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They were less depressed in the Middle Ages

John Bossy: Suicide, 11 November 1999

Marx on Suicide 
edited by Eric Plaut and Kevin Anderson, translated by Gabrielle Edgcomb.
Northwestern, 152 pp., £11.20, May 1999, 0 8101 1632 4
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Suicide in the Middle Ages, Vol I: The Violent Against Themselves 
by Alexander Murray.
Oxford, 510 pp., £30, January 1999, 0 19 820539 2
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A History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Johns Hopkins, 420 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 8018 5919 0
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... over-confident in a French sort of way, it is learned and readable, and beautifully translated by Lydia Cochrane. It covers the ground from the classics to now, but its focus is early modern, with the emphasis less on the Reformation than on the Renaissance which, he says, produced a crisis of conscience about suicide around 1600 (thus ...

Men’s Honour, Women’s Lives

Peter Burke, 6 March 1986

Trial by Impotence: Virility and Marriage in Pre-Revolutionary France 
by Pierre Darmon, translated by Paul Keegan.
Chatto, 234 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 9780701129149
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The Boundaries of Eros: Sex, Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice 
by Guido Ruggiero.
Oxford, 223 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 19 503465 1
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The Tuscans and their Families: A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427 
by David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber.
Yale, 404 pp., £32, March 1985, 0 300 03056 8
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Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy 
by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 338 pp., £25.50, September 1985, 0 226 43925 9
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French Women in the Age of Enlightenment 
edited by Samia Spencer.
Indiana, 429 pp., $35, November 1984, 0 253 32481 5
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... on female literacy, appeared too late to be included. The essays, almost impeccably translated by Lydia Cochrane, are concerned in the main with Florence, or at any rate Tuscany, from about 1300 to about 1530, and they deal with such topics as female celibacy, marriage, motherhood, wet-nursing, widowhood, the difference between the experience of ...

Testing out the Route

Gabrielle Spiegel, 11 November 1999

The Lord’s First Night: The Myth of the Droit de Cuissage 
by Alain Boureau, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 310 pp., £15.25, September 1998, 0 226 06743 2
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... Confusion between myth and historical reality has long plagued medieval scholarship, and nothing illustrates this better than the question of the so-called droit de cuissage, which is the subject of Alain Boureau’s book. Known to the Anglophone world in its 19th-century Latin form as the jus primae noctis (a prudish rewriting of the French), the droit de cuissage stipulated the seigniorial lord’s right to deflower newly married brides on his domain ...

Loitering in the Piazza

Stephen Greenblatt, 27 October 1988

Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist 
by Giovanni Levi, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 209 pp., £21.50, June 1988, 0 226 47417 8
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... Giovanni Levi’s Inheriting Power bears a generic resemblance to those recent historical studies that illuminate the lives of European peasants by isolating and reconstructing a single resonant story. The best of these microhistories – Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Natalie Zemon Davis’s The Return of Martin Guerre – succeed in making their stories what Kenneth Burke calls ‘representative anecdotes’, reflections of reality that are inevitably selections of reality ...

Obscene Child

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Mozart, 5 July 2007

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography 
by Piero Melograni, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 300 pp., £19, December 2006, 0 226 51956 2
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Mozart: The First Biography 
by Franz Niemetschek, translated by Helen Mautner.
Berghahn, 77 pp., £17.50, November 2006, 1 84545 231 3
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Mozart’s Women: His Family, His Friends, His Music 
by Jane Glover.
Pan, 406 pp., £7.99, April 2006, 0 330 41858 0
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... As Saul Bellow once wrote, we have a problem talking about Mozart. It is the fear of having to contemplate transcendence and being embarrassed by something for which we have no vocabulary. To make matters worse, Mozart composed sublime music but, in contrast to Beethoven, had the wrong personality for sublimity, being prone to clowning and lavatory humour ...

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