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Shockers

Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... Peter Porter, Martin Amis, the American cartoonist Art Spiegelman and the Soviet dissident Vasily Grossman are among the many who have done so for the Holocaust although none was ever an inmate of the camps. Of the four, Grossman came closest: born in 1905, a Jew, he spent the war as a reporter, and wrote what is said to ...

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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... Molineux) long since lost in the mists. The issue also contains a consideration of the sociologist David Riesman, since no intellectual journal back then was complete without a Riesman snorkel dive; a piece by Paul de Man (remember him?) which begins on the stirring note, ‘Ever since the war, American criticism has remained relatively stagnant’; and an ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... a man with wild red hair (looking like Léonide Massine in The Red Shoes) who brings Livesey and David Niven tea in the country house where some amateurs are rehearsing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This house seems to be set on a series of steps which, though the film was shot in the studio, relates it to Hardwick Hall and also to the dream sequences that ...

Maximum Embarrassment

David Marquand, 7 May 1987

Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism 
by John Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £15.95, March 1987, 0 297 78998 8
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The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton: 1918-40, 1945-60 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape, 752 pp., £40, January 1987, 0 224 01912 0
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... and hatreds, friendships and jealousies loom larger than life. Even if Gaitskell did tell Grossman that there were parallels between Bevan and Hitler (and we only have Cross-man’s word for it), that was a momentary spasm, not a considered judgment. By the same token, Dalton’s loathing for the ‘evil’ in Bevan’s face sometimes ebbed. On a ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... from right to left adds enormously to the value of Tony Benn’s Diaries. His contemporaries Dick Grossman and Barbara Castle have also published diaries. Others have written autobiographies. All are full of evidence of the impotence of office. Even Denis Healey in his recent popular autobiography admits that the notorious ‘IMF cuts’ in 1976 were probably ...

Among the Bobcats

Mark Ford, 23 May 1991

The Dylan Companion 
edited by Elizabeth Thomson and David Gutman.
Macmillan, 338 pp., £10.99, April 1991, 0 333 49826 7
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Bob Dylan: Performing Artist. Vol. I: 1960-73 
by Paul Williams.
Xanadu, 310 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 1 85480 044 2
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Dylan: Behind the Shades 
by Clinton Heylin.
Viking, 528 pp., £16.99, May 1991, 0 670 83602 8
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The Bootleg Series: Vols I-III (rare and unreleased) 1961-1991 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £24.95, April 1991
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... accident in 1966 – which, it has gradually emerged, far from being the near-fatality his manager Grossman hinted at to the press, resulted only in a few cracked vertebrae and some facial scars – but then skated over the remaining years, pausing only to note the excellence of Blood on the Tracks (1975). Heylin allots equal space to each of the three decades ...
Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Hogarth, 528 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 0 7012 0751 5
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Trust Me 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 249 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 394 55833 2
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Her Story: A Novel 
by Dan Jacobson.
Deutsch, 142 pp., £8.95, August 1987, 0 233 98116 0
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... Jacobson uses fiction with force and delicacy to alienate it and make it strange. Yonadab, King David’s nephew, the narrator of The Rape of Tamar, observes dryly on the last page that history has recently been invented by Abiathar the priest, whom Biblical scholars have named ‘The Court Historian’. A remarkable man, Abiathar. A truly original ...

Why Sakhalin?

Joseph Frank: Charting Chekhov’s career, 17 February 2005

Chekhov: Scenes from a Life 
by Rosamund Bartlett.
Free Press, 395 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7432 3074 4
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Anton Chekhov: A Life in Letters 
translated by Rosamund Bartlett and Anthony Phillips.
Penguin, 552 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 14 044922 1
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... quotes the half-drunken Leskov as having said: ‘Thee I anoint with oil, even as Samuel anointed David … You must write.’ Like so much else in Chekhov’s work, his relation to religion is ambiguous. In a letter to Diaghilev a year before his death, he wrote: ‘I can only regard with bewilderment an educated man who is also religious.’ But while ...

A Thousand Sharp Edges

Adam Mars-Jones: Antonio Muñoz Molina, 17 June 2015

In the Night of Time 
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Edith Grossman.
Tuskar Rock, 641 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 1 78125 463 9
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... response. The same appropriation, however laced with self-criticism, continues through novels like David Leavitt’s While England Sleeps and films like Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom. Franco’s rule had the effect of marginalising the country culturally, in a sort of mutual boycott punctuated by skirmishes and scandal (Buñuel, for instance, tentatively ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’, 2 July 2014

Capital in the 21st Century 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 696 pp., £29.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 43000 6
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... fall’) nor later and more systematic expositors expected – as perhaps the most notable, Henryk Grossman, put it – ‘that capitalism must “by itself” or “automatically” collapse’. Only political organisation in response to crisis could overcome capitalism. Marx imagined that capital would itself unwittingly carry out much of the necessary ...

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