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Physicke from Another Body

Michael Neill: Cannibal Tinctures, 1 December 2011

Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture 
by Louise Noble.
Palgrave Macmillan, 241 pp., £52, March 2011, 978 0 230 11027 4
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Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians 
by Richard Sugg.
Routledge, 374 pp., £24.99, June 2011, 978 0 415 67417 1
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... us later’. It is to the investigation of such demonic remedies that the groundbreaking work of Louise Noble and Richard Sugg is devoted. The belief that a wide range of maladies could be cured by the consumption of human remains – principally in the form of so-called ‘mummy’ – persisted in Europe for at least six centuries. Although the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Other Atticus Finch, 30 July 2015

... with arthritis that he can’t hold a razor. He can’t keep a conversation going with Jean Louise, alias Scout, the daughter beloved by him in our memory, without it involving slights about the life she now lives in New York. But what Atticus can hold – and does, rather extravagantly – is a set of views about black people that might put him on a ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee, 17 November 1983

Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... of Peter Weiss’s The Investigation (‘Auschwitz in New York’) and of Büchner’s ‘noble and complicated’ play Danton’s Death, where for ‘lack of historical feeling’ a ‘sort of coarse tarpaulin fell over the whole enterprise’. By contrast, Hardwick celebrates Peter Brook’s bare, difficult production of Timon set in a working-class ...

The screams were silver

Adam Mars-Jones: Rupert Thomson, 25 April 2013

by Rupert Thomson.
Granta, 312 pp., £14.99, March 2013, 978 1 84708 163 6
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... I’d lived. Fifty-six, though … And the plain, shapeless robes of an abbess – me, Marguerite-Louise of Orléans! Who would have thought it?’ The rather novelettish flavour disappears as the narrative takes hold. A mysterious visitor tells this unusual Reverend Mother his life story, and is similarly scrupulous about chronology (‘Late afternoon. April ...

Something to Do

David Cannadine, 23 September 1993

Witness of a Century: The Life and Times of Prince Arthur of Connaught, 1850-1942 
by Noble Frankland.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 476 pp., £22.95, June 1993, 0 85683 136 0
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... as the Duke of Cambridge, the Marquess of Carisbrooke or the Earl of Athlone? The subject of Noble Frankland’s well-intentioned but unconvincing effort at rehabilitation, His Royal Highness Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and Earl of Sussex, was the prototypical marginal royal. If the essential qualification for ...

The Real Thing!

Julian Barnes: Visions of Vice, 17 December 2015

Splendeurs et misères: Images de la prostitution 1850-1910 
Musée d’Orsay, until 17 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Grand Palais, until 11 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9 February 2016 to 15 May 2016Show More
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... was complicated, as one might expect. In 1853 he explained it to – of all people – his lover Louise Colet: It may be a perverted taste, but I love prostitution, and for itself, too, quite apart from its carnal aspects. My heart begins to pound every time I see one of those women in low-cut dresses walking under the lamplight in the rain, just as monks ...

Mme de Blazac and I

Anita Brookner, 19 June 1997

... Mme de Blazac required a complaisant ear, so unfortunate did she consider her fate to be. The noble surname had been acquired, it seemed, for its own sake, since her husband, whom she described as a saint, did not appear from her account to be up to much as a provider, and had left Mme de Blazac without resources of her own, since in her subdued and ...

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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... effects are those of charm and pathos. In the narrative’s front rank are a trio of characters. Louise is familial: she has husband, children and grandchildren. Regi is a social butterfly: she has gigolos even in her incontinent bedridden old age. Other than her childhood friend Louise, Regi sustains no attachments. Both ...

Ripe for Conversion

Paul Strohm: Chaucers’s voices, 11 July 2002

Pagans, Tartars, Muslims and Jews in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ 
by Brenda Deen Schildgen.
Florida, 184 pp., £55.50, October 2001, 0 8130 2107 3
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... I first encountered it in a 1986 essay on travel writing and descriptive ethnography by Mary Louise Pratt, in which she points to ‘a very familiar, widespread and stable form of “othering”’ whereby ‘the people to be othered are homogenised into a collective “they”.’ This process goes on, even without the assistance of North American ...

The man who was France

Patrice Higonnet, 21 October 1993

At the Heart of a Tiger: Clemenceau and His World 1841-1929 
by Gregor Dallas.
Macmillan, 672 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 333 49788 0
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... of his attitudes – he was a great equestrian and an athlete – he was neither a peasant nor a noble by birth, but the scion of a well-to-do, landowning, impeccably republican family, who became a polished boulevardier. The Clemenceaus were free-thinkers whose politics were formed in 1789. There were many good things about this highly cultivated man who ...

Fatal Non-Readers

Hilary Mantel: Marie-Antoinette, 30 September 1999

The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette 
by Chantal Thomas, translated by Julie Rose.
Zone, 255 pp., £17.95, June 1999, 0 942299 39 6
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... ladders. Indeed, hairdressers were exalted as never before. Until Marie-Antoinette’s day, only noble ladies had touched the royal head. But she employed a man and a commoner, Léonard, and thought so highly of him that she took him with her in 1791 when the royal family tried to escape over the border. Marie-Antoinette’s chief talent was for amusing ...


Neal Ascherson, 8 February 1996

The Collected Works of John Reed 
Modern Library, 937 pp., $20, February 1995, 0 679 60144 9Show More
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... miserable; while most of his American friends and employers were already (in 1915) cheering for noble Britain and poor little Belgium in their resistance to fiendish Germany, Reed could see only the triumph of a ruling capitalist class which had deluded the masses into patriotic illusion. In August 1914, Reed had written an anonymous piece for the Masses ...


Gabriele Annan, 7 June 1984

Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild 
edited by Joan Littlewood.
Cape, 247 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 224 02208 3
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I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir 
by Jean MacGibbon.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 575 03412 2
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... and uncaring worldly mother. The most vivid character and best lay in the story is not the writer Louise de Vilmorin who questioned the Baron about circumcision while running her fingers through his pubic hair, but Charley Brighton, née Charlotte Bouquet, the daughter of a hotel doorman in Grenoble: ‘I spotted this piece of skirt strolling along the ...


Richard J. Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens, 17 March 2016

Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... Orléans y Borbón, Duchess of Galliera; Prince Albert, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein; Princess Marie Louise of Anhalt; and Princess Alice of Teck. The First World War was a challenge to this high society of monarchs and aristocrats. The Russian-born Dowager Duchess of Coburg was denounced in Germany as a spy; she was British before she became German, having ...

Reality Is Worse

Adam Mars-Jones: Lydia Davis, 17 April 2014

Can’t and Won’t 
by Lydia Davis.
Hamish Hamilton, 304 pp., £16.99, April 2014, 978 0 241 14664 4
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... various ‘stories’ and one ‘rant’ drawn from Flaubert’s letters, most of them written to Louise Colet when he was working on Madame Bovary (of which Davis has published a translation). These are reliably sharper in tone and more highly coloured than anything Davis provides on her own account. In ‘The Funeral’, for instance, Flaubert describes the ...

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