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Grumpy

Arthur Goldhammer

5 October 1995
The Private Science of Louis Pasteur 
by Gerald Geison.
Princeton, 378 pp., £24.95, June 1995, 0 691 03442 7
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Louis Pasteur 
by Patrice Debré.
Flammarion, 559 pp., frs 145, January 1995, 2 08 066646 0
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Pasteur 
by Pierre Darmon.
Fayard, 430 pp., frs 150, February 1995, 9782213594040
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... Like Strachey’s Dr Arnold, Louis Pasteur was all ‘energy, earnestness and the best intentions’. The anti-clerical Third Republic made him its principal intercessor with the invisible world. It erected an absurdly baroque shrine to his memory at the Institut Pasteur and named more streets after him than after any other historical figure, save that Republic’s founder, Gambetta ...

Pénétra

Bonnie Smith

21 May 1987
Journal of My Life 
by Jacques-Louis Ménétra, edited by Daniel Roche, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Columbia, 368 pp., $30, July 1986, 0 231 06128 5
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Disease and Civilisation: The Cholera in Paris, 1832 
by François Delaporte, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
MIT, 250 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 262 04084 0
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France: Fin de Siècle 
by Eugen Weber.
Harvard, 294 pp., £16.94, October 1986, 0 674 31812 9
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... Jacques-Louis Ménétra was an 18th-century glazier who worked for abbesses, for aristocrats, and for Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s landlord. Like Rousseau, but unlike any other artisan of his time, Ménétra has left an account of an adventurous life, full of journeyman’s wanderings, picaresque characters and amorous conquests. In his 19th year the aspiring craftsman left his embattled Parisian family for the artisan’s traditional tour de France ...

A State Jew

David A. Bell: Léon Blum

5 November 2015
Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist 
by Pierre Birnbaum, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Yale, 218 pp., £14.99, July 2015, 978 0 300 18980 3
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... but it’s lively, witty and draws effectively on Blum’s massive and eloquent correspondence. Arthur Goldhammer has, as usual, produced a lucid, engaging English text. Birnbaum seems to have written the book in some haste: he repeats facts and quotations, and makes a few historical slips – France was not a ‘largely peasant nation’ in ...
16 August 1990
A History of Private Life. Vol IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War 
edited by Michelle Perrot, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 713 pp., £29.95, April 1990, 0 674 39978 1
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Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Harvard, 478 pp., £31.50, April 1990, 0 674 95543 9
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... The fourth volume of A History of Private Life, originally published in 1987 and now translated by Arthur Goldhammer, is considerably less impressive. Splendidly illustrated and full of good things, it suffers from parochialism and an excess of flabby fashionability. A history of private life was bound, of course, to be an intensely difficult project. As ...

Come and see for yourself

David A. Bell: Tocqueville

18 July 2013
Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty 
by Lucien Jaume, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Princeton, 347 pp., £24.95, April 2013, 978 0 691 15204 2
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... if a translation of this book was really necessary. At least Princeton had the sense to engage Arthur Goldhammer, who is not only in a position to draw on his own brilliant translation of Democracy in America for the passages quoted by Jaume, but has often managed to render Jaume’s prose more fluid than the original. Second, by focusing so intently ...

Sappho speaks

Mary Beard

11 October 1990
The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome 
by Jane McIntosh Snyder.
Bristol Classical Press, 199 pp., £25, May 1989, 1 85399 062 0
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The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece 
by J.J. Winkler.
Routledge, 240 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 415 90122 7
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Greek Virginity 
by Giulia Sissa, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 240 pp., $29.95, March 1990, 0 674 36320 5
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... It is against the nature of things that a woman who has given herself up to unnatural and inordinate practices ... should be able to write in perfect obedience to the laws of vocal harmony, imaginative portrayal, and arrangement of the details of thought.’ For David Robinson, writing in the Twenties and reprinted in the Sixties, the ‘perfection’ of Sappho’s verse was clear enough proof of her unblemished character ...

Surviving the Reformation

Helen Cooper: Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

15 October 1998
The Beggar and the Professor: A 16th-Century Family Saga 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Chicago, 407 pp., £11.95, June 1998, 0 226 47324 4
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... This is the story of a goatherd who progressed through destitution and self-education to become the printer of the first edition of Calvin’s greatest work and one of the most respected teachers in Reformation Switzerland. It is also the story of his son, who trained as a doctor, fostered a household of four children, and died leaving 42 musical instruments, a set of skeletons and other bones of creatures from mouse to mammoth (he believed the latter to have belonged to a huge man), a tulip garden, artefacts from across the whole of the newly-discovered globe, stuffed crocodiles and a live elk that doubled as a lawnmower ...
4 June 1981
Time, Work and Culture in the Middle Ages 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Chicago, 384 pp., £13.50, January 1981, 0 226 47080 6
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... One night in 1130, King Henry I had a nightmare. He dreamed that he was being attacked, first by a crowd of peasants, then by a group of knights, and finally by a number of clerics. For many historians, this detail, recorded by the chronicler John of Worcester, would be no more than a fascinating piece of useless information. For Professor Jacques Le Goff, it is a clue which helps us to understand the 12th century a little better ...

