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Chef de Codage

Brian Rotman: Codes, 15 July 1999

Between Silk and Cyanide: The Story of SOE’s Code War 
by Leo Marks.
HarperCollins, 614 pp., £19.99, November 1998, 0 00 255944 7
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... its own partisans, SOE was an intelligence professional’s bad dream. June 1942: enter young Leo Marks. Having failed to convince the cryptographic services that he was suitable for the coding unit at Bletchley, but evincing a wayward brilliance that indicated he was too smart to do routine work, Marks was ...
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered 
by William Pritchard.
Oxford, 186 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 19 503462 7
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... artificiality’, is the poet’s own performance. Although they display few of the familiar marks of the experimental avant-garde, they are akin to the work of certain Modernist poets in their studied avoidance of most connections with actual social life and, above all, in their manifest aspiration toward becoming purely self-referential ...

Early Swerves

Leo Benedictus: Magnus Mills, 6 November 2003

The Scheme for Full Employment 
by Magnus Mills.
Flamingo, 255 pp., £10, March 2003, 0 00 715131 4
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... at least, The Scheme for Full Employment could not have been written by anyone else – it marks a new outpost even for Mills. Not that this is unexpected: his three previous novels show the trajectory of a distinctive writer seeing how far he can go. From the very funny, but very deliberate, suggestiveness of his first novel, The Restraint of Beasts ...

Quick with a Stiletto

Malcolm Gaskill: Europe’s Underground War, 7 July 2022

Resistance: The Underground War in Europe, 1939-45 
by Halik Kochanski.
Allen Lane, 932 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00428 9
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... messages was feeble, and security checks for the Playfair cipher, according to the cryptographer Leo Marks, ‘had all the validity of a child’s excuses for staying up late, with none of the imagination’. Foolish errors were made: one agent packed pyjamas bearing the label ‘Harrods – The Man’s Shop’; another had his codename written on his ...

One Small Moment

Christopher Tayler: Michael Frayn, 21 February 2002

by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.99, February 2002, 0 571 21286 7
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... the book’s most obvious model is L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between. Like Hartley’s narrator, Leo, Frayn’s protagonist, Stephen Wheatley, is tormented by a schoolboy code prohibiting sneaking, blubbing and emotional expression in general. Leo is bullied by ‘Jenkins and Strode’, Stephen by ‘Hanning and ...

I’m Getting Out of Here

Leo Robson: Percival Everett, 3 November 2022

Percival Everett by Virgil Russell 
by Percival Everett.
Influx, 271 pp., £9.99, September 2021, 978 1 910312 99 5
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by Percival Everett.
Faber, 294 pp., £8.99, August 2021, 978 0 571 37089 4
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The Trees 
by Percival Everett.
Influx, 334 pp., £9.99, March 2022, 978 1 914391 17 0
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... and antisemitism.Yet in other ways he seems keen to affirm existing categories. The Trees marks a formal departure for Everett. In place of a first-person narrator, he adopts multiple perspectives, over 106 chapters. It’s an approach that should yield complication, but for all the pinballing, we never encounter anything that troubles the worldview ...

Which red is the real red?

Hal Foster, 2 December 2021

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror 
Whitney Museum of American Art/Philadelphia Museum of Art, until 13 February 2022Show More
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... about postwar art.*Johns made an exceptional entrance in early 1958: his first show at the new Leo Castelli Gallery nearly sold out, with three paintings immediately purchased by MoMA, and one piece appearing on the cover of ARTnews. Then 27, he had sized up the New York art world precisely, dominated as it then was by the formalist model of ‘modernist ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Roy Lichtenstein, 18 March 2004

... in 1962 when Lichtenstein’s show of enlarged frames from war comics and romance comics at the Leo Castelli Gallery put out the news that another artist – he was not well known – had taken a sharp turn off the path most American high art was following.There are pictures in the Hayward show from right up to the last year of his life – 1997. In the ...

