warhol: A Life as Art 
by Blake Gopnik.
Allen Lane, 931 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00338 1
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... liked being photographed topless. ‘Why don’t you paint me with my scars?’ he suggested to Alice Neel. Opinion was divided on whether the shooting had killed him deep inside or made him come alive. Billy Name felt he was now ‘the Cardboard Andy, not the Andy I could love and play with’, and another old colleague said: ‘He’s just someone to have ...

The earth had need of me

Joanna Biggs: A nice girl like Simone, 16 April 2020

Becoming Beauvoir: A Life 
by Kate Kirkpatrick.
Bloomsbury, 476 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 1 350 04717 4
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Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me, a Memoir 
by Deirdre Bair.
Atlantic, 347 pp., £18.99, February 2020, 978 1 78649 265 4
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Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol. II: 1928-29 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Barbara Klaw.
Illinois, 374 pp., £40, June 2019, 978 0 252 04254 6
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... love. Beauvoir and Sartre set up a journal, Les Temps modernes (named for the Chaplin movie), with Michel Leiris, Merleau-Ponty and Raymond Aron on the editorial committee, and she went to the Ministry of Information to beg for a quota of paper. The Blood of Others came out, the first issues of Les Temps modernes were published, her play, Les Bouches ...

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