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Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 4 August 1983

... pylons walking through the erasures in the Bayrischer Wald ... Once before, I left some lines of Joseph Roth bleeding on your desk: ‘I had no father – that is, I never knew my father – but Zipper had one. That made my friend seem quite privileged, as though he had a parrot or a St Bernard.’ All at once, my nature as a child hits me. I was a moving ...

Conspiratorial Hapsburger

Michael Hofmann, 5 March 1987

Hotel Savoy 
by Joseph Roth, translated by John Hoare.
Chatto, 183 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 7011 2879 8
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... When Joseph Roth was asked once to write about his earliest memory, he described how as a baby he had seen his mother strip his cradle and hand it over to a strange woman, who ‘holds it to her chest, as though it were some trifling object of negligible dimensions, speaks for a long time, smiles, showing her long yellow teeth, goes to the door and leaves the house ...

Secession

Michael Wood, 23 March 1995

The Stone Raft 
by José Saramago, translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
Harvill, 263 pp., £15.99, November 1994, 0 00 271321 7
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... been enacted, could fail to recognise that this anguished woman is the widow of a carpenter called Joseph.’ This is not a simulation of Christ’s life, but a recreation of it, and when the writer repeatedly, ironically speaks of ‘this gospel’, he means not the real and only one, some sort of competitor for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but our ...

Half-Wrecked

Mary Beard: What’s left of John Soane, 17 February 2000

John Soane: An Accidental Romantic 
by Gillian Darley.
Yale, 358 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 300 08165 0
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John Soane, Architect: Master of Space and Light 
by Margaret Richardson and Mary-Anne Stevens.
Royal Academy, 302 pp., £45, September 1999, 0 300 08195 2
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Sir John Soane and the Country Estate 
by Ptolemy Dean.
Ashgate, 204 pp., £37.50, October 1999, 1 84014 293 6
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... especially, through the extraordinary perspective drawings and watercolours of the buildings which Joseph Michael Gandy produced for Soane. Gandy was a brilliant architectural theorist: he had been a Royal Academy Gold Medallist and was the author of two visionary books on rural architecture, which attempted to bring the cutting edge of neoclassical ...

Catching

Michael Hofmann, 23 May 1996

Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew 
by John Felstiner.
Yale, 344 pp., £19.95, June 1995, 0 300 06068 8
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Breathturn 
by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Sun & Moon, 261 pp., $21.95, September 1995, 1 55713 218 6
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... in Jewish populations, in the Eastern marches of Austria-Hungary (think of the Galician, Joseph Roth). In Celan’s case, this came to him from his mother: German was, in every sense, his mother-tongue. Already as a boy, he loved poetry, first Goethe and Schiller, then Hölderlin, Heine, Trakl, Kafka and in particular Rilke. He spoke ...

The [ ] walked down the street

Michael Silverstein: Saussure, 8 November 2012

Saussure 
by John Joseph.
Oxford, 780 pp., £30, March 2012, 978 0 19 969565 2
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... distinct as literary criticism, architecture, social anthropology and psychoanalysis. Yet, as John Joseph’s biography shows, Saussure struggled for his entire career to systematise as general theory what he had implicitly understood and put to stunningly successful use at the age of 19: that human language is the prime abstract ‘semiological’ (we now say ...

At the Ashmolean

John-Paul Stonard: Joseph Beuys and Jörg Immendorff , 22 May 2014

... series made around the turn of the 1980s, or the intense political works made after studying with Joseph Beuys at the Academy in Düsseldorf in the 1960s. ‘Zwei wird zu einem’ by Jörg Immendorff (1979). ‘Felt Suit’ by Joseph Beuys (1970) ‘Untitled’ by Jörg Immendorff (1974) ‘Die Geschichte der ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Stop-Loss’, 8 May 2008

Stop-Loss 
directed by Kimberly Peirce.
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... the war in Vietnam were slow in coming. Saigon fell in 1975, and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter both date from 1978. Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was 1979. In their separate ways these films were all about damage done to Americans; any damage done to others was incidental, part of some larger story that wasn’t ...

Mistrial

Michael Davie, 6 June 1985

The Airman and the Carpenter: The Lindbergh Case and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 438 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 00 217060 4
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... Runyon, Ford Madox Ford, Edna Ferber, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Walter Winchell and Joseph Alsop, who was required to write no less than ten thousand words a day for the Herald Tribune. Celebrities who dropped by included Ginger Rogers, Moss Hart, Lynn Fontanne, Jack Dempsey, Robert ‘Believe-it-or-not’ Ripley, Elsa Maxwell and Jack ...

How good was he?

Iain Fenlon: Antonio Salieri, 6 July 2000

Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera 
by John Rice.
Chicago, 648 pp., £66.50, April 1999, 0 226 71125 0
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... and musical justification. Salieri’s apotheosis, conducted under the benevolent gaze of Emperor Joseph II, began in earnest with the curious history of Les Danaïdes, an opera to an Italian libretto which Gluck commissioned from Calzabigi and then had translated into French by François Du Roullet and Theodor Tschudi. Gluck did not set Les Danaïdes ...

Sidney and Beatrice

Michael Holroyd, 25 October 1979

A Victorian Courtship: The Story of Beatrice Potter and Sidney Webb 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Weidenfeld, 148 pp., £5.50
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... 15, at the beginning of her diary, ‘even if it be my own.’ To one man she did give her heart: Joseph Chamberlain. He was ‘intensely attractive to me’, she admitted: yet she could not overlook his ‘intense personal ambition and desire to dominate’. Sexual passion and the love of power tore her apart. It seemed impossible to reconcile her sensual ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Cleopatra’ , 8 August 2013

... or Wyler’s Ben-Hur (1959). It’s too intelligent for one thing: its director is, after all, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who had made not only Julius Caesar (1953) but also All About Eve (1950) and The Barefoot Contessa (1954). What he couldn’t do here was get the actors to rise to some of the wit in the lines, and so what might have been bleak comedy keeps ...

Once a Syrian, always a Syrian

Maria Margaronis: Joseph O’Neill, 8 March 2001

Blood-Dark Track: A Family History 
by Joseph O'Neill.
Granta, 338 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 1 86207 288 4
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... Joseph O’Neill’s grandfathers, one Irish, the other Turkish, were both imprisoned without trial during World War Two. Jim O’Neill was arrested in 1940, when Eamon de Valera’s Government, fearful that IRA activities might compromise Eire’s neutrality, rounded up all known IRA men. He was held for four years at the Curragh internment camp in County Kildare ...

The Excavation

Joseph Roth, translated by Michael Hofmann, 4 January 2001

... The summer​ lay there, waiting to finish. Autumn was when the strangers were expected, the hop merchants from Austria, Germany and England, the rich men off whom many people in our town made their livings. The summer lay there, and it spawned various illnesses. People got belly-aches and died from eating rotten fruit, the water ran out in the wells, a couple of pine forests burned down, and the dry grass on the steppes caught alight ...

Honest Graft

Michael Brock, 23 June 1988

Corruption in British Politics, 1895-1930 
by G.R. Searle.
Oxford, 448 pp., £19.50, November 1987, 0 19 822915 1
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... researches reveal very little. What is striking about Lloyd George’s Boer War charges against Joseph Chamberlain is how much Ll.G could make out of the exiguous materials at his command. A family as deeply embedded in Birmingham industry as the Chamberlains were bound to be involved in war contracting. Reginald McKenna may have hit on the right ...

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