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7 July 1994
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 521 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 330 33237 6
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Honoré de​ Balzac 
by Roger Pierrot.
Fayard, 582 pp., frs 180, March 1994, 2 213 59228 4
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César Birotteau 
by Honoré de Balzac and Robin Buss.
Penguin, 279 pp., £6.99, January 1994, 0 14 044641 9
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... If Balzac had had his way, the real Paris would have become a little more like the visionary Paris of his novels. He thought a spiral staircase should be built, leading down from the Luxembourg Gardens into ...
7 November 1991
Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... Fine phrases about the freedom of the individual and the inviolability of the home were exchanged between the Minister of State and the Prefect, to whom M. de Sérisy pointed out that the major interests of the country sometimes required secret illegalities, crime beginning only when State means were applied to private interests. If ever a man feels the ...

Making the world

Christopher Prendergast

16 March 1989
Gillette, or The Unknown Masterpiece 
by Honoré de Balzac, translated by Anthony Rudolf.
Menard Press, 64 pp., £5.95, December 1988, 0 903400 99 5
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... In his Souvenirs sur Paul Cézanne, Emile Bernard records a conversation in which he raised with Cézanne the topic of Balzac’s Le Chef-d’Oeuvre Inconnu – the story of the fictional painter Frenhofer, who spends ten years trying to create the perfect picture of a woman but ends up painting what, in the story itself ...


Emilie Bickerton

22 November 2018
The Great Nadar: The Man behind the Camera 
by Adam Begley.
Tim Duggan, 247 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 101 90262 2
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... in a hot-air balloon basket c.1865 Gaspard-Félix Tournachon was born on 6 April 1820 in Paris. His father was a book publisher but in the 1830s he went bankrupt – the Dictionnaire universel de droit français ruined him – and the family decamped to Lyon. Félix pursued his studies, not very seriously, and then enrolled in medical school, but his time there was cut short by his father’s ...

All My Truth

Richard Poirier: Henry James Memoirs

25 April 2002
A Small Boy and Others: Memoirs 
by Henry James.
Gibson Square, 217 pp., £9.99, August 2001, 1 903933 00 5
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... bestowed on two other novelistic reminiscences written at about this time and centring, as A Small Boy does, on the phenomenon of emergent genius in the childhood years of their authors: Du côté de chez Swann, also published in 1913, and A Portrait of the Artist, published in 1916. James began writing A Small Boy when he was 68. Two events had recently come together in his life which in ...

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