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The Name of the Beast

Armand Marie Leroi, 11 December 1997

Buffon 
by Jacques Roger.
Cornell, 492 pp., £39.50, August 1997, 0 8014 2918 8
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The Platypus and the Mermaid and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination 
by Harriet Ritvo.
Harvard, 274 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 0 674 67357 3
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... world. Fortunately, we now have a wonderful guide to his thought, in English, by the late Jacques Roger. Buffon’s compendium is a true natural history: a compilation of facts about the form, habits and behaviours of his subjects. He believed that the creatures Linnaeus separated out as ‘Mammalia’ and ‘Aves’ could be ‘connected’ in a ...
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... Sixties, through its development and extensions in the work of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, to its present position, which is known either as ‘post-structuralism’ or simply as ‘deconstruction’. It is significant that it should bear the date 1979, though, for it is very much a ...

Apocalypse Two

R.W. Johnson: Rwanda’s genocide, 21 June 2001

A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide 
by Linda Melvern.
Zed, 272 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 9781856498319
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... policy has always been run by a cabal operating out of a back door of the Elysée – this was how Jacques Foccart ran it under de Gaulle and Pompidou, orchestrating coups and mercenary interventions at will. Giscard dispensed with Foccart, but was equally underhand. He continued the pattern of military intervention; Africa was his true domaine ...

Did the self-made man fake it with Bohemian fossils?

Richard Fortey: Jacques Deprat, 25 November 1999

The Deprat Affair: Ambition, Revenge and Deceit in French Indochina 
by Roger Osborne.
Cape, 244 pp., £15.99, October 1999, 0 224 05295 0
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... On 23 May 1909, Jacques Deprat left France for Hanoi with his young family to start a career as a geologist in the Service Géologique de l’Indochine. His advancement had been won against the odds. His beginnings were humble, if respectable, and he had progressed by virtue of hard work. He had published brilliant papers on the geological structure of Corsica, which had eventually earned him the respect of a distinguished sponsor, Professor Termier at the Ecole des Mines in Paris ...

A bas les chefs!

John Sturrock: Jules Vallès, 9 February 2006

The Child 
by Jules Vallès, translated by Douglas Parmée.
NYRB, 343 pp., £8.99, August 2005, 1 59017 117 9
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... serialised in a French paper, as the first instalment of a work purporting to be the life story of Jacques Vingtras, who had his initials in common with the actual author, along with a closely similar, if less than identical childhood and adolescence behind him. (Modern French editions preserve the impersonation by subtitling the volumes ‘...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... aphoristic judgment is usually taken to refer to the Post-Impressionist Exhibition, organised by Roger Fry, which opened, in fact, on 8 November 1910. Plainly, this was the moment when the European avant garde shattered the calm of the Edwardian art world. It is still hard to see, however, why it should have changed ‘human character’, or how its ...

A Waistcoat soaked in Tears

Douglas Johnson, 27 June 1991

The Noble Savage: Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1754-1762 
by Maurice Cranston.
Allen Lane, 399 pp., £20, February 1991, 0 7139 9051 1
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Writings of Rousseau. Vol I: Rousseau: Judge of Jean-Jacques. Dialogues. 
translated by Judith Bush, edited and translated by Christopher Kelly and Roger Masters.
University Press of New England, 277 pp., $40, March 1990, 0 87451 495 9
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... works in translation, to begin with the curious, and often neglected, Rousseau: Judge of Jean-Jacques, usually known as the Dialogues. This he wrote some five years after his return to France from exile. When it was completed, in 1766, he tried to deposit the manuscript on the great altar of Notre Dame, hoping that news of its existence would thus reach ...

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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... about now? Are there any maîtres à penser left? Do we still want such figures? One contender is Jacques Rancière, who recently retired as professor of philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII. Rancière emerged at the age of 25 as a co-author, with Althusser, of Reading ‘Capital’ (1965), but broke with him over the revolts of May 1968: Althusser took ...

And then there was ‘Playtime’

Jonathan Coe: Vive Tati!, 9 December 1999

Jacques Tati 
by David Bellos.
Harvill, 382 pp., £25, October 1999, 1 86046 651 6
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... worthwhile books devoted to these figures, there should run such a noticeable vein of anxiety. In Roger Lewis’s extraordinary biography of Peter Sellers, for instance, proper celebration of comic genius goes hand in hand with character assassination. Every version of Tony Hancock’s life zooms in on his alcoholism and depression. David Bellos does not, in ...

At the Queen’s Gallery

Inigo Thomas: David Hockney , 2 March 2017

... acquisitions for decades. ‘Do you not agree that the fate of the portrait is rather pathetic,’ Jacques-Emile Blanche, an artist famous in his day for his portraits, wrote in a letter to William Rothenstein, who was another – ‘unless the name of the artist be such a famous one that no change in public opinion could possibly prevent them from falling ...

Princeton Diary

Alan Ryan: In Princeton , 26 March 1992

... lustre as his horror stories have been found not to stand up to dispassionate investigation, while Roger Kimball’s Tenured Radicals catches less attention now that the tenured radicals are spending less time poisoning the minds of the young than dealing with deficits which could reach $50 million a year or more at Yale and Columbia. The quarrels rumble ...

Miracles, Marvels, Magic

Caroline Walker Bynum: Medieval Marvels, 9 July 2009

The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Cambridge, 170 pp., £17.99, April 2008, 978 0 521 70255 3
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... lunar eclipses or as ordinary as the housefly that fascinated the 13th-century natural philosopher Roger Bacon. Elucidating some very complicated subject matter in graceful prose, Bartlett argues against the suggestion that there was a unified ‘medieval mind’ or a single ‘belief system’; nor does he fall into simple dichotomies of learned and ...

Nesting Time

P.N. Furbank, 26 January 1995

TheManuscript Found in Saragossa 
by Jan Potocki, translated by Ian MacLean.
Viking, 631 pp., £16, January 1995, 0 670 83428 9
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... own country. For the rest of the world, however, the book slept in obscurity, till, in 1958, Roger Caillois published a new edition of the first fourteen or so days. It created a considerable stir. The hunt for a complete text was renewed; and, this failing, René Radrizzani produced a reconstruction of it, drawing on various newly-found partial ...

The Schoolmen ride again

Richard Mayne, 15 May 1980

Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: The Major Film-Makers 
edited by Richard Roud.
Secker, 1120 pp., £25, February 1980, 9780436428302
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The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain 
by Michael Chanan.
Routledge, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0319 6
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... schlock of yesteryear. No: the fact is that movie critics have changed. There was once a time when Roger Manvell’s 1944 Pelican Book, Film, was a central work in most British film-buffs’ libraries. There were the Russian early fathers, of course, all tractors and montage; there was Paul Rotha; there were histories and how-to handbooks; there was Alistair ...

Carthachinoiserie

Paul Grimstad: Flaubert’s ‘Gueuloir’, 23 January 2014

Flaubert’s ‘Gueuloir’: On ‘Madame Bovary’ and ‘Salammbô’ 
by Michael Fried.
Yale, 184 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 300 18705 2
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... bande, broderie) and ‘c’s (circulaire, cartonné, cordon). In the Q&A that followed the talk, Roger Bismut, in what could be seen as either wild-eyed bait-taking or mocking overextension of Ricardou’s décryptage, unveiled a series of veau (veal) allusions he claimed were also running through the novel. To Bismut’s intervention Ricardou approvingly ...

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