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6 January 1994
Investigating Sex: Surrealist Research 1928-1932 
edited by José Pierre, translated by Malcolm Imrie.
Verso, 215 pp., £17.95, November 1992, 0 86091 378 3
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... 1928, five between November 1930 and August 1932. The first two reports were published at the time in La Révolution surréaliste; the other ten were unknown until a French edition edited by JoséPierre appeared three years ago. This translation has an Afterword by Dawn Ades, characteristically learned, limpid and illuminating. Incidentally, Pierre’s use of the word ‘transcripts’ to describe ...

Their Way

José​ Harris: On the Origin of Altruism

12 March 2009
The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... more obvious influences of either democratic socialism or Soviet-style Marxism. Some of the most prominent social planners of those years, such as William Beveridge and Barbara Wootton in Britain, Pierre Laroque and Francis Netter in France, together with many campaigners for a united or federal postwar Europe, were heirs and exemplars of the positivist tradition of social, political and legal ...

Hungry Ghosts

Paul Connerton

19 April 1990
Fragments for a History of the Human Body, Parts I-III 
edited by Michel Feher, Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi.
Zone, 480 pp., £35.95, May 1989, 0 942299 25 6
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... on the techniques of the body charted a path into the unexplored. In arguing that the body is socially constructed he has been followed more recently by, among others, Norbert Elias, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu and Mary Douglas. To these we must now add Fragments for a History of the Human Body, a collection edited by Michel Feher, with Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi. The book is in three volumes ...
4 June 1981
... enough, by such leftist writers and sponsors of the Revolution as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, ltalo Calvino, Marguerite Duras, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Juan Goytisolo, André Pierre de Mandiargues, Alain Jouffroy, Joyce Mansour, Alberto Moravia, Octavio Paz and some others who couldn’t even pronounce the name of Padilla correctly, much less read his poems. It was a case of tit ...

Cheese and Late Modernity

Steven Shapin: The changing rind of Camembert

20 November 2003
Camembert: A National Myth 
by Pierre​ Boisard, translated by Richard Miller.
California, 254 pp., £19.95, June 2003, 0 520 22550 3
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... a reference for globalised abominations – without understanding their ideas about the place called America. In these respects Camembert is a lot more like the McMerde burger than you might suppose. Pierre Boisard seeks to show how, over the past 150 years or so, the cheese has been ruined: industrialised, homogenised, delocalised and, finally, pasteurised – and all without the assistance of American ...
30 March 2000
Dreaming with His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera 
by Patrick Marnham.
Bloomsbury, 368 pp., £12.99, November 1999, 0 7475 4450 6
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Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals 
by Linda Bank Downs.
Norton, 202 pp., £35, March 2000, 0 393 04529 3
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... guitars and newspapers of Cubism, which he practised with decreasing orthodoxy for four years, proved a dead-end. In 1917 came the storm in a wine-glass known as ‘l’affaire Rivera’. The poet Pierre Reverdy was conducting a curious rearguard campaign in Nord-Sud against deviations from analytical Cubism, with special attention to Rivera, whose ‘Cubist portraits’ he considered an oxymoron ...

That Wooden Leg

Michael Wood: Conversations with Don Luis

7 September 2000
An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel 
translated by Garrett White.
California, 266 pp., £17.50, April 2000, 0 520 20840 4
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... Way. He even loved ideas. He just didn’t like the idea of them.One day I didn’t offer my polite disagreement. I had been to see his A Woman without Love (1951), a version of Maupassant’s novel Pierre et Jean, a truly terrible film by any standards, without a single redeeming or even interesting moment, as far as I could see. In My Last Breath, Buñuel was to say this was ‘no doubt my worst film ...

The Next Fix

Lara Pawson: African Oil

7 February 2008
Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil 
by Nicholas Shaxson.
Palgrave, 280 pp., £15.99, May 2007, 978 1 4039 7194 4
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Oil Wars 
edited by Mary Kaldor, Terry Lynn Karl and Yahia Said.
Pluto, 294 pp., £17.99, March 2008, 978 0 7453 2478 4
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Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil 
by John Ghazvinian.
Harcourt Brace, 320 pp., $25, April 2007, 978 0 15 101138 4
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... the government to fund its war against Jonas Savimbi, led the French justice system to issue an international warrant for his arrest in 2000. Working alongside Gaydamak on Angola were his friend Pierre Falcone, Mitterrand’s son Jean-Christophe, and Jean-Bernard Curial, who advised the French Socialist Party in the 1980s and was an old associate of the Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos ...

Maaaeeestro!

