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Poles Apart

John Sutherland

5 May 1983
Give us this day 
by Janusz Glowacki, translated by Konrad Brodzinski.
Deutsch, 121 pp., £6.95, March 1983, 0 233 97518 7
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In Search of Love and Beauty 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 227 pp., £8.50, April 1983, 0 7195 4062 3
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Listeners 
by Sally Emerson.
Joseph, 174 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 7181 2134 1
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Flying to Nowhere 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 89 pp., £4.95, March 1983, 0 907540 27 9
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Some prefer nettles 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Edward Seidensticker.
Secker, 155 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 436 51603 9
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The Makioka Sisters 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Edward Seidensticker.
Secker, 530 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 330 28046 5
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‘The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi’ and ‘Arrowroot’ 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Anthony Chambers.
Secker, 199 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 436 51602 0
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... Glowacki’s novel makes trouble for itself. The work is translated – one of the two ways in which, notoriously, a British book can be guaranteed to lose money (the other sure thing is poetry). Give us this day was originally published in 1981, and was evidently completed before December and Jaruzelski’s imposition of martial law. Its saga of the uprising in the Gdansk Lenin shipyard ends with ...

Time Lords

Anthony​ Grafton: In the Catacombs

30 July 2014
Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs 
by Paul Koudounaris.
Thames and Hudson, 189 pp., £18.95, September 2013, 978 0 500 25195 9
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... Custodian of the Catacombs. He in turn appointed 24 Excavators – crack cavers who specialised in seeking out the remains of the holy dead. Along the highways, in the branching underground halls and chambers, the dead began to stir. The Excavators, and others with special permission, hunted Christian bones. Particular signs – gravestones marked ‘M’, thought to stand for ‘Martyr’; palm fronds ...
19 June 1980
The Bretheren: Inside the Supreme Court 
by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong.
Secker, 467 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 436 58122 1
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... confidence in this record. They tell us countless times, for example, that a particular Justice was ‘worried’ or ‘outraged’ or ‘mortified’ or ‘bewildered’ in the privacy of his own chambers with no one else about – and the most frequent subject of these psychological inventions is Chief Justice Warren Burger, who, the authors admit, refused to talk to them at all. Assassination by non ...

Who knew?

Norman Stone

20 November 1980
The Terrible Secret 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 262 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 297 77835 8
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... the Allied press in great numbers. It was not until the spring of 1942 that deportations to death-camps in occupied Poland started on a considerable scale, even though there had been some use of gas-chambers before then. The Germans had constructed three camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka where Jews were to be killed by poison gas, and two others, at Majdanek and Auschwitz, where those who could not ...

Imperial Project

Richard Drayton

19 September 1996
Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens 
by Ray Desmond.
Harvill/Royal Botanical Gardens, 466 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 86046 076 3
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... situation. But Britons often assume that their history stems from indigenous, or at worst European, cultural facts. Seeley in 1883 talks about England ‘expanding’ to reach its Victorian stature; Anthony Low, in 1983, of England ‘contracting’, in the second Elizabethan age, to become again a minor power on the flank of Europe. Popular sentiment and historical scholarship cling to this leavened ...

At the Royal Academy

T.J. Clark: James Ensor

1 December 2016
... Impressionists had done, especially the high-speed Manet of the 1870s. I’m sure he must at some point have seen early Cézannes – The Orgy, perhaps, or Achille Emperaire, or a Temptation of St Anthony – and thought about repeating them in the key of late Turner. But Delacroix was always the presiding genius. The Fall of the Rebel Angels in the show is a wild précis of Delacroix’s Apollo ...
19 September 1985
Flame into Being: The Life and Work of D.H. Lawrence 
by Anthony​ Burgess.
Heinemann, 211 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 434 09818 3
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The Kingdom of the Wicked 
by Anthony​ Burgess.
Hutchinson, 379 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 09 160040 5
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... cultural aspirations. He was obviously a bit surprised, even shocked, to realise that there was in his partner a guiltless aristocratic libertinism extremely remote from the sexuality of Jessie Chambers or indeed Helen Corke. Burgess accepts Lawrence’s own valuation of Sons and Lovers as ‘a great novel’, and even allows to pass without further dispute the author’s statement that his story is ...

