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Pictures of Malamud

Philip Roth, 8 May 1986

... out he’d arrange for me to meet Bernard Malamud. Bern taught nearby at the state university in Eugene, Oregon. He’d been in Eugene (pop. 50,000) since leaving New York (pop. 8,000,000) and a night-school teaching job there in 1949 – 12 years in the Far West instructing Oregonian freshmen in the fundamentals of ...


Patrick Parrinder, 7 August 1986

The Golden Gate 
by Vikram Seth.
Faber, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13967 1
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The Haunted House 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 139 pp., £8.95, June 1986, 0 330 29175 0
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Whole of a Morning Sky 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 156 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 86068 774 0
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The Piano Tuner 
by Peter Meinke.
Georgia, 156 pp., $13.95, June 1986, 0 8203 0844 7
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Tap City 
by Ron Abell.
Secker, 273 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 436 00025 3
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... taken a gamble and broken the rules. The Golden Gate is written in the stanza form of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, made familiar to English readers by Sir Charles Johnston’s Penguin Classics translation, which Seth handsomely acknowledges. The use of this form to tell a story of contemporary Californian life would have daunted a less determined and ...

Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: The Classic Apocalypse, 7 January 2021

... of Revelation, a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes summons the Four Horsemen, the sun turns black, the moon turns red, stars fall out of the sky, and an angel sets free a legion of horse-sized locusts with men’s faces, women’s hair and lion’s teeth, who torture the unsaved for five months. Then 200,000 horsemen appear wearing armour made of ...

On Hiroaki Sato

August Kleinzahler: Hiroaki Sato, 21 January 2016

... more useful than the prettiest paraphrase.”’ Introducing his notorious version of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Nabokov sketched three basic types of translation: the paraphrastic, a free rendering; the lexical, ‘rendering the basic meaning of words (and their order)’; and the literal, ‘rendering, as closely as the associative and syntactical ...

Growing Vegetables

Phyllis Birnbaum: Kiyosawa Kiyoshi, 11 November 1999

A Diary of Darkness: The Wartime Diary of Kiyosawa Kiyoshi 
translated by Eugene Soviak.
Princeton, 391 pp., £30, January 1999, 9780691001432
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... Finally, the translators are stingy in giving background information. In the introduction, Eugene Soviak makes a strong case for the importance of the diary, citing Kiyosawa’s analyses of Japan’s disintegration. In 1948, in the silence of a ruined country, his observations will have read very powerfully. Fifty years later, his thoughts about ...

The Last Witness

Colm Tóibín: The career of James Baldwin, 20 September 2001

... in general in New York an audience is either young or old (in the Lincoln Center, mainly old), black or white (in the Lincoln Center, almost exclusively white), gay or straight (in the Lincoln Center it is often hard to tell). The audience for James Baldwin that evening could not be so easily categorised: it was, I suppose, half ...

Fumbling for the Towel

Christopher Prendergast: Maigret’s elevation to the Panthéon, 7 July 2005

Romans: Tome I 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1493 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011674 3
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Romans: Tome II 
by Georges Simenon.
Gallimard, 1736 pp., €60, May 2004, 2 07 011675 1
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... pausing on a bridge to light his pipe and look over his shoulder, the whole scene held in grainy black and white. Here a world of crime and mystery was about to unfold, but in a special inflection of the thriller genre that kept thrills to a minimum. Then along came Bond and Bondery, the fast-moving, sex-drenched and gadget-packed fantasy of the new Cold ...

Building an Empire

J. Hoberman: Oscar Micheaux, 19 July 2001

Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences 
by Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence.
Rutgers, 280 pp., £38.95, August 2000, 0 8135 2803 8
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Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux 
by J. Ronald Green.
Indiana, 368 pp., £21.95, August 2000, 0 253 33753 4
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... dedicated to Booker T. Washington, celebrated Micheaux’s successful reinvention and proposed the black settlement of the North-West. Micheaux followed Washington’s bootstraps philosophy and published and distributed The Conquest himself, embarking on an aggressive round of personal appearances in black communities. His ...

White Lies

James Campbell: Nella Larsen, 5 October 2006

In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Colour Line 
by George Hutchinson.
Harvard, 611 pp., £25.95, June 2006, 0 674 02180 0
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... both the US and Britain: your part-Scottish, part-Native American, part-Spanish friend is often ‘black’ if there is a hint of Africa in his or her make-up. John Bellew, the husband of Clare Kendry in Nella Larsen’s exquisite novel Passing (1929), responds violently when he finds out that Clare, who has cheeks of ‘ivory’ and hair the colour of ‘pale ...


John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

The Magician’s Doubts 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 252 pp., £18, August 1994, 0 7011 6197 3
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... and pieces Strong Opinions, and also here and there in his lectures, interviews and edition of Eugene Onegin; the Nabokov who wrote that Dostoevsky was ‘a much overrated, sentimental and gothic novelist’, or who described Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin as a ‘silly’ opera, or who unconvincingly hung so much ...


Thomas Sugrue: Civil Rights v. Black Power, 5 October 2006

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice 
by Raymond Arsenault.
Oxford, 690 pp., £19.99, March 2006, 0 19 513674 8
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... It is canonical in the American classroom, on television and in popular culture to celebrate the black civil rights movement as the triumph of American universalism, the vindication of the ‘American creed’ of egalitarianism, colour blindness and individual liberty against the forces of oppression that long held blacks in a subservient status ...

United States of Amnesia

Eric Foner, 9 September 2021

The Ground Breaking: The Tulsa Race Massacre and an American City’s Search for Justice 
by Scott Ellsworth.
Icon, 304 pp., £16.99, May 2021, 978 1 78578 727 0
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... in his city, he has worked diligently to uncover a piece of history obscured, in both white and Black Tulsa, by silence. Whites did not wish to be reminded of a terrible crime; Blacks talked about the massacre at home for years but perhaps feared that public discussion might trigger some kind of repetition. Ellsworth was astonished, as a high-school ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett, 29 July 1999

Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... transition is one of the very few to have made a permanent mark. It was founded and edited by Eugene Jolas (initially with Elliot Paul), and Jolas, too, was at the heart of art movements about which at the time the outside world knew little – Surrealism, Dadaism and Joyce among them. Few small mags have done as much to ‘make art free’. As well as ...

Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler, 17 July 1997

Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... publishers in the world: Philip Graham, who inherited the Washington Post from his father-in-law, Eugene Meyer, and his shy, self-effacing wife, Katharine, who took over the company when her husband shot himself in 1963. It was Philip Graham who induced John Kennedy to choose Lyndon Johnson as his running-mate in 1960. This was wise and far-reaching ...

Ariel goes to the police

Karl Miller, 4 December 1986

Life is elsewhere 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Peter Kussi.
Faber, 311 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14560 4
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My First Loves 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Oser.
Chatto, 164 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3014 8
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... is not so much a character as a type, and is not unlike the Shelleyan poet in Shaw’s Candida, Eugene Marchbanks. Aerial creatures, these, ineffectual angels. Eugene, ‘so uncommon as to be almost unearthly’, wants to go ‘up into the sky’. His brow is ‘lined with pity’. He speaks with ‘lyric rapture’. But ...

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