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God, what a victory!

Jeremy Harding, 10 February 1994

Martyr’s Day: Chronicle of Small War 
by Michael Kelly.
Macmillan, 354 pp., £16.99, October 1993, 0 333 60496 2
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Battling for News: The Rise of the Woman Reporter 
by Anne Sebba.
Hodder, 301 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 340 55599 8
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Women’s Letters in Wartime 
edited by Eva Figes.
Pandora, 304 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 04 440755 6
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The War at Sixteen: Autobiography, Vol. II 
by Julien Green, translated by Euan Cameron.
Marion Boyars, 207 pp., £19.95, November 1993, 0 7145 2969 9
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... so that I could importantly shoot over.’ In the second volume of his autobiography (1916-20), Julien Green, who did two stints as an ambulance driver in France and Italy, cuts less of a dash on four wheels. He is invariably troubled and often solemn. A touching photograph on the jacket shows him alone in front of his American Field Service ambulance ...

The Red Card of Chaos

Jeremy Harding, 8 June 1995

... for the Presidential election of 1970 was Mobutu and the ballot consisted of two cards – a green one, ‘pour l’espoir’, and a red one, ‘le chaos’. Things have changed a little since Mobutu’s third seven-year term of office neared its eat-by date in 1990, when the enthusiasm for multiparti was difficult to stem and the conflict in Angola ...

Autumn in Paris

Musab Younis: Autumn in Paris, 5 December 2019

... On​ 11 October, Julien Odoul, an official from the Rassemblement National, formerly the Front National, interrupted a French regional council session to ask a woman in the audience either to remove her headscarf or leave. She was a volunteer accompanying children on a school trip. ‘Madame has ample time to wear her veil at home and on the street,’ Odoul said ...


Gabriel Josipovici, 3 December 1981

... the Rue Octave Mirbeau, behind the Pantheon. To reach it you went through the dark narrow Rue St Julien and climbed a steep flight of steps on the right, which brought you out into the Rue Octave Mirbeau opposite the building. There were other ways, of course, but this was the one he regularly used: it was how his flat joined on to the world outside. From ...

Lucky Lucien

Stephen Vizinczey, 20 February 1986

Lucien Leuwen 
by Stendhal, translated by H.L.R. Edwards.
Boydell and Brewer, 624 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 85115 228 7
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... is to music, and Stendhal is their unequalled master. Lucien is Stendhal’s luckiest hero. Unlike Julien Sorel or Fabrizio del Dongo, he has a jovial and affectionate father who believes that ‘a son is a creditor given by nature’ – a father, moreover, who is an extremely rich and powerful Parisian banker. Lucien doesn’t have to think about money. When ...

The Horror of Money

Michael Wood, 8 December 1988

The Pink and the Green 
by Stendhal, translated by Richard Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 148 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 241 12289 9
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Stendhal’s Violin: A Novelist and his Reader 
by Roger Pearson.
Oxford, 294 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 19 815851 3
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... imagination to depict the absence of imagination’) and sent off on odd errands. The Pink and the Green is a very good place to observe all these moves. The title is terrible, of course, a bit of pastel-minded self-plagiarism, but Stendhal would probably have changed that. He considered another, worse possibility: The Rose of the North. ‘A flat and ...

Flaubert’s Bottle

Julian Barnes, 4 May 1989

Flaubert: A Biography 
by Herbert Lottman.
Methuen, 396 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 0 413 41770 0
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... Trois Contes is ‘a book of three remarkable short stories’; and the third chapter of Saint Julien l’Hospitalier is summarised as follows: ‘When he discovers that he has indeed slain his parents, he abandons everything to beg, then befriends a leper and goes to Heaven.’ Rarely can the process of attaining sanctity have been made to sound so ...

Boxing the City

Gaby Wood, 31 July 1997

Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell 
by Deborah Solomon.
Cape, 426 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 224 04242 4
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... Alchemy. Cornell’s life as an artist began the day he showed his Ernst-inspired collages to Julien Levy, whose gallery brought Surrealism to America. Levy asked Cornell to design the announcement for his first Surrealist exhibition. That same year, 1932, Levy gave him a one-man show, where he exhibited tiny trinkets in bell-jars, and customised ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures, 18 June 2015

... Marx is artist #047 in the catalogue. The performance, organised by the installation artist Isaac Julien, is preceded by a video interview with David Harvey for those who missed ‘Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey’ on his website. It’s a world away from the sunshine of the gardens and spritzs on the terrace (the product of another empire that ...

Real isn’t real

Michael Wood: Octavio Paz, 4 July 2013

The Poems of Octavio Paz 
edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger.
New Directions, 606 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 8112 2043 9
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... writes for me … Someone in me is writing, moves my hand, hears a word, hesitates, halted between green mountains and blue sea … He writes to anyone, he calls nobody, to his own self he writes, in himself forgets, and is redeemed, becoming again me[*] There is no question of automatic writing here or even of Romantic inspiration, but those ghosts of ...

How to Get Another Thorax

Steven Rose: Epigenetics, 8 September 2016

... A hundred years later, the physician, philosopher and self-declared ‘mechanical materialist’ Julien Offray de la Mettrie dismissed Descartes’s dualistic waystation in his manifesto L’Homme machine. He argued that mental processes were no more than manifestations of the workings of the brain, a heretical view at the time but today shared by many ...

Serious Mayhem

Simon Reynolds: The McLaren Strand, 10 March 2022

The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren: The Biography 
by Paul Gorman.
Constable, 855 pp., £14.99, November 2021, 978 1 4721 2111 0
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... was Leaving the 20th Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International, a slim green volume published in 1974, crammed with photographs, illustrations and comic strips, compiled and annotated by Christopher Gray. Years later I learned that Gray had rubbed shoulders with McLaren in a Notting Hill group called King Mob, a unofficial affiliate ...


Stephen Bann, 5 July 1984

Time in a Red Coat 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 249 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2804 6
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Harland’s Half-Acre 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 230 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2737 6
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The Border 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 113 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 09 156320 8
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... motherless childhood in Killarney, many miles south-west of Brisbane in ‘lush country... of the green, subtropical kind’. Phil Vernon comes in next with an account of his own, less materially deprived childhood and his memories of the smart seaside resort of Southport, where his family come to know ‘the artist-bloke, Frank Harland’. It is a pattern ...


Perry Anderson: Forget about Paris, 23 January 2014

... writer, of a very different kind, who would lend Nantes its literary distinction. In the 1920s, Julien Gracq, pen-name of Louis Poirier, boarded for seven years in the forbidding Lycée Clemenceau that adjoins the botanical gardens, the most gifted pupil in its history. Inspired, but never brigaded, by Surrealism, he came to occupy a position apart in the ...

Communism’s Man of Letters

J.P. Stern, 26 September 1991

Georg Lukács: Life, Thought and Politics 
by Arpad Kadarkay.
Blackwell, 538 pp., £45, June 1991, 1 55786 114 5
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... indications that Lukács had the slightest notion of military matters. In an outfit of plus-fours, green stockings and heavy walking shoes he visited the trenches of the Red Army’s fifth division (which, as Kadarkay explains, was defending the Hungarian frontier against Czech troops), and addressed the lice-ridden ‘Budapest Red Army’ troops:   The ...

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