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Making the world

Christopher Prendergast, 16 March 1989

Gillette, or The Unknown Masterpiece 
by Honoré de Balzac, translated by Anthony Rudolf.
Menard Press, 64 pp., £5.95, December 1988, 0 903400 99 5
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... to the enduring power and relevance of Balzac’s story could scarcely be imagined. In the essay Anthony Rudolf appends to his new translation, this anecdote figures as exemplary, and serves to buttress the case for Balzac’s story as exemplary anticipation of the adventure of modern painting. It is unlikely – to use that normally absurd conditional ...

The Prisoner of Spandau

Alan Milward, 7 August 1986

My Father Rudolf Hess 
by Wolf Rüdiger Hess, translated by Fred Crowley.
W.H. Allen, 414 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 491 03772 4
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Long Knives and Short Memories: The Spandau Prison Story 
by Jack Fishman.
Souvenir, 474 pp., £15.95, June 1986, 0 285 62688 4
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Zwangssterilisation im Nationalsozialismus: Studien zur Rassenpolitik und Frauenpolitik 
by Gisela Bock.
Westdeutscher Verlag, 494 pp., April 1986, 3 531 11759 9
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Prelude to Genocide: Nazi Ideology and the Struggle for Power 
by Simon Taylor.
Duckworth, 228 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 0 7156 1872 5
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... the past for neither side to wish to see the division as irrevocable. Always guarded by 58 people, Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, now 92, still lives, the lone prisoner of Spandau. Without Russian agreement the others are not prepared to release him from his life sentence. Whenever this last vestige of four-power control of that great city from which the war ...

Pomenvylopes

Mark Ford: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts, 19 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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... brown. One ‘translation special pomenvylope’, passed on to me by the publisher and writer Anthony Rudolf, a frequent recipient, offers a witty version of a Greek epigram once attributed to Plato. The original was addressed to a boy called Aster (i.e. ‘star’); Moore’s version is date-stamped 26 January 1970, the year the Beatles broke ...

Those Limbs We Admire

Anthony Grafton: Himmler’s Tacitus, 14 July 2011

A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’ ‘Germania’ from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich 
by Christopher Krebs.
Norton, 303 pp., £18.99, June 2011, 978 0 393 06265 6
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... Fulda in central Germany. There, in the middle of the ninth century, a learned hagiographer named Rudolf wove material from the Germania into an account of the Saxons – clear evidence that a manuscript of the work was preserved in the monastic library. But there matters largely stopped. It was only in the 15th century – that heyday of thefts of books from ...

Spying made easy

M.F. Perutz, 25 June 1987

Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... bomb project was set in motion in 1940 by two refugee physicists in Birmingham, the German-born Rudolf Peierls and the Austrian-born Otto Robert Frisch, when they found that the critical mass of the fissile uranium isotope 235 needed for an explosion was no more than a few kilograms. In the summer of 1941 Peierls engaged Fuchs to help him with theoretical ...

Swooning

Nicholas Penny, 2 April 1981

Bernini and the Unity of the Visual Arts 
by Irving Lavin.
Oxford, 255 pp., £45, October 1980, 0 19 520184 1
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... by Bernini for services rendered to his reputation by scholars working there, such as the late Rudolf Wittkower (author of the excellent monograph on the sculpture), Howard Hibbard (author of the admirable Penguin introduction to Bernini’s work in all media) and Irving Lavin, who has so exhaustively investigated Bernini’s work at the crossing of St ...

Aliens

Peter Burke, 18 March 1982

The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought 
by John Friedman.
Harvard, 268 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 58652 2
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Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain 
by William Christian.
Princeton, 349 pp., £16.80, September 1981, 9780691053264
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... have been replaced by ‘Marvels of the Middle Ages’. A distinguished exception was the work of Rudolf Wittkower, whose essay on the subject goes back to 1942, and was concerned with the transmission and modification of a set of stereotypes about exotic lands. Friedman now follows in Wittkower’s tracks. Like Wittkower, he seems equally at home with images ...

