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Puck’s Dream

Mark Ford, 14 June 1990

Selected Poems 1990 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 176 pp., £6.95, March 1990, 0 19 282625 5
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Life by Other Means: Essays on D.J. Enright 
edited by Jacqueline Simms.
Oxford, 208 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 19 212989 9
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Vanishing Lung Syndrome 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by David Young and Dana Habova.
Faber, 68 pp., £10.99, April 1990, 0 571 14378 4
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The Dimension of the Present Moment, and Other Essays 
by Miroslav Holub, edited by David Young.
Faber, 146 pp., £4.99, April 1990, 0 571 14338 5
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Poems Before and After: Collected English Translations 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by Ewald Osers and George Theiner.
Bloodaxe, 272 pp., £16, April 1990, 1 85224 121 7
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My Country: Collected Poems 
by Alistair Elliot.
Carcanet, 175 pp., £18.95, November 1989, 0 85635 846 0
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1953: A Version of Racine’s ‘Andromaque’ 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 571 14312 1
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Andromache 
by Jean Racine, translated by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 571 14249 4
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... tedium of this mini-Holocaust. Craig Raine’s 1953 is a very free and ingenious version of Racine’s Andromaque. Raine transposes the play to the imaginary aftermath of a World War Two won by the Germans and their allies. Pyrrhus becomes Vittorio, the son of Mussolini, and Andromaque becomes Annette LeSkye, a haughty English aristocrat, whose young ...

Flattery

Peter Burke, 16 September 1982

Le Roi-Machine: Spectacle et Politique au Temps de Louis XIV 
by Jean-Marie Apostolidès.
Les Editions de Minuit, 164 pp., £4.50
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Le Portrait du Roi 
by Louis Marin.
Les Editions de Minuit, 300 pp., £5.60
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... between power and imagination, they do not see these relationships in quite the same way. Jean-Marie Apostolidès has written a lucid and elegant, if somewhat superficial, essay on the politics of spectacle. His framework of analysis is Marxist in the Althusserian manner, and his chief concern is with the place of the arts in the ‘state ...

On the Metre

Tony Harrison, 2 June 2005

... I’m always quoting le coeur bat l’iambe – Jean-Louis Barrault on the metre of Racine. Blood recorded on an echocardiogram in synch with karaoke squid shapes on the screen, I hear now with a woman in white coat. Though not iambic, more fluttery trochee, the odd dochmaic, anapaest, I note the verse in my pounding heart at least’s not free ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... the 17th century, la maison came into the possession of Marie Desmares, known as la Champmeslé, Jean Racine’s mistress and the most famous tragedienne of her day. Racine died in a house in the Rue Visconti immediately behind la Champmeslé’s garden and Balzac’s printing-press: a plaque near a dismal doorway ...

Oppositional

P.N. Furbank, 3 August 1995

Emulation: Making Artists for Revolutionary France 
by Thomas Crow.
Yale, 288 pp., £29.95, January 1995, 0 300 06093 9
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... contemporary debate, which itself was partly political, over the relative merits of Corneille and Racine. ‘Racine makes lovers out of his syllables so that nothing can separate them,’ wrote a contemporary critic. ‘Corneille joins his ideas together so forcibly that his phrases resemble so many Gordian knots that must ...

Lights by the Ton

John Sturrock: Jean Echenoz, 18 June 1998

Lake 
by Jean Echenoz, translated by Guido Waldman.
Harvill, 122 pp., £8.99, June 1998, 1 86046 449 1
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Un An 
by Jean Echenoz.
Minuit, 111 pp., frs 65, September 1997, 2 7073 1587 7
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... The weightless characters who track about in Jean Echenoz’s novels are granted a sense now and again that that’s where they are, in someone else’s story, fulfilling burlesque routines not of their own devising. They’re not great thinkers, merely see-through functionaries of the plot. There’s a droll exchange marking one of these twinges of self-awareness in an early novel called Cherokee – named for the Forties song, not for the Native Americans as such – between the driver of a Deux-Chevaux and his captive passenger: ‘ “We could take you somewhere ...

