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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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... Marx published a version of a chapter about suicide which had recently appeared in a book by one Jacques Peuchet entitled Mémoires tirées des archives de la police. Peuchet had been an encyclopedist and statistician of some distinction, and is said to have invented the term ‘bureaucracy’. He had survived the Revolution, and under the restored Bourbons ...

Doughnuts with the Prince

Andrew Sugden, 20 July 2000

Killer Algae: The True Tale of Biological Invasion 
by Alexandre Meinesz, translated by Daniel Simberloff.
Chicago, 360 pp., £17.50, December 1999, 0 226 51922 8
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... before – growing on the sea-bed immediately below the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, then under Jacques Cousteau’s directorship. Five years later, the area of the patch had extended to a hectare. In July 1990, another colony of the same alga appeared at Cap Martin in France, 5 kilometres to the east, and in September of ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Year after year, at three-monthly intervals, the volumes plopped from the press, 63 in all, from Jacques Abbadie in 1885 to William Zuylestein in 1900, containing some thirty thousand pages on which 650 contributors recorded the details of 30,000 lives. And, as with the painting of the Forth Bridge, once this great Victorian monument was completed it was ...

Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud, 9 October 2003

Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur Rimbaud: Presence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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Rimbaud 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... air above it seems briefly to stand for the task they are performing. But what is that something? Martin Sorrell, whose translations are often less free than Mason’s, and never less impressive, takes a bolder turn: Madame holds herself too stiff in the next field where sons of toil flurry like snow; clutching parasol; trampling umbels; too proud for ...

Lend me a fiver

Terry Eagleton: The grand narrative of experience, 23 June 2005

Songs of Experience: Modern American and European Variations on a Universal Theme 
by Martin Jay.
California, 431 pp., £22, January 2005, 0 520 24272 6
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... Plato and Spinoza saw it as a realm of illusion, to be contrasted with the pure light of reason. Jacques Derrida deeply disliked the notion, suspecting it of dark metaphysical tendencies. For William Blake, from whom Martin Jay takes the title of his absorbing new study, experience is a domain of false consciousness and ...

Were we bullied?

Jamie Martin: Bretton Woods, 21 November 2013

The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes,Harry Dexter White and the Making of a New World Order 
by Benn Steil.
Princeton, 449 pp., £19.95, February 2013, 978 0 691 14909 7
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... part of the platform of his 2008 and 2012 presidential runs. Steil cites the economists Hayek and Jacques Rueff as his authorities on the matter. What neoliberals like these two admired about the gold standard was the discipline it imposed on the state: following its rules promised to keep inflation and public debt in check, and to facilitate a nation’s ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... of marginal places, folds in the map, is that Paul Schrader, the director of a sassy remake of Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, admired Penman’s review so much that he invited him over to Los Angeles to talk product. Penman in California was truly the vision of a man who fell to earth, a pale alien in an X Files landscape. Wasn’t that the dream they ...

No flourish was too much

Bridget Alsdorf: Out-Tissoted, 13 August 2020

James Tissot 
by Melissa Buron et al.
Prestel, 354 pp., £55, October 2019, 978 3 7913 5919 9
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... In Martin Scorsese​ ’s film adaptation of The Age of Innocence, facsimiles of James Tissot’s paintings hang on the walls of the Beauforts’ Gilded Age mansion, the setting for the annual Opera Ball, where New York plutocrats dance with women in Tissot-inspired dresses. An oversized replica of Too Early (1873) shows the sniggering that meets a group of early arrivals at a ball ...

On the chance that a shepherd boy …

Edmund White: Gide in Love, 10 December 1998

Andre Gide: A Life in the Present 
by Alan Sheridan.
Hamish Hamilton, 708 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 241 12729 7
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Andre Gide ou la vocation du bonheur. Tome 1, 1869-1911 
by Claude Martin.
Fayard, 699 pp., frs 180, September 1998, 2 213 02309 3
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... friends the writer (and Protestant) Jean Schlumberger and the novelist and Nobel Prizewinner Roger Martin du Gard, both of whom were bisexual, though less conspicuously so. They accompanied him on his adventures or exchanged letters with him about his encounters with adolescents, and they almost never reproached him. More often, they encouraged him and took ...

Time to Rob the Dead

Jeremy Adler: Simplicius Simplicissimus, 16 March 2017

The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus 
by Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, translated by Mike Mitchell.
Dedalus, 433 pp., £13.99, April 2017, 978 1 903517 42 0
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... In poetry, drama and fiction, writers followed the new formal rules laid down by the Silesian poet Martin Opitz in his Buch von der Teutschen Poetery (1624) and brought about a national literary revival. They wrote in a vivid and dynamic style, with larger than life characters and supernatural occurrences. But the rhetorical flourishes that worked well for ...

Delay

Michael Neve, 17 October 1985

Hamlet Closely Observed 
by Martin Dodsworth.
Athlone, 316 pp., £18, July 1985, 0 485 11283 3
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Hamlet 
edited by Philip Edwards.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £15, June 1985, 9780521221511
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The Renaissance Hamlet: Issues and Responses in 1600 
by Roland Mushat Frye.
Princeton, 398 pp., £23.75, December 1983, 0 691 06579 9
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... a ‘maturer self’, now able to deal with them. The catch, of course – or, for the inimitable Jacques Lacan, the joke – is that the version that the later self will allow into consciousness cannot be anything other than a translation, an alteration, even a new story. The history of maturation depends upon deferred action, upon the deferred rather than ...

Hitchcocko-Hawksien

Christopher Prendergast, 5 June 1997

Projections 7 
edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue.
Faber, 308 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 571 19033 2
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. I: The Fifties. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 312 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15105 8
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. II: The Sixties. New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 363 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15106 6
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. III: 1969-72. The Politics of Representation 
edited by Nick Browne.
Routledge, 352 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 02987 2
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... In Martin Scorsese’s Casino, Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) remarks that Las Vegas is about ‘selling people dreams for cash’ and, in a memorable elaboration of this cliché, that ‘it does for us what Lourdes does for hunchbacks and cripples.’ Much the same has been said about the culture of cinema, and how Scorsese’s film stands in relation to its subject is an interesting question ...

Cite ourselves!

Richard J. Evans: The Annales School, 3 December 2009

The Annales School: An Intellectual History 
by André Burguière, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Cornell, 309 pp., £24.95, 0 8014 4665 1
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... and France in the medieval and early modern periods. Among Febvre’s books were a biography of Martin Luther and a book about the Rhine. The first issue of Annales included studies of the price of papyrus in Ancient Greece, German industry in the First World War, the population problem in the Soviet Union, and the theories of Max Weber. Articles and ...

Sharks’ Teeth

Steven Mithen: How old is the Earth?, 30 July 2015

Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters 
by Martin Rudwick.
Chicago, 360 pp., £21, October 2014, 978 0 226 20393 5
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... I chose​ the perfect place to read Martin Rudwick’s book: the Isle of Islay, off the coast of Western Scotland. The archaeology of Islay is a long-standing interest of mine, especially the earliest traces of human settlement, which my excavations suggest took place 12,000 years ago or very soon afterwards. That’s nothing compared to the age of the bedrock of the island, much of which is Precambrian, dating to 1 ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... No one mentioned the atrocity in Charleston explicitly; no one had to. We were in the church where Martin Luther King declared his opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967. We were honouring the life of America’s leading free jazz musician in a dramatic week for freedom in America. The Supreme Court had ruled five to four in favour of gay marriage; at the ...

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