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Further to Fall

Owen Bennett-Jones

21 August 1997
Switzerland Unwrapped: Exposing the Myths 
by Mitya New.
Tauris, 210 pp., £18.95, June 1997, 1 86064 300 0
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Blood Money 
by Tom Bower.
Macmillan, 387 pp., £16.99, March 1997, 0 333 71517 9
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...  all of which are legally binding – decide fundamental matters like whether the country should have an army. Others concern matters of importance to a local community such as whether a new school should be built or a road improved. Occasionally the votes throw up radical results. In Zürich, for example, successive referenda over a 25-year period have produced majorities in favour of ...

Voldemort or Stalin?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Shostakovich

1 December 2011
Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets 
by Wendy Lesser.
Yale, 350 pp., £18.99, April 2011, 978 0 300 16933 1
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Shostakovich in Dialogue: Form, Imagery and Ideas in Quartets 1-7 
by Judith Kuhn.
Ashgate, 296 pp., £65, February 2010, 978 0 7546 6406 2
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... in Cold War America? The cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, an even more high-profile defector of the same period, promoted his old friend’s music along similar lines. It was the beginning of a new era in Shostakovich’s Western reception. Word went round that his pro-Soviet statements were not his at all but written by others and published under his signature. With the collapse of the Soviet ...

Inner Mongolia

Tony Wood: Victor Pelevin

10 June 1999
The Life of Insects 
by Victor Pelevin, translated by Andrew Bromfield.
Faber, 176 pp., £6.99, April 1999, 0 571 19405 2
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The Clay Machine-Gun 
by Victor Pelevin, translated by Andrew Bromfield.
Faber, 335 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 571 19406 0
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A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Other Stories 
by Victor Pelevin, translated by Andrew Bromfield.
Harbord, 191 pp., £9.99, May 1999, 1 899414 35 5
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... since all the characters in the novel are also insects. Sam and his associates are both literal and metaphorical bloodsuckers; Natasha is a prostitute/fly; Marina a military widow/ant; and Mitya a gloomy teenager/moth. The choice of parallels is often obvious, the characters are easy targets: the interest lies not in the individuals themselves but in the hazy boundaries between their human ...

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