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Deadly Embrace

Jacqueline Rose: Suicide bombers, 4 November 2004

My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing 
by Christoph Reuter, translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby.
Princeton, 246 pp., £15.95, May 2004, 0 691 11759 4
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Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers 
by Barbara Victor.
Robinson, 321 pp., £8.99, April 2004, 1 84119 937 0
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... of a Palestinian state.’ Or, in the words of the psychologist Shafiq Masalha, interviewed by Barbara Victor in Army of Roses, ‘to be tempted to go to Paradise means that life on earth is hell.’ On the one hand, suicide bombers are beyond any understanding. On the other, the mind of Islam can be uncovered in its most intimate detail. Reuter opens ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne, 8 December 1988

A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... world has been kept out to make space for self-contained affirmation within a world of dreams. Victor Baxter, the fictitious narrator of Graham Greene’s The Captain and the Enemy, is a lot less sanguine about his – abortive – literary career; he has no literary prizes to flagellate himself for winning in the manner of the en-Nobelled White. ...

Stroking

Nicholas Penny, 15 July 1982

Victorian Sculpture 
by Benedict Read.
Yale, 414 pp., £30, June 1982, 0 300 02506 8
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... bourgeoisie of the Belle Epoque. It is there that you will eventually come, with a shock, across Victor Noir. He is flat on his back on a slab and we look down at him, as at someone who has fallen dead on the pavement. His top hat has rolled beside him. His shirt has been opened. There is a bullet hole in his chest. Dalou, the sculptor, was not averse to ...

Life at the Pastry Board

Stefan Collini: V.S. Pritchett, 4 November 2004

V.S. Pritchett: A Working Life 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Chatto, 308 pp., £25, October 2004, 9780701173227
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... enjoyable and whose outcomes we find satisfying. For the greater part of his very long adult life, Victor Sawdon Pritchett seems to have been a happy man. Pritchett’s son, Oliver, later recalled that he and his sister grew up ‘in a word factory’. ‘The handwritten pages, covered in revisions, crossings out, second and third thoughts, and sideways ...

Statues crumbled

Barbara Graziosi: Atheism in the Ancient World, 27 July 2016

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World 
by Tim Whitmarsh.
Faber, 290 pp., £25, February 2016, 978 0 571 27930 2
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... the gods. Some modern atheists think that religion and science are locked in a game with only one victor – that if rationality wins, divinity must lose. But this is not how the ancient Greeks thought. Whitmarsh acknowledges this, in his careful readings of ancient sources. ‘Xenophanes,’ he writes, ‘was not an atheist in any straightforward sense. He ...

Mercenary Knights and Princess Brides

Barbara Newman: Medieval Travel, 16 August 2017

The Medieval Invention of Travel 
by Shayne Aaron Legassie.
Chicago, 287 pp., £22, April 2017, 978 0 226 44662 2
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... Students travelled to Paris and elsewhere in search of the best teachers, prompting Hugh of Saint-Victor to muse that for the mature man, every soil is like his native land, while for the perfect man, all the world is exile. But travel also had its critics. Lollards vociferously objected to pilgrimage, maintaining that the money squandered on it would be ...

A Stick on Fire

Gillian Beer, 7 February 1985

Clarkey: A Portrait in Letters of Mary Clarke Mohl 1793-1883 
by Margaret Lesser.
Oxford, 235 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 19 211787 4
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George Eliot and Community: A Study in Social Theory and Fictional Form 
by Suzanne Graver.
California, 340 pp., £22.70, August 1984, 0 520 04802 4
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... the dormant faculties of women than embroidery and domestic drudgery.’ She was then reviewing Victor Cousin’s Madame de Sablé, and Cousin had been briefly the lover of a woman whom Marian Evans (or George Eliot) already knew, and was to know better: Mary Clarke Mohl, whose style of writing and life might epitomise Marian Evans’s trenchant early views ...