Visa Requirement

D.D. Guttenplan: Whitehall and Jews

6 July 2000
Whitehall and The Jews 1933-48 
by Louise London.
Cambridge, 313 pp., £30, March 2000, 0 521 63187 4
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... of headaches after each unloading. Indeed, the desire to spare the Einsatzgruppen such stresses was one of the reasons behind Himmler’s decision to shift to stationary, purpose-built gas chambers. For several months Britain has been in the midst of a Holocaust revival. From the daily coverage of the Irving trial, to David Edgar’s dramatisation of Gitta Sereny’s Albert Speer at the ...
19 July 1984
Henry James Letters. Vol. IV: 1895-1915 
edited by Leon Edel.
Harvard, 835 pp., £24, April 1984, 9780674387836
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... or Bernard Shaw’s – yet he frankly also longed for a popular following and declared only half-jokingly in a letter to W.Morton Fullerton in 1902: ‘I would have written, if I could, like Anthony Hope and Marion Crawford.’ Public position, and an intense preoccupation with public opinion, are also the key to the one incident, in the life of this affectionate and (on the whole) generous man ...

Bunnymooning

Philip French

6 June 1996
The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... and his Jewish underworld associate Meyer Wolfsheim. (Jeremy claimed to be partly Jewish on his father’s side and liked to be called J or Jay.) Another character who fascinated him was Whitaker Chambers, the brilliant Communist agent who left the Party, became an influential writer on Time magazine and attained notoriety when he named Alger Hiss as a spy in front of the House Un-American Activities ...

Pomenvylopes

Mark Ford: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts

18 June 2014
The Gorgeous Nothings 
by Emily Dickinson.
New Directions, 255 pp., £26.50, October 2013, 978 0 8112 2175 7
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The Marvel of Biographical Bookkeeping 
by Francis Nenik, translated by Katy Derbyshire.
Readux, 64 pp., £3, October 2013, 978 3 944801 00 1
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... Below her introduction there is a life-size image of the two-inch stub of pencil that Dickinson sent to Samuel Bowles, the editor of the Springfield Republican (in which ‘Safe in their alabaster chambers’ was published anonymously under the title ‘The Sleeping’). Behold again the trinity of relics being staged for our contemplation: the pocket-envelope of Dickinson’s dress, in which her hand ...
5 April 2012
The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir 
by Claude Lanzmann, translated by Frank Wynne.
Atlantic, 528 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 1 84887 360 5
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... was because there was nothing to show: the Nazis had gone to great lengths to conceal the extermination; for all their scrupulous record-keeping, they left behind no photographs of death in the gas chambers of Birkenau or the gas trucks in Chelmno. They hid the evidence of the extermination even as it was taking place, weaving pine tree branches into the barbed wire of the camps as camouflage, using ...

Plimsoll’s Story

Stephen Sedley

28 April 2011
The Oxford History of the Laws of England 1820-1914: Vol. XI, English Legal System; Vol. XII, Private Law; Vol. XIII, Fields of Development 
edited by William Cornish et al.
Oxford, 3571 pp., £495, February 2010, 978 0 19 925883 3
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... present the more room there is for idiosyncrasy and the less for perspective. Moreover, it’s not that difficult, at least in the law, to bridge those last hundred-odd years. The senior clerk in the chambers where I was a pupil in the 1960s had started work towards 1890 as a boy in the Temple, where he had been trained to write copperplate with the steel-nibbed pen that he would still use to copy out ...
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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... to reporting a peace conference for the News of the World, or less credibly to trance-writing in ‘faultless Arabic’. Glyn’s autobiography appeared in 1936. An excellent life by her grandson, Anthony Glyn, was published in 1955, revised in 1988. Why, then, another biography? Joan Hardwick, author of An Immodest Violet (1990), a study of Violet Hunt (whose novels included – yes – The Tiger ...

Knobs, Dots and Grooves

Peter Campbell: Henry Moore

8 August 2002
Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations 
edited by Alan Wilkinson.
Lund Humphries, 320 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 85331 847 6
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The Penguin Modern Painters: A History 
by Carol Peaker.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 124 pp., £15, August 2001, 0 9527401 4 1
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... time lay in modest private patronage was a tacit admission that opportunities for painting’s equivalent of the big production number – altarpieces, history paintings, group portraits in council chambers – were either unavailable or compromised. Even in France, where masterpieces of exhibition painting (like those by Géricault, Delacroix and Courbet) had been produced well into the 19th century ...

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