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Boundary Books

Margaret Meek

21 February 1980
Kate Crackernuts 
by Katharine Briggs.
Kestrel, 224 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 7226 5557 6
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Socialisation through Children’s Literature: The Soviet Example 
by Felicity Ann O’Dell.
Cambridge, 278 pp., £14, January 1979, 9780521219686
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Divide and Rule 
by Jan Mark.
Kestrel, 248 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 7226 5620 3
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... myths and sanctioned belief. The problem of the hero who wants to belong to the group yet to be himself is unlikely to arise in Soviet literature, but it often does in ours. A recent example is JanMark’s Divide and Rule. To his disgust and amazement, the young hero, Hanno, is chosen to serve as the ritual Shepherd, the focal figure in a dying religion. For a year, the nonconformist must conform ...

Back to Byzantium

John Thompson

22 January 1981
Destinations 
by Jan​ Morris.
Oxford, 242 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 19 502708 6
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The Venetian Empire 
by Jan​ Morris.
Faber, 192 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 9780571099368
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... There’s a jet on the cover of Destinations, soaring silently above New York, bathed in the rosy, gauzy haze of a dawn sun. The serenity of it all is deceptive, because Jan Morris is screaming in on a special assignment from Rolling Stone. Her collection of essays touches down in a quick succession of trouble-torn areas – India in the Emergency, post-Watergate ...

Zest

David Reynolds: The Real Mrs Miniver

25 April 2002
The Real Mrs Miniver 
by Ysenda Maxtone Graham.
Murray, 314 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 7195 5541 8
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Mrs Miniver 
by Jan​ Struther.
Virago, 153 pp., £7.99, November 2001, 1 85381 090 8
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... it is certainly the finest yet made about the present war, and a most exalting tribute to the British.’ The film was Mrs Miniver, whose heroine had come from a 1939 bestseller by the British writer Jan Struther. MGM’s 1942 movie had little else in common with her book, however, nor did its glossy portrait of a successful marriage correspond to the double life of Jan Struther. The film in fact ...

At the Scuderie del Quirinale

Peter Campbell: Antonello da Messina

8 June 2006
... have been trained in Naples. He may have travelled in northern Europe and he certainly worked in Venice in the 1470s. It is not clear just where, and from whom, he learned to paint in the manner of Jan van Eyck, using oil paint laid on in transparent layers which give a depth and brilliance unavailable in other media. It was not a technique that could have been easily picked up by inspecting ...

You can’t get there from here

Benjamin Markovits: Siri Hustvedt

19 June 2003
What I Loved 
by Siri Hustvedt.
Sceptre, 370 pp., £14.99, January 2003, 9780340682371
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... of attraction that seduces strangers’; he’s tall and good-looking, careless and concentrated at once, and gives off an ‘irresistible’ air of ‘autonomy’. In that first meeting they discuss Jan Steen, Zurbarán’s Saint Francis, Grünewald’s Christ, Boucher’s nudes, Pontormo’s Mannerism, R. Crumb’s ‘Tales from the Land of Genitalia’, Gogol, George Grosz, Cézanne, Vietnam, Yale ...

Virginia Weepers

Judith Shklar

17 May 1984
The Pursuit of Happiness 
by Jan​ Lewis.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £20, November 1983, 0 521 25306 3
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Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels: ‘The Philosophy of Jesus’ and ‘The Life and Morals of Jesus’ 
edited by Dickinson Adams.
Princeton, 438 pp., £28.50, September 1983, 0 691 04699 9
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... he returned so gladly. The art of life was not the avoidance of pain for these people. On the contrary, they enjoyed contemplating their suffering. At any rate, the stay-at-homes whose domestic life Jan Lewis describes in The Pursuit of Happiness were ‘awash with self-pity’. There were, of course, other gentry Virginians who pursued active and successful political careers in Washington ...

Two Poems

Christopher Reid

1 September 2005
... Neddy and the Night Noises Neddy Bumwhistle jolts awake in the dark. Insomnia’s big comic-strip exclamation mark twitches like defective neon above his head. At least he’s in the familiar slum of his own bed: no body beside him; nobody, perhaps, for miles around . . . But hang about, what’s that weird ...

