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Benjamin Moser: Nescio

23 May 2013
Amsterdam Stories 
by Nescio, translated by Damion Searls.
NYRB, 161 pp., £7.99, May 2012, 978 1 59017 492 0
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... After publishing a handful of stories around the time of the First World War, Fritz Grönloh, an Amsterdam businessman, wrote almost nothing until his death in 1961. His small body of work is about artistic abortion and the frivolity of writerly dreams. And his pseudonym with its built-in negative contained this resignation. Nescio is Latin for ‘I don’t know’; and in his stories not-knowing ...

Her Anti-Aircraft Guns

Lorna Scott Fox: Clarice Lispector

8 April 2010
Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector 
by Benjamin Moser.
Haus, 479 pp., £20, September 2009, 978 1 906598 42 6
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The Apple in the Dark 
by Clarice Lispector, translated by Gregory Rabassa.
Haus, 445 pp., £12.99, September 2009, 978 1 906598 45 7
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... Lispector was 90 per cent Joana. The pity was that time and place, and her own diffidence, caused her to live more like a slightly petulant Lídia, even after their separation. By the end of BenjaminMoser’s biography, one feels that the intensity of the annihilation and rebirth traced in her novels and stories was matched in her life only when, in middle age, she was badly burned in a fire ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides

24 October 2019
Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... BenjaminMoser begins his biography with a bang: ‘Susan Sontag was America’s last great literary star.’ In my gaudier moments I prefer to think of Sontag as American literature’s first and last great screen ...

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