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What a Woman!

J.L. Nelson: Joan of Arc, 19 October 2000

Joan of Arc 
by Mary Gordon.
Weidenfeld, 168 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 297 64568 4
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Joan of Arc: A Military Leader 
by Kelly DeVries.
Sutton, 242 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7509 1805 5
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The Interrogation of Joan of Arc 
by Karen Sullivan.
Minnesota, 208 pp., £30, November 1999, 0 8166 3267 7
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... as from the trial records themselves. Gordon is good on Joan’s saints, Margaret, Catherine and Michael – ‘vivid examples of the active, rather than the contemplative, path to sanctity’ – and on her ‘appetite for action’. She notes that Joan testified to having learned the Paternoster from her mother; and that Jean Pasquerel, whom Joan chose as ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie, 21 February 1985

by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... aristocrats in a lord’s household coincides with the beginnings of vassalage as described by Bloch, originating in an atmosphere heavy with the odour of household bread. The world of chivalry was a world where men were linked to each other by strong personal bonds forged in battle and further reinforced by the rituals of the aristocracy. Carousing ...

Proust and His Mother

Michael Wood, 22 March 2012

... although obviously it is open to several interpretations, some kinder than others. Evelyne Bloch-Dano, the biographer of Jeanne Proust, thinks her subject’s forgiveness is ‘contradicted by the mock warning’. I don’t think it’s contradicted, but clearly there is something about the postscript that makes it a sort of mockery, probably just a ...


George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... the other, are set out. A larger point arises. In this book, references to Lukacs, Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Adorno, Trotsky, Marcuse, not to speak of Karl Marx himself, are, inevitably, manifold. I have looked in vain, in the Geyer-Ryan piece and elsewhere, for any treatment of the central and drastic fact: all these master spirits, sources, witnesses were Jews ...

‘Tiens! Une madeleine?’

Michael Wood: The Comic-Strip Proust, 26 November 1998

À la recherche du temps perdu: Combray 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Stéphane Heuet.
Delcourt, 72 pp., €10.95, October 1998, 2 84055 218 3
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Proust among the Stars 
by Malcolm Bowie.
HarperCollins, 348 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 255622 7
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... Swann; the boy’s reading of the famous writer Bergotte; the mannerisms of the boy’s friend Bloch; the poses and snobbery of Legrandin, a local friend; the trials of Vinteuil with his lesbian daughter, and the narrator’s reflections on sadism; a glimpse of the Duchesse de Guermantes; the narrator’s first attempts at writing. The text accompanying ...


Craig Raine: In Moscow, 22 March 1990

... am not heart-broken. I have attended several opening ceremonies. On the flight, my brother-in-law, Michael Slater (Michael Pasternak, according to his ticket) is unable to read because the Aeroflot jumbo doesn’t have individual seat lights. He has the aisle seat – exiled to inner darkness. Speaking of darkness, what a ...


Stuart Airlie, 17 November 1983

Medieval Germany and its Neighbours 900-1250 
by K.J. Leyser.
Hambledon, 302 pp., £18, February 1983, 0 907628 08 7
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The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987 
by Rosamond McKitterick.
Longman, 414 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 582 49005 7
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Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill 
edited by Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough and Roger Collins.
Blackwell, 345 pp., £27.50, September 1983, 0 631 12661 9
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... Leszek Kolakowski. The book fails to convey a sense of change in this period, a period that Marc Bloch took as the starting point for his great analysis of Medieval society. With Mr Leyser’s book we enter the authentic world of the early Middle Ages. We don’t merely learn how an 11th-century count settled a feud (hanging his enemy by the legs ‘between ...

Breathing in Verse

Theodore Ziolkowski: A rich translation of Hölderlin, 23 September 2004

Poems and Fragments 
by Friedrich Hölderlin, translated by Michael Hamburger.
Anvil, 823 pp., £19.95, March 2004, 0 85646 360 4
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... intrigued philosophers. Heidegger used his poems as texts for existential ruminations. Ernst Bloch speculated about his political radicalism. Adorno, seeking to redeem Hölderlin from Heidegger’s nationalistic mystifications as well as Bloch’s left-Hegelianism, emphasised his alienation. Derrida and his disciples ...

Mr Lukacs changes trains

Edward Timms, 19 February 1987

Georg Lukacs: Selected Correspondence 1902-1920 
translated by Judith Marcus and Zoltan Tar.
Columbia, 318 pp., $25, September 1986, 9780231059688
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... to Communism to be explained? A number of studies have attempted to resolve this enigma, notably Michael Löwy’s From Romanticism to Bolshevism, first published in French in 1976.1 Lukacs himself, towards the end of his life, lifted the curtain on his early years in a number of interviews and in a memoir entitled Gelebtes Denken.2 More recently, Lee ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... with a publisher with authors like James, Strindberg, Ford and Belloc historically on its list. As Michael Barber, an earlier biographer of Powell, without access to his archives, remarked, it was a period where a little privilege went a long way. There is no reason to doubt that at least in his first year in the capital, Powell felt at sea in London, of ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... Still, there is only one staggering omission. He describes the genesis of physiology under Michael Foster but never mentions Adrian, Hodgkin or Huxley, all Nobel Laureates and masters of Trinity, who immediately after the war worked in the most prestigious biological department which pullulated with FRS. The greatest change in social life? Brooke is in ...

He blinks and night is day

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Light Perpetual’, 17 June 2021

Light Perpetual 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, February, 978 0 571 33648 7
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... A gap of fifteen years between sections seems to set the mesh of the net too wide.In Seven Up!, Michael Apted chose a group of seven-year-olds and returned to his interview subjects at intervals of seven years. In 20 Sites n Years, a different sort of documentary project, Tom Phillips set out in 1973 to take pictures of twenty London streets on ...

Which Face?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Emigrés on the Make, 6 February 2020

Cold War Exiles and the CIA: Plotting to Free Russia 
by Benjamin Tromly.
Oxford, 329 pp., £75, September 2019, 978 0 19 884040 4
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The Dissidents: A Memoir of Working with the Resistance in Russia, 1960-90 
by Peter Reddaway.
Brookings, 337 pp., £25.50, February, 978 0 8157 3773 5
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... entered the agenda from the early 1970s, when Reddaway joined forces with the psychiatrist Sidney Bloch to set up something called the Working Group on Abuse of Psychiatry for Political Purposes. With respect to religious dissent, his main collaborator was the Anglican priest Michael Bordeaux, who in 1970 helped to ...

Unliterary, Unpolished, Unromantic

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Merchant of Prato’, 8 February 2018

The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City 
by Iris Origo.
Penguin, 400 pp., £10.99, May 2017, 978 0 241 29392 8
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... opening words – epigraphic if not actually placed as an epigraph – are by the historian Marc Bloch: ‘L’historien ressemble à l’ogre de la fable. Là où il flaire la chair humaine, il sait que là est son gibier.’ It is a potent image, at once menacing and playful. The historian is like the ‘ogre of fairy tales’ because when ‘he scents ...

Nation-States and National Identity

Perry Anderson, 9 May 1991

The Identity of France. Vol. II: People and Production 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sian Reynolds.
Collins, 781 pp., £25, December 1990, 0 00 217774 9
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... property. The omission is all the more arresting in that it was here, precisely, that Marc Bloch located the originality of French agrarian history. The pivot of his great work on the subject is a comparison of the differing fates of the peasantry as their lords sought to resolve the crisis of feudal rents in Late Medieval Europe. In Eastern ...

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