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Peter Jenkins

20 December 1984
Antipolitics: An Essay 
by George Konrad, translated by Richard Allen.
Quartet, 243 pp., £8.95, August 1984, 0 7043 2472 5
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... he insists – central geographically, central historically, and central culturally to all that is Europe – has a destiny that anticipates the destiny of Europe in general. The Hungarian writer GeorgeKonrad makes a similar point although he makes it more politically than Kundera. The Czech novelist is telling us that our culture is at risk, in that its fate is bound up with that of Central Europe ...

Dying Cultures

Graham Hough

3 July 1980
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 260 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 233 97227 7
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The City Builder 
by George Konrad.
Sidgwick, 184 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 15 118009 1
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The Peach Groves 
by Barbara Hanrahan.
Chatto, 228 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7011 2490 3
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Other People’s Worlds 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 243 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 370 30312 1
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... in themselves, and bear no relation to any outer reality? So just to remind ourselves that there are other forms of discourse, and that they can be treated in other ways, we may turn to the Hungarian GeorgeKonrad. His earlier book The Case Worker has been highly praised, but I have not seen it. The City Builder, presented as fiction, is not a novel in any ordinary sense. It is not easily definable as ...

Aunts and Uncles

Michael Hofmann

19 November 1992
A Feast in the Garden 
by George Konrad, translated by Imre Goldstein.
Faber, 394 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 571 16623 7
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Wartime Lies 
by Louis Begley.
Picador, 198 pp., £5.99, August 1992, 0 330 32099 8
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by Carmelo Samona, translated by Linda Lappin.
Carcanet, 131 pp., £13.95, August 1992, 0 85635 990 4
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by Thomas Healy.
Polygon, 161 pp., £7.95, July 1992, 0 7486 6121 2
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... sell in twenty countries, the definitive Ruritanian novel, now that all these countries have become Ruritanias, as indeed we are all Ruritanians now. These fears weren’t formulated in response to GeorgeKonrad’s hefty new book, but they might have been. I don’t know when I last felt so mutinous while reading a book. A Feast in the Garden is an absolutely dire novel, misconceived, opportunistic ...

A World of Waste

Philip Horne

1 September 1983
The Proprietor 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 300 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 333 35111 8
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Slouching towards Kalamazoo 
by Peter De Vries.
Gollancz, 241 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 575 03306 1
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by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 121 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 436 08272 1
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The Loser 
by George​ Konard, translated by Ivan Sanders.
Allen Lane, 315 pp., £8.95, August 1983, 0 7139 1599 4
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... of urgent special dilemmas from which catchwords can bring no real release. The freedom of the imagination is not necessarily greatest in imagining freedom: or rather, as in Ann Schlee’s novel and GeorgeKonrad’s, it is where social and psychological pressures are most intense that we get from art our purest expressions of freedom. In 1981 Ann Schlee published her first adult novel, Rhine Journey ...

Holy Relics

Alan Milward

3 April 1986
Selling Hitler: The story of the Hitler Diaries 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 402 pp., £10.95, February 1986, 0 571 13557 9
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... four years, to accumulate in strictest secrecy the diaries of Adolf Hitler for eventual publication in its magazine Stern. It took so long because they had to wait for each volume to be written by Konrad Kujau, who was not always doing a full-time job. He was busy at the same time painting Hitler paintings and drawing Hitler drawings. You will find some of his best work in Billy F. Price’s Adolf ...

Starting up

Peter Clarke

6 November 1986
The German Slump: Politics and Economics 1924-1936 
by Harold James.
Oxford, 469 pp., £30, March 1986, 0 19 821972 5
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The Making of Keynes’s General Theory 
by Richard Kahn.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £20, May 1984, 9780521253734
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Towards the Managed Economy: Keynes, the Treasury and the Fiscal Policy Debate of the 1930s 
by Roger Middleton.
Methuen, 244 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 416 35830 6
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Keynes and his Contemporaries 
edited by G.C. Harcourt.
Macmillan, 195 pp., £22.50, October 1985, 0 333 34687 4
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The Policy Consequences of John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Harold Wattel.
Macmillan, 157 pp., £29.50, April 1986, 0 333 41340 7
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... which caused depression, which reduced tax revenues, which intensified the crisis over public spending. Borrowing was the short-term expedient, adopted alike by openhanded Oberbür germeister like Konrad Adenauer and by big business – right up to the day of reckoning. ‘A fundamentally unsound structure required only a small push, then, to topple it,’ James argues, pointing to the ultimately ...

How was it for you?

