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Jeremy Harding: Marine Le Pen

14 April 2011
... Jean-François Copé, leader of Sarkozy’s party, the UMP, sends regular emails to the public. On the right’s poor showing in the first round of cantonal elections, for example: ‘The presidential majority held ...

The Real Thing!

Julian Barnes: Visions of Vice

17 December 2015
Splendeurs et misères: Images de la prostitution 1850-1910 
Musée d’Orsay, until 17 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Grand Palais, until 11 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9 February 2016 to 15 May 2016Show More
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... venereal disease as a male rite of passage; Maupassant was exultant when diagnosed. ‘I’ve got the pox! At last! The real thing! Not the contemptible clap … no, no, the great pox, the one François I died of. The majestic pox … and I’m proud of it, by thunder.’ That British show would be predicated on the idea of the fall, often of a triple kind: the fall from virginity (perhaps leading ...

Lacanian Jesuit

David Wootton: Michel de Certeau

4 October 2001
The Possession at Loudun 
by Michel de Certeau, translated by Michael Smith.
Chicago, 251 pp., £27, August 2000, 0 226 10034 0
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The Certeau Reader 
edited by Graham Ward.
Blackwell, 320 pp., £60, November 1999, 0 631 21278 7
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Michel de Certeau: Cultural Theorist 
by Ian Buchanan.
Sage, 143 pp., £50, July 2000, 0 7619 5897 5
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... herself. The judges interpreted this as proof of the devils’ power. In 1637, as the devils finally departed from the prioress’s body (Behemoth was the last to go), the words Jesus, Maria, Joseph, François de Sales appeared inscribed on her hand. By now she was in regular communication with an angel, and, known as Jeanne des Anges, she toured France, showing her hand to vast crowds, and to the King ...

In the Châtelet

Jeremy Harding

20 April 1995
François​ Villon: Complete Poems 
edited by Barbara Sargent-Bauer.
Toronto, 346 pp., £42, January 1995, 0 8020 2946 9
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Basil Bunting: Complete Poems 
edited by Richard Caddel.
Oxford, 226 pp., £10.99, September 1994, 0 19 282282 9
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... ingratiating styles of the period. The most striking is the famous quatrain which could well have been composed in the Châtelet, before the pardon. It begins with the customary ID tag (‘Je suis François’) and an aside (‘no source of cheer’) and continues in the manner of a statement by the arraigned: ‘Né de Paris, enprés Pontoise’; then, rhetorically, perhaps to an absent fraternity of ...

He saw, he wanted

Jenny Diski: Murder at Wrotham Hill

8 November 2012
Murder at Wrotham Hill 
by Diana Souhami.
Quercus, 325 pp., £18.99, September 2012, 978 0 85738 283 2
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... which she had built next to her mother’s bungalow on a plot of land in Kingsdown near Wrotham Hill in Kent. Her parents had left London in 1931, having become increasingly impoverished. Jules François Petrzywalski was the youngest, directionless son of an otherwise successful family whose patisserie in Regent Street was mentioned in The Gentleman’s Guide to Europe. He had died, aged eighty ...

Flings

Rosemary Hill: The Writers’ Blitz

21 February 2013
The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War 
by Lara Feigel.
Bloomsbury, 519 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3044 4
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... and barely concealed relationship. For Vivien the last straw came when the conventional and unconventional sides of her husband’s life collided at a party he gave in Oxford, supposedly for François Mauriac but actually to introduce Walston to the most glittering of his circle of literary friends. Vivien was delegated to provide food, which meant eking out the two-ounce weekly butter ration, and ...

I’m a Cahunian

Adam Mars-Jones: Claude Cahun

2 August 2018
Never Anyone But You 
by Rupert Thomson.
Corsair, 340 pp., £18.99, June 2018, 978 1 4721 5350 0
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... structure, which the voluntary baldness emphasised, giving her a power somewhere between the sacred and the baleful. Self-Portrait by Claude Cahun from 1928. Thomson has not only profited from François Leperlier’s 2006 biography, Claude Cahun: L’Exotisme intérieure (expanding on his 1992 Claude Cahun: L’écart et la métamorphose), but from access to Leperlier’s archive – it’s an ...