Poles Apart

John Sutherland, 5 May 1983

Give us this day 
by Janusz Glowacki, translated by Konrad Brodzinski.
Deutsch, 121 pp., £6.95, March 1983, 0 233 97518 7
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In Search of Love and Beauty 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 227 pp., £8.50, April 1983, 0 7195 4062 3
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by Sally Emerson.
Joseph, 174 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 7181 2134 1
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Flying to Nowhere 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 89 pp., £4.95, March 1983, 0 907540 27 9
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Some prefer nettles 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Edward Seidensticker.
Secker, 155 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 436 51603 9
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The Makioka Sisters 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Edward Seidensticker.
Secker, 530 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 330 28046 5
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‘The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi’ and ‘Arrowroot’ 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Anthony Chambers.
Secker, 199 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 436 51602 0
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... women have affairs (one long-standing, the other whirlwind, according to their temperaments) with Leo. First encountered as an Adonis in the 1930s, Leo matures into a genial Rasputin in the 1960s. He presides over a sub-Reichian ‘Academy of Potential Development’, where, for hefty fees, clients can learn to be ‘become ...

You want Orient?

Dan Jacobson: Leo Nussimbaum’s self-creation, 18 August 2005

The Orientalist: In Search of a Man Caught between East and West 
by Tom Reiss.
Chatto, 433 pp., £17.99, July 2005, 9780701178857
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... Lev or Leo Nussimbaum (aka Essad Bey, aka Kurban Said) was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 1905. As a young man he claimed to be the son of an immensely wealthy Persian-Turkic prince. In his first published book, Blood and Oil in the Orient, Nussimbaum wrote that his supposed father had ‘the facial expression, imperturbable, weary and yet eager for activity, of an Oriental who has transferred the old traditions of command to the social life of a young oil city ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... blue plaque commemorates Dryden, but on the wrong house. At No. 9, a more accurately sited plaque marks where, in 1764, Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson founded the Literary Club, or simply the Club, which met weekly to dine in an upstairs room at the Turk’s Head until the landlord died and the dinners moved elsewhere. The building now houses New Loon ...

Pork Chops and Pineapples

Terry Eagleton: The Realism of Erich Auerbach, 23 October 2003

Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature 
by Erich Auerbach.
Princeton, 579 pp., £13.95, May 2003, 9780691113364
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... Nazis. The book was published in 1946, and this new edition, with an introduction by Edward Said, marks the 50th anniversary of its first appearance in the United States. Auerbach ranges through some of the mighty monuments of Western literature, from Homer, medieval romance, Dante and Rabelais to Montaigne, Cervantes, Goethe, Stendhal and a good many authors ...

Titian’s Mythologies

Thomas Puttfarken, 2 April 1981

by Charles Hope.
Jupiter Books, 170 pp., £12.50, June 1980, 0 906379 09 1
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... book, although in scope and ambition much more restricted than Crowe’s and Cavalcaselle’s, marks in this respect a most welcome change. It is the first truly informative account of Titian’s life published in English in recent years, based as it is on the author’s vast knowledge of previously unpublished information. Specialists are likely to ...


Hal Foster: Bruce Nauman, 20 December 2018

... this frieze punctuated by five indentations is made of fibreglass and resin, not wax, and the marks are Nauman’s own, not the auratic relics of great visionaries. At the same time his corporeal substitutes often evoke the body all the more – the chair is his favourite ‘stand-in for the figure’ – and this is the case too when Nauman shapes other ...

The Reality Effect

Jon Day: 'Did I think this, or was it Lucy Ellmann?', 5 December 2019

Ducks, Newburyport 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Galley Beggar, 1030 pp., £13.99, September 2019, 978 1 913111 98 4
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... and ‘effect’; the misuse of ‘enormity’), thinks lovingly about her husband, Leo, mourns her dead parents, and despairs over the state of the environment, Trump’s presidency, mass shootings, and the historic genocides of indigenous people. ‘A lot of people think all I think about is pie,’ she thinks, ‘when really it’s my spinal ...

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