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Mallarmé gets a life

Barbara Johnson, 18 August 1994

Mallarmé: A Throw of the Dice 
by Gordon Millan.
Secker, 389 pp., £16.99, March 1994, 9780436270963
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... Mauron, Jean-Pierre Richard, Robert Greer Cohn, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Leo Bersani, Malcolm Bowie and others. It might seem surprising, therefore, not to find a single full-length biography published between Henri Mondor’s 1941 Vie de Mallarmé and Gordon Millan’s Mallarmé: A Throw of the Dice. Millan notes in his ...

Keeping the show on the road

John Kerrigan, 6 November 1986

Tribute to Freud 
by H. D.
Carcanet, 194 pp., £5.95, August 1985, 0 85635 599 2
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In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism 
edited by Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane.
Virago, 291 pp., £11.95, October 1985, 0 86068 712 0
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The Essentials of Psychoanalysis 
by Sigmund Freud, edited by Anna Freud.
Hogarth/Institute of Psychoanalysis, 595 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 7012 0720 5
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Freud and the Humanities 
edited by Peregrine Horden.
Duckworth, 186 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 7156 1983 7
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Freud for Historians 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.50, January 1986, 0 19 503586 0
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The Psychoanalytic Movement 
by Ernest Gellner.
Paladin, 241 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 586 08436 3
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The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art 
by Leo Bersani.
Columbia, 126 pp., $17.50, April 1986, 0 231 06218 4
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... and an irritable reaching after fact and reason, like Gellner’s, is doomed from the start. Thus Leo Bersani shuns ‘verification’ and finds in late Freud a discourse which conveys ‘psychoanalytic truth’ in ‘moments of theoretical collapse’ which, by a kind of self-undoing, become ‘literary’. It is ‘by virtue of this very ...

More or Less Gay-Specific

David Halperin, 23 May 1996

by Leo Bersani.
Harvard, 208 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 0 674 40619 2
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... have sought to explore. This problematising approach to questions of sexual definition is what Leo Bersani vehemently rejects in his elegant and infuriating new book. Bersani accuses practitioners of lesbian and gay studies (myself not excepted) of ‘de-gaying’ gayness. He seems to intend at least two ...

Models and Props

Nicholas Penny: Caravaggio in the Studio, 10 August 2000

by Catherine Puglisi.
Phaidon, 448 pp., £24.95, May 2000, 0 7148 3966 3
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Caravaggio’s Secrets 
by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit.
MIT, 118 pp., £18.50, September 1998, 0 262 02449 7
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by Peter Robb.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7475 4599 5
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Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History 
by Mieke Bal.
Chicago, 305 pp., £28.50, October 1999, 0 226 03556 5
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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio 
by Atle Naess, translated by Anne Born.
Owen, 159 pp., £14.95, June 2000, 0 7206 1082 6
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Caravaggio: A Life 
by Helen Langdon.
Pimlico, 447 pp., £15, November 1999, 9780712665827
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... a great deal to do with his disreputable and desperate life, traced in part from police records. Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, who turned to Caravaggio from studies of Beckett, Rothko and Resnais, assure us that ‘he truly was – even more, say, than one of the great social pariahs of our own time, Jean Genet – an outlaw.’ Peter Robb is well ...

Bored with Sex?

Adam Phillips: Nasty Turns, 6 March 2003

... to account for people’s horror of sexuality. In his great essay ‘Is the Rectum a Grave?’ Leo Bersani remarked that the big secret about sex was that most people don’t like it. The big secret about sex isn’t quite that most people don’t like it, it’s that most people don’t like it because they are with people they aren’t really ...

How We Remember

Gilberto Perez: Terrence Malick, 12 September 2013

... all the killing in war, which the film portrays ‘without qualification’, according to Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit in Forms of Being (2004), ‘as a massive manifestation of human evil, and the only question asked about it is how it got into the world. Any historical answer to the question is simply ignored.’ But to ignore history and see ...

The Contingency of Selfhood

Richard Rorty, 8 May 1986

... he saw the mind as being, in the greater part of its tendency, exactly a poetry-making faculty.’ Leo Bersani broadens Rieff’s and Trilling’s point when he says: ‘Psychoanalytic theory has made the notion of fantasy so richly programmatic that we should no longer be able to take for granted the distinction between art and life.’ To say with ...

Leases of Lifelessness

Denis Donoghue, 7 October 1993

Beckett’s Dying Words 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 218 pp., £17.50, July 1993, 0 19 812358 2
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... alleged pretentiousness with which they took on the burdens of history and cultural renewal – Leo Bersani’s The Culture of Redemption is an example of this attack – profess to find the masterpieces of Modernism rotten with humanism. Bersani’s essay on Ulysses is a case much in point: he denounces Joyce for ...

There is no cure

Michael Wood: Freud’s Guesswork, 6 July 2006

The Penguin Freud Reader 
edited by Adam Phillips.
Penguin, 570 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 0 14 118743 3
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... it has minds of its own).’ But the fullest and strangest development of such thinking appears in Leo Bersani’s brilliant introduction to Civilisation and Its Discontents. Here we learn that ‘the real and profound subject’ of the book is aggression, and that aggression can’t, in the end, be separated either from sex or from society: The explicit ...

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