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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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... a Victorian novel than a German Baroque one. The best edition, which came out in 1964 from John Calder and was translated by Helmuth Weissenborn and Lesley Macdonald, brought the book up to date. MikeMitchell’s new one is the raciest and most readable of all, the one most likely to appeal to a contemporary reader. But there are problems. The author’s name is wrong on the cover and the title ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin

5 September 1996
Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... and, to the consternation even of American journalists, dominated the competition. In violation of Olympic protocol, only the US National Anthem was sung to open the games. Only Americans – Dennis Mitchell after winning a 100-metres heat and Michael Johnson after taking the 200-metre gold – puffed out their chests and pulled their jerseys to display the national emblem. Only Americans accused an ...

Elves blew his mind

Mike​ Jay: Hallucinations

7 March 2013
Hallucinations 
by Oliver Sacks.
Picador, 322 pp., £18.99, November 2012, 978 1 4472 0825 9
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Spiritualism, Mesmerism and the Occult, 1800-1920 
edited by Shane McCorristine.
Pickering and Chatto, 5 vols, 1950 pp., £450, September 2012, 978 1 84893 200 5
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... us, the mysterious phenomenon of pain from amputated limbs had been anecdotally familiar at least since it was described in Descartes’s Meditations; but before the American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell could offer the first full account of ‘phantom limb syndrome’ in 1872, he had been obliged to spend many years delicately eliciting case histories from invalid soldiers who had kept their strange ...

The Real Thing

Jenni Quilter

20 April 2016
Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter 
by Cathy Curtis.
Oxford, 432 pp., £20.99, April 2015, 978 0 19 939450 0
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... into the museum; the painting fitted into the cab, but not through the revolving doors, and had to be taken in through a side entrance.) She was the first of her painter friends – Alfred Leslie, Mike Goldberg, Larry Rivers and Jane Freilicher – to be taken seriously by the academy. The following year, MoMA purchased River Bathers for $1000. The accolades piled up. In 1956, Hartigan was the only ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash

9 March 2006
The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... ABC TV vehicle, The Johnny Cash Show, which ran from 1969 to 1971. Recorded at the old Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the opening programme featured Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell; other guests included Merle Haggard, Mama Cass, Odetta, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Charles, Judy Collins, Burl Ives and Kris Kristofferson. The show first aired in September 1969; in February of that year ...

Diary

John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa

11 July 2002
... an unfulfillable request, is that he doesn’t want to play in the World Cup. In the evening, to a Waterstone’s gala dinner. The first speaker is Henry Cooper. He says something relevant, apropos Mike Tyson: ‘when someone goes arahnd bitin’ people’s ears off and punchin’ refs, that only tells me one fing: ‘e doesn’t want to be in the ring.’ Precisely. Cooper’s other good remark ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move

13 September 2018
Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... towards the end, most notably Jon Silkin’s ‘Death of a Son’, whose last line (‘And out of his eyes two great tears rolled, like stones, and he died’) I thought sadder than anything in Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen. I was also interested in Thomas Kinsella’s ‘Another September’, because I knew the house just outside Enniscorthy where it was set and I had met the poet’s wife, whose ...

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