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In an Ocean of Elizabeths

Terry Eagleton: Rochester, 23 October 2014

Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
by Alexander Larman.
Head of Zeus, 387 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 78185 109 8
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... with him after the royalist defeat at the battle of Worcester. The two men escaped together to Paris, where the grateful monarch made Henry earl of Rochester, a title that descended to his son when he was ten. Two years later, John was entered as a student at Wadham College, Oxford, and as an aristocrat was allowed to mix with the dons in their common ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... and died a few years later. Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg at the Hotel de Londres, Paris in 1957. Bob Thompson, ‘LeRoi Jones and his Family’ (1964) Brion Gysin, ‘Calligraphy’ (1960) Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, Untitled (Primrose Path, the Third Mind, p.12, 1965) Ettore Sottsass, ‘Neal Cassady, Los ...

Suffocation

Alex Clark: Andrew Miller, 18 October 2001

Oxygen 
by Andrew Miller.
Sceptre, 323 pp., £14.99, September 2001, 0 340 72825 6
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... a former tennis professional of minor distinction, a TV actor recently sacked from his part as Dr Barry Catchpole in Sun Valley General, a man slithering down the ladder of celebrity into alcoholism, divorce and the humiliations of the ‘glamour industry’. In Paris, the playwright László Lázár gives a dinner ...

On the rise

J.M. Roberts, 16 September 1982

Choiseul. Vol. 1: Father and Son 1719-1754 
by Rohan Butler.
Oxford, 1133 pp., £48, January 1981, 0 19 822509 1
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... disastrous consequences of the Austrian alliance he had helped to cement, negotiated the Treaty of Paris and finally lost power to his rivals in 1770. The interest of one royal mistress, Madame Du Barry, was involved in his fall, as that of another, the Pompadour, had been instrumental in his rise. He died in 1785. His ...

Jungle Book

John Pym, 21 November 1985

Money into Light 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 241 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 571 13731 8
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... on an entirely different type of picture, Nemo, a fantasy being shot in a huge inflatable dome in Paris. As Philip French notes in a foreword to the diary, Boorman has made it his business to offer arm’s-length help on the set to young film-makers – the novelist Neil Jordan was a protégé – and to foster the film industry in Ireland, where he now makes ...

Diary

Stephen Frears: That's Hollywood, 20 December 1990

... on Rodeo Drive. I was approached to direct a Mafia film called Donnie Brasco. The producers were Barry Levinson and his partner, Mark Johnson. We had first met when Levinson, Alan Parker and I had dinner in London. It was a wonderfully smug affair: the last three films we had directed, Rain Man, Mississippi Burning and Dangerous Liaisons, had between them ...

Where am I in all this?

Michael Newton: Pola Negri, 19 February 2015

Pola Negri: Hollywood’s First Femme Fatale 
by Mariusz Kotowski.
Kentucky, 322 pp., £29.95, April 2014, 978 0 8131 4488 7
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... and not only provided Negri with her greatest triumph but defined her predicament. Negri plays du Barry with all the hauteur a small 22-year-old Pole can muster. She’s beautiful but not bothered whether we find her beautiful. She fascinates the viewer; it’s a pleasure simply to watch emotions passing across her face, to see someone so well equipped for ...

Handsome, Charming …

David A. Bell: Beaumarchais, 22 October 2009

Beaumarchais: A Biography 
by Maurice Lever, translated by Susan Emanuel.
Farrar, Straus, 411 pp., $26, May 2009, 978 0 374 11328 5
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... A companion from the gaming tables, the French regent Philippe d’Orléans, brought him to Paris in 1715 to reform France’s perennially disastrous finances. Law quickly became the second most important man in the country, and cobbled together a reform scheme that had all the solidity and common sense of an Icelandic hedge fund prospectus; it ...

Showman v. Shaman

David Edgar: Peter Brook, 12 November 1998

Threads of Time 
by Peter Brook.
Methuen, 241 pp., £17.99, May 1998, 0 413 69620 0
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... Peter Brook describes Threads of Time as ‘a relatively full answer’ to the question ‘Why Paris?’ It is the first of his books not to have started out in another form. The Empty Space (1968) was based on lectures; The Shifting Point (1988) consists of articles, interviews, speeches, programme notes and other occasional writings drawn from his whole ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... lesbian relationships as part of its dance of shifting sexual liaisons in the public rooms of a Paris hotel; Song at Twilight (1965) is about a writer confronted by his homosexual past. But Semi-Monde was not performed in Coward’s lifetime (and is published for the first time in Collected Plays: Six) and Song at Twilight was premiered in the dying days of ...

Fatal Non-Readers

Hilary Mantel: Marie-Antoinette, 30 September 1999

The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette 
by Chantal Thomas, translated by Julie Rose.
Zone, 255 pp., £17.95, June 1999, 0 942299 39 6
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... which took place at Christie’s in New York two months before the Princess’s descent into the Paris underpass. The purchasers spoke reverentially of Diana when she was alive, but her death turned glad rags into relics. ‘I wanted to have a part of royalty,’ one explained. ‘I am in awe of the dress,’ said another. When the clothes are turned inside ...

Wanting and Not Getting, Getting and Not Wanting

Rosemary Dinnage, 21 February 1980

My Life 
by George Sand, translated and adapted by Dan Hofstadter.
Gollancz, 246 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 575 02682 0
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George Sand in her Own Words 
edited and translated by Joseph Barry.
Quartet, 475 pp., £7.50, November 1980, 0 7043 2235 8
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... her febrile pursuit of an ideal relationship in adulthood. Her mother eventually left Nohant for Paris, vaguely promising to set up a business to support them both there. Before she left, the child Aurore left a letter for her mother hidden behind a picture, and when she had gone went to look for an answer: I ran into her room and fell upon her unmade ...

Poor Devils

Peter France, 2 December 1982

The Literary Underground of the Old Regime 
by Robert Darnton.
Harvard, 258 pp., £11.55, November 1982, 0 674 53656 8
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... memoirs, written not long before his execution. The archives of the STN, together with the Paris police records, tell a different story. They show us not so much the pure and persecuted apostle of Enlightenment as a man deeply engaged in the shady dealings of the literary underworld. In particular, Brissot was driven by poverty, a spell in the Bastille ...

The Dignity of Merchants

Landeg White, 10 August 2000

In Search of Africa 
by Manthia Diawara.
Harvard, 288 pp., £17.50, December 1998, 0 674 44611 9
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... infamous prison, from which no one had ever come out alive. Kaman Diaby, Kéita Fodéba, Barry Alpha Oumar, Ansoumane Traoré, Diallo Telli, and countless others had been killed here ... It was said that the guards had been demonic and perverted, happy to torture men whose wealth and position they envied. The guards of Camp Boiro had hated to see ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... hours from NY. Of course, it could be argued that the Aussies bring it on themselves, with their Barry McKenzies, their Ian Chappells, their self-parodying Foster ads, and so on. And there is the accent: for some reason more readily mimickable than any of our own regional twangs. Theories about the Australian accent are just as snooty as theories about ...

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