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Lulu Norman: In Ethiopia, 4 September 1997

... The eighth wonder of the world was closed. The attendant told us that this was due to the theft of a sacred artefact from one of the churches. ‘By a tourist,’ he said with feeling. We were standing outside the subterranean red churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia. The churches are carved from the rock to a height of more than ten metres and linked by passages, tunnels, arches, yards and trenches dug from the same rock ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Pandora’s Box’, 21 June 2018

... is based on two plays by Frank Wedekind, The Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904). His Lulu is a feral relative of the beautiful, damaging kept women who haunt 19th-century theatre and opera. A prologue to the first play tells us that she was ‘created to do harm, to tempt and lead astray’, and compares her to a snake. The speaker’s ...

Brooksie and Faust

Angela Carter, 8 March 1990

Louise Brooks 
by Barry Paris.
Hamish Hamilton, 640 pp., £20, February 1990, 0 241 12541 3
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... I once showed G.W. Pabst’s 1929 film version of Wedekind’s Lulu plays, Louise Brooks’s starring vehicle Pandora’s Box, to a graduate class at the University of Iowa. I was apprehensive; these were children of the television age, unfamiliar with the codes of silent movies, especially of German silents, the exaggerated gesture, the mask-like make-up, the distorted shadows ...

Still Reeling from My Loss

Andrew O’Hagan: Lulu & Co, 2 January 2003

I Don't Want to Fight 
by Lulu.
Time Warner, 326 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 0 316 86169 3
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by Pamela Stephenson.
HarperCollins, 400 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 00 711092 8
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Just for the Record 
by Geri Halliwell.
Ebury, 221 pp., £17.99, September 2002, 0 09 188655 4
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Learning to Fly 
by Victoria Beckham.
Penguin, 528 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 14 100394 4
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Right from the Start 
by Gareth Gates.
Virgin, 80 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 1 85227 914 1
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by Ulrika Jonsson.
Sidgwick, 417 pp., £16.99, October 2002, 0 283 07367 5
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... haiku of explicitness, set before the swirling poetry of the difficult life. The Scottish singer Lulu is Pelzer in a feather boa. ‘To ma mammy and ma daddy,’ she starts off. ‘This would not have been possible with you here, but would never have been possible without you.’ As dedications go, this is pretty scruffy, but you soon see how beautifully it ...

Scenes from the Movies

Peter Campbell, 5 August 1982

Lulu in Hollywood 
by Louise Brooks.
Hamish Hamilton, 109 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 9780241107614
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... The photographs of Louise Brooks in Lulu in Hollywood show a face as beautiful, and almost as unchanging, as a Japanese mask. Both praise and criticism notice this inexpressiveness: ‘Louise Brooks exists with an overwhelming insistence ... always enigmatically impassive,’ ‘Louise Brooks cannot act ... she does not suffer ...

Turnip into Asparagus

Wolfgang Schivelbusch, 5 June 1997

Speak Low (When You Speak Love): The Letters of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya 
edited and translated by Lys Symonette and Kim Kowalke.
Hamish Hamilton, 555 pp., £30, July 1996, 0 241 13264 9
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... girl’ of Schnitzler’s novellas, whom men picked up and dropped at their leisure. A real-life Lulu (as Teresa Stratas once called her), Blamauer-Lenya herself did the picking and dropping, and went on doing so even once married to Weill. If ever there was a man who fulfilled the popular idea of a German-Jewish Weimar intellectual, it was Weill. Physically ...

Every Curve of Flesh

Gabriele Annan, 10 January 1991

Diary of an Erotic Life 
by Frank Wedekind.
Blackwell, 183 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 631 16607 6
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... but chiefly he acted in his own plays – which is how he met Tilly Newes. She was not the first Lulu, but played the part over and over again, with Wedekind himself appearing variously as the Animal-Tamer, Dr Schön and Jack the Ripper. He spent several months in jail for lèse-majesté in a poem about the Emperor; and fought a successful case against the ...

