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Vlad the Impaler

Inga Clendinnen: Hairy Humbert

10 August 2000
Nabokov’s Butterflies: Unpublished and Uncollected Writings 
edited by Brian Boyd and Michael Pyle.
Allen Lane, 783 pp., £25, March 2000, 0 7139 9380 4
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Nabokov’s Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius 
by Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates.
Zoland, 372 pp., £18, October 1999, 1 58195 009 8
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... suffered that mix of surfeit and unappeased hunger which infects the reader of inept anthologies. Serious evaluation of the lepidoptery papers is supplied by Nabokov’s Blues, another joint work, by Kurt Johnston, one of the lepidopterists who vindicated Nabokov’s innovative reclassification of Latin American ‘blues’, and the journalist Steve Coates. They persuade us of many things: for example ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby

9 February 1995
Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... of American political thought without Hans Morgenthau, Hannah Arendt or Leo Strauss; American psychoanalysis without Erik Erikson, Bruno Bettelheim or Heinz Hartmann; American publishing without Kurt Wolff or Theodore Schocken; architecture without Walter Gropius; art history without Erwin Panofsky; mathematics without Kurt Gödel; physics without Enrico Fermi – and the list goes on and on. Of ...

Glaucus and Ione

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

17 April 1980
The Last Days of Pompeii 
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
Sidgwick, 522 pp., £6.95, December 1979, 0 283 98587 9
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... Bodoni in Verona for the Limited Editions Club. Sixteen reproductions of Pompeian paintings from the catalogue of the exhibition illustrate the book; there are also some somewhat drab woodcuts by Kurt Craemer. There is a lively introduction by Edgar Johnson. Bulwer’s book first appeared in 1834, when the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum were the object of great interest in this country ...

Cosmic!

Tim Radford: Yuri and the Astronauts

5 March 1998
Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon 
by James Harford.
Wiley, 392 pp., £24.95, June 1997, 0 471 14853 9
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Countdown: A History of Space Flight 
by T.A. Heppenheimer.
Wiley, 398 pp., £24.95, June 1997, 0 471 14439 8
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Something New under the Sun: Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age 
by Helen Gavaghan.
Copernicus, 300 pp., £15, December 1997, 0 387 94914 3
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Space and the American Imagination 
by Howard McCurdy.
Smithsonian, 294 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 1 56098 764 2
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... had ‘four toilets and three great bathrooms’. There was also a bed with a snow-white feather blanket and a mirrored ceiling. When Korolev joined them he had still not been formally rehabilitated. Kurt Magnus, one of the Germans who stayed behind, wrote later that this newcomer was fascinated by the interconnected problems of propulsion and guidance which controlled the range of the V-2. ‘If we ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne

3 September 1981
David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... This has already enjoyed great celebrity in the United States. Navasky is a graduate of the Yale Law School, has worked on Monocle and the New York Times, and became editor of the Nation in 1978. Kurt Vonnegut, E.L. Doctorow, Studs Terkel and Tom Wicker are among the admirers quoted on the dust-jacket; and, as if that weren’t enough, Navasky himself twinkles out on the back flap in a checked ...

Suckville

Emily Witt: Rachel Kushner

2 August 2018
The Mars Room 
by Rachel Kushner.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910702 67 3
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... more to accommodate each of them than to tell a particular story. Almost everyone in this novel gets a past. Some of the characters get to narrate their backstory themselves. We get the story of Kurt Kennedy’s murder from Romy, who killed him, then the lead up to the murder from Kennedy himself – confirmation that Kennedy was, as reported, a pathetic stalker. Sammy Fernandez has a first ...

Touch of Evil

Christopher Hitchens

22 October 1992
Kissinger: A Biography 
by Walter Isaacson.
Faber, 893 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 571 16858 2
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... know that forms of solidarity, morality, decency and conviction were also of help both in motivating and in organising survival and resistance. How else to explain the re-emergence of a leader like Kurt Schumacher, or the mere existence of a man like my friend Dr Israel Shahak? Of matters like this, Kissinger says nothing. Yet he presumes to write as if from experience, when in fact his war had been ...

Unhappy Childhoods

John Sutherland

2 February 1989
Trollope and Character 
by Stephen Wall.
Faber, 397 pp., £17.50, September 1988, 0 571 14595 7
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The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Michigan, 528 pp., $35, December 1988, 0 472 10102 1
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Dickens: A Biography 
by Fred Kaplan.
Hodder, 607 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 340 48558 2
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Charlotte Brontë 
by Rebecca Fraser.
Methuen, 543 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 9780413570109
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... tells us caused him so much wretchedness (‘I suffered horribly!’). In the biographer’s version, there were no unpaid bills and no consequent horrible suffering. Old men forget. But not even Kurt Waldheim would forget that he won a prize at school if winning prizes meant much to him, or would forget that bills were in fact paid when their not being paid was so calamitous that he seriously ...

The German Question

Perry Anderson: Goodbye to Bonn

7 January 1999
... Elections, Kohl achieved a remarkable concentration of power in the CDU, but even he could not stop bitter enemies in the Party from becoming important regional figures, like Biedenkopf (‘King Kurt’) in Saxony. The SPD has never allowed the same personalisation of authority. When it has been in power, the pattern has always been a diarchy – Brandt and Herbert Wehner, or Schmidt and Brandt ...

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