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A Storm in His Luggage

C.K. Stead, 26 January 1995

Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters 
edited by David Gordon.
Norton, 313 pp., £23, June 1994, 0 393 03540 9
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‘Agenda’: An Anthology. The First Four Decades 
edited by William Cookson.
Carcanet, 418 pp., £25, May 1994, 1 85754 069 7
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... In a letter dated 22 January 1934 to his protégé James Laughlin, Pound makes passing reference to R.P. Blackmur, who had written a long unflattering essay, ‘Masks of Ezra Pound’, in an issue of the periodical Hound and Horn (which Pound renamed Bitch – Bugle). Next day he refers to it again – ‘24 depressing pages ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

More Husband than Female

Sharon Marcus: Gender Renegades, 17 June 2021

Female Husbands: A Trans History 
by Jen Manion.
Cambridge, 350 pp., £17.99, March 2020, 978 1 108 48380 3
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Before Trans: Three Gender Stories from 19th-Century France 
by Rachel Mesch.
Stanford, 344 pp., £24.99, May 2020, 978 1 5036 0673 9
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... James​ Allen was working for a London shipwright when he was killed by a falling piece of timber in 1829. He had been married to his wife, Abigail, for more than twenty years. The medical students who performed the autopsy declared Allen’s body anatomically female, but the coroner continued to call the deceased ‘he’ because ‘I considered it impossible for him to be a woman, as he had a wife ...

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 ...

A Particular Way of Looking

J. Hoberman: NeoRealismo, 21 November 2019

NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932-60 
edited by Enrica Viganò.
Prestel, 349 pp., £49.99, September 2018, 978 3 7913 5769 0
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... his material.Produced under Fascism in 1943, Visconti’s Ossessione (an unauthorised version of James M. Cain’s hardboiled novel The Postman Always Rings Twice) is generally considered the first Neorealist film, but it was Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945), the first movie made after the war to represent the recent Italian past, that planted the ...

The Real Price of Everything

Hilary Mantel: The Many Lives of Elizabeth Marsh, 21 June 2007

The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History 
by Linda Colley.
HarperPress, 363 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 00 719218 2
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... and led to Milbourne’s hurried transfer to Gibraltar. Gibraltar was also under threat; if Franco-Spanish forces blockaded it, there was nowhere for the garrison to go. Colley believes it was Elizabeth’s own idea to leave her family and set sail for London, via Lisbon. She travelled on an unarmed merchantman called the Ann, which became separated ...

V.G. Kiernan on treason

V.G. Kiernan, 25 June 1987

... two incongruous neighbours: A.E. Housman, anchored by misanthropy to this out-of-the-way spot, and James Klugmann, the chief Communist student organiser, and later a life-long Party worker. I.2 was not an ideal residence. When a gust of wind blew, the small fire, over which toast could be made with the help of a long fork and much patience, threw out billowing ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... earlier in the year and decided on a honeymoon in Europe. In Catalonia, a matter of weeks after Franco’s military uprising against the Second Spanish Republic, they settled happily into a political climate of intrigue and rivalry among the variegated species of anti-Fascists who failed, in the end, to hold the pass: bourgeois democrats and left ...

Nuremberg Rally, Invasion of Poland, Dunkirk …

James Meek: The never-ending wish to write about the Second World War, 6 September 2001

Ghost MacIndoe 
by Jonathan Buckley.
Fourth Estate, 469 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 1 84115 227 7
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The Twins 
by Tessa de Loo.
Arcadia, 392 pp., £6.99, May 2001, 1 900850 56 7
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Riptide 
by John Lawton.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 0 297 64345 2
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The Day We Had Hitler Home 
by Rodney Hall.
Granta, 361 pp., £15.99, April 2001, 1 86207 384 8
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Five Quarters of the Orange 
by Joanne Harris.
Doubleday, 431 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 0 385 60169 7
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The Fire Fighter 
by Francis Cottam.
Chatto, 240 pp., £15.99, March 2001, 0 7011 6981 8
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The Element of Water 
by Stevie Davies.
Women’s Press, 253 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7043 4705 9
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The Bronze Horsewoman 
by Paullina Simons.
Flamingo, 637 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 00 651322 0
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The Siege 
by Helen Dunmore.
Penguin, 304 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 670 89718 3
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... Guy de Maupassant’s story in which the two friends of the title, under siege in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, leave the city to go fishing at an old haunt beyond the safety of French lines; and stretches forward to stories not yet written, like that suggested by Chris McGreal in a recent report for the Guardian from the Democratic Republic of ...

Napoleon’s Near Miss

Linda Colley, 18 April 1985

Napoleon: The Myth of the Saviour 
by Jean Tulard, translated by Teresa Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 470 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 297 78439 0
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Alexis: Tsar of All the Russias 
by Philip Longworth.
Secker, 319 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 436 25688 6
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... and egalitarian refusal to be impressed. But since our only national cult is the Royal Family, James Agate’s less flattering verdict may also be more appropriate: ‘The English instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it.’ Other nations’ great men, however, are a different matter. Perhaps because Napoleon was born on one ...

On the Barone

John Foot, 4 March 2021

... which he worked for more than two decades. It would be easy to identify Parks with his anti-hero, James, who observes the chaos and corruption around him but does little to try and change things. Parks anticipates this conflation in his prologue, guessing that the reader will say ‘That’s Parks,’ but adds that he has mixed fact and fiction. The ...

One Per Cent

Jonathan Steinberg: The House of Rothschild, 28 October 1999

The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild 
by Niall Ferguson.
Weidenfeld, 1309 pp., £30, October 1998, 0 297 81539 3
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... Nathan Mayer’s only competitor for the title of richest man in Europe was his youngest brother, James, founder of the Paris branch. Last year was the bicentenary of the arrival of Nathan Mayer Rothschild in England and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, chairman of N.M. Rothschild and Sons, proposed a history of the House to Ferguson as a fitting way to commemorate ...

Say no more about the climate

Tom Crewe: Impressionists in/on London, 26 April 2018

Impressionists in London: French Artists in Exile 1870-1904 
Tate Britain, until 7 May 2018Show More
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... and appreciate. But this isn’t a painting. It’s a photograph taken in 1870, a document of the Franco-Prussian War. Look again and you notice that the bridge itself is missing, destroyed by the conquering Prussian army; its suspension cables dangle in the air. The men who might have made this picture had different priorities. Earlier in the ...

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