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Gehenna

Walter Kendrick, 2 August 1984

The Brothers Singer 
by Clive Sinclair.
Allison and Busby, 176 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 85031 275 2
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The Penitent 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Joseph Singer.
Cape, 170 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 224 02192 3
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... When Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, not everyone was gratified. Clive Sinclair begins The Brothers Singer with a quotation from a BBC radio interview broadcast minutes after the award had been announced: the ‘astounded’ interviewer suspected that ‘some kind of American Mafia’ was at work in the Nobel Committee, while the ‘serious’ Professor Bradbury, discounting this theory, ascribed Singer’s triumph to ‘the domination of American writing in the world today ...

They can’t do anything to me

Jeremy Adler: Peter Singer, 20 January 2005

Pushing Time Away: My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna 
by Peter Singer.
Granta, 254 pp., £15.99, July 2004, 1 86207 696 0
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... broach the subject. Today, by contrast, a scarred identity earns almost universal respect. Peter Singer’s Pushing Time Away reflects this shift. He used to be, he says, far too busy writing his philosophy to bother with his grandfather. It was only when he noticed an affinity between his work on ‘practical ethics’ and his maternal grandfather’s wish ...

Even if I married a whole harem of women I’d still act like a bachelor

Elaine Showalter: Isaac Bashevis Singer, 17 September 1998

Shadows on the Hudson 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Joseph Sherman.
Hamish Hamilton, 560 pp., £16.99, June 1998, 0 241 13940 6
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Isaac Bashevis SingerA Life 
by Janice Hadda.
Oxford, 254 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 19 508420 9
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... The posthumous English publication of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s mammoth novel Shadows on the Hudson has created such a tumel. Critics have been arguing about the quality of the novel, originally serialised in 1957-58 in the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forward; and about the reasons Singer did not have it translated during his lifetime ...

Conspiratorial Hapsburger

Michael Hofmann, 5 March 1987

Hotel Savoy 
by Joseph Roth, translated by John Hoare.
Chatto, 183 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 7011 2879 8
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... When Joseph Roth was asked once to write about his earliest memory, he described how as a baby he had seen his mother strip his cradle and hand it over to a strange woman, who ‘holds it to her chest, as though it were some trifling object of negligible dimensions, speaks for a long time, smiles, showing her long yellow teeth, goes to the door and leaves the house ...

How good was he?

Iain Fenlon: Antonio Salieri, 6 July 2000

Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera 
by John Rice.
Chicago, 648 pp., £66.50, April 1999, 0 226 71125 0
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... and musical justification. Salieri’s apotheosis, conducted under the benevolent gaze of Emperor Joseph II, began in earnest with the curious history of Les Danaïdes, an opera to an Italian libretto which Gluck commissioned from Calzabigi and then had translated into French by François Du Roullet and Theodor Tschudi. Gluck did not set Les Danaïdes ...

Yossarian rides again

Michael Wood, 20 October 1994

Closing Time 
by Joseph Heller.
Simon and Schuster, 464 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 671 71907 6
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... Logic is doubtless unshakeable,’ Joseph K. thinks towards the end of The Trial, ‘but it cannot withstand a man who wants to go on living.’ He is wrong, of course, since he is killed within a page by the brutal logic of the novel he is in. But there is a logic that resists such logic, and one of its masters is Joseph...

Diary

August Kleinzahler: Too Bad about Mrs Ferri, 20 September 2001

... getting a shave at the Park Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue. The Gallo brothers made the hit: Joseph ‘Crazy Joe’, Larry, and Albert ‘Kid Blast’. They were accompanied by an ugly little torpedo named Joseph ‘Joe Jelly’ Giorelli, who finished the job with a bullet to the back of Anastasia’s head. These four ...

Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 1 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... should do a bit of digging: Crosby is a fascinating character. As well as a subtly revolutionary singer he was a technophile obsessed with recording techniques, and with how best to refine and update them to suit the new, softer style of singing and playing. Crosby was the original ‘crooner’ when the world was full of vocalists who belted out songs to ...

Zip the Lips

Lorna Scott Fox: A novel plea for silence, 2 June 2005

Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Chatto, 376 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 9780701176754
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The Man of Feeling 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Vintage, 135 pp., £7.99, February 2005, 0 09 945367 3
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... conventional ambitions. The first-person narrator of this book is, as usual, an outsider, an opera singer who spends most of his time in foreign hotels on tour. This estranged position allows him to make many peevish observations about the general crassness around him, but here it’s convincingly in character: Marías paints a fastidious, endearingly ...

Levi’s Oyster

Karl Miller, 4 August 1988

The Drowned and the Saved 
by Prime Levi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Joseph, 170 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 7181 3063 4
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... of mind, all of which are virtually unknown in Italy, except by some sophisticated readers of Joseph Roth, Bellow, Singer, Malamud, Potok, and of course yourself. Levi’s explained intention does not mean that there is no autobiography in the book. The wish to evoke a Jewish resistance to Nazism relates to a history ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... on England. Deschooling and little red books are everywhere. Peter has taken up with a ‘a folk singer woman’. Her mother (‘Mumma’) conveys the bad news, stressing each terrible item of offence: ‘vegan food ... macrobiotic ... hippy ... R.D. Laing ... Joan Baez ... probably on pot’. ‘Is he living with her?’ an appalled Anthea asks ...

Manliness

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1984

Last Ferry to Manly 
by Jill Neville.
Penguin, 165 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 14 007068 0
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Down from the Hill 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 218 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 246 12517 9
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God Knows 
by Joseph Heller.
Cape, 353 pp., £8.95, November 1984, 0 224 02288 1
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Wilt on High 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 236 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780436458118
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... in Limbo.’ God Knows has a lightning flash on the cover, looking like Mosley’s armlet, but Joseph Heller’s novel is not deliberately anti-Jewish. It is meant to be an autobiography of King David, the sweet singer of Israel, as told by a wisecracking New Yorker who fancies himself as a Jewish wit. Cocteau once said ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Irishman’, 25 November 2019

... shot. At the beginning of The Age of Innocence (1993) the camera zooms slowly in to the face of a singer on stage at the opera. We see wrinkles, make-up, the line on the forehead where the wig begins. All very realistic, even real, but in reality only a person hanging from the ceiling like a spider could see what we are seeing on the screen. At such moments ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Brian Dillon: ‘Linderism’, 7 May 2020

... take on ageing glam rock: one of the mocked-up female faces looks like Brian Connolly, the lead singer of the Sweet. Linder initially drew or painted over found images: on a page from a Damart catalogue, for instance, she gave thermal underwear models garish lingerie and scurrilous genitalia. Guided by Ades’s book, she turned exclusively to montage. Her ...

Nobody is God

Robert Taubman, 4 February 1982

Rabbit is Rich 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 467 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 233 97424 5
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Charlotte: Life or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
Allen Lane, 784 pp., £30, September 1981, 0 7139 1425 4
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Weights and Measures 
by Joseph Roth.
Peter Owen, 150 pp., £7.50, January 1982, 0 7206 0562 8
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November 
by Rolf Schneider.
Hamish Hamilton, 235 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 241 10347 9
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... between this newcomer and Charlotte, then an art student, and her stepmother Paulinka, an opera singer. The author’s irony dwells on all her characters, but inside the story her heroine Charlotte, though romantically in love, employs her own irony both on Daberlohn and on herself. But most of the text of the book comes from him: his theory of masks, death ...

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