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Theory with a Wife

Michael Wood, 3 October 1985

Mr Palomar 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 118 pp., £8.50, September 1985, 0 436 08275 6
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Parrot’s Perch 
by Michel Rio, translated by Leigh Hafrey.
Dent, 88 pp., £7.95, September 1985, 0 460 04669 1
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Light Years 
by Maggie Gee.
Faber, 350 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 571 13604 4
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... is, from time to time, actually said, giving a meaning to what is unsaid.’ The protagonist of Michel Rio’s Parrot’s Perch has been close to silence for about a year. He is a Latin American priest who was tortured for resisting his government, and has been given refuge in a French monastery. The abbot asks him to give the commentary on the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Le Mépris’, 21 January 2016

Le Mépris 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... desperate inability to see anything straight. When Brigitte Bardot, as the sulky beautiful wife of Michel Piccoli, the writer who may or may not work on the film within the film, tells her husband she despises him, cueing us in to our title, we realise she has found the word she has been looking for during the last 45 minutes of film. A good word, and once ...

Read it on the autobahn

Robert Macfarlane: Vanishing Victorians, 18 December 2003

The Discovery of Slowness 
by Sten Nadolny, translated by Ralph Freedman.
Canongate, 311 pp., £10.99, September 2003, 1 84195 403 9
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... one of the mutinying guides in the final days of the first Arctic expedition: At this very moment Michel appeared in the tent entrance, his rifle at his hip, ready to fire. He was aiming at John. Hepburn drew his pistol fast. Michel turned the barrel of his rifle towards him. The picture of this scene remained fixed in ...

Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Perry Anderson, 7 February 2019

... the machinery of government. When the term came to an end, the PMDB speaker in the Lower Chamber, Michel Temer, was chosen by Lula to be vice president under Dilma, yoking a veteran of backroom carve-up and corridor intrigue to a political tyro. The economic bequests detonated first. By 2013, the middle classes had soured on the government and rising prices ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... and again observations which epitomise the art of film come in as asides, as when, writing about Michel Simon, he invokes ‘the special mingling of self and character that is so necessary (and dangerous) in screen acting’. (This, by the way, is a rewrite. In the previous edition it read: ‘the special mingling of self and character that is so ...

Crisis in Brazil

Perry Anderson, 20 April 2016

... the country was swept by a wave of mass protests, triggered by higher bus fares in São Paulo and Rio but quickly escalating into generalised expressions of discontent with the quality of public services and, fanned by the media, of hostility to an incompetent state. Overnight, the government’s approval ratings halved. In response, it beat a ...

The Dark Side of Brazilian Conviviality

Perry Anderson, 24 November 1994

... the Faculty in São Paulo: Lévi-Strauss, Braudel, Pierre Monbeig, Roger Bastide, Claude Lefort, Michel Foucault. The deepest local imprint was left in philosophy, where a set of outstanding instructors trained a generation of thinkers, vividly memorialised in a recent work by Paulo Eduardo Arantes as Um Departamento Francês de Ultramar. By the late Fifties ...

Lula’s Brazil

Perry Anderson, 31 March 2011

... proprietor of a journal – to work for it under Conti. He insisted only that it be edited in Rio, as a counter-weight to the excessive concentration of intellectual life in São Paulo once the capital had moved inland. The magazine that issued from this arrangement is a stylish affair, sometimes seen as a kind of tropical New Yorker. But though certainly ...

After Suharto

Pankaj Mishra, 9 October 2013

... make deals with multinationals; ExxonMobil moved into Aceh to operate its gas fields; Freeport and Rio Tinto acquired mining rights in Papua. Military rule opened the floodgates for the corporate class, and small windows to the middle class. Many salary-earners and members of the urban petite bourgeoisie supported Suharto (they’re the ones mourning the ...

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