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Gabriel García Márquez

27 August 2009
Gabriel García Márquez: A Life 
by Gerald Martin.
Bloomsbury, 668 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 7475 9476 5
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... him’. Still, it is hard to escape the feeling that through his peculiar relationship to the fact of celebrity, García Márquez, like Hemingway, has fallen victim to a twisted version of what Pierre Bourdieu once called the ‘biographical illusion’. Perhaps it takes a biography like this one for us to understand that, and in any event it does not diminish him as one of the great novelists of ...
17 March 2016
Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola since the Civil War 
by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira.
Hurst, 291 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 84904 284 0
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A Short History of Modern Angola 
by David Birmingham.
Hurst, 256 pp., £17.99, December 2015, 978 1 84904 519 3
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Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa 
by Piero Gleijeses.
North Carolina, 655 pp., £27.95, February 2016, 978 1 4696 0968 3
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A General Theory of Oblivion 
by José​ Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn.
Harvill, 245 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 1 84655 847 4
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In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre 
by Lara Pawson.
I.B. Tauris, 271 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 1 78076 905 9
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Cuito Cuanavale: Frontline Accounts by Soviet Soldiers 
by G. Shubin, I. Zhdarkin et al, translated by Tamara Reilly.
Jacana, 222 pp., £12.95, May 2014, 978 1 4314 0963 1
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... three years earlier they might have called on the Cubans, but the Cubans had gone, and the Soviet Union no longer existed. The hunt was on for fixers. Before long Dos Santos and his diplomats found Pierre Falcone, the French billionaire ‘consultant’, and the Russian-Israeli ‘import-export’ maverick Arkady Gaydamak, who arranged for a series of unauthorised arms deliveries to the MPLA. The ...

Union Sucrée

Perry Anderson: The Normalising of France

23 September 2004
Le Rappel à l’ordre: Enquête sur les nouveaux réactionnaires 
by Daniel Lindenberg.
Seuil, 94 pp., €10.50, November 2002, 2 02 055816 5
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Esquisse pour une auto-analyse 
by Pierre​ Bourdieu.
Raisons d'Agir, 142 pp., €12, February 2004, 2 912107 19 9
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La République mondiale des lettres 
by Pascale Casanova.
Seuil, 492 pp., €27.50, March 1999, 2 02 035853 0
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... been laid to rest. The Republic had found its feet in the safe ground of the centre. Only one heritage of the past had yet to be thoroughly purged of its ambiguities: the Nation. This task fell to Pierre Nora. In his editorial on the tenth anniversary of Le Débat in 1990, Nora had hailed the ‘new cultural landscape’ of the country, and within another couple of years, he completed his own ...
24 November 1994
... values. The arrangement bore historic fruit in the series of great French names who, before they were known in the world at large, came to the Faculty in São Paulo: Lévi-Strauss, Braudel, Pierre Monbeig, Roger Bastide, Claude Lefort, Michel Foucault. The deepest local imprint was left in philosophy, where a set of outstanding instructors trained a generation of thinkers, vividly memorialised ...
4 September 1980
Misia 
by Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale.
Macmillan, 337 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 333 28165 9
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... to make the director of the Conservatoire resign. Fauré took over. Ravel’s Le Cygne is dedicated to Misia and she always called him mon petit Ravel. She was even more moved by Debussy. In 1902 Pierre Louÿs invited friends to hear Debussy play Pelléas et Mélisande at an upright piano. As so often happened, Misia was the only woman present. She was there by right, since the composers respected ...

Velvet Gentleman

Nick Richardson: Erik Satie

3 June 2015
A Mammal’s Notebook: The Writings of Erik Satie 
edited by Ornella Volta, translated by Antony Melville.
Atlas, 224 pp., £17.50, June 2014, 978 1 900565 66 0
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... hardly a typical Catholic – should have found the occult. There was a lot of it about in the Paris of the late 19th century, and many of those involved hung out at the Chat Noir. Satie fell in with Joséphin Péladan, a cape-wearing Kabbalist from Lyon with a forked beard and hair like an electrified bird’s nest. He was the ‘Imperator’ and ‘Sâr’ (a title he claimed was bestowed on his ...

Don’t abandon me

Colm Tóibín: Borges and the Maids

11 May 2006
Borges: A Life 
by Edwin Williamson.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, August 2005, 0 14 024657 6
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... father ‘had been denied’, as Williamson puts it. The ironies and absurdities of this were not lost on him. In the months after his father’s death he wrote one of his great serious spoofs, ‘Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote’, a meditation, using a straight face and no ‘fine writing or purple patches’, on the idea of rewriting as an inspired enterprise, and on the concept of the writer ...

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