Founding Moments

Stuart Macintyre

11 March 1993
The Oxford History of Australia. Vol. II, 1770-1860: Possessions 
by Jan​ Kociumbas.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 19 554610 5
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The Rule of Law in a Penal Colony: Law and Power in Early New South Wales 
by David Neal.
Cambridge, 266 pp., £30, March 1992, 9780521372640
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Waterloo Creek: The Australia Day Massacre of 1838, George Gipps and the British Conquest of New South Wales 
by Roger Milliss.
McPhee Gribble, 965 pp., February 1992, 0 86914 156 2
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Living in a New Country: History, Travelling and Language 
by Paul Carter.
Faber, 214 pp., £14.99, July 1992, 0 571 16329 7
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... with the moments of colonial origin, discovery, conquest and civilisation, with the formative event which begins a process that is encoded in subsequent habits, institutions and modes of thought. Jan Kociumbas’s general history of the Australian colonies begins with the flogging of three female convicts: while allowing that this was not part of any ‘formal plan’ of colonisation, she ...

What a Ghost Wants

Michael Newton: Laurent Binet

8 November 2012
HHhH 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 336 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 479 7
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... absurdity of writing any kind of novel at all. HHhH retells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architects of the Holocaust, by two Czech special agents, Jozef Gabčik and Jan Kubiš, their subsequent deaths and the terrible retaliation enacted by the Nazis on the Czech people, which culminated in the massacre of all the inhabitants of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky ...

One Good Side

Brendan Simms: Edvard Benes

18 February 1999
The Life of Edvard Benes, 1884-1948: Czechoslovakia in Peace and War 
by Zbynek Zeman and Antonin Klimek.
Oxford, 293 pp., £40, July 1997, 9780198205838
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... the independence platform hammered out in London and among the diaspora. Hundreds of thousands of Czechs served in the Habsburg army; the vast majority did not desert. One of them, oddly enough, was Jan Masaryk, son of the exiled T.G., who defended the Dual Monarchy to the bitter end and was even decorated for it. In spite of all this, Benes and Masaryk senior persuaded the Allies in August 1918 to ...
6 April 1995
Hans Memling: The Complete Works 
by Dirk de Vos.
Thames and Hudson, 431 pp., £95, October 1994, 0 500 23698 4
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... I was not able to get to the major exhibition organised by the city of Bruges to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Hans Memling. But there is consolation in the fact that if one has ever been to Bruges one knows something of what his art is like. To a remarkable degree ...

The Nazis were less harsh

Mark​ Mazower: Mischka Danos

7 February 2019
Mischka’s War: A Story of Survival from War-Torn Europe to New York 
by Sheila Fitzpatrick.
I.B. Tauris, 336 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 1 78831 022 2
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... into the US, which suggests that what she had been doing hadn’t been without risk. For Danos the risk that loomed largest in these months was a call-up from the Waffen-SS. His younger brother, Jan, had been imprisoned after going into hiding. His older brother, Arpad Junior, was safe because he worked in a protected occupation. When Misha presented himself to the mobilisation bureau at the end ...

Mummies

Ian Hamilton

16 June 1983
Ancient Evenings 
by Norman Mailer.
Macmillan, 709 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 333 34025 6
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... blue. He moves with the grace of the boxer he has sometimes pretended to be ... his ample waist looks solid rather than soft ... He is remarkably fit for a man of 60, which is what he became last Jan 31. Time on Norman Mailer, April 1983 His hair showed the silver of a virile maturity, while the lines on his face had not yet become a myriad of wrinkles, terraces and webs, but exhibited ...

Floating Medicine Chests

Steven Shapin: The Dutch East India Company

7 February 2008
Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine and Science in the Dutch Golden Age 
by Harold Cook.
Yale, 562 pp., £25, April 2007, 978 0 300 11796 7
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... meat, but salt was always the preservative of choice. The currently accepted story is that spices denoted conspicuous culinary consumption – they were lavished on food and drink as an olfactory mark of opulence. Everyone knew how expensive they were, and the more evident spices were in the food you gave your guests, the more social capital you acquired. Spicy food smelt of success. But there is ...

Those Streets Over There

John Connelly: The Warsaw Rising

24 June 2004
Rising ’44: ‘The Battle for Warsaw’ 
by Norman Davies.
Pan, 752 pp., £9.99, June 2004, 0 330 48863 5
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... at 100,000.’ Polish historians believe that Poles massacred Jews in 24 towns in the summer and autumn of 1941. In July 1941, Poles in Jedwabne murdered Jews in a day-long pogrom, as we know from Jan Gross’s book Neighbours, published in 2001. Since then, Polish researchers have located 23 other towns where Poles massacred Jews. Ignoring this research and citing no sources, Davies claims that ...

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