Who Won’t Be Voting for Trump

Eliot Weinberger: Anyone for Trump?, 19 October 2016

... Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times during the first debate.The Bush Family George Sr and Barbara have privately told friends they’re voting for Clinton. Laura has ‘hinted’ to the press that she supports Clinton. George Jr will not endorse anyone. Jeb recently said that it ‘would be a pretty powerful political statement’ if ‘everybody ...

Poetry and Christianity

Barbara Everett, 4 February 1982

Three for Water-Music 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 69 pp., £2.95, July 1981, 0 85635 363 9
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The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse 
edited by Donald Davie.
Oxford, 319 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 19 213426 4
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... heroic ethos – and where Christ was still regularly represented as the Lamb crowned, as final victor and symbol of power. But ‘The Dream of the Rood’ does something never quite repeated in Christian verse, and unimagined iconographically until, two or three hundred years later, images like the Gero Cross began to show Christ as a suffering ...

Associated Prigs

R.W. Johnson: Eleanor Rathbone, 8 July 2004

Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience 
by Susan Pedersen.
Yale, 469 pp., £25, March 2004, 0 300 10245 3
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... Yet she was a far greater figure than Ellen Wilkinson, Nancy Astor, Margaret Bondfield or Barbara Castle. Her neglect shows how important it is to have members of your party or faction evoking your name as part of their tradition. Perhaps the greatest recent example of what this can do for popular memory is Aneurin Bevan, whose myth reflected mainly ...

Great Male Narcissist

Christopher Tayler: Sigrid Nunez, 1 August 2019

Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury 
by Sigrid Nunez.
Soft Skull, 172 pp., £12.50, August 2019, 978 1 59376 582 8
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The Friend 
by Sigrid Nunez.
Virago, 213 pp., £8.99, February 2019, 978 0 349 01281 0
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... point the fact that Leonard Woolf once had a marmoset of that name, acquired from his friend Victor Rothschild in 1934. In the novel, Rothschild sees an ailing monkey chained up outside a junk shop, feels sorry for it, buys it and tries to pass it off as a gift for his pregnant wife, Barbara, who isn’t ...

Blame it on his social life

Nicholas Penny: Kenneth Clark, 5 January 2017

Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and ‘Civilisation’ 
by James Stourton.
William Collins, 478 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 00 749341 8
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... even had Clark been travelling by plane. Soon after posting the letter he began an affair with Barbara Desborough. Later, he was mentioned in her divorce proceedings and she came to London to be near her lover. Mutual friends had to sprinkle cold water on her optimistic ardour.Stourton deals briskly with the plight of ...

Under the Loincloth

Frank Kermode, 3 April 1997

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Chicago, 417 pp., £23.95, January 1997, 0 226 77187 3
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... what St Anne is really doing in the Hans Baldung Grien woodcut, I think Steinberg is the victor. In a sense this is the argument he needs to win, if his thesis is to survive, so it is well that he wins it. We have the paintings, he says, and if we consent to look at them rather than adopt the unimaginative, unseeing habits of art historians unhappy ...

Dictators on the Loose

Miles Taylor: Modelling Waterloo, 6 January 2005

Wellington’s Smallest Victory: The Duke, the Model Maker and the Secret of Waterloo 
by Peter Hofschröer.
Faber, 324 pp., £14.99, April 2004, 0 571 21768 0
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... itself was immortalised in Hugo’s Les Misérables in 1862, and the oldest French veteran, Louis-Victor Baillot – a conscript – was awarded the Légion d’Honneur. In 1904, 100,000 people attended the official opening of the Wounded Eagle memorial to the French combatants. The nation that gave the world democracy had democratised one of the worst days ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... Kennedy dress smashed the previous world record for the sale of a female costume: a blue velvet Victor Edelstein dress belonging to Princess Diana that sold for £222,500 in June 1997. The actor and peroxophile Tony Curtis, who must have forgotten that he once said kissing Marilyn was like kissing Hitler, got out of his seat at the auction to tell reporters ...

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