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Tunnel Visions

Philip Horne

4 August 1988
The Tunnel 
by Ernesto Sabato, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Cape, 138 pp., £10.95, June 1988, 0 224 02578 3
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Pilgrims Way 
by Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Cape, 232 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 224 02562 7
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States of Emergency 
by André Brink.
Faber, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 571 15118 3
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Moonrise, Moonset 
by Tadeusz Konwicki, translated by Richard Lourie.
Faber, 344 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 571 13609 5
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... unique force as a rendering of racial tension while keeping away from the cliché-ridden territory of the ‘right on’, the ideologically pre-processed. One wishes the same could be said for AndréBrink’s States of Emergency, which should perhaps be described as a would-be novel. Its subtitle is ‘Notes towards a Love Story’, and it represents – minimally fictionalises – an attempt by a ...

The End

Angela Carter

18 September 1986
A Land Apart: A South African Reader 
edited by André Brink and J.M. Coetzee.
Faber, 252 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13933 7
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Where Sixpence lives 
by Norma Kitson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3085 7
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... to the past, both in their different ways witnesses to the haunted tensions, torture and bloodshed of the period of minority rule. The anthology of fiction, A Land Apart, was, say its editors, AndréBrink and J.M. Coetzee, ‘compiled amid the tumult of the uprisings of 1985’, although the writers they choose to represent had not then had the time to reflect upon that tumult in their work, and ...


Robert Taubman

20 May 1982
A Chain of Voices 
by André Brink.
Faber, 525 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 571 11874 7
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How German is it 
by Walter Abish.
Carcanet, 252 pp., £6.75, March 1982, 0 85635 396 5
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Before she met me 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 224 01985 6
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by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 01976 7
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Getting it right 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10805 5
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... shoes. This is a lot, but if it were all it would make him no more than a racial stereotype out of the Mark Twain era. I think a failure of inwardness occurs because, to avoid this stereotype, AndréBrink substitutes for it at crucial moments a very different model – and in the historical circumstances of 1825 an unlikely one: a modern existential and political model. ‘Galant, who are you?’ asks ...

Like a Dog

Elizabeth Lowry: J.M. Coetzee

14 October 1999
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 220 pp., £14.99, July 1999, 0 436 20489 4
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The Lives of Animals 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Princeton, 127 pp., £12.50, May 1999, 0 691 00443 9
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... write such stories – write fiction, in short – without seeming to duck the issue? Most English-language prose writers in South Africa, from Olive Schreiner through Nadine Gordimer and AndréBrink to Mongane Serote, have tried to reconcile these conflicting claims, the claims of history and fiction, by writing in the realist mode. When Coetzee began to write, in the Seventies, he was one of ...


Gaby Wood: On Gene Kelly

21 March 1996
... is, I think, what is most appealing about Gene Kelly’s musicals. The characters don’t have to be dancers, or be ‘putting on a show’ as in the Garland/Rooney films: they just live as if on the brink of singing, they move as if about to break into dance, and dance as if it could be walking. I like to think this is what the young Truffaut had in mind when he slid across the floor of a Paris ...

One Does It Like This

David A. Bell: Talleyrand

16 November 2006
Napoleon’s Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand 
by David Lawday.
Cape, 386 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 224 07366 4
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... an immense fortune.’ Indeed, he soon started collecting bribes on a large scale, and his attempt to squeeze £50,000 out of three American diplomats (the ‘XYZ Affair’) brought France to the brink of war with the United States. With Talleyrand, self-interest often trumped the demands of diplomacy. To be sure, as Lawday points out, Talleyrand developed very early on a cautious and consistent ...
13 April 2000
The Unknown Matisse: Man of the North, 1869-1908 
by Hilary Spurling.
Penguin, 480 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 14 017604 7
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Matisse: Father and Son 
by John Russell.
Abrams, 416 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 8109 4378 6
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Ruthless Hedonism: The American Reception of Matisse 
by John O’Brien.
Chicago, 284 pp., £31.50, April 1999, 0 226 61626 6
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Matisse and Picasso 
by Yve-Alain Bois.
Flammarion, 272 pp., £35, February 1999, 2 08 013548 1
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... Emancipated or not, he was still, as Spurling puts it, describing his psychological state when he was in St-Tropez in the summer of 1904 (working with Paul Signac), ‘a man driven daily to the brink of desperation by inner tension, insomnia and the paralysing demons of frustration and self-doubt’. The certainties of neo-Impressionism, of Signac’s systematic development of Seurat’s ...


Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

3 November 1983
Léon Blum 
by Jean Lacouture, translated by George Holoch.
Holmes & Meier, 571 pp., $39.50, October 1982, 0 8419 0775 7
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... that Blum’s reformist populism (certainly well-inspired) could alone save France from economic disaster: in reality, Blum’s economic policies were a failure and France was not in any case on the brink of economic collapse. This same Blumist populism, Lacouture goes on, could alone save France from a bloody revolution: who would claim that this decidedly petty-bourgeois country was close to a ...

Lula’s Brazil

Perry Anderson

31 March 2011
... lost half its value in the run-up to the election. Argentina had just declared the largest sovereign default in history, and Brazil looked – in the eyes of the financial markets – to be on the brink of the same precipice. To restore investor confidence, Lula installed an unblinkingly orthodox economic team at the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance, which hiked interest rates yet further and ...

The Capitalocene

Benjamin Kunkel: The Anthropocene

2 March 2017
The Birth of the Anthropocene 
by Jeremy Davies.
California, 240 pp., £24.95, June 2016, 978 0 520 28997 0
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Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital 
by Jason Moore.
Verso, 336 pp., £19.99, August 2015, 978 1 78168 902 8
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Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming 
by Andreas Malm.
Verso, 496 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78478 129 3
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... is one of many coinages), Moore’s book nevertheless represents the closest thing yet to a complete theory of capital accumulation as an ecological process unfolding across past centuries up to the brink of tomorrow.Moore’s initial purpose is to reject the ‘green arithmetic’ that merely adds environmental considerations to social analysis as a pious afterthought. In the suggestive fact that the ...
27 September 2018
How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... t see. He couldn’t hold his own cigarette. He could barely hold his own water. He knew I was there and he became flustered by my silence. But what can you say about your own life to someone on the brink of theirs? I didn’t cry when Philip died either. I’d seen him shrivel into a brown husk, the taut dry skin stretched over his skeleton like a mummified body excavated from some desert tomb. I’d ...

After Nehru

Perry Anderson

2 August 2012
... state and not just of the party, she would declare an emergency, arresting the leaders of every opposition party and jailing 140,000 citizens without charge. To many, it seemed that India was on the brink of dictatorship.In fact what had happened was an exercise, on a much larger scale than ever before, of a traditional instrument of British rule, dubbed by one of its officials with the oxymoron ...

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