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The Everyday Business of Translation

George Steiner, 22 November 1979

The True Interpreter 
by Louis Kelly.
Blackwell, 282 pp., £15
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... In this dynamic custodianship, every vein of translation, from the most literal, as in Louis Zukofsky’s experiments in sound-for-sound transfer, all the way to the ‘Dante’ reprises in The Four Quartets, has played an essential part. Indeed, modern poetic translation has exhibited a prodigality and quality worryingly at odds with the weakness ...

The Devil upon Two Sticks

Charles Nicholl: Samuel Foote, 23 May 2013

Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian London 
by Ian Kelly.
Picador, 462 pp., £18.99, October 2012, 978 0 330 51783 6
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... with a gleeful salvo of puns and bon-mots, an echo of which can be heard in the title of Ian Kelly’s splendid new biography. Ever the theatrical opportunist, he was soon back onstage, with a new prosthesis and two new comedies fit for purpose: The Lame Lover, in which he played the lecherous Sir Luke Limp; and The Devil upon Two Sticks, a satire on the ...

At the Helm of the World

Pankaj Mishra: Alexander Herzen, 1 June 2017

The Discovery of Chance: The Life and Thought of Alexander Herzen 
by Aileen Kelly.
Harvard, 582 pp., £31.95, May 2016, 978 0 674 73711 2
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... has not had consistent backing inside or outside academia, on the left or on the right, and Aileen Kelly’s new biography is unlikely to provoke a revival, or the sort of steady engagement that has continuously enlarged the reputations of Marx and Nietzsche. Unlike Marx, his acrimonious rival, Herzen did not provide a systematic diagnosis of the suffering ...

It’s not the bus: it’s us

Thomas Sugrue: Stars, Stripes and Civil Rights, 20 November 2008

The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph that Shocked America 
by Louis Masur.
Bloomsbury US, 224 pp., $24.95, April 2008, 978 1 59691 364 6
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... at the collapsed World Trade Center in September 2001, one of the most famous is the subject of Louis Masur’s latest book. On 5 April 1976, the photographer Stanley Forman of the Boston Herald American followed a group of anti-Civil Rights protesters onto the plaza outside Boston’s City Hall. His picture shows Joseph Rakes, a white teenager, wielding ...

Malice! Malice!

Stephen Sedley: Thomas More’s Trial, 5 April 2012

Thomas More’s Trial by Jury 
edited by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis Karlin and Gerard Wegemer.
Boydell, 240 pp., £55, September 2011, 978 1 84383 629 2
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... some four years after Bolt’s play) has a satisfactorily dramatic character, but Henry Ansgar Kelly, in his careful procedural review of the trial, is right to doubt it. Since Rich was solicitor-general, and may have been in court as part of the prosecution team, it is conceivable that a decision was taken to go for a conviction without using his ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... commuting of death sentences provided another form of sensation. After the conviction in 1877 of Louis Staunton, who starved his wife and baby son to death to obtain an inheritance, the novelist Charles Reade led a strenuous campaign in the Daily Telegraph which successfully pushed the Home Secretary into remitting the sentence. Riots were feared in ...

Balls and Strikes

Charles Reeve: Clement Greenberg, 5 April 2007

Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg 
by Alice Goldfarb Marquis.
Lund Humphries, 321 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 85331 940 5
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... Clyfford Still never left the minor league; Marcel Duchamp was a joker (not in a good way); Morris Louis painted as brilliantly as Raphael. In a 1959 essay, ‘The Case for Abstract Art’, he answered his critics by drawing on Kant to argue that taste is objective because art takes its viewer outside history. A ‘mere glance’ at the picture ‘creates the ...

Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox, 6 November 1980

by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... carries the flawed advantages of being ‘authorised’: there are no anecdotes here about what Louis B. Mayer may or may not have done to the pubescent Judy Garland, or others in his thrall. The worst that is said of the man many still speak of as a monster is that he was a ‘part-affectionate, part-retributive tyrant’. Where Mr Walker excels is where ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... have included George Stephanopolous, James Carville, Paul Begala, the New Yorker’s Michael Kelly and Sidney Blumenthal, the screen-writer Erik Tarloff and New York political consultant Bob Shrum. New York magazine hired the Shakespeare scholar Donald Foster to run a computerised check of the text of the novel against several possible suspects, and ...


Abigail Green: The Rothschilds, 18 February 2021

Rothschild: Glanz und Untergang des Wiener Welthauses 
by Roman Sandgruber.
Molden Verlag, 531 pp., £29, October 2018, 978 3 222 15024 1
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The Gunzburgs: A Family Biography 
by Lorraine de Meaux, translated by Steven Rendall.
Halban, 484 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 905559 99 2
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A Jewish Woman of Distinction: The Life and Diaries of Zinaida Poliakova 
by ChaeRan Y. Freeze, translated by Gregory L. Freeze.
Brandeis, 397 pp., £23, February 2020, 978 1 68458 001 9
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Kings of Shanghai: Two Rival Dynasties and the Creation of Modern China 
by Jonathan Kaufman.
Little Brown, 384 pp., £20, November 2020, 978 1 4087 1004 3
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... a former Sassoon apprentice who broke with his patrons and struck out on his own as ‘E.S. Kelly’ in Hong Kong. The businesses they founded were a defining feature of the political and economic revolutions that propelled Europe to global dominance.‘Patriarch’ is hardly a neutral word in this context, though the authors of four different books ...

Don’t Die

Jenny Diski: Among the Handbags, 1 November 2007

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre 
by Dana Thomas.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 7139 9823 8
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... about it, have been made to understand that what they keep their keys and purses in ought to be a Kelly bag costing £4000 and rising, and that buying into Hermès is good for them: an investment. An investment for what isn’t quite clear. I suppose that if you’re going to die if you don’t have one then it is an investment, and if you feel you’re alive ...

Fishing for Potatoes

James Lasdun: Nissan Rogue, 27 January 2022

Collision Course: Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars That Upended an Auto Empire 
by Hans Greimel and William Sposato.
Harvard, 368 pp., £22, June 2021, 978 1 64782 047 3
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... at the airport and locked in a cell at the Tokyo Detention House in Kosuge. An American aide, Greg Kelly, lured to Tokyo the same evening on a separate flight, was also arrested. The next day Saikawa gave a press conference at the Nissan HQ, where he accused his boss of massive and ongoing financial fraud, with Kelly as his ...

Jobs and Sprees and Sorrows

William Fiennes, 16 April 1998

Joe Gould's Secret 
by Joseph Mitchell.
Cape, 200 pp., £9.99, October 1997, 0 224 05107 5
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... Caugh-nawaga reservation in Quebec. And his stories are littered with intimations of death. Tommy Kelly, an employee at McSorley’s, quits his job as the night-watchman in a Brooklyn funeral parlour when a corpse speaks to him. Captain Campion, the NYPD’s expert on Gypsies, ‘often reflects on death’. The Rev. Hall tells Mitchell: ‘Every step you ...


Andrew Brighton: On Peter Fuller, 7 November 1991

... most of the perceptive selection of speakers, who ranged from Patrick Heron to Victor Burgin, Mary Kelly to Robyn Denny, David Hockney to Rasheed Araeen. The highlights included Lisa Tickner’s brilliant dismemberment of Reg Butler’s defence of his question: ‘Can a woman become a vital creative artist without ceasing to be a woman except for purposes of ...

Damaged Beasts

James Wood: Peter Carey’s ‘Theft’, 8 June 2006

Theft: A Love Story 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 269 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 571 23147 0
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... Last year, Louis Knickerbocker, a meat distributor from Newport Beach, California, bought a Picasso drawing from the online service of Costco for $40,000. Knickerbocker thought it a steal: ‘They just sell the top quality,’ he told the New York Times, ‘whatever you buy at Costco, whether it’s a washing-machine or a vacuum cleaner ...

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