David Blackbourn

30 October 1997
Man Without a Face: The Memoirs of a Spymaster 
by Markus Wolf and Anne McElvoy.
Cape, 367 pp., £17.99, June 1997, 0 224 04498 2
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The File: A Personal History 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
HarperCollins, 227 pp., £12.99, July 1997, 0 00 255823 8
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... 1923, was brought up in a leftwing family. His Jewish father was a doctor and radical playwright who believed in vegetarianism, homeopathic medicine, free love and Communism. Markus and his brother Konrad were educated at a progressive boarding school and joined the Communist Young Pioneers. When Hitler came to power the family fled, after brief stops in Switzerland and France, to the Great Soviet ...


Richard J. Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens

17 March 2016
Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... throne in October 1914. His strong-willed wife Queen Marie, who had been born and partly brought up in England by her parents, the then Duke of Edinburgh and his wife, kept up her connections with George V (who had once asked her to marry him) and the Russian royal family – and Romania joined the Entente in August 1916. Both the general public and the Romanian political class were overwhelmingly in ...


Ruth Bernard Yeazell: A.S. Byatt

28 November 2002
A Whistling Woman 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 422 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 7011 7380 7
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... older and more sophisticated Edmund Wilkie is sceptical. You will think differently, he tells her, ‘when you decide to be a lady novelist, and get set to write a long novel by Proust out of George Eliot, and it won’t get up and walk.’ The author of The Virgin in the Garden was also 17 in 1953, but Frederica Potter is not A.S. Byatt – even if subsequent novels have shown her giving up the ...
21 October 1993
The United States and the End of the Cold War: Implications, Reconsiderations and Provocations 
by John Lewis Gaddis.
Oxford, 301 pp., £19.50, July 1992, 0 19 505201 3
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Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Yale, 429 pp., £22, February 1993, 0 300 04773 8
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The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security 1918-1957 
edited by Rolf Ahmann, A.M. Birke and Michael Howard.
Oxford, 546 pp., £50, June 1993, 0 19 920503 5
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... hypocritical. To hold that West Germany could both remain a full member of Nato and the European Community and expect to be reunited with East Germany had been felt to be wishing for the impossible. Konrad Adenauer, under whose auspices this combination of policies was adopted, was often supposed to be the more reconciled to its impossibility by his distaste for the culture and politics of Germany east ...

Gentlemen’s Spleen

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen: Hysterical Men

27 August 2009
Hysterical Men: The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness 
by Mark Micale.
Harvard, 366 pp., £19.95, December 2008, 978 0 674 03166 1
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... and gentlemen’s ‘spleen’. Not only could men suffer just as much as women from their nerves, it was even a sign of distinction and ‘sensibility’ that in no way compromised their virility. (George Cheyne, writing in 1773 in The English Malady, went so far as to connect ‘nervous diseases’ to the progress of civilisation.) This plainly contradicts Micale’s main argument. ‘In Great ...


Elizabeth Drew: JFK

20 November 2003
John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917-63 
by Robert Dallek.
Allen Lane, 838 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7139 9737 0
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... days helping underdeveloped nations was a glamorous thing to do: now the Agency has all but disappeared. With the advent of Richard Nixon, who sought the segregationist vote by emulating some of George Wallace’s worst traits, all this changed. Wallace had campaigned against ‘pointy-headed bureaucrats’ and Nixon derided government workers, though they kept the Government going during Watergate ...
23 August 2001
Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... In January 1957 the New York Police Department arrested a man called George Metesky, whose activities over the previous 16 and a bit years had earned him the sobriquet ‘the Mad Bomber’. The Bomber had planted more than thirty explosive devices, favouring public places ...

Self-Deceptions of Empire

David Bromwich: Reinhold Niebuhr

23 October 2008
The Irony of American History 
by Reinhold Niebuhr.
Chicago, 174 pp., £8.50, June 2008, 978 0 226 58398 3
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... If you want a nearer instance – and a case Niebuhr had plainly considered – look at the political character of Germany in the mid-1930s. Starting on 23 March 1933, Hitler enjoyed the powers, as Konrad Heiden put it, of a ‘dictator, created by democracy and appointed by parliament’. As late as 1935, Winston Churchill could speak of Germany as a democracy that had strayed from itself; and he ...

Hare’s Blood

Peter Wollen: John Berger

4 April 2002
The Selected Essays of John Berger 
edited by Geoff Dyer.
Bloomsbury, 599 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 7475 5419 6
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...  Gabo, Klee, Pollock, Dubuffet and Germaine Richier among them. The second, more positive category included Henry Moore, Ceri Richards, William Roberts, Josef Herman, David Bomberg, L.S. Lowry, George Fullard and Frank Auerbach, together with the Dutchman Friso ten Holt. Of these, only the enthusiastic review of Lowry is included in the new collection, which is overwhelmingly dominated by French ...

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