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Pénétra

Bonnie Smith

21 May 1987
Journal of My Life 
by Jacques-Louis Ménétra, edited by Daniel Roche, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Columbia, 368 pp., $30, July 1986, 0 231 06128 5
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Disease and Civilisation: The Cholera in Paris, 1832 
by François Delaporte, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
MIT, 250 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 262 04084 0
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France: Fin de Siècle 
by Eugen Weber.
Harvard, 294 pp., £16.94, October 1986, 0 674 31812 9
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... Jacques-Louis Ménétra was an 18th-century glazier who worked for abbesses, for aristocrats, and for Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s landlord. Like Rousseau, but unlike any other artisan of his time, Ménétra has left an account of an adventurous life, full of journeyman’s wanderings, picaresque characters and amorous conquests. In his 19th year the aspiring craftsman left his embattled Parisian family for the artisan’s traditional tour de France ...

The Big Store

Norman Hampson

21 January 1982
The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store 1869-1920 
by Michael Miller.
Allen and Unwin, 266 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 04 330316 1
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Ladies of the Leisure Class: The Bourgeoises of Northern France in the 19th Century 
by Bonnie Smith.
Princeton, 303 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 691 05330 8
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Marianne into Battle: Republican Imagery and Symbolism in France 1789-1880 
by Maurice Agulhon, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge, 235 pp., £18.50, June 1981, 0 521 28224 1
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... certainly revealed enough to show that the trail he blazed is worth further exploration. Professor Smith is in much more of a hurry to draw wide conclusions from the examination of a particular case. Her book deals with the wives of the textile families of the Nord and is restricted to about forty families. She has an interesting story to tell. In the first ...

Dead Not Deid

James Meek: A Great Radical Modernist

22 May 2008
Kieron Smith, Boy 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 422 pp., £18.99, April 2008, 978 0 241 14241 7
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... to the game. The unnamed hero of ‘Joe Laughed’ seems like the boy the eponymous hero of Kieron Smith, Boy would have gone on to be. At the end of Kelman’s new novel, Kieron is not yet 13. The relationship between the two is explicit, and goes beyond the obvious facts (they are both working-class boys who love football, doubt their friends and defend an ...
8 November 2018
... that the film was Cries and Whispers, and she was dying of cancer. Actors recur. Here is Maggie Smith, youthful and copper-haired in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), and here she is again, wrinkled and aged – the film may be Keeping Mum (2005) – not by make-up but by time itself. Other actors come and go, flashing past in their youth, their ...

Toxic Lozenges

Jenny Diski: Arsenic

8 July 2010
The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work and Play 
by James Whorton.
Oxford, 412 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 19 957470 4
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... Dr Palmer of Rugeley, Jack the Ripper, Neill Cream, Mrs Maybrick, Dr Crippen, Seddon, Joseph Smith, Armstrong, and Bywaters and Thompson. Orwell discounts Jack the Ripper as an altogether special artisan of murder, but of the remaining eight, six were poisoners. The perfect murderer, he explains, was one who would satisfy the requirements of the reader ...
11 March 1993
Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It 
by Brett Millier.
California, 602 pp., £18.50, April 1993, 0 520 07978 7
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... it sees the deeper intellectual implications of Bishop’s disarmingly casual writing – is Bonnie Costello’s Elizabeth Bishop: Questions of Mastery). It is good to have both the Goldensohn ‘biography of the poetry’ and the Millier biography of the life, both of them likely to draw new attention to the poetry and prose. A Letters is in ...
23 January 1997
... the publishers, then and later, rejected orchestral scores by some of the same women. Alice Mary Smith, nine years Claribel’s junior, was appointed Honorary Female Professional Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in the year of her death, 1884. She first attracted attention with a piano quartet at the London Musical Society, but was most famous for her ...

Festival of Punishment

Thomas Laqueur: On Death Row

5 October 2000
Proximity to Death 
by William McFeely.
Norton, 206 pp., £17.95, January 2000, 0 393 04819 5
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Death Row: The Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment 
edited by Bonnie Bobit.
Bobit, 311 pp., $24.95, September 1999, 0 9624857 6 4
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... the Sacramento Bee announced in a recent headline. The thirst for vengeance, admitted Billy Smith, after watching the execution in Virginia by lethal injection of the man who had murdered his father in the course of robbing his jewellery store, had ‘ultimately evolved into a yearning for closure’. Waiting had been ‘almost like reading a novel and ...

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