Who does that for anyone?

Adam Shatz: Jean-Pierre Melville

20 June 2019
Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Solitaire 
by Bertrand Teissier.
Fayard, 272 pp., €22, October 2017, 978 2 213 70573 6
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Jean-Pierre Melville, une vie 
by Antoine de Baecque.
Seuil, 244 pp., €32, October 2017, 978 2 02 137107 9
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... played by Karina is shot to death outside the Studio Jenner. After Karina miscarried, Godard smashed his television and ripped his own clothes. ‘Why did you destroy your own things rather than hers?’ Melville asked. He was astonished when Godard asked him ‘seriously what was more important: Anna or the cinema?’ (Obviously it was the cinema.) Godard broke off the friendship after Melville ...
6 December 2012
... that her voices had returned to her, the scribe was moved to exclaim, ‘Responsio mortifera’ (‘a fatal reply’), in the margins of the court record. Benedict XVI recently advised that ‘hers is a beautiful example of holiness for lay people involved in politics, especially in difficult situations. Faith is the light that guided all her choices.’ He wouldn’t warm to all the company ...
18 November 1993
Benjamin Constant: A Biography 
by Dennis Wood.
Routledge, 321 pp., £40, June 1993, 0 415 01937 0
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Isabelle de Charrière (Belle de Zuylen): A Biography 
by C.P Courtney.
Voltaire Foundation, 810 pp., £49, August 1993, 0 7294 0439 0
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... for Constant. As he wrote in his diary in 1804, after a typically wild scene with Madame de Staël: ‘Either I will have to kill myself, or seize the first moment that I can to sever my life from hers with the least possible pain, while remaining her friend, or else disappearing from the earth.’ His hesitations tend to resolve themselves into temporary and useless disappearances: escapades, long ...

Who Whips Whom

Leland de la Durantaye: Sade

19 February 2015
Justine et autres romans 
by D.A.F. de Sade, edited by Michel Delon and Jean Deprun.
Gallimard, 1152 pp., €60, October 2014, 978 2 07 014669 7
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... had already begun to slit the prisoners’ throats. There was no time to lose. That evening, the governor of the Bastille, who had slit no throats, informed his superior that if Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, whom 13 years of imprisonment without trial had done nothing to mellow, were not removed from his prison that very night he could no longer guarantee its security. His wish was granted and ...

Hiatus at 4 a.m.

David Trotter: What scared Hitchcock?

3 June 2015
Alfred Hitchcock 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 279 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 0 7011 6993 0
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Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much 
by Michael Wood.
New Harvest, 129 pp., £15, March 2015, 978 1 4778 0134 5
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Hitchcock à la carte 
by Jan Olsson.
Duke, 261 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 8223 5804 6
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Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II 
edited by Sidney Gottlieb.
California, 274 pp., £24.95, February 2015, 978 0 520 27960 5
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... Hitchcock​ liked assembly lines. In the long, consistently revealing interview he gave to François Truffaut in the summer of 1962, he described a scene he had thought of including in North by Northwest (1959), but didn’t. Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is on his way from New York to Chicago ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy

16 November 2017
... Lucian describes. Then fast-forward to the 16th century, and the cycle of 72 tales, under the overall title of The Heptaméron, which have been attributed to Marguerite de Navarre, the sister of King François I of France: in the introduction, the author mischievously claims that Boccaccio has entertained them all with his wonderful far-fetched farragoes, but hers will all be entirely true, every word ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone

22 December 2019
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... a message she was willing to hear. When, in the summer of 1990, West Germany defeated England in the semi-finals of the World Cup, Kohl couldn’t resist telling her that his country had just beaten hers at its national game. She replied that her country had beaten his at its national game twice during the 20th century. She thought a reunified Germany would place undue strain on any international ...

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat

David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise

6 June 2013
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... Margaret Thatcher and thought the rest of the front bench technocrats.’ It didn’t matter what she believed so much as that she wasn’t put off by people refusing to accommodate their beliefs to hers. She was up for the fight. She didn’t want to reach a lasting understanding with the unions. She wanted to avoid one. She was hardly alone in this. By now parts of the Tory Party were festering ...

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