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A Show of Heads

Carlos Fuentes

19 March 1987
I the Supreme 
by Augusto Roa Bastos, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 433 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14626 0
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... and brilliantly written. Yet his masterpiece, I the Supreme, which first came out in Spanish in 1974 and finally reaches the English reading public today, in a suitably masterful translation by HelenLane, is the kind of summa that absorbs everything that the writer has done before. This is Roa Bastos’s dialogue with himself through history and through a monstrous historical figure whom he has ...

Jewishness

Gabriele Annan

7 May 1981
When memory comes 
by Saul Friedländer, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 185 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 28898 4
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... This might have been the autobiography of the present Archbishop of Paris. It caused some sensation when it first appeared in French in 1978. The author is an Israeli historian and political scientist who teaches at the University of Tel Aviv and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He specialises in the history of the Third Reich and has also written about psycho-history and ...

Survivors

Graham Hough

3 April 1980
Old Soldiers 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 120 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 224 01783 7
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Nocturnes for the King of Naples 
by Edmund White.
Deutsch, 148 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 233 97173 4
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Solo Faces 
by James Salter.
Collins, 220 pp., £5.50, February 1980, 0 00 221983 2
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Sol 
by Mario Satz, translated by Helen Lane.
Sidgwick, 432 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 0 283 98607 7
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... No doubt it is yet another symptom of the decline of the West that we can so rarely afford proper novels nowadays, only skimpy little pieces of 130 pages or so, barely enough to last from dinner to bedtime. These are not novellen, purpose-built long-short-stories, with their defined themes and central symbols, but stripped-down, elliptical narratives that once would have been told at far greater length ...

Dying and Not Dying

Cathy Gere: Henrietta Lacks

10 June 2010
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 
by Rebecca Skloot.
Macmillan, 368 pp., £18.99, June 2010, 978 0 230 74869 9
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... struggling with poverty, abuse and illness. Although various garbled accounts of the origin of the world-changing cell-line made it into the papers, the name of the ‘donor’ was sometimes rendered Helen Larson and sometimes HelenLane, in a half-baked attempt by Johns Hopkins to protect patient privacy. It was only with the death of George Gey in 1970 that Henrietta Lacks’s name was published, and ...
1 April 1983
The Wheat and the Chaff: The Personal Diaries of the President of France 1971-1978 
by François Mitterrand, translated by Richard Woodward, Helen Lane and Concilia Hayter.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 297 78101 4
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The French 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins, 542 pp., £12.95, January 1983, 0 00 216806 5
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... version of the diaries themselves gives little hint of the subtle, sinewy stylist who wrote them. The book’s second half, excerpted from L’Abeille et l’Architecte, fares rather better with Ms Lane and Ms Hayter. They, too, have their foibles. They confuse the pre-war six-day cycle races, run in the old Vélodrome d’Hiver, with the present-day, outdoor Tour de France. They call cadres (often ...

Nothing’s easy

Philip Horne

26 November 1987
The Perpetual Orgy 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14550 7
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Captain Pantoja and the Special Service 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Gregory Kolovakos and Ronald Christ.
Faber, 244 pp., £3.95, June 1987, 0 571 14818 2
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... Writing this book I am like a man playing the piano with lead balls attached to his knuckles.’ The weighty agonies and agonisings of Flaubert, most famously over the details of Madame Bovary, have made him an exemplary writer for other self-conscious writers, and this unlikely simile is quoted in a recent work testifying to that detailed interest: Julian Barnes in Flaubert’s Parrot (1984) made ...
16 June 1983
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 374 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 571 13021 6
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... In his book on Flaubert and Madame Bovary, called The Perpetual Orgy (1975) – the title is a phrase of Flaubert’s for the life of writing – Mario Vargas Llosa says what he likes in novels: ‘the greatest satisfaction a novel can give me is by stimulating, as I read, my admiration for some act of rebellion; my anger at some stupidity or injustice; my fascination with those histrionically distorted ...
23 May 1985
The War of the End of the World 
by Mario Vargas Llosa and Helen Lane.
Faber, 568 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780571131143
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... 1900 was the end of the 19th century but it wasn’t the end of the world, as we can see. Antonio Conselheiro, a religious leader in the Sertao, the harsh backlands of north-eastern Brazil, had predicted that it would be: ‘There shall be a great rain of stars, and that will be the end of the world. In 1900 the lights shall be put out.’ He was not there to see this prophecy belied; his own light ...

