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Prosecco Notwithstanding

Tobias Gregory: 21st-Century Noir, 3 July 2008

The Lemur 
by Benjamin Black.
Picador US, 144 pp., $13, June 2008, 978 0 312 42808 2
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... understands that crime fiction is only crime fiction. The Lemur, his third book under the pen name Benjamin Black, is a slim, efficient novel, elegantly done as such things go, in which literary pretensions are largely resisted and the proper conventions observed. There is the murder. There is the Beretta. There are multiple suspects. There is the CIA ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe, 3 April 2014

The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... riff on Kleist’s Amphitryon set in a parallel universe, introduces a line from Nietzsche.) As ‘Benjamin Black’, though, he’s shown himself willing to turn out workmanlike crime stories, and some of his best non-Black novels – among them The Book of Evidence (1989) and The Untouchable (1997) – add sinister ...

White Hat/Black Hat

Frances Richard: 20th-Century Art, 6 April 2006

Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism 
by Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh.
Thames and Hudson, 704 pp., £45, March 2005, 0 500 23818 9
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... professors worth their salt will encounter, severally or federated, the critics Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Hal Foster and Rosalind Krauss. This quartet have been working together since the 1970s, and are currently co-editors of the journal October. Founded in 1976 and subtitled ‘Art/Theory/Criticism/Politics’, October introduced a generation ...

Hindsight Tickling

Christopher Tayler: Disappointing sequels, 21 October 2004

The Closed Circle 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 433 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 670 89254 8
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... on politics (the object of Michael’s affections complains that he’s ‘too dogmatic’, too ‘black and white’), while the tragi-farcical ending collapses the different levels of reality in a surprising and effective way. In The House of Sleep, on the other hand, a kinky, right-wing mad scientist rubs shoulders with more plausible cast members for no ...


Karl Miller, 21 October 1982

On the Black Hill 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 249 pp., £7.50, September 1982, 0 224 01980 5
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... encoded in his surname. Chatwin’s twins are hill farmers from the wild Welsh Marches, Lewis and Benjamin Jones. They are identical, monozygotic, and are capable of telepathic communion: ‘He gave up washing for fear of reminding himself that – at that same moment – Lewis might be sharing someone else’s towel.’ They shrink from the world. They ...

No More Whining

Frank Lentricchia, 3 April 1997

... athlete who became – thanks to a delightful, long-running TV commercial – white America’s black teddy bear. How cuddly he was, how handsome and rich. He flashed a smile of infinite reassurance; spoke standard American English with a standard American accent. The real O.J. Simpson, who had grown up in poverty, embodied one of America’s favourite ...


Benjamin Markovits: Austin weird, 1 September 2005

... Ale, or cappuccinos; nobody will notice if you spend all day there and order nothing. A man in black skinny jeans and tightly-laced high-tops is trying to explain the workings of his favourite hallucinogen. ‘It’s got a neurotransmitter diode,’ he says, ‘which basically means that it shuts itself off when you get too high. There are four ...

Through the Trapdoor

Jeremy Harding: Walter Benjamin’s Last Day, 19 July 2007

The Narrow Foothold 
by Carina Birman.
Hearing Eye, 29 pp., £7, August 2006, 9781905082100
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... camp’ in Gurs, which had been holding refugees from Spain. (Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin’s sister Dora were also interned at Gurs, while Benjamin had spent several weeks in Vernuche.) As the Germans advanced deeper into France and the administration reeled, evasion or negotiated exit became a brief ...

Lollipop Laurels

Benjamin Markovits: Alice McDermott, 7 August 2003

Child of My Heart 
by Alice McDermott.
Bloomsbury, 242 pp., £14.99, May 2003, 0 7475 6323 3
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... me, all the authority I knew I had, here in my own kingdom, but I also said it against a flash of black anger that suddenly made me want to kick those damn cats off the bed and banish every parable, every song, every story ever told, even by me, about children who never returned. It isn’t clear, however, what the alternative to sentimentalism is. To see ...

