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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Dark Tom

Christopher Ricks, 1 December 1983

Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley 1933-1980 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 323 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 28852 4
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Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Fontana, 274 pp., £2.50, October 1983, 0 00 636644 9
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... tragic compromises with tyranny which democracy may be moved to make, ‘Eisenhower’s Visit to Franco, 1959’, James Wright flashlit the dark disingenuousness of Fascism: Franco stands in a shining circle of police. His arms open in welcome. He promises all dark things Will be hunted ...

Neil Corcoran confronts the new recklessness

Neil Corcoran, 28 September 1989

Manila Envelope 
by James Fenton.
28 Kayumanggi St, West Triangle Homes, Quezon City, Phillipines, 48 pp., £12, May 1989, 971 8647 01 5
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New Selected Poems 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 190 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15482 4
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The Mirror Wall 
by Richard Murphy.
Bloodaxe, 61 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9781852240929
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Selected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 85635 741 3
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The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 47 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3455 0
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... For a writer who several years ago published a ‘Manifesto Against Manifestoes’, James Fenton has published his fair share of manifestoes, including a disguised one for a ‘Martian school’ to which he did not belong. The latest, ‘Manila Manifesto’, comes as part of a package with his new book Manila Envelope ...

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 ...

Defender of the Faith

C.H. Sisson, 16 February 1984

The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Donat Gallagher.
Methuen, 662 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 413 50370 4
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... and it is in fact disputed by the editor of this volume. Donat Gallagher teaches English at the James Cook University of North Queensland; his case for a ‘complete’ collection of Waugh’s essays and articles rests on his subject’s ‘exceptional talent as a writer, and vigour and independence as a thinker’. These qualities Waugh certainly had in ...

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 ...

Top Sergeant

D.A.N. Jones, 23 April 1992

An Autobiography 
by Fred Zinnemann.
Bloomsbury, 256 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 7475 1131 4
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... for invasion and insurrection than those surprised Americans at Pearl Harbor. The movie (and James Jones’s novel, on which it was based) presented that peace-time army as a community wherein a vicious and slothful officer might neglect his duties, turning over his responsibilities to the Top Sergeant, while the Other Ranks (or the Enlisted Men, as the ...

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