Robbing banks

George Melly, 25 June 1992

by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £45, May 1992, 0 500 09227 3
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by Sarah Whitfield.
South Bank Centre, 322 pp., £18.95, May 1992, 1 85332 087 0
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... we persuaded him to give up his early bedtime and, accompanied by Georgette and, inevitably, Lulu the dog, to spend the evening at a small, dark café run by a charmingly eccentric gnome, the painter’s one-time dealer, called Van Bruaene. I think Magritte enjoyed himself. It was almost midnight when, because it was pouring with rain, he telephoned for ...

Topping Entertainment

Frank Kermode: Britten, 28 January 2010

Journeying Boy: The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten 
edited by John Evans.
Faber, 576 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 571 23883 5
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... shared some of Britten’s enthusiasms and had conducted Berg’s Lyric Suite and extracts from Lulu. Moreover in 1937 Boult gave the first London performance of Britten’s song cycle Our Hunting Fathers (Opus 8 in what must have been a revised numbering). It was an important work; indeed he sometimes called it his Opus 1. He had conducted it himself the ...

The Numbers Game

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro: Favelas, 21 January 2016

Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio 
by Misha Glenny.
Bodley Head, 352 pp., £18.99, September 2015, 978 1 84792 266 3
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... and received some severance pay, but it wasn’t enough for Eduarda’s treatment. So he went to Lulu, the drug don of Rocinha, to ask for a loan to pay his debts. It was, he says, a ‘Faustian bargain’. Despite being ‘revolted by the associated violence’, he began to work for Lulu, and two years later he was ...

Flirts, Victims, Connivers

Jerry Fodor, 11 September 2008

Enchantment: The Seductress in Opera 
by Jean Starobinski, translated by C. Jon Delogu.
Columbia, 262 pp., £17.50, March 2008, 978 0 231 14090 4
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... is Medea? And where are Isolde and Cleopatra and Delilah and Musetta and Salome? To say nothing of Lulu and Renata? (Renata is the heroine of Prokofiev’s Fiery Angel. She is an enchantress and a seductress and a schizophrenic to boot.) And what of Katerina Lvonava Ismailova, the ‘Lady Macbeth of Mitensk’, who, though initially less seducing than ...


Clive James: Lord's Day, 7 February 1985

... arguments, why was he arguing? Denis Healey, a realist, called Lord Stockton’s speech ‘a lulu’, in the tones of one already planning a few lulus of his ...

Great Tradition

Robert Barnard, 18 December 1980

Plaster Sinners 
by Colin Watson.
Eyre Methuen, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 39040 3
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by Ngaio Marsh.
Collins, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 00 231857 1
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The Predator 
by Russell Braddon.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1958 4
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... wiser in this, surely, than Keating in his Death of a Fat God) that she makes the opera an obvious lulu. ‘Menotti and water,’ sniffs someone, and we know she has got it exactly right: if Caballé or Sutherland were ever to risk their throats in a contemporary opera, that is precisely the sort of piece they would choose. So here we are again, as a freak ...


Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter, 12 March 1992

... She was not neglected or rejected (except by the National Theatre, who turned down her version of Lulu a few years ago). She was given solus reviews and publishers’ parties; she went on telly; she was courted by universities and nobbled by fans. But she was never treated as the object of automatic acclaim and deference that the welter of huge obituaries ...

Quite Nice

Diana Souhami: Fernande Olivier, 13 December 2001

Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier 
edited by Marilyn McCully, translated by Christine Baker.
Abrams, 296 pp., £24, May 2001, 0 8109 4251 8
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... Fernande Olivier, like Frank Wedekind’s Lulu, sexualised all her relationships with men and served their desires while lamenting that her own were unfulfilled. She lived through her lovers in order perhaps to gain a passing sense of who she was. As each of her affairs in turn went wrong, she moved to a different man ...

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