Grisly Creed

Patrick Collinson: John Wyclif, 22 February 2007

John Wyclif: Myth and Reality 
by G.R. Evans.
Lion, 320 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7459 5154 6
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... Baptist, Wyclif the proto-Protestant. For his 19th-century editor, a German schoolteacher called Rudolf Buddensieg, Wyclif was ‘the first to do battle for the maintenance of evangelical faith and English freedom’. Not even the scholarly Workman could escape the myth. For this unabashed admirer, Wyclif was a man born ahead of his time, ‘harbinger of a ...

With Slip and Slapdash

Frank Kermode: Auden’s Prose, 7 February 2008

The Complete Works of W.H. Auden. Vol. III: Prose, 1949-55 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 779 pp., £29.95, December 2007, 978 0 691 13326 3
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... aesthetic-ethical-religious triad). Zahl und Gesicht, a work by the exiled Austrian philosopher Rudolf Kassner, was among the books he described as having ‘so essentially conditioned [a writer’s, i.e., his] vision of life that he cannot imagine who he was before he read them’. Another important work was Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s strange book Out of ...

Route to Nowhere

Peter Mair: European parties of the Left, 4 January 2001

The Heart Beats on the Left 
by Oskar Lafontaine, translated by Ronald Taylor.
Polity, 219 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7456 2582 7
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... being elected prime minister of Saarland in 1985. It was then, together with Gerhard Schröder and Rudolf Scharping, that he became a major figure among the third generation of SPD leaders, the so-called ‘grandchildren’ of Willy Brandt. Indeed, being one of Brandt’s particular favourites, he was originally the leading light within the group, and was ...

Find the birch sticks

R.W. Johnson: A spy’s diary, 1 September 2005

The Guy Liddell Diaries. Vol. I: 1939-42 
edited by Nigel West.
Frank Cass, 329 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 415 35213 4
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... Doctrine. The Polish émigrés in England were equally likely to fly off at a tangent. After Rudolf Hess flew to Britain, Liddell had to act quickly to stop the Poles assassinating him, in the belief that it was the only way to stop Britain from concluding a separate peace that would have left Poland under Nazi rule. There was just as much farcical ...

Petulance is not a tragic flaw

Rosemary Hill: Edward and Mrs Simpson, 30 July 2015

Princes at War: The British Royal Family’s Private Battle in the Second World War 
by Deborah Cadbury.
Bloomsbury, 407 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 4088 4524 0
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... that Edward VIII was anxious to talk to him and was ‘looking forward with pleasure’ to meeting Rudolf Hess. Two more cousins, the princes Philipp and Christoph Hesse, were also Nazis, and when Christoph, a member of the SS, married Princess Sophia of Greece he became the cousin by marriage of the Duke of Kent. As it became clear that the king, used all his ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... antagonist in debates. Barfield’s chief passions were Morris dancing and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, who he came to believe was ‘the key figure in the evolution of consciousness’. In 1928 he published Poetic Diction, which much impressed Lewis and Tolkien. In line with Steiner’s Anthroposophical doctrine, it argued that humanity had ...

Oedipal Wrecks

Michael Mason, 26 March 1992

Fates Worse than Death 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 240 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 224 02918 5
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... City by selling to its new arts centre for $50,000 a huge painting entitled The Temptation of St Anthony which consists of a single vertical stripe on a plain ground, utters a startling self-defence: It is a picture of the self-awareness of every animal. It is the immaterial core of every animal – the ‘I am’ to which all messages are sent. It is all ...

Nothing he hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been

Adam Shatz: Claude Lanzmann, 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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... witnesses had already spoken. Müller had published a book on his time in Auschwitz; so had Rudolf Vrba, another member of the Sonderkommando. What Lanzmann did was to get his subjects to act out their experiences. In some cases they did so on location: Lanzmann flew Simon Srebnik from Israel to Poland, and filmed him rowing up the Narew River, singing ...

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