Grande Dame

D.A.N. Jones

18 July 1985
With Open Eyes: Conversations with Matthieu Galey 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Beacon, 271 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 8070 6354 1
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The Dark Brain of Piranesi, and Other Essays 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Richard Howard.
Aidan Ellis, 232 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 85628 140 9
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Alexis 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 105 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 85628 138 7
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Coup de Grâce 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Grace Frick .
Black Swan, 112 pp., £2.50, October 1984, 9780552991216
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... to enter into death with open eyes.’ The translation of M. Galey’s interviews has been made by Arthur Goldhammer, working with the nervous precision demanded by his knowledge that Mme Yourcenar is herself a fastidious translator: she has translated The Waves and What Maisie Knew into French. With Open Eyes is an engaging introduction to her ...

Who invented Vercingétorix?

Julian Jackson: French national identity

27 June 2002
Rethinking France: Les Lieux de mémoire. Volume I: The State 
by Pierre Nora, translated by Mary Trouille.
Chicago, 475 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 226 59132 8
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... of Realms of Memory, and the quality of the translation itself isn’t a patch on those done by Arthur Goldhammer, which might lead some to fear we’re being given only leftovers. In fact the riches of Les Lieux de mémoire are so considerable that even after all three of the new English volumes have appeared, approximately a third of the original ...
19 November 1992
The Village of Cannibals: Rage and Murder in France, 1870 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Polity, 164 pp., £25, July 1992, 0 7456 0895 7
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... In this very short book about a very long murder Alain Corbin returns, as he puts it, ‘to the peasants of my youth (or at any rate to their traces in the archives)’. And he returns with new sensibilities shaped by new methodological tools. Listening to his rural actors with ‘a fresh ear’, he identifies the ‘alchemy’ of a violent event which, in the history of modern France, represents the ‘last outburst of peasant rage to result in murder ...

Je sui uns hom

Tom Shippey

1 June 1989
Medieval Civilisation 400-1500 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Julia Barrow.
Blackwell, 393 pp., £19.95, November 1988, 0 631 15512 0
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The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages. Vol. I: 350-950 
edited by Robert Fossier, translated by Janet Sondheimer.
Cambridge, 556 pp., £30, February 1989, 0 521 26644 0
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The Medieval Imagination 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Chicago, 293 pp., £21.95, November 1988, 0 226 47084 9
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Concepts of Cleanliness: Changing Attitudes in France since the Middle Ages 
by Georges Vigarello, translated by Jean Birrell.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 239 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 521 34248 1
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Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power 
by Jesse Byock.
California, 264 pp., $32.50, October 1988, 0 520 05420 2
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... Very good, Mr Hardy. Excellent poetry, especially in a time of the breaking of nations (1915). One of time’s universals. ‘War’s annals will cloud into night/Ere their story die.’ But what if you haven’t invented the harrow yet? Or indeed the collar for harnessing horses? The former is not seen till the Bayeux Tapestry; the date of the latter is much debated, but is definitely a Medieval, not an antique invention ...
27 October 1988
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe 
edited by George Holmes.
Oxford, 398 pp., £17.50, March 1988, 0 19 820073 0
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A History of 12th-century Western Philosophy 
edited by Peter Dronke.
Cambridge, 495 pp., £37.50, April 1988, 0 521 25896 0
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The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c.350-c.1450 
edited by J.H. Burns.
Cambridge, 808 pp., £60, May 1988, 0 521 24324 6
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Medieval Popular Culture: Problem of Belief and Perception 
by Aron Gurevich, translated by Janos Bak and Paul Hollingsworth.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £27.50, May 1988, 0 521 30369 9
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A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World 
edited by George Duby, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 650 pp., £24.95, April 1988, 0 674 39976 5
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... are determined to read the historical sources sideways. They read romances and ask why King Arthur had to be bled in public. They read sermons on lust and ask what these imply about dormitory arrangements. The drive of their collective work is to inquire whether the Medieval psyche was at all like the modern one, or was inevitably altered by lower ...

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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... December​ 1938 in a large provincial city. It’s the last chance for the council to agree the municipal budget; in the chamber a reporter from the local paper tries to wring a bit of fun from a drab occasion. As a dignitary ploughs through a lengthy preamble, restless councillors begin to doodle (one makes a paper windmill from the minutes of an earlier meeting ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’

2 July 2014
Capital in the 21st Century 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 696 pp., £29.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 43000 6
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... Capitalist societies​ today exhibit ‘an arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes’ as bad as or worse than in the 1930s, when Keynes declared this one of ‘the outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live’. (The other – not unrelated – was the failure to achieve full employment.) Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is an intelligent, ambitious and above all informative treatment of the problem ...

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