Clean Sweep

Philip Horne

10 May 1990
Love and Garbage 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 217 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3362 7
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The Storyteller 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 246 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 15208 2
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The Chase 
by Alejo Carpentier, translated by Alfred Mac Adam.
Deutsch, 122 pp., £9.95, March 1990, 0 233 98550 6
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Aura 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp.
Deutsch, 88 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 233 98470 4
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... Klima’s fine, disconsolate novel is scarcely the cliché its blurb makes it out – ‘a moving account of the fate of the dissident artist under an oppressive regime’ – because Klima’s reason for joining a team of Prague street-sweepers is not exactly that he has been forced to do it by the state. ‘I needed to go somewhere in the morning, at least I’d now have a natural objective for a ...
13 April 2000
... black. (I do go back now, in a hurry, to the photo and find that this is indeed so.) Furthermore, ‘Henrietta’s family were never told of the research. Dr Grey [sic] claimed the donor’s name was HelenLane or Helen Larson (supposedly in order to protect her anonymity). In the 1970s Henrietta’s name was released and the Lacks family were shocked … to them a part of their mother is still living ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: First Impressions

16 August 2007
... and a Lady travelling from Tunbridge towards that part of the Sussex coast which lies between Hastings and Eastbourne, being induced by business to quit the high road and attempt a very rough lane, were overturned in toiling up its long ascent’ – and rule it out as pastiche: something trying too hard to sound like Jane Austen. But none of this seemed to matter. As soon as Lassman went to ...
20 February 1997
Evita 
directed by Alan Parker.
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The Making of ‘Evita’ 
by Alan Parker.
Boxtree, 127 pp., £12.99, December 1996, 0 7522 2264 3
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In My Own Words 
by Eva Perón, translated by Laura Dail.
New Press, 120 pp., $8.95, November 1996, 1 56584 353 3
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Santa Evita 
by Tomás Eloy Martínez, translated by Helen Lane.
Doubleday, 371 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 385 40875 7
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... Nothing became her life like the remaking of it, but there were so many remakes. The latest stars Madonna, but the earliest starred Eva María Duarte herself. Or was that María Eva Ibarguren? She was María Eva Duarte de Perón on her marriage certificate, but then she also took three years off her age on that occasion. Some of this is easily unravelled, and a number of the remakes are easy to name ...

At Tate Modern

Brian Dillon: Joan Jonas

2 August 2018
... video feed.) Elsewhere in the exhibition, tucked a little shamefully into a corner, is the sparse installation Glass Puzzle II (1974/2000). Projected in black and white, Jonas and the artist Lois Lane pose (to a reggae soundtrack) in attitudes based on E.J. Bellocq’s famous photographs of prostitutes in Storyville, New Orleans, in the 1910s. There’s a child’s desk in the foreground of this ...

Fallen Women

Patricia Highsmith

21 June 1984
‘Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son’: The Story of Peter Sutcliffe 
by Gordon Burn.
Heinemann, 272 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 434 09827 2
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... an affair with the Italian. Sonia promised Peter, then didn’t keep the promise, but saw the Italian again. So Peter decided ‘to get his own back’ by visiting a prostitute in Bradford’s Lumb Lane. To make the prostitute episode worse, really grind it into Peter’s touchy ego, he looked for and found the same woman in a bar a few weeks later, and asked for his ten pounds back. The prostitute ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... and wrote quantities of light verse, often about rowing, for Punch. He married Alice Davis, a strong-minded New Englander, twenty years younger than himself. Their family consisted of three girls – Helen, the indulged Rosamond, Beatrix – and, at long last, the boy John. Their children’s talents must have been partly, at least, inherited, but no trace of their father Rude’s jolly German ...

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