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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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... one for de Gaulle’s Free French and another for those loyal to Giraud – each recruiting and running its own partisans, SOE was an intelligence professional’s bad dream. June 1942: enter young LeoMarks. 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 ...
4 July 1985
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered 
by William Pritchard.
Oxford, 186 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 19 503462 7
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... of ‘prowess and performance and play’. The real subject of many Frost poems, with their ‘prevailing 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 ...

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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... straight-faced tales of the uneventful wriggled with understated menace and wit. In its radical dullness, 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 ...

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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... lifelong unease that can only be confronted and examined from the perspective of old age. In one sense, 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 ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Roy Lichtenstein

18 March 2004
... to go retro and jazz up the decor. To see more than decorative wit you must try to think of the moment 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 ...

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 ...

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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... bedridden old age. Other than her childhood friend Louise, Regi sustains no attachments. Both 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 ...

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, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... while still poet laureate), and by the mid-18th century thronged with coffee houses and taverns. A 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 ...

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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... written between 1942 and 1945 in Istanbul, where Auerbach, a Berlin Jew, had taken refuge from the 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 ...

The Reality Effect

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

25 November 2019
Ducks, Newburyport 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Galley Beggar, 1030 pp., £13.99, September, 978 1 913111 98 4
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... her four children, considers language usage (the difference between ‘envy’ and ‘jealousy’ and ‘affect’ 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 ...


Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens

21 September 1995
... come from big mother-ships that are so big you just couldn’t say how big they are. Their spacecraft appear over long roads and in big skies, glow strangely and don’t do a lot – a few scorch marks in the grass, some mutilated cattle. The CIA know all about boys’ aliens, the radar blips and the pilot’s black box, because boys can not only verify their aliens scientifically, they also ...

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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... biographies of Titian have almost invariably been biographies of his pictorial style. Charles Hope’s 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 ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve

5 February 1981
Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... cranks, mystics and nature freaks, and gave his opinion: ‘they were right.’ History continues to be the muse of true irony. This biography does useful service, but not much more, bearing the marks of one kind of worthy but unadventurous labour history. If Carpenter is to make sense in a new version, it will only be because he managed, in an actual historical struggle, to combine politics with ...


Hal Foster: Bruce Nauman

20 December 2018
... of the Knees of Five Famous Artists (1966), only here the non-presence is complicated further by deceit: 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 ...

Making it

Nicholas Penny

5 November 1992
The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino 
by Bruce Boucher.
Yale, 304 pp., £95, November 1991, 0 300 04759 2
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Giambattista and Lorenzo Bregno: Venetian Sculpture in the High Renaissance 
by Anne Markham Schulz.
Cambridge, 564 pp., £85, November 1991, 0 521 38406 0
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... the figures for a model of the façade of the Duomo in Florence which Sansovino and Sarto made together as part of the ephemeral decorations for the triumphal entry into Florence of the Medici Pope Leo X. Had Sansovino died in the Sack of Rome in 1527, he would be accepted as the third greatest sculptor, after Michelangelo and Giambologna, to have worked in Italy in the 16th century, but he escaped ...

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