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1 June 2000
Driving the Heart 
by Jason Brown.
Cape, 224 pp., £10, January 2000, 0 224 06053 8
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... that have not yet been properly acknowledged or named – least of all by those suffering from them. Brown’s version of trauma and domestic dysfunction sometimes has a pre-packaged feel to it. (As KarlFrench pointed out in relation to American Beauty, the term ‘dysfunctional family’ feels almost tautologous nowadays.) Driving the Heart insistently fingers parents as mad, ill, absent or ...

Karl​ Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan

22 October 2014
... People​ said things about Karl, but not often to his face. He might like the things or he might not, and that did not always depend on whether they were intended as compliments or the opposite. Personal remarks could be returned ...
17 November 1983
The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. I: 1861-1897 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 446 pp., £19.50, September 1983, 0 521 24216 9
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... William Blackwood and Cunninghame Graham. Early letters to Polish friends and relations have been translated, and a series of about a hundred to Marguerite Poradowska appeared in the original French. However, it seems that ‘more than a third of Conrad’s extant correspondence – close to 1500 letters – has not yet been made available.’ Since Professor Karl, who makes this statement ...
7 February 1980
Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives 
by Frederick Karl.
Faber, 1008 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11386 9
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... But a considerable amount of biographical material has emerged since then: the indispensable Conrad’s Polish Background, edited and introduced by Zdzislaw Najder (to which I think Professor Karl is indebted for much of his Polish material); the minute and meticulous tracings of Conrad’s every movement by Norman Sherry, who not only told us when Conrad was in, say, Bangkok, but on which ...

Karl’s Darl

M. Wynn Thomas

11 January 1990
William Faulkner: American Writer 
by Frederick Karl.
Faber, 1131 pp., £25, July 1989, 9780571149919
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William Faulkner 
by David Dowling.
Macmillan, 183 pp., £6.95, June 1989, 0 333 42855 2
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... pales in horrendousness before the mere notion of parsing him.’ Fadiman’s judgment was not, however, to prevail – once Malcolm Cowley’s Portable selection had, with some assistance from the French, put Yoknapatawpha County on the literary map in 1946. From then on, an increasing number of readers discovered that this relatively obscure Mississippean had written not one but a whole series of ...
6 March 1986
Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... backcloth which forms much of the subject-matter of his latest book. In France at least, the reason for these differences is not hard to seek, given the dominance of the Annales school in post-war French historiography. For them, the aim was une histoire à part entière – embracing all human activity – as Lucien Febvre expressed it: the duty of the historian was to record ‘the total social ...

Northern Laughter

Karl​ Miller: Macrone on Scott

9 October 2013
The Life of Sir Walter Scott 
by John Macrone, edited by Daniel Grader.
Edinburgh, 156 pp., £65, February 2013, 978 0 7486 6991 2
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... from hagiography; studies of his in 19th-century publishing had delivered an earlier essay on Macrone. An acid test for the degree of candour achieved in Scott biography is the treatment given to his French wife. Macrone is not outspoken, but he does permit himself a breath of discrimination here. ‘Her memory is adored by the rustic population, and the “gude Leddy Scott” is a name never mentioned ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Habits

1 March 1984
... of this goes back a long way. In 1931, when I first married, I began to buy No 5 coffee from Legrain’s in Gerrard Street. This was the best coffee I ever found. The shop was kept by two elderly French ladies, who also kept a French café next door. After about five years the two elderly ladies sold out to two rather casual young men who kept the name of Legrain and the No 5 coffee. This kept me ...

Was she Julia?

Stephen Spender

7 July 1983
Code Name ‘Mary’: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground 
by Muriel Gardiner.
Yale, 200 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 300 02940 3
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... who has been to Oxford, and during the 1930s is living in Vienna, where she is studying medicine. She is also being psychoanalysed and looking after her child. At the time of the bombardment of the Karl Marx Hof, a block of workers’ tenements, by police and soldiers of Chancellor Dollfuss’s Fascist government, she becomes a very active member of the anti-Fascist resistance in Austria. Apart from ...
25 February 1993
Revolutionary France, 1770-1880 
by François Furet, translated by Antonia Nevill.
Blackwell, 630 pp., £40, December 1992, 0 631 17029 4
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... In 1989, François Furet was frequently hailed (or criticised, depending on the context) as the ‘king’ of the Bicentenary of the French Revolution. He seemed to be everywhere, on television, in the newspapers, and adorning the pages of almost every glossy magazine. Foreign reporters featured him in pieces on the celebration. Even his ...
11 November 1999
Marx on Suicide 
edited by Eric Plaut and Kevin Anderson, translated by Gabrielle Edgcomb.
Northwestern, 152 pp., £11.20, May 1999, 0 8101 1632 4
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Suicide in the Middle Ages, Vol I: The Violent Against Themselves 
by Alexander Murray.
Oxford, 510 pp., £30, January 1999, 0 19 820539 2
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A History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Johns Hopkins, 420 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 8018 5919 0
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... In 1846 Karl Marx published a version of a chapter about suicide which had recently appeared in a book by one Jacques Peuchet entitled Mémoires tirées des archives de la police. Peuchet had been an ...

History’s Postman

Tom Nairn: The Jewishness of Karl​ Marx

26 January 2006
Karl​ Marx ou l’esprit du monde 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 549 pp., €23, May 2005, 2 213 62491 7
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... More than a quarter of listeners asked last year in a Radio 4 poll who they thought was the most important philosopher for today’s world replied Karl Marx – he was easily the winner, ahead of Hume, Plato, Karl Popper and others. Asked to comment, Eric Hobsbawm said he thought that the fall of Soviet Communism had at last allowed people to ...

Itemised

Fredric Jameson

8 November 2018
My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl​ Ove Knausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... in their own right, such as waiting to see what the uncle will actually do, besides writing vicious emails. So in fact, if you really want to know what happens in this book, what happens is that Karl Ove writes, or is distracted by his family from writing, or has to get away for a few weeks to write, etc. We know what he wrote, of course, because it is in the other volumes; but here we do not yet ...

A World Gone Wrong

Rebecca Karl: Chinese Workers in WW1

1 December 2011
Strangers on the Western Front: Chinese Workers in the Great War 
by Xu Guoqi.
Harvard, 336 pp., £26.95, February 2011, 978 0 674 04999 4
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... years. In the spring of 1917, he saw an advertisement at the Yentai harbour in Shandong and signed up as a wartime contract worker. Having passed the stringent medical administered by the Chinese and French authorities, he travelled to Hong Kong and then in several stages crossed to Europe. He was put to work in France, where for 19 months he laboured ten-hour days, moving in a tightly circumscribed ...
1 April 1983
The Wheat and the Chaff: The Personal Diaries of the President of France 1971-1978 
by François Mitterrand, translated by Richard Woodward, Helen Lane and Concilia Hayter.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 297 78101 4
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The French 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins, 542 pp., £12.95, January 1983, 0 00 216806 5
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... sharper than De Gaulle’s marmoreal reflections, far more spirited than the careful prose of Giscard d’Estaing. Like Georges Pompidou, anthologist of poetry, Mitterrand was nurtured on the French classics. Brought up near Cognac in a Catholic family, he was always bookish, and thought of being a priest; later, although a man of action, a Resistance fighter, and a student of Marxism, he seems ...

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