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Insouciance

Gordon A. Craig, 17 July 1997

Ernst Jünger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-45 
by Thomas Nevin.
Constable, 280 pp., £20, January 1997, 0 09 474560 9
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... is chief steward to the reigning Tyrant of the small city state of that name. He also serves as a reference librarian to the Tyrant’s chief of staff. In neither capacity is he overworked, and he has plenty of time to indulge his own historical interests and to ruminate on the character and problems of power, on the rise and fall of demagogues and ...

‘Famous for its Sausages’

David Blackbourn, 2 January 1997

The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 190 pp., £22.50, July 1995, 0 19 509499 9
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... years ago. In one form or another the idea became familiar. Germany in the 19th century acquired a reputation as the land of poets and thinkers (the phrase was coined by Jean Paul), something that foreign observers viewed with a mixture of condescension and respect. Many Germans reacted ...

Exit Humbug

David Edgar: Theatrical Families, 1 January 2009

A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 620 pp., £25, September 2008, 978 0 7011 7987 8
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... Ellen Terry was the youngest daughter of two touring players, and began her own stage career at the age of six. Ten years later, she married a painter three times her age; they separated within ten months. Three years after that, she took up with the architect Edward William Godwin ...

Halfway to Siberia

Ruth Franklin: Theodor Fontane, 13 December 2001

Theodor Fontane: Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 232 pp., £26, November 2000, 0 19 512837 0
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... In the middle of the 1870s,’ Theodor Fontane’s novel Delusions, Confusions begins, ‘just at the crossing of the Kurfürstendamm and the Kurfürstenstrasse, diagonally across from the “Zoological”, could still be found a large vegetable garden, stretching a distance away from the street ...

Olga Knipper

Virginia Llewellyn Smith, 7 February 1980

Chekhov’s Leading Lady 
by Harvey Pitcher.
Murray, 288 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 7195 3681 2
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... When Chekhov died in the German town of Badenweiler in 1904, at his bedside with his wife Olga Knipper and the doctor was a young Russian friend called Rabeneck. Thirty-three years later, Rabeneck sought out Olga Knipper, then on tour with the Moscow Art Theatre, in a Paris restaurant ...

To the Great God Pan

Laura Jacobs: Goddess Isadora, 24 October 2013

My Life: The Restored Edition 
by Isadora Duncan.
Norton, 322 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 87140 318 6
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... one piece of film that shows Isadora Duncan dancing.* It is four seconds long, the very end of a performance, and it is followed by eight seconds in which Duncan accepts applause. This small celluloid footprint – light-struck in the manner of Eugène Atget – contains quite a bit of information. It is ...

WOW

Anne Hollander, 10 March 1994

Life into Art: Isadora Duncan and Her World 
edited by Dorée Duncan, Carol Pratl and Cynthia Splatt.
Norton, 198 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 393 03507 7
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... danced. The most eager prophet of modern bodily movement avoided the great new vessel of the truth a motion – unwilling, it would seem, to do without the audience rapport that was indispensable to her success. Her reluctance went with her noticeably religious attitude toward her own dancing, and toward art in general. She found she rather liked going to the ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... solution to Britain’s insatiable Churchill/Finest Hour cravings would have been to establish a regular cult, with its own dedicated priests, rituals and sanctuaries. Facing a brazen engraving of the famously pugnacious 1941 Karsh photograph, surrounded by appropriate symbols or even original relics of Spitfires, Sten ...

What’s the problem with critical art?

Hal Foster: Rancière’s Aesthetics, 10 October 2013

Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art 
by Jacques Rancière, translated by Zakir Paul.
Verso, 272 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 1 78168 089 6
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... In the fierce critiques that the charismatic thinkers of postwar France directed at each other – Lévi-Strauss v. Sartre, Foucault v. Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari v. Lacan, to pick out just a few – the theoretical stakes were high, and the political implications seemed momentous ...

It makes yer head go

David Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge, 18 February 1999

The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... James Kelman’s style is so mesmerising that after a few hours’ immersion I find myself thinking in it – an experience which is both intriguing and infuriating, although the former prevails. The voice which chats and muses and reasons, and girns and deaves, and argues and contradicts itself throughout these stories, reaching us like the grumbling and bubbling of a burn flowing under grass or heather, is not a transcript of Glasgow speech, or not only that ...

Auchnasaugh

Patrick Parrinder, 7 November 1991

King Cameron 
by David Craig.
Carcanet, 212 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 85635 917 3
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The Hungry Generations 
by David Gilmour.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 194 pp., £13.95, August 1991, 1 85619 069 2
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O Caledonia 
by Elspeth Barker.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 241 13146 4
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... David Craig has an unfashionable concern with truth-telling in fiction. In his earlier role as a literary critic, he wrote a book called The Real Foundations in which he showed how some of the most respected 19th and 20th-century novelists and poets had blatantly falsified social reality ...

Diary

Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... True or false? 1. Winston Churchill sent in troops against striking miners at Tonypandy. 2. Stanley Baldwin confessed with ‘appalling frankness’ that he did not rearm because he would have lost the 1935 General Election. 3. Ernest Bevin said of the Labour Party’s relations with the Soviet Union: ‘Left can speak to Left ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud, 21 June 2001

Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... of their dust-jackets, and are, inevitably, affectionate and indulgent towards their subject. As Dirk Bogarde remarked when Croall consulted him about the work in hand, ‘everybody adored him, so the book might make rather flat reading.’ Morley’s title emphasises that his version is authorised, and the implication is that his rival’s is not, though ...

Staging Death

Martin Puchner: Ibsen's Modernism, 8 February 2007

Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theatre, Philosophy 
by Toril Moi.
Oxford, 396 pp., £25, August 2006, 0 19 929587 5
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... Henrik Ibsen died in 1906, acknowledged as the founder of modern drama. Today, he is the most performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare. It was an unlikely success story. Born in 1828 in an isolated town in Norway, when the country was still dependent on its long-time coloniser Denmark, Ibsen grew up speaking a language known by few and lacking any great dramatic tradition ...

Diary

A. Craig Copetas: Yaaaggghhhh, 25 June 1992

... I tried to call you on the radio telephone, when our old flatmate, John Webb, fell overboard in a gale off the coast of Long Island a few years ago and was nearly swept south to Bermuda. But the old Oxford number had been disconnected, and your publisher told me that you were ‘indisputably ...

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