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Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann

17 March 1983
Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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Bluebeard 
by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... somehow magnificent. Would we have a novel, then, if there were no authorial guilt to be discharged? The question is a blunt one, and yet it gains in significance if we compare Deadeye Dick with MaxFrisch’s elegant little novella, Bluebeard. For MaxFrisch is cleverly exploiting the displacement of guilt as a plot device. A middle-aged doctor who has had so many wives as to merit the name in ...

Rendings

Edward Timms

19 April 1990
Thomas Mann and his Family 
by Marcel Reich-Ranicki, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Collins, 230 pp., £20, August 1989, 9780002158374
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... their narrative vigour, while more intellectually ambitious projects were discounted as lacking in structure. This led to a lively critical dialogue, not least with writers like Heinrich Böll and MaxFrisch, who were in a position to answer back. But it also resulted in some tendentious misreadings – for instance, his dismissive remarks about Karl Kraus (as epitome of ‘Jewish self-hatred ...

De Mortuis

Christopher Driver

28 June 1990
The Ruffian on the Stair: Reflection on Death 
edited by Rosemary Dinnage.
Viking, 291 pp., £14.99, April 1990, 0 670 82763 0
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Death, Ritual and Bereavement 
edited by Ralph Houlbrooke.
Routledge, 250 pp., £35, October 1990, 0 415 01165 5
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In the Face of Death 
by Peter Noll, translated by Hans Noll.
Viking, 254 pp., £15.99, April 1990, 0 670 80703 6
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... among the well-to-do and the educated. Peter Noll, the author of a thoughtful diary of his last months, was a German-Swiss academic lawyer who was lucky in his family, his friends (including MaxFrisch, whose valediction is printed here), his doctors, his Christian or post-Christian convictions, and the time his cancer allowed him for reflection – including his decision at the peak of his career ...

He speaks too loud

David Blackbourn: Brecht

2 July 2014
Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life 
by Stephen Parker.
Bloomsbury, 704 pp., £30, February 2014, 978 1 4081 5562 2
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... voice, a new sound and a new vision’. In the same year, Brecht married the opera singer Marianne Zoff; their daughter, who became the actress Hanne Hiob, was born in 1923. Hired as a dramaturg at Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater, Brecht moved permanently to Berlin in September 1924. His favourite restaurant there, Schlichter’s in Schöneberg, was run by the brother of the painter and ...

Long Live Aporia!

Hal Foster: William Gaddis

24 July 2003
Agapē Agape 
by William Gaddis.
Atlantic, 113 pp., £9.99, January 2003, 1 903809 83 5
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The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings 
by William Gaddis, edited by Joseph Tabbi.
Penguin, 182 pp., $14, October 2002, 0 14 200238 0
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... Gaddis seems to write in the gap between the two dispensations, between different orders of linguistic imagination; and here other peers come to mind as well, not only Bernhard in Concrete, but also MaxFrisch in Man in the Holocene and William Gass in Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife. Like these works, Agapē Agape exists on the threshold between the collage technique of many Modernists and some ...
25 June 1987
Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... Paris. From Paris he went to England, where he became a research student in Nevill Mott’s great school of theoretical physics at Bristol; after this he worked at Edinburgh with the German physicist Max Born, who was one of the founders of wave mechanics. In the spring of 1940 Fuchs was arrested, interned and later deported to Canada together with hundreds of other German and Austrian refugees ...

In the Nightmare Kitchen

Rivka Galchen: Kafka’s Boyhood

16 March 2017
Kafka: The Early Years 
by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 564 pp., £27.95, November 2016, 978 0 691 15198 4
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... Stalin is also, arguably, a contender. What do those books know?Kafka: The Early Years is the third and final volume of Stach’s landmark biography.* In the introduction the translator, Shelley Frisch, explains that The Early Years was written last rather than first because Stach was waiting for papers in Max Brod’s keeping to make their way out of a 39-year Jarndycean legal fog.† So this ...

What kind of funny is he?

Rivka Galchen: Under Kafka’s Spell

4 December 2014
Kafka: The Years of Insight 
by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 682 pp., £24.95, June 2013, 978 0 691 14751 2
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Kafka: The Decisive Years 
by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 552 pp., £16.25, June 2013, 978 0 691 14741 3
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... it? Reiner Stach has written a chronological biography of nearly two thousand pages, all three volumes of which are out in German, with the second and third already translated into English by Shelley Frisch. (The first volume, covering Kafka’s youth, was written last in the hope that the papers in the Max Brod estate – a mysterious suitcase full of documents – would exit the apartment of the ...
18 November 1993
Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb 
by Thomas Powers.
Cape, 610 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 224 03641 6
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Operation Epsilon: The Farm Hall Transcripts 
introduced by Charles Frank.
Institute of Physics, 515 pp., £14.95, May 1993, 0 7503 0274 7
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... Twenties, atomic physics was dominated by Niels Bohr’s model of electrons circling like planets around the sun-like nucleus, their concentric orbits governed by Newtonian mechanics combined with Max Planck’s quantum theory. Bohr’s theory accounted for the spectra of the simplest atom with only one electron, hydrogen, but it ran into difficulties with the spectra of larger atoms and left many ...

Oh God, what have we done?

Jackson Lears: The Strange Career of Robert Oppenheimer

20 December 2012
Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 224 06262 6
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... models that would explain the apparently bizarre movements of electrons and other subatomic particles, was underway. But the most ambitious theorists – Oppenheimer as well as Bohr, Heisenberg and Max Born – still wondered what physical reality was being modelled by the maths. At Cambridge in 1926, Oppenheimer could be sure he was at the centre of things.That wasn’t the only reason he was ...

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