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Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... journalists feel obliged to interview. Well, of course, now I see it, and now that I’m in the joke very funny it is too. But it increases my doubts about Peter Wollen’s piece on Tina Modotti and Frida Kahlo, which is part of, which in fact comprises, that section of the anthology labelled ‘Women, Mexico, Revolution, Art’. Frida and Tina ...

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes: Loathed by Huysmans, 2 April 2020

Modern Art 
by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.
Dedalus, 313 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 910213 99 5
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... of some of the best writers of the day. Stendhal, Baudelaire, Gautier, Goncourt, Zola, Maupassant, Huysmans and Mallarmé all doubled up as art critics. (The bullish Courbet took on both tasks: doing the work and the self-promotion.) It helped that there were extraordinary new artists to support, as well as a hulking and immobile target to attack: the annual ...

An Urbane Scholar in a Wilderness of Tigers

Robert Irwin: Albert Hourani, 25 January 2001

A Vision of the Middle East: An Intellectual Biography of Albert Hourani 
by Abdulaziz Al-Sudairi.
Tauris, 221 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9781860645815
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... had gone on to espouse a form of Catholicism he had learned of first from the novelist J.K. Huysmans, in which ‘substitution’, the voluntary taking on of the sufferings of others, had a crucial role. Massignon rewrote the life of the tenth-century Sufi mystic and martyr, al-Hallaj, in the light of this somewhat esoteric interpretation of ...


Adam Shatz: Houellebecq submits, 9 April 2015

by Michel Houellebecq.
Flammarion, 300 pp., €21, January 2015, 978 2 08 135480 7
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... alcoholic 44-year-old bachelor who teaches literature at the Sorbonne. He’s a scholar of J.K. Huysmans, his one ‘faithful friend’. Huysmans is best known as the author of A Rebours, a masterpiece of the late 19th-century Decadent movement, but Houellebecq is more interested in ...

No flourish was too much

Bridget Alsdorf: Out-Tissoted, 13 August 2020

James Tissot 
by Melissa Buron et al.
Prestel, 354 pp., £55, October 2019, 978 3 7913 5919 9
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... contribution may be his unsparing description of the decadence of the Belle Époque, and like J.K. Huysmans, who followed À rebours (1884) with a return to the Catholic Church, his career shows how quickly decadence can turn into religion. Tissot’s painting of modern life is more fun to look at, not to mention more instructive, if you accept its perversity ...

Why so late and so painfully?

Frederick Brown: Cézanne, 21 March 2013

Cézanne: A Life 
by Alex Danchev.
Profile, 488 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 1 84668 165 3
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... Sainte-Victoire, and built a studio there. He lived reclusively. Twenty years earlier, when J.K. Huysmans published L’Art moderne, Pissarro had chided him for not even mentioning Cézanne. ‘How come you don’t say a word about Cézanne, whom all of us painters regard as one of the most astonishing and curious temperaments of our age and who has had a ...

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