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Loitering in the Piazza

Stephen Greenblatt, 27 October 1988

Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist 
by Giovanni Levi, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 209 pp., £21.50, June 1988, 0 226 47417 8
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... Giovanni Levi’s Inheriting Power bears a generic resemblance to those recent historical studies that illuminate the lives of European peasants by isolating and reconstructing a single resonant story. The best of these microhistories – Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Natalie Zemon Davis’s The Return of Martin Guerre – succeed in making their stories what Kenneth Burke calls ‘representative anecdotes’, reflections of reality that are inevitably selections of reality ...
... On the September Friday that I arrived in Turin – to renew a conversation with Primo Levi that we had begun one afternoon in London the spring before – I asked to be shown around the paint factory where he’d been employed as a research chemist, and, afterwards, until retirement, as factory manager. Altogether the company employs 50 people, mainly chemists who work in the laboratories and skilled labourers on the floor of the plant ...

Love among the Cheeses

Lidija Haas: Life with Amis and Ayer, 8 September 2011

The House in France: A Memoir 
by Gully Wells.
Bloomsbury, 307 pp., £16.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 0809 2
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... angst’). In 1960, Dee succeeded in her campaign to get Freddie, marrying the ‘pear-shaped Don Giovanni’, as John Osborne, a rare Freddie dissenter, called him. By then he was Wykeham Professor of Logic, leaving for New College on Tuesdays and coming home on Fridays. Dee moved from the Express to the leftier Daily Herald, which suited her ...

‘I’m not signing’

Mike Jay: Franco Basaglia, 8 September 2016

The Man Who Closed the Asylums: Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care 
by John Foot.
Verso, 404 pp., £20, August 2015, 978 1 78168 926 4
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... assembled a team of collaborators whose views were shaped by an evolving canon that included Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man, Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and, most significant of all, the work of Erving Goffman, which Ongaro translated for an Italian edition. In 1961, too, Goffman published ...

Down with Occurrences

Erin Maglaque: Baroque Excess, 3 December 2020

Out of Italy 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Europa, 295 pp., £12.99, July 2019, 978 1 78770 166 3
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... great cage to put me in, for if you do not want me to be your beffana at the festival of San Giovanni, I can at least be a parrot to be shown in the window, or displayed on the piazza on Mardi Gras to amuse the children.’For Braudel, these stories capture Italy’s brilliance, but they are unreliable witnesses to its history: ‘How is one to set down ...

Back to the Wall

Nicholas Penny, 21 September 1995

In Perfect Harmony: Picture and Frame 1850-1920 
edited by Eva Mendgen.
Reaktion, 278 pp., £45, May 1995, 90 400 9729 1
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... as in the case of those designed by Schinkel for the picture gallery in Berlin, or by Giovanni Montiroli for the Cammuccini collection of Old Masters at Alnwick Castle, or by Stanford White for paintings by Abbot Thayer in the Freer Gallery in Washington. But the involvement of leading architects and sculptors declined: the public exhibition and ...

Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 4 August 1988

Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... to the spirit of his subject-matter. With the single-minded dedication of a Casanova or a Don Giovanni he records several hundred literary encounters of Dick and Fanny, Pego and Pussy, until exhaustiveness gives way to exhaustion. What is most strikingly absent is any sustained attempt at scholarly analysis of the material he presents in such ...

Gesture as Language

David Trotter, 30 January 1992

A Cultural History of Gestures: From Antiquity to the Present 
edited by Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg.
Polity, 220 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 7456 0786 1
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The New Oxford Book of 17th-Century Verse 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 830 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 19 214164 3
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... literary sources range from formal treatises such as L’arte de cenni (1616) by the lawyer Giovanni Bonifacio or Andrea De Jorio’s La mimica degli antichi (1832)... to the more casual observations of foreign travellers like John Evelyn, who recorded at least one insulting gesture (biting the finger) which the two lexicographers missed. In the second ...

On Sebastiano Timpanaro

Perry Anderson, 10 May 2001

... to the Scuola Normale after the war. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Carlo Cipolla, Franco Modigliani and Giovanni Sartori took chairs in America. In the next levy, Carlo Ginzburg, Franco Moretti, Giovanni Arrighi all gave up posts at home, more or less in despair, to make their way across the Atlantic. This has never been a real ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... short entries appear, one following the other: 11/21/49 Excellently staged performance of Don Giovanni last night (City Center). Today, a wonderful opportunity was offered me – to do some research work for a soc[iology] instructor named Philip Rieff, who is working on, among other things, a reader in the sociology of politics + religion. At last the ...

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