Bon Garçon

David Coward: La Fontaine’s fables, 7 February 2002

Complete Tales in Verse 
by Jean de La Fontaine, translated by Guido Waldman.
Carcanet, 334 pp., £14.95, October 2000, 9781857544824
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The Fables of La Fontaine: Wisdom Brought down to Earth 
by Andrew Calder.
Droz, 234 pp., £36.95, September 2001, 2 600 00464 5
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The Craft of La Fontaine 
by Maya Slater.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 255 pp., $43.50, May 2001, 0 8386 3920 8
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... he quickly regained his composure, and he soon returned to Paris. There he now counted Molière, Racine and Boileau among his friends. In 1664, still short of funds, he was attached to the household of the Duchesse d’Orléans and discharged dull duties in the Palais du Luxembourg without enthusiasm until she died in 1672. On the other hand, he had his ...

Thatcherschaft

Nicholas Spice, 1 October 1987

The Child in Time 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 220 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 9780224024990
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The Book and the Brotherhood 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 601 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 7011 3251 5
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... contingencies of everyday life. A high style will purge itself of references to vulgar reality. Racine wrote within a vocabulary of two thousand words. Iris Murdoch cannot write about supermarket trolleys, traffic wardens or blocked drains. Beside McEwan, the altitude of Murdoch’s style is especially noticeable. The following passage from The Child in ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 8 February 1990

A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... to the year, the month, if possible the day when it happened: as, ‘1538, 6 March. The printer Jean Morin is Jailed for Having Published the Anonymous Cymbalum Mundi,’ or ‘1925, November. At 56, André Gide publishes Les Faux-Monnayeurs, His First Novel.’ Then, by way of a temporal recap, at the end there is a second list, of for the most part ...

Writing French in English

Helen Cooper: Chaucer’s Language, 7 October 2010

TheFamiliar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War 
by Ardis Butterfield.
Oxford, 444 pp., £60, December 2009, 978 0 19 957486 5
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... dominance, or would French culture have triumphed? Would Shakespeare have written more like Racine, or Racine more like Shakespeare? Or would both of them have been inconceivable in the forms in which we have them? The fortunes of the French language in Normandy and England offer very different answers, and Chaucer is ...

On Albert Memmi

Adam Shatz, 13 August 2020

... is a passport to a wider world.At the prestigious Lycée Carnot, Memmi studied with the poet Jean Amrouche, a Berber Christian from Algeria, and the French philosopher Aimé Patri. In The Pillar of Salt, the teacher Professor Marrou, based on Amrouche, at first strikes Benillouche as ‘an image of salvation’, proof that ‘it was possible to be born ...

Head over heart for Europe

Peter Pulzer, 21 March 1991

Ever Closer Union: Britain’s Destiny in Europe 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 96 pp., £7.99, January 1991, 0 09 174908 5
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The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Pan, 226 pp., £5.99, February 1991, 9780330314367
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... as subordinate arts. In literature it is the other way round. We have never absorbed Goethe, Racine or Dante as others have absorbed Shakespeare. Indeed, not the least embarrassing feature of a visit to the Continent is the widespread familiarity there with an impressive range of English letters, and the expertise that the visitor is assumed to be able ...

Access to the Shining Prince

Hide Ishiguro, 21 May 1981

The Tale of Genji 
by Murasaki Shikibu, translated by Edward Seidensticker.
Penguin, 1090 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 14 044390 8
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... worker manipulating the robot on the shop floor, every salesman in his dark suit, every jean-clad punk on his motorcycle, and every dedicated Marxist, has read some chapters of The Tale of Genji (and of the Pillow Book of the same period). Many of the residents of one of the noisiest capital cities in the world, living under an often ...

Bit by Bit

John Sturrock, 22 December 1994

Roland Barthes: A Biography 
by Louis-Jean Calvet, translated by Sarah Wykes.
Polity, 291 pp., £25, October 1994, 9780745610177
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... from reading ‘bourgeois’ fiction. The most engaging of the biographemes to be found in Louis-Jean Calvet’s Life is an occasion in the late Seventies when Barthes played (badly, by all accounts, and on location in Leeds) the role of Thackeray in a French film about the Brontës; by that late stage this wasn’t the comical piece of literary miscasting ...

Proust and His Mother

Michael Wood, 22 March 2012

... I must tell you that I had not thought for a moment of saying anything at all in the presence of Jean [the servant] and that if that happened it was absolutely without my knowledge [à mon insu]. Let’s think no more and talk no more about it. The broken glass will merely be what it is in the temple – the symbol of an indissoluble union. Your father ...

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