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Strange Stardom

David Haglund: James Franco, 17 March 2011

Palo Alto: Stories 
by James Franco.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, January 2011, 978 0 571 27316 4
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... a type of celebrity now.’ He contrasts Ledger, who died three years ago at the age of 28, with James Dean, who died 55 years ago at the age of 24 and became the standard against which all young, handsome, would-be acting geniuses in Hollywood are measured. It’s not only, Thomson says, that Ledger wasn’t the actor Dean was. It’s that movies, and their ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Milk’ , 1 January 2009

... Gus Van Sant’s new film, Milk, is thoughtful, patient, funny and touching, and both Sean Penn and James Franco should get Oscars, but it doesn’t answer the questions any biopic raises for me: what’s it for and why now? Or perhaps it does have the answers, but we have to do our own digging for them. Harvey Milk was an elected official of the city of San Francisco, said to be the first openly gay man to hold public office in the United States ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Project Nim’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ , 8 September 2011

Project Nim 
directed by James Marsh.
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes 
directed by Rupert Wyatt.
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... showing in London at the same time is presumably an accident of distribution. That the two works, James Marsh’s Project Nim and Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, should resemble each other so closely begins to look like a message or a clue, a movieworld sign that we actually are rethinking our relation to other animals. You’ll see how eerie ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Spider-Man 3’, 24 May 2007

Spider-Man 3 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2007
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... making guest/ghost appearances in the other two; in the latest film, his son Harry, played by James Franco, now knowing who Spider-Man is, becomes the imaginatively named New Goblin, and follows in his father’s flight-pattern, riding an airborne missile-bearing skateboard, and duelling with Peter high about the Manhattan streets. Peter ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: Are books like nappies?, 2 August 2012

... steps into quality lit aren’t yet in evidence. (One signing is the actor turned fiction writer James Franco, but his status as symbolic capital is a little shaky.) In the past few weeks, the Nation has run a cover story called ‘Amazon and the Conquest of Publishing’ by Steve Wasserman, and Ken Auletta in the New Yorker has reported on the ebook ...

At the British Museum

James Davidson: Persia’s ‘Forgotten Empire’, 22 September 2005

... plain stone box. Sponsorship is provided by BP, formerly the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, for the Franco-Persian agreement did not stop William Knox D’Arcy from undertaking a different kind of exploration. There is a lot of history and politics in this exhibition, and not all of it is ancient. The original Xerxes remains where he has been for 2500 years, in ...

To kill a cat

Anthony Pagden, 21 February 1985

Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part One: I Grandi Staii dell’Occidente 
by Franco Venturi.
Einaudi, 463 pp., lire 45,000, July 1984, 88 06 05695 6
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Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part Two: II Patriotismo Repubblicano e gli Imperi dell’Est 
by Franco Venturi.
Einaudi, 1040 pp., lire 55,000, July 1984, 88 06 05696 4
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The Great Cat Massacre, and Other Episodes in French Cultural History 
by Robert Darnton.
Viking, 284 pp., £14.95, July 1984, 0 7139 1728 8
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Rousseau, Dreamer of Democracy 
by James Miller.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 300 03044 4
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... perhaps the misfortune, of the Enlightenment that its historians frequently write very long books. Franco Venturi’s Settecento Riformatore, which must surely be one of the longest, has now reached its fifth and final volume. As an enterprise it can have few parallels even among dixhuitièmistes. It offers no less than the description of an entire culture ...

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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... In Martin Scorsese​ ’s film adaptation of The Age of Innocence, facsimiles of James Tissot’s paintings hang on the walls of the Beauforts’ Gilded Age mansion, the setting for the annual Opera Ball, where New York plutocrats dance with women in Tissot-inspired dresses. An oversized replica of Too Early (1873) shows the sniggering that meets a group of early arrivals at a ball ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... christened John and the vast majority of the other men and boys around at the time were Joseph, James, Thomas or William. Around 1850, however, the repertoire of names in regular use began to increase rapidly. As Gothic-looking steeples rose around the country, so medieval-sounding names crowded around the font: Arthur, Walter, Harold and ...

Short Cuts

Michael Dobson: Deutschland ist Hamlet, 6 August 2009

... thereby finally outgrowing Shakespeare’s depressing and constraining plot. In the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, for instance, the American scholar H.H. Furness saluted the world’s first national society for the study of Shakespeare, the Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, by dedicating his variorum edition of the complete works to it in ...

Memories We Get to Keep

James Meek: James Salter’s Apotheosis, 20 June 2013

All That Is 
by James Salter.
Picador, 290 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3824 9
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Collected Stories 
by James Salter.
Picador, 303 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3938 3
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... point of view we experience the world, at the smallest remove from the first person ‘I’ – as James Kelman put it, not so much written from a character’s viewpoint as over his shoulder. In a writer like Kelman, Bellow or Coetzee, it’s a means to great work. Used as a default by less accomplished writers, the single-perspective free indirect speech ...

Royal Mysteries

V.G. Kiernan, 10 January 1983

From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis 
by Geoffrey Barraclough.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780297781745
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... There need have been no obstacle so far as confidentiality was concerned. Foreign policy, which James I was so adamant about keeping to himself as ‘the royal mystery’, was still everywhere the preserve of very small, exclusive circles. In London scarcely more than a dozen men knew where British policy was really going, or drifting. Parliament and public ...

Towards Disappearance

James Francken: Oradour-sur-Glane, 1 July 1999

Matyred Village: Commemorating the 1944 Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane 
by Sarah Farmer.
California, 323 pp., £19.95, March 1999, 0 520 21186 3
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... serving in the German Army. Alsace was a region of fragmented attachments, ceded at the end of the Franco-Prussian War and returned to France in 1918. When it was again lost in 1940, those Alsatians who refused to give up their French citizenship were forced to leave, many of those who remained were subject to forcible conscription. Support for the soldiers on ...

Whose war is it anyway?

David Daiches, 24 August 1995

Days of Anger, Days of Hope: A Memoir of the League of American Writers, 1937-1942 
by Franklin Folsom.
Colorado, 376 pp., £24.50, July 1994, 0 585 03686 1
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... the ‘non-intervention’ policy of the British and French governments with respect to the Franco rebellion in Spain; the helpless feeling that the humane liberal traditions in which so many of us had been brought up were dangerously threatened: all of this had us seriously worried. It led many to believe that the only hope for Europe lay in the idea ...

By the Width of a Street

Christopher Prendergast: Literary geography, 29 October 1998

An Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 
by Franco Moretti.
Verso, 206 pp., £16, August 1998, 1 85984 883 4
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... of An Atlas of the European Novel, in a discussion of images of London in the 19th-century novel, Franco Moretti throws in a parenthetical aside on the whereabouts of his publisher (‘in a rather bleak part of Soho’). It’s a sort of joke, consistent with the laidback tone that Moretti seems able to combine effortlessly with high intellectual ...

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