Our Slaves Are Black

Nicholas Guyatt: Theories of Slavery, 4 October 2007

Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World 
by David Brion Davis.
Oxford, 440 pp., £17.99, May 2006, 0 19 514073 7
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The Trader, the Owner, the Slave 
by James Walvin.
Cape, 297 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 0 224 06144 5
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The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000 
by Colin Kidd.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 521 79324 6
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The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview 
by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene Genovese.
Cambridge, 828 pp., £18.99, December 2005, 0 521 85065 7
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... Brion Davis’s Inhuman Bondage throws light on the process by which slavery became exclusively black. There were many European precedents for white slavery, not only in the classical period but in the trading networks of the late medieval Mediterranean. The word ‘slave’ derives from sclavus, or Slav, and the vast majority of slaves in Western Europe ...

Just don’t think about it

Benjamin Kunkel: Boris Groys, 8 August 2013

Introduction to Antiphilosophy 
by Boris Groys.
Verso, 248 pp., £16.99, April 2012, 978 1 84467 756 6
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... rather than activism. Far from imagining a revolutionary popular art, as Brecht and Walter Benjamin had in different ways done in the 1930s, Adorno elaborated an aesthetics of suffering, in the senses both of passivity and pain: ‘Authentic works are those that surrender themselves to the historical substance of the age without reservation’; for the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Oscars, 26 February 2009

... which held up the ceremony by two days – it was quite something to see two films in which a black man appeared not only to assert himself but to do so with a certain degree of moral disdain. In the Heat of the Night has a scene in which Mr Tibbs is slapped by a white man and slaps him right back: for many people, that was ‘1968’ writ ...

Kafka’s Dog

P.N. Furbank, 13 November 1997

The Treasure Chest 
by Johann Peter Hebel, translated by John Hibberd.
Libris/Penguin, 175 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 14 044639 7
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... of his persona as author. Hebel was the son of a weaver and a peasant’s daughter from the Black Forest. With the help of his father’s employer, a well-to-do Swiss officer in the French Army, he was enabled to attend the Karlsruhe Gymnasium, where he trained for the Lutheran ministry, and eventually he made a distinguished career for himself in the ...

At the Hop

Sukhdev Sandhu, 20 February 1997

Black England: Life before Emancipation 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 244 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 7195 5251 6
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Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 
by Norma Myers.
Cass, 162 pp., £27.50, July 1996, 0 7146 4576 1
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... that will move tings with a touch’) and they themselves were advertised: ‘To be SOLD. A Black Girl, the Property of John Bull, Eleven Years of Age, who is extremely handy, works at her Needle tolerably, and speaks English perfectly well. Enquire of Mrs Owen, at the Angel Inn, behind St Clement’s Church, the Strand.’ Huge, ornate images of ...

Master of the Revels

Benjamin Markovits: Miklós Bánffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy, 14 November 2002

They Were Counted 
by Miklós Bánffy, edited by Patrick Thursfield and Kathy Bánffy-Jelen.
Arcadia, 596 pp., £12.99, March 1999, 9781900850155
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They Were Found Wanting 
by Miklós Bánffy, edited by Patrick Thursfiled and Kathy Bánffy-Jelen.
Arcadia, 470 pp., £12.99, June 2000, 9781900850292
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They Were Divided 
by Miklós Bánffy, edited by Patrick Thursfield and Kathy Bánffy-Jelen.
Arcadia, 326 pp., £11.99, August 2001, 1 900850 51 6
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... wide cheekbones and unexpectedly slanting eyes.’ There are no reddish glints in the blurred black and white author’s photo at the front of the novel, though Bánffy’s high forehead, broad cheeks and slanted eyes suggest his younger protagonist. Both Balint and his author were educated at the Theresianum in Vienna, and both pursued diplomatic careers ...

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