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The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... described as France’s long-delayed revenge for the Franco-Prussian War. The Boulez-Chéreau Ring has also been described, more preposterously, as ‘the Ring of the century’ – an accolade which plainly belongs to the 1951 Wieland Wagner production which inaugurated the ‘New Bayreuth’. Musically, the Boulez ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Anyone but Romney’, 23 February 2012

... the 25 miles east to Boston or various distances north and south to the biotech firms along the ring roads and generally changed Hopkinton’s flavour from what you might call ‘Masshole townie’ to ‘East Coast Yuppie’. (Twelve years later, it was the town where Neil Entwistle murdered his wife and infant daughter.) Every summer my father, a truck ...

A Visit to Reichenau

John Barton, 14 June 1990

The Formation of Christendom 
by Judith Herrin.
Fontana, 533 pp., £9.99, September 1989, 0 00 686182 2
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... the intricate story it tells. In an Afterword, she recalls a visit to Reichenau, which will ring bells for anyone who has visited the great monastic centres there and elsewhere around Lake Constance. In this small, quiet, sunny spot in the foothills of the Alps all the sources of Carolingian culture, both literary and artistic, had been concentrated by ...

To the Bitter End

Adam Tooze: The Nolde above the sofa, 25 November 2019

Emil Nolde: The Artist during the Third Reich 
edited by Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika and Christian Ring.
Prestel, 320 pp., £45, May 2019, 978 3 7913 5894 9
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... of the First World War, as his reputation grew, the Noldes’ nationalist commitment was unwavering and their antisemitism public knowledge. The question was not where they stood, but whether their passionate advocacy of the nationalist cause would be reciprocated by Nazi favour.As the party’s popularity surged, it remained an open question. Hitler’s ...

Miracle in a Ring-Binder

Glyn Maxwell: Aleksandar Hemon, 23 October 2008

The Lazarus Project 
by Aleksandar Hemon.
Picador, 294 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 330 45841 2
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... as its veracity. Take that diamond of a title: one of the most astonishing episodes in the Christian tradition fused with a tentative Latinate gesture of a word, the promise of a great happening but not any time soon. Mythology’s most astonishing answer to a human wish is coupled to the sound of human wish at its humblest, most humdrum, least ...

War Aims

Robert Fisk, 21 February 1991

... which many Saudis are isolated. ‘New’ is a word which for Arabs has a suspicious, dangerous ring about it. I tried to explain what President Bush might have meant by the phrase, referring to the context in which it first appeared. The Cold War was over, Eastern Europe was free. The Americans obviously thought that ...


Stephen Smith: Italy’s Monsters , 24 March 1994

... and shrugs. He says, ‘Well, today is the 17th,’ a reference to the day that the Italians, a Christian people if ever there was one, unaccountably plump for over the 13th as the blackest in their calendar. If this were a movie shot at Cinecittà, the critics would complain that the studio had been laying on the subtext with a paletta. Late trains, for ...


George Steiner, 23 May 1996

The Modern Epic: The World System from Goethe to García Márquez 
by Franco Moretti, translated by Quentin Hoare.
Verso, 250 pp., £44, March 1996, 1 85984 934 2
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... are ‘world-texts’ – a crucial term never wholly defined. Faust II, Moby-Dick, Wagner’s Ring, Ulysses, Latin American ‘magic realism’, diverse as they are, share a constellation of characteristic features. They are ‘internally discontinuous’; they may, accidentally as it were, achieve the status of a masterpiece, ‘but under no circumstance ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1982

The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... In Diderot’s ‘Les Bijoux Indiscrets’, a man acquires a ring which has the power to make sexual organs speak. Michel Foucault says that he wants to make that ring speak for itself. (He sketched part of his project in this paper last summer: Vol. 3, No 9.) Sexuality ‘traces that line of foam which shows just how far speech may advance on the sands of silence ...

In an Unmarked Field

Tom Shippey: The Staffordshire Hoard, 5 March 2020

The Staffordshire Hoard: An Anglo-Saxon Treasure 
edited by Chris Fern, Tania Dickinson and Leslie Webster.
Society of Antiquaries, 640 pp., £45, November 2019, 978 1 5272 3350 8
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... on who, at the end of the day, ‘had control of the battlefield’, as in its 871 entry on a string of battles between the West Saxons and the invading Vikings. The West Saxon chronicler patriotically claims many Viking casualties, and twice says that Alfred and his brother Æthered were winning longe on dæg, ‘for much of the day’, but then ...

How did we decide what Christ looked like?

Frank Kermode: How Jesus Got His Face, 27 April 2000

The Image of Christ 
edited by Gabriele Finaldi.
National Gallery, 224 pp., £14.95, February 2000, 1 85709 292 9
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... an art offensive as we are ever likely to see. The title of the show has a faintly evangelical ring, but its avowed purpose is not to proselytise. MacGregor remarks in his catalogue introduction that one third of the paintings in the National Gallery (and in comparable institutions) are of Christian subjects, though it ...


Edwin Morgan, 4 October 2001

... me:Distinguished turncoat, ex-Manichee, ex this and that,Preacher of chastity with a son in tow,A Christian pistoned by new-found fervour,Born of the desert sand in occupied land,Born my exact coeval but not my coadjutor,Bishop in Hippo brandishing anathemas,Bristling with intelligence not my intelligence,Black-hearted but indefatigable –Augustine! You know ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... Mailer would call schizophrenia. Harold Evans may abandon politics in his finale, but he is offering his history lesson as a clarion call to wake the American Left (a summons answered in the enthusiastic endorsements of, for example, John Kenneth Galbraith, the reporter Neil Sheehan and the historian Sean Wilentz). The antagonist he explicitly argues with ...

Don’t blame him

Peter Brown: Constantine, 22 April 2015

Constantine the Emperor 
by David Potter.
Oxford, 368 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 975586 8
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... developments of such momentous consequence as the emperor Constantine, with his conversion to Christianity in 312 and subsequent halting of the persecution of Christians, ratified a year later in the Edict of Milan. Over the 17 centuries since then, theologians, historians and even novelists, including Dan Brown in The ...

Ripe for Conversion

Paul Strohm: Chaucers’s voices, 11 July 2002

Pagans, Tartars, Muslims and Jews in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ 
by Brenda Deen Schildgen.
Florida, 184 pp., £55.50, October 2001, 0 8130 2107 3
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... Othering’, a favourite gerund in current academic-literary discussion, has yet to enter the dictionaries, but it shouldn’t have long to wait. Its status is well earned, if the measure of a word’s popularity is what you can do with it, or the kinds of discussion and analysis it enables. I first encountered it in a 1986 essay on travel writing and descriptive ethnography by Mary Louise Pratt, in which she points to ‘a very familiar, widespread and stable form of “othering”’ whereby ‘the people to be othered are homogenised into a collective “they” ...

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