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Joanna Biggs: Marguerite Duras

5 October 2016
... in order to love them at all. Otherwise it’s impossible; we couldn’t bear them,’ she says in an earlier book of conversations, Practicalities, which was translated by Samuel Beckett’s lover, BarbaraBray, who put much of Duras’s work into English. In The Lover, the young French woman in her mother’s silk dress is contemptuous of her lover’s failure to defy his rich father and marry her ...

Under-the-Table-Talk

Christopher Tayler: Beckett’s Letters

19 March 2015
Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1957-65 
by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 771 pp., £30, September 2014, 978 0 521 86795 5
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... his first radio play, All That Fall, that Le Square was ‘overwhelmingly moving – to me’, and, he imagined, ‘ideal’ for the Third Programme. McWhinnie agreed and passed the material on to BarbaraBray, the producer of All That Fall, who got to work on the translation I’ve just quoted. Beckett was still commending Le Square the following spring as he finished Krapp’s Last Tape, of which he ...

History and Hats

D.A.N. Jones

23 January 1986
The Lover 
by Marguerite Duras, translated by Barbara Bray.
Collins, 123 pp., £7.95, November 1985, 0 00 222946 3
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Stones of the Wall 
by Dai Houying, translated by Frances Wood.
Joseph, 310 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 7181 2588 6
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White Noise 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 326 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 330 29109 2
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... a prostitute ... The story dies away, like a sad song. The Lover is made up of brief impressions, not in chronological order: it is left to the reader to draw conclusions of a general, public sort. BarbaraBray has put it all into good English, in such a way that we feel we are missing something by not reading it in French. Nor do we have the French experience. The ‘story’ sometimes jumps a long ...

Highlight of Stay So Far

Stefan Collini: Beckett’s Letters

1 December 2016
The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. IV: 1966-89 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 838 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 0 521 86796 2
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... the future.” At least he could garden.’ Letters are performances of the self, of course, and Beckett knew what he was at, including flirting with self-parody. His long-time confidante and lover, BarbaraBray, well understood the game by the time she received this jolly missive from Porto Santo near Madeira in 1968: ‘Nothing to tell here. Stopped antibiotics. Steady coldish east wind. Often cloudy ...
18 May 1989
Prisoner of Love 
by Jean Genet, translated by Barbara Bray.
Picador, 375 pp., £12.95, February 1989, 9780330299626
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... Jean Genet’s flirtation with radical politics began with his discovery – or was it entombment? – by Sartre. It is recorded that when Genet first read Saint Genet, he was cast into deep despair, an emotion shared by many others who have tried to read Sartre’s massive study. But being a practical man he was not one to reject attention. What is extraordinary about Genet’s career is not the extent ...
27 May 1993
Flaubert–Sand: The Correspondence 
translated by Barbara Bray.
HarperCollins, 428 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 00 217625 4
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Correspondence. Tome III: janvier 1859 – décembre 1868 
by Gustave Flaubert, edited by Jean Bruneau.
Gallimard, 1727 pp., frs 20, March 1991, 2 07 010669 1
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Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Everyman, 330 pp., £8.99, March 1993, 1 85715 140 2
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Madame Bovary 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Geoffrey Wall.
Penguin, 292 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 14 044526 9
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... self-inflicted notion of him as a bear whose one mode of welcome to the encroaching world was the growl. The Flaubert-Sand Correspondence has been excellently translated by Francis Steegmuller and BarbaraBray, and the work divided mimetically between them by gender, with Steegmuller doing Flaubert’s letters and Bray Sand’s. Just about everything that calls for it is footnoted, and there is a ...

Monsieur Montaillou

Rosalind Mitchison

7 August 1980
The Territory of the Historian 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Sian Ben.
Harvester, 346 pp., £12.50, May 1979, 0 85527 565 0
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Montaillou 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Barbara Bray.
Penguin, 382 pp., £2.50, May 1980, 0 14 005471 5
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Carnival: a People’s Uprising in Romans, 1579-1580 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Mary Feeney.
Scolar, 426 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 85967 591 2
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... These books are the recent work of one of the leading exponents of the ‘new’ history of the French school. The historical achievement of French academics over the last twenty years has set an example to historians in all other countries. French demographers have reopened the whole topic of population change, devising new techniques, asking new questions, and combining accurate measurement with ...

Funny Old Fame

Patrick Parrinder

10 January 1991
Things: A Story of the Sixties, 
by Georges Perec, translated by David Bellos and Andrew Leak.
Collins Harvill, 221 pp., £12.50, July 1990, 0 00 271038 2
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Parcours Peree 
edited by Mireille Ribière.
Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 162 pp., frs 125, July 1990, 2 7297 0365 9
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Women 
by Philippe Sollers, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 559 pp., $24.95, December 1990, 0 231 06546 9
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... Once upon a time, before the Channel Tunnel was built, there were two contemporary French novelists. Georges Perec died in 1982 at the age of 45, and nobody in England who was not a French specialist had ever heard of him. With Philippe Sollers it was different. Editor of the avant-garde theoretical journal Tel Quel, and associate of literary and psycho-analytic thinkers such as Barthes, Kristeva and ...
26 January 1995
Proust and the Sense of Time 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Stephen Bann.
Faber, 103 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 571 16880 9
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Le Temps sensible: Proust et l’expérience littéraire 
by Julia Kristeva.
Gallimard, 451 pp., January 1995, 2 07 073116 2
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The Old Man and the Wolves 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 183 pp., £15, January 1995, 0 231 08020 4
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... living in the wilderness bequeathed to them by a dead father. Where is this country? We are told we could be in New York State, or the Carpathians, or in Northern Greece. The place is called Santa Barbara in the French text, Santa Varvara in the English – to make clear, I guess, that while we could be anywhere, we are not in California. The names of places and people are either Latin or Spanish ...
16 March 1989
Off the Rails: Memoirs of a Train Addict 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Bloomsbury, 193 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0011 8
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The Marble Mountain, and Other Stories 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 126 pp., £10.95, January 1989, 9780224025973
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The Bathroom 
by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated by Barbara Bray.
Boyars, 125 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 7145 2880 3
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Motherland 
by Timothy O’Grady.
Chatto, 230 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 7011 3341 4
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A Lesser Dependency 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 146 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 333 49093 2
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... Travel is sometimes supposed to broaden the mind, impending death to concentrate it. Travel is more desirable than impending death, but it is usually harder to arbitrate between the claims of mental breadth and concentration. Reading Off the Rails by Lisa St Aubin de Teran, however, a memoir in which she brings us up to date with her 35-year ‘lifetime of truancy and escape’, a career of spontaneously ...

Il n’y a pas de Beckett

Christopher Prendergast

14 November 1996
Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett 
by James Knowlson.
Bloomsbury, 872 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 7475 2719 9
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Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist 
by Anthony Cronin.
HarperCollins, 645 pp., £25, October 1996, 9780246137692
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol I: Waiting for Godot 
edited by Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson.
Faber, 472 pp., £75, March 1994, 0 571 14543 4
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol II: Endgame 
edited by S.E. Gontarski.
Faber, 276 pp., £50, November 1992, 0 571 14544 2
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol III: Krapp’s Last Tape 
edited by James Knowlson.
Faber, 286 pp., £50, May 1992, 0 571 14563 9
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Eleutheria 
by Samuel Beckett, translated by Barbara​ Wright.
Faber, 170 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571178261
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... Knowlson obscurely hints at when in the Preface he says that his book is not ‘sanitised’), there is, inevitably, some talk of Beckett’s extra-marital amours, notably with Pamela Mitchell and BarbaraBray. It is admirably free of the gossipy and the titillating, although Knowlson’s sureness of touch deserts him on the topic of the young Beckett and prostitutes, his prose veering wildly between ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland

11 July 1991
The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... The blanking out of dominant males runs all through the Companion and it will probably be very disturbing for some male readers. The George Eliot entry does not mention her brother Isaac, Charles Bray, Charles Hennell or John Chapman. Lewes gets just eight words (‘a married man unable to divorce his wife’). Sartre similarly gets no more than a dismissive sentence in the de Beauvoir entry ...
24 November 1988
Office without Power: Diaries 1968-72 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 562 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 09 173647 1
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... and justice for Ireland – and it doesn’t seem as if we’ve made progress on any of them.’ It is not hard to guess what this hard-boiled gathering – Bob Mellish, Denis Healey, Tony Crosland, Barbara Castle, Roy Jenkins, Jim Callaghan among them – made of that. Fifteen years later, Benn showed me his father’s election handbill and made the same point – one he must have made to hundreds of ...
21 May 2014
... Napolitano’s election to the post in 2006, and had reason to think he had made a sensible choice in helping this veteran of the traditional political class into the Quirinale. An Italian Vicar of Bray, Napolitano had over a long career exhibited one fixed principle, adhesion to whatever world-political trend appeared to be a winner at the time. The incipit of a long sequence came in his student ...

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