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The Hunger of the Gods

David Brading, 9 January 1992

Aztecs: An Interpretation 
by Inga Clendinnen.
Cambridge, 398 pp., £24.95, October 1991, 0 521 40093 7
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... flayed, thereafter to be donned by the warriors who had captured the Spaniards. It is the aim of Inga Clendinnen to explore the ‘distinctive tonalities’, the ‘experimental landscape’, the ‘interior architecture’ of Mexica society, so as to explain the collective significance of religious rituals which almost invariably included human ...

Ducking

Tim Flannery: When the British met the Australians, 15 December 2005

Dancing with Strangers: The True History of the Meeting of the British First Fleet and the Aboriginal Australians 1788 
by Inga Clendinnen.
Canongate, 322 pp., £16.99, August 2005, 1 84195 616 3
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... and to precisely what followed in the first few years of European settlement at Sydney Cove, that Inga Clendinnen turns in the excellent Dancing with Strangers. Never in the history of humanity had two peoples been reunited after such a long isolation, and rarely have so many acute and educated minds been focused on documenting events. Unfortunately, as ...

Homo Narrator

Inga Clendinnen, 16 March 2000

Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography 
by Susanna Egan.
North Carolina, 275 pp., £39.95, September 1999, 0 8078 4782 8
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... Some years ago, I heard the psychologist Jerome Bruner give a talk about a girl named Emily. At two, Emily was a virtuoso night talker: put to bed, storied, kissed and left, there would be a brief silence, and then the small voice would begin. It could go on for hours. Her loving, anxious parents installed a bug in her bed and recorded her talk – so much for infants’ right to privacy ...

Vlad the Impaler

Inga Clendinnen: Hairy Humbert, 10 August 2000

Nabokov’s Butterflies: Unpublished and Uncollected Writings 
edited by Brian Boyd and Michael Pyle.
Allen Lane, 783 pp., £25, March 2000, 0 7139 9380 4
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Nabokov’s Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius 
by Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates.
Zoland, 372 pp., £18, October 1999, 1 58195 009 8
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... Ever since Lolita ignited the American literary scene in the late 1950s Vladimir Nabokov has been the most famous lepidopterist in the world – indeed, the only one most of us have ever heard of. The covers of books written about him quiver with these interesting insects; even the name ‘Nab-o-koV’, properly spread, seems to have a butterfly look to it ...

Every Single Document

Inga Clendinnen: Raul Hilberg’s Sources of Holocaust Research, 23 May 2002

Sources of Holocaust Research: An Analysis 
by Raul Hilberg.
Ivan Dee, 218 pp., $26, September 2001, 1 56663 379 6
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Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland 
by Jan Gross.
Princeton, 261 pp., £12.95, May 2001, 0 691 08667 2
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... When I think of Raul Hilberg an image pops into my head. A man gazes thoughtfully up at an Everest of fraying documents, some manuscript, some printed, some typescript. Looming behind the monstrous pile is an elaborate Gothic structure: the interlocking bureaucratic organisations through which the Nazis effected the Holocaust. Hilberg achieved the Herculean task of reconstructing that obscene edifice from its own documents in his Destruction of the European Jews (1961, 1985 ...

Diary

Inga Clendinnen: Liver Transplant No. 108, 19 July 2001

... Big Louis is dead. I found out only yesterday, because the last time I went to the Clinic I didn’t meet any of the people who might have told me, which can happen when you’re down to three-monthly visits. He might have died as long as five months ago. It’s odd to discover you have been orphaned for months without knowing it. Louis was the first person to receive a liver transplant at the Unit when it started at the Austin Hospital here in Melbourne in 1988 ...

Van Diemonians

Inga Clendinnen: Convict Culture in Tasmania, 4 December 2008

Van Diemen’s Land: A History 
by James Boyce.
Black, 388 pp., £20.75, February 2008, 978 1 86395 413 6
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... I first came across James Boyce five years ago, when he wrote the lead essay in a collection called Whitewash, intended to argue against the ruthlessly revisionist ‘frontier history’ of Keith Windschuttle. In The Fabrication of Aboriginal History (2002), Windschuttle had argued that, contrary to the claims of various ideologically driven left-leaning historians, very few Tasmanian Aborigines had died in conflict with whites ...

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