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Dirty’s Story

Mark Polizzotti

28 November 1996
The Collected Writings 
by Laure, translated by Jeanine Herman.
City Lights, 314 pp., $13.95, August 1995, 0 87286 293 3
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... from what they have written or from what we might imagine they could write’, it is unlikely that Laure, then 19 and cloistered in the bourgeois family estate, would have got wind of it. Yet in many ways she was the embodiment of Breton’s pronouncement. Indeed, most people, if they know of Laure at all, know her not so ...
20 January 2000
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 320 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 224 05056 7
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... knows – or at least knows about – everyone. For example (on page 118, to be precise), Marie-Laure (1), Maurice Bischoffsheim (2), the Comtesse de Chevigné (3), the Duchesse de Guermantes (4), the Marquis de Sade (5), Jean Cocteau (6), the Vicomte de Noailles (7), an anonymous gym instructor (8), Igor Markevitch (9), Diaghilev (10), Nijinsky ...

Mon Charabia

Olivier Todd: Bad Duras

4 March 1999
Marguerite Duras 
by Laure Adler.
Gallimard, 627 pp., frs 155, August 1998, 2 07 074523 6
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No More 
by Marguerite Duras.
Seven Stories, 203 pp., £10.99, November 1998, 1 888363 65 7
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... and the legends about her have fascinated readers of everything from Elle to the Village Voice. Laure Adler’s biography, the best so far, proves that the required period of mourning is over. Duras produced 73 books and about twenty films; her last posthumous work, No More, is currently available in a chi-chi edition and billed as her ‘raucous salutation ...

Short Cuts

Elisabeth Ladenson: Autofriction

20 September 2007
... eclipsed as a topic for French literature, giving way to something sexier: trauma. Camille Laurens and Marie Darrieussecq, two authors who until now have shared a publisher (P.O.L.), began exchanging blows last month in the literary pages of all the major papers over Darrieussecq’s latest novel, Tom est mort, a first-person narrative of a mother’s ...

At the Foundling Museum

Brian Dillon: Found

10 August 2016
... request with a seriousness that can occasionally verge on preciousness. Few are funny, among them Laure Prouvost’s short video Stong Sory Vegetables, in which a faceless narrator points offscreen at fruit and vegetables set on a plinth in the gallery, and claims they fell out of the sky and landed on her bed. The best things in Found are the least keen to ...

Late Picasso

Nicholas Penny

20 November 1986
Je suis le Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso 
edited by Arnold Glimcher and Marc Glimcher.
Thames and Hudson, 349 pp., £36, September 1986, 0 500 23461 2
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The Musèe Picasso, Paris: Catalogue of the Collections. Paintings, Papiers Collés, Picture Reliefs, Sculptures, Ceramics 
by Marie-Laure Besnard-Bernadac, Michéle Richet and Hélène Seckel.
Thames and Hudson, 315 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 500 23461 2
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Degas: The Complete Etchings, Lithographs and Monotypes 
by Jean Adhémar and Françoise Cachin.
Thames and Hudson, 290 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 500 09114 5
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... In three of the Royal Academy’s exhibition rooms, the Pace Gallery of New York (presumably a commercial organisation but revealing nothing about itself) has displayed in perspex boxes some of the 175 sketchbooks which Picasso had hoarded, and which were unstudied, and in many cases entirely unknown, when he died. We admire brisk notes made of Paris nightlife at the turn of the century, and then our attention is arrested by six drawings which include no topical reference at all ...

She wore Isabel Marant

Joanna Biggs: Literary London

2 August 2018
by Olivia Laing.
Picador, 140 pp., £12.99, June 2018, 978 1 5098 9283 9
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... in April 2016; she was tweeting about Sam Shepard and Brexit and the Booker shortlist and a new Laure Prouvost show and Charlie Gard and Call Me by Your Name and cab drivers in Rome and John McCain’s part in the GOP vote to roll back Obamacare. And a year later, almost to the day, here is Crudo – born of accident, on holiday, like a dare – and it is ...

The Wrong Head

Mike Jay: Am I Napoleon?

20 May 2015
The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Towards a Political History of Madness 
by Laure Murat, translated by Deke Dusinberre.
Chicago, 288 pp., £31.50, October 2014, 978 0 226 02573 5
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... with the events,’ Esquirol claimed in Maladies mentales. He never delivered on the promise, but Laure Murat takes it as the starting point for her enthralling study of the correspondences between politics and madness in 19th-century France. In drawing on patient records in the archives of the Paris asylums – Bicêtre, Salpêtrière, Sainte-Anne and ...

On the Sixth Day

Charles Nicholl: Petrarch on the Move

7 February 2019
Petrarch: Everywhere a Wanderer 
by Christopher Celenza.
Reaktion, 224 pp., £15.95, October 2017, 978 1 78023 838 8
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... of the adjoining poem: Petrarch shot through the heart by an arrow; Petrarch metamorphosing into a laurel tree; Petrarch shipwrecked. Another genre of illustration shows him reading or discoursing to a group of listeners. His cat is often present, curled up asleep on the floor. After Petrarch’s death this companion of his later years was embalmed, and ...

Our God is dead

Richard Vinen: Jean Moulin

22 March 2001
The Death of Jean Moulin: Biography of a Ghost 
by Patrick Marnham.
Murray, 290 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 7195 5919 7
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... damaged by any of these attacks. It has benefited from two indefatigable defenders: his sister Laure Moulin, who wrote a biography of her brother, and Daniel Cordier, who was parachuted into France in 1942 and acted for a few months as Moulin’s secretary. He loved Moulin and reported his capture with the words: ‘Notre dieu est mort.’ In recent ...

Death (and Life) of the Author

Peter Wollen: Kathy Acker

5 February 1998
... Don Quixote (transformed into a dog), or, more directly, as Cathy from Wuthering Heights or Laure, the masochistic lover of Souvarine and Bataille. ‘I became very interested in the model of schizophrenia. I wanted to explore the use of the word ‘I’, that’s the only thing I wanted to do. So I placed very direct autobiographical – just diary ...

Shovelling Clouds

Adam Mars-Jones: Fred Vargas

22 April 2015
Temps glaciaires 
by Fred Vargas.
Flammarion, 490 pp., €19.90, March 2015, 978 2 08 136044 0
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... the British system of criminal justice is adversarial and the French one inquisitorial, but Laure Berthaud and her team on Spiral don’t seem short of determined, even vicious adversaries who are technically on their side. By contrast, Vargas’s recurring detective Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg works cases without pressure from above in terms of ...
18 May 2016
Edith Piaf: A Cultural History 
by David Looseley.
Liverpool, 254 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 78138 257 8
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... she would sing her guts out – her voice was ‘cathedral-like’, according to the singer Odette Laure, who as a child collected 25 centime pieces to throw at Piaf’s feet whenever she busked in her part of the city. Yet part of the act was to appear indifferent to the applause. In 1931, she met Momone, who started to collect the money for her, allowing ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes

18 October 2017
After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... and deeper inwards, into the exaltation and derangement that gets written about by Bataille and Laure and so on. She talked about writing while masturbating with a vibrator, ‘losing control of the language and seeing what that’s like’. ‘I didn’t know my body could do this,’ she said about the trance states